Sunday, August 30, 2015

Digital or Disk?

So I perfected Lego Star Wars and bought my Xbox One.  And I'm loving it.  I'm having a blast in Titanfall and Destiny and recently Gears of War Ultimate Edition (of whatever it is called).  But all this excitement has me thinking.  And that's a scary thing.

I have a shelf full of game cases for all my systems going back to the PlayStation.  I'm running out of room to put new game cases.  I can't image what it will be like a year or two from now.  So I've been thinking about going all digital vs. buying disks.

I probably wouldn't have even considered this a couple of years ago but having the Games with Gold option every month it's nice to get a full game and not clutter up a shelf with a case that will never be used.  Plus I don't have to flip around a big CD case looking for a game disk of what I want to play.  I know the Arcade titles have always been digital but in the past I've preferred to buy a disk when I wanted a retail game.  Now I'm rethinking that.

I don't store my disks in the case they came in.  Instead I put them in to a very big CD folder (which I'm running out of room in between my PS2, PS3, Xbox 360 and Xbox One games).  Those game cases are now just decoration . . . and clutter in my living room.  I guess I could always pull a case out and look through the insert manual for help in playing the game.  But wait, games aren't coming with inserts anymore.  And there's no organization to my shelves at all.

So why not digital?

That's what I've been asking myself for the last couple of months.  When I started to budget for getting an Xbox One and heard the announcement of a 1TB system I knew I had to get that larger hard drive space . . . especially if I wanted to get all digital.  On my 250GB hard drive on my Xbox 360, I've run out of space several times.  All of my Arcade titles are now stored on a thumb drive and I've deleted all the extra stuff for games that I probably won't play for awhile.  I figure I'll just re-download them if/when I play that game again.  File management has been a bitch.

A 1TB hard drive should be big enough, right?  If not I guess I'll have to look in to some external storage for my XBO.  I like not having to flip through a case but instead flip through a couple of titles on my screen.  And there isn't the hassle of having to get up to change disks whenever I want to change games.  I can see the beauty in going all digital.  But it doesn't feel like I "own" anything when I purchase a digital game.

I love to read but I have no interest in going to a digital platform for books.  My tablet is a Nook from Barnes & Noble but I have no interest in reading a book on it.  I prefer the paper and glue method of delivery that I've used for years.  I feel like I "own" those books , , , even if I've only just checked it out of the library.  There is something about holding something in your hand and saying "this is mine" that is very satisfying to me.  That's why I've been buying disk copies of games.

And it always seems to me that I can find cheaper copies of the game if I buy the disk than if I buy a digital copy.  Recently I've been looking for a copy of the game Enslaved: Odyssey to the West for Xbox 360.  I saw that GameStop had a used copy for $3, but in the game store on my Xbox a digital copy was still going for $15.  Now why would I want to spend $15 on a game when I could get the same game for $3 somewhere else?  (In fact I got the game for $1.50 somewhere else so I saved even more money.)  For less than $60 I was able to pick up 5 games only one of which was new (Gears of War Ultimate Edition $40).  For less than $20 I was able to pick up 4 more games that I wouldn't have been able to if I had purchased the digital version of Enslaved.

Until digital pricing goes down on older games I'm not so sure that I want to spend more money than I have to for older games.  That doesn't mean I won't buy digital at all (and I won't stop getting Games with Gold games for free if I like them).  But maybe I only pay full price on new games.  You know, when the digital copy is the same price as a disk copy.

Yeah, I won't have any little inserts or "24 hours free Xbox Live Gold membership" cards in a case.  But I also won't have a case cluttering up the space in my living room.  I'm running out of shelf space as it is.  And with digital some games have the option to pre-purchase and pre-download so you're ready to play the game from minute one on the day it comes out.  I like that.  But whether it is digital space or shelf space I don't see myself stopping to buy video games anytime soon.  New or used.  I only see more video games in my future . . . especially this holiday season.  Lots more games.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Xbox One is in the house

Since I finally perfected an Xbox 360 game I got the reward of treating myself to a new Xbox One system and games.  I was so excited when I opened it up and hooked everything up.  There were a lot of downloading and updating to do so I didn't get the chance to play on Friday.

I did get the chance to look at my friend's list and finally see what my friends were playing.  It was so annoying on the Xbox 360 so see my friends playing "Xbox One" and not know what game it was.  Now and I could see.  And what were they playing?  YouTube.  TV.  And "watching a video".  Really?  That's what you were doing?

After all the grief I had been getting for the last couple of years of not upgrading, yet when I finally do that's what everyone was using their system for?  What about games?  Do my friends still play those?  Maybe this is just the void before the storm as there are lots of great games that are coming out this holiday season.  Let's hope so.

But when I was finally able to get online and play, my friends online were still only watching TV or videos and not playing games.  I was starting to get sad.  Then I put in Titanfall.  And then I felt better.  It would have been great to play with friends, but it was still nice to play a game that I had waited a long time to play.

You see, there were several games that came out that when they did so they were for both the Xbox 360 and Xbox One.  Of those games, I decided to wait to get them for the Xbox One instead of the Xbox 360.  That meant I wasn't playing Titanfall, Destiny and Shadow of Mordor.  I could have, but it was my choice to wait until I could get the newer system.  I think the only exception to that was Thief.  I just couldn't wait to get that game on an Xbox One.

I don't know how many of the great games that will be coming out this year I'll be able to afford.  I hope my friends that do have some of the games that I do have will play with me like they use to in the old days.  I guess we could always watch TV or YouTube videos together too.  It's just not the same.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

I finally achieved perfection!

Well, I finally did it.  I perfected an Xbox 360 retail game.  Now, I've perfected several Arcade titles, but those games don't usually require the time and effort commitment to getting all the achievements that a full retail game does.  Retail games are also a lot more gamerscore than Arcade titles (at least they were).  It's so much more fulfilling to see 1,000 in gamerscore next to a game instead of 200.

Now, technically I've "finished" several retail titles.  Meaning I've finished the story and gotten to the end credits.  But I've never perfected the achievements in a retail game before.  Now, I did it in Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga.  And it's the third time I've played the game.

The first time I played that game I completed it with my brother, dain bramage, in co-op on the Playstation 2.  We completed all the Lego Star Wars games together on the PS2 and when we found out those games were out for the Xbox 360 we doubled up and got those games again for the achievements.  We knew what we were in for since we had already played the game and thought it would be a piece of cake to play those games again and get that allusive 1,000 perfect gamerscore.

So, for a second time I started playing the game.  This time we were working mostly on our own.  We did get together to play the arcade mini-game so we could get that achievement.  Other than that I've been playing the game alone.  And I don't remember it being that hard to complete.  Unfortunately some jackass(es) broke in to my house about 6 years ago and stole all my games . . . and more importantly my game saves and memory cards.  They stole a lot of items, but they also stole hundreds (if not thousands) of hours of my life in game saves.

At the time I was robbed I only had 2 achievements left to earn.  The one for collecting all Gold Bricks and the one for completing the game to 100%.  The last achievement I had earned was to get all the Mini-kits, which I had earned about a month or so before I was robbed.  I was that close to finishing the game.  But once I got all my stuff back, I had to decide if I was going to start the game over for a third time just for those last 2 achievements.  I had to make that decision for several games (Lost Odyssey being one I was about 4 hours away from finishing based on friend's estimates).

I didn't make that decision right away because just the thought of it overwhelmed me.  All those game saves lost.  Pieces of time ripped right out of my life with no hope of ever getting those moments back.  Did I want to do it all over again?  For every game?  Was it worth it?

I've always wanted to perfect a game and I figured that Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga would probably be my best bet.  So I restarted the game . . . for a third time.  I would play the game when I was interested so there were times when I didn't pick up the game for months.  When I finally get all my shit together to start recording gameplay and posting to YouTube I made a decision that I would use that medium to motivate me to finish the game and finally perfect it.  It worked.

Even when I didn't want to play the game anymore I knew I had to make a video to post online.  So I took out the game and played it.  There are times in the videos that you can probably tell how frustrated I was getting with the game.  A lot of that came from the fact that I was replaying it for the 3rd time and I thought it would be easier.  It wasn't sometimes.  And that made it more frustrating for me.  But on Sunday night I finally finished the last missions and the game showed me 100% completion.  Except the achievement didn't pop right away.

The same thing happened when I "earned" the achievement for getting all the Gold Bricks.  The game showed I had all the Gold Bricks (160 of them) and it let me build the fountain, but didn't give me the achievement.  I had to go in and complete a level before the achievement would pop.  The 100% achievement did the same thing.  Can I tell you how anti-climatic that is?  You work really hard and play the game for over 60 hours (for a third time), finally earn the final achievement but the game doesn't give it to you unless you do something else instead.  And you couldn't just jump in a level and jump out.  No. You had to play and complete the level.  Just give me my damn achievement!  I earned it.

I played the extra level and finally got the achievement to pop.  Woohoo!!!  I did it.  I perfected the game.  Below is a breakout of the levels you have to play to complete the game.  Since I didn't do very well in some of the levels I had to replay some of them multiple times.  That hellish Into the Deathstar blue barrels flight mission was the worst.  I think I played that level more than 20 times before I could get all the barrels in the time limit.

36 Story based levels (6 per movie)
36 Freeplay based levels (6 per movie)
36 blue barrel levels (6 per movie)
12 extra movie based levels (2 per movie)
36 "Super Story" based levels
6 extra game based levels (including revised levels, Lego City and New Town)

That's a total of 162 unique levels to play.  You can't say the game doesn't offer up enough content.  Even if it's the same 36 levels over and over and over and over again.  But at least it's done.  In the Lego Star Wars II game the only achievements I haven't earned are to play the vehicle missions without dying (and you can't have any extras turned on).  I think I'll wait on working on those achievements until sometime later.  I'm a little burned out on Lego Star Wars right now.  (But if any of my friends would like to jump in to my game save and see if all my achievements will pop up for them in their game, let me know.  It will cost you an hour of multiplayer game play in a game of your choosing [provided that I own that game]).

The closer I got to finishing the game the more I decided to set myself a goal and reward.  I would finish the game by the end of July (actually finished it August 2nd) and reward myself with finally buying an Xbox One.  I refused to buy and Xbox One until I had completed, or perfected, a game on the Xbox 360.  Now that I've accomplished that, I can finally get my XBO.  I get paid on Friday so look for me online this weekend on my new system.  I earned it.