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In-Game Collectibles, My Personal Demon
Posted on Thursday, May 6 2010 @ 13:52:14 PST

 Well, I'll start this off by saying I have ran into so many games with these things it makes me sick. In-game collectibles, would be the Intel-items of Call of Duty, the Feathers and Flags of Assassin's Creed, the cages of Rayman, and the Faction Items of Just Cause 2. I realize these horrid little things have been around at least since the 90's in gaming, if not before, but these kind of game-lengtheners drive me insane. Now, I'll start at the beginning experiences for me, which was back in the late 90's.

The first video game I ever played was Rayman, when I was 3 years old. Now, I loved this game, and spent many a day simply sitting with my mother who helped me through the harder parts of the game when I would get stuck, and I loved it. To this day, Rayman 1 is one of my favorite games, without which I would likely have not picked up a controller. However, my one problem with this game in this day and age, is the cages of little pink guys you had to break open, of which there were 6 in every level. Now, having bought the game on PSN and played through it, I realized upon reaching the final two stages that it required me to have every single one of these cage broken open. This, was my first real bad experience with in-game collectibles, as after obsessing over this for two months, I still could not find all of these little cages, and gave up in disgust. 

My next run-in with the in-game collectibles was in Killzone 2, and this game illustrates the same points as Call of Duty, Battlefield: Bad Company 2, the Uncharted series, the Resistance series, and the Assassin's Creed series. This was now after Trophies and Achievements were implemented parts of the games themselves, and for finding these collectibles, you were awarded... a Trophy, or an Achievement. This does make sense for the most part, as before there was really no motivation to go out and find these little goodies the developer had placed throughout the level, and what better way to get people to play the game even more than to put these in it?

This is when I started hating collectibles. Because, you see, finding these things required you to play through the same level multiple times, which I found to be some of the most frustrating experiences I've had with video games to date. For, you see, I love playing all of the series I listed above, but I do NOT enjoy playing through the exact same scenarios over and over again, and because I'm a completionist, I tried to get all the Trophies for these games. However, for all of the games stated above, the only way to find them was to be on the constant lookout for them. But for a shooter, I tend to focus less on the walls, decorations, and desks hidden throughout levels, and more on the things I'm trying to kill, and Assassin's Creed has the wonderful vistas and masses of people to watch. So, I have now reached a point in all these games where I'm forced to replay the same sections, revisit the same places, and redo the same set-piece battles over and over and over again, simply to get the Platinum Trophy for that game, or gain all the Gamerscore.

Now, the main thing that bothers me about this, is that it feels incredibly repetitive for something with such small gain. These collectibles often don't unlock anything other than the Trophies or Gamerscore they're associated with, and award you no in-game capabilities or rewards, short of possible dev-videos or concept art, and this is another thing that irks me. If I spent an hour playing through the same level I've now played through 7 times, I want to be gaining something more than the knowledge I've found one more Intel item, or one more hidden Treasure or Feather, and I simply don't. It's not like playing online in the shooter games, where you are constantly rewarded for your play time with leveling up and teamwork and EXP, it's just... Grinding without the leveling up. 

Now, the one game where I've enjoyed hunting for the collectibles is Just Cause 2. So far, I've found 125 of the 150 I need for the Trophy in this game, and I still haven't bored of finding these tiny objects in the massive in-game world. Why? Because it gives me a rough location of every item, and a generic message from the faction leader thanking me for finding this. It's two very small things, but it makes this rather dull task so much more interesting, and throws in a itty-bitty reward for that minute-or-so search for a suitcase or skull. And, because the game developers realize they've got a massive number of these things, you only have to find half of them to get the Trophy, instead of all of them a la Call of Duty or Assassin's Creed 2. I could mention the weapons upgrades and vehicle parts and cash drops, but they are a different sort of beast, which give you in-game upgrades and are far more numerous than the faction items (approximately 2700 to 300) and you need to complete the villages they're in.

Overall, I think that the games should give you something to help you along to find their in-game collectibles, whether it's an icon on the minimap showing you where it is, or a metal-detector bleeping in, or a signal-detector being synched into the object's server. For me, when I've played through every level and have all the other skill-related Trophies or Achievements, and still have to play through again and again to get the final Trophies, the game stops feeling like a game and starts feeling like a chore, which should never be the case in any game.
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