Video Game Sales

Here are some video game sales I discovered this week:

Good through February 8:

Buy Two Select Xbox One Games and Save $20, Plus Free Shipping

Save up to 50% on Select Xbox 360 Accessories

Save $10 When You Buy Call of Duty: Ghosts and Xbox One Console, Plus Free Shipping

Save $20 on Xbox Live 12-Month Gold Membership Card, Sale $39.99, Plus Free Shipping

ArcaniA – Gothic 4 Update

I completed my non-achievement seeking playthrough of Arcania: Gothic 4 today.  The game doesn’t have official classes to choose from, but I took a mostly melee fighter approach on the “normal” difficulty setting.  The game started out easy, got a bit difficult in the middle and then got easy again, as my stats outpaced the enemies.

I earned the following 28 of the 46 achievements for 635 of 1000 gamerscore:

  1. Saviour

    Saviour
    Defeat an ancient evil

    150 UNLOCKED ON 2/4/2014

  2. Army of One

    Army of One
    Defeat 1000 enemies

    25 UNLOCKED ON 2/3/2014

  3. Knight in Shining Armor

    Knight in Shining Armor
    Complete all quests

    10 UNLOCKED ON 2/3/2014

  4. Forged by Destiny

    Forged by Destiny
    Claim the power of the divine forge

    40 UNLOCKED ON 2/2/2014

  5. Seeker

    Seeker
    Gain access to the forgotten temple

    35 UNLOCKED ON 2/2/2014

  6. Glutton

    Glutton
    Consume 200 items

    10 UNLOCKED ON 2/2/2014

  7. Bad Dog

    Bad Dog
    Defeat Jabo’s watchdog

    30 UNLOCKED ON 2/2/2014

  8. Chosen by Fire and Shadow

    Chosen by Fire and Shadow
    Learn the secrets of the abbots of the Sea Cliff Monastery

    25 UNLOCKED ON 2/1/2014

  9. Veteran

    Veteran
    Reach Level 20

    40 UNLOCKED ON 2/1/2014

  10. Merchant

    Merchant
    Sell 200 items

    20 UNLOCKED ON 1/31/2014

  11. Master of the Elements

    Master of the Elements
    Obtain an audience with the Grand Master of Water in Tooshoo

    20 UNLOCKED ON 1/31/2014

  12. Deadly Adversary

    Deadly Adversary
    Defeat 500 enemies

    20 UNLOCKED ON 1/31/2014

  13. Champion of Silverlake

    Champion of Silverlake
    Obtain access to the Silverlake archives

    15 UNLOCKED ON 1/30/2014

  14. Explorer

    Explorer
    Cover more than 50Km on foot

    20 UNLOCKED ON 1/30/2014

  15. Alchemist

    Alchemist
    Brew 50 potions or elixirs

    20 UNLOCKED ON 1/30/2014

  16. Kingmaker

    Kingmaker
    Bring stability to Stewark

    15 UNLOCKED ON 1/29/2014

  17. Adventurer

    Adventurer
    Reach Level 10

    20 UNLOCKED ON 1/29/2014

  18. Bane of the Bandits

    Bane of the Bandits
    Clear the bridge to Stewark

    5 UNLOCKED ON 1/27/2014

  19. Deft Hands

    Deft Hands
    Craft your first item

    5 UNLOCKED ON 1/27/2014

  20. Champion

    Champion
    Kill 100 enemies with melee weapons

    20 UNLOCKED ON 1/27/2014

  21. Greenhorn

    Greenhorn
    Reach Level 5

    10 UNLOCKED ON 1/27/2014

  22. Queenslayer

    Queenslayer
    Defeat the loam vermin queen

    5 UNLOCKED ON 1/27/2014

  23. Family Man

    Family Man
    Obtain Ivy’s agreement to marry you

    5 UNLOCKED ON 1/27/2014

  24. Hunter

    Hunter
    Finish an enemy off with a well-placed shot

    5 UNLOCKED ON 1/27/2014

  25. Teacher Beater

    Teacher Beater
    Prove your mettle to your secret mentor

    5 UNLOCKED ON 1/27/2014

  26. Awakened

    Awakened
    Reach Level 2

    5 UNLOCKED ON 1/27/2014

  27. First Blood

    First Blood
    Emerge victorious from your first battle

    5 UNLOCKED ON 1/19/2014

  28. Avenger

    Avenger
    Obtain revenge for Feshyr

    50 UNLOCKED

That leaves 18 achievements yet to achieve, however since two of those achievements are glitched and unobtainable, I will actually only be seeking 16 more achievements to finish ArcaniA.  I also have a number of new purchases that are in the process of being shipped/downloaded to pop opening achievements in.

My updated True Achievements stats are:

ErdricksDescent has won 285 Achievements out of a possible 6,065 (4.70% Completion – 5,780 remaining)

ErdricksDescent has a GamerScore of 4,748 out of a possible 133,800 (3.55% Completion – 129,052 remaining)

ErdricksDescent has a TrueAchievement score of 6,533 out of a possible 264,630 (2.47% Completion – 258,097 remaining)

I am now 2.9% finished with my 100000 gamerscore goal and 37.1% finished with my 6000 gamerscore February goal.

Arcania Update

Alpha Protocol Review

Alpha Protocol is an action RPG with an espionage theme.  Alpha Protocol blends the role-playing and shooter genres in much the same way as Mass Effect and Fallout 3.

In Alpha Protocol you play a James Bondesque super spy named Michael Thorton.  Mike is a new recruit in a super secret government program called “Alpha Protocol.”  Over the course of the game, Mike must use his spy skills to unravel the mysteries and achieve one of several potential endings to the story.

The primary gameplay components are stealth, combat, mini-games and dialog choices.  There are four classes to choose from.  The spy class is stealth oriented.  The tech class focuses on hacking and explosives.  The Commando class focuses on combat and the Operative class allows the player to customize their skills.  Whichever class you choose, you’ll have to use some of all the skills to complete the game.  In addition to the main classes, you can choose to start the game as raw recruit with 0 skills for the extra challenge, unique dialog options and the chance to unlock the veteran class, which starts your player with better skills and new dialog options.

The game is divided into a number of relatively short missions, some of which are optional, spread across three different countries.  The missions are pretty straight forward follow the arrow and shoot the bad guys affairs.

The heart of the roleplaying elements of the game lie in the various dialog options.  Rather than picking specific responses you choose between professional, aggressive, suave and occasionally recruit or veteran choices and specific actions such as “attack” or “execute.”  Your dialog options not only affect the storyline, but change your reputation with the various characters in the game.  Positive and negative reputations both impart useful perks for the player and affect what options are available in certain key points in the game.  The game has multiple ending variations that depend on your actions and dialog choices throughout the game.

alpha protocol review dialog

The combat is pretty straightforward shooter with some special abilities mixed in.  As you advance in your skills, you will learn abilities that will make it easier to do certain things, like sneak past enemies or hack computers and special attacks.  The assault rifle and SMGs seem to have a pretty decent balance in terms of pros and cons, while pistols seem a bit overpowered and shotguns somewhat less useful.  The combat is nothing special, but it is reasonably entertaining and sometimes challenging.  I found a few of the boss battles to be kind of annoying.  Who really wants to spend half a battle running around in circles to avoid a temporarily invincible enemy?  However, the annoying nature of some of the boss battles can be overcome by maxing out some of the special abilities that make defeating bosses pretty easy.

alpha protocol review combat

Scattered across the missions are a number of computers that can be hacked to unlock dossier information, which can unlock bonuses and dialog options, intel to find and safes to crack.  Hacking computers, cracking safes and picking locks involves various simple mini-games.  There is also a mini-game for shutting down alarms you have triggered.

Pros:

Entertaining story and characters.  Variety of ways to play the game.  You can be a stealthy spy, blow everything up, go in with guns blazing or some combination of the three.  The various dialog options allow you to play a character with a unique personality.  Combat is flawed, but fun.  Lots of humor.  Relatively unique setting for a role-playing game.

Cons:

Not enough variety in the missions.  Mini-games are just like the mini-games in every other game of this type.  Certain weapons and abilities are a bit unbalanced, making the game a bit of a cake walk in the later stages.  Some of the boss battles are tedious.  The payoff for exploring the varying endings is a bit underwhelming.

My Take:

Not a mind blowing, “must play,” role playing game, but Alpha Protocol is a solid entry in the genre with a theme that is a fresh change from the sci-fi, fantasy and post-apocalyptic themes that dominate the genre.  I enjoyed the game quite a bit and if they were ever to make a sequel, I’d definitely play it.

Recommended For:

Fans of role-playing/shooter hybrids.  Fans of spy games.

 

 

Alpha Protocol Complete

I finished Alpha Protocol today.  I picked up the 25 achievements that were left after my non-achievement seeking playthrough for a total of 50 achievements and 1000 gamerscore.

Like many RPGs, getting all the achievements required exploring the different endings and branches of the story that result from different dialog choices and actions in the game.  To get the remaining achievements, I played 1.5 additional times on the “easy” difficulty setting and 1 time on “hard.”

I used this walkthrough to help minimize the amount of repeated playthroughs required.  Most of the achievements revolved around making different choices in the game.  A few were related to specific skills and of course there was one achievement for finishing the game on “hard.”

The 25 achievements I completed to finish Alpha Protocol are:

 

  1. Hardcore

    Hardcore
    You have completed Alpha Protocol on the Hard difficulty setting.

    25 UNLOCKED ON 1/26/2014

    I chose to take the stealth route.  I maxed out stealth, pistols and sabotage.  The keys to beating the game were avoiding enemies in the early going and then later in the game, using shadow ops to take down opponents without being seen or setting off alarms.  For boss fights and other situations where I was forced to fight, I used the “chain shot” ability to quickly dispatch enemies and bosses.  Some of the boss fights were a bit tricky, but overall it wasn’t too bad, particularly later in the game when the shadow ops and chain shot abilities become more powerful and can be used to get out of some tough fights pretty cheaply.
  2. Judge, Jury, and Executioner

    Judge, Jury, and Executioner
    You took every opportunity to kill in cold blood.

    15 UNLOCKED ON 1/26/2014

    This one is one of the story line variations.  In this instance, basically every time I got the choice to let someone live or shoot them in the face, I shot them in the face.
  3. Crime Buster

    Crime Buster
    You reconciled with Alpha Protocol and put Halbech out of business.

    25 UNLOCKED ON 1/26/2014

    One of the possible endings to the game.  In this case, I sided with Alpha Protocol and took out Leland at the end.
  4. Price For Lying

    Price For Lying
    You killed Surkov for lying to you.

    5 UNLOCKED ON 1/26/2014

    Just what it sounds like.  I killed Surkov instead of making a deal.
  5. One Less Gangster

    One Less Gangster
    Konstantin Brayko is dead by your hand.

    25 UNLOCKED ON 1/26/2014

    After I beat Brayko, I executed him instead of making a deal.
  6. Keeping the Peace

    Keeping the Peace
    You prevented a riot from killing hundreds in Taipei.

    25 UNLOCKED ON 1/24/2014

    When given the choice to save either the data on the riots or the assassination, I chose the riots.
  7. One With The Shadows

    One With The Shadows
    You went 3 missions unnoticed and with minimal casualties.

    5 UNLOCKED ON 1/24/2014

    This was one of the trickier ones.  There are only a handful of missions you can use to complete this achievement. To get it to pop, you have to complete three missions with no enemies alerted to your presence (no red arrows), no alarms set off and 4 or fewer kills.  There are a lot of varying theories about what you can and can’t do, but for myself, I used shadow ops and EMPs, had evasion kick in and had a couple of yellow arrows.  I also used non-lethal takedowns, shot guys with the tranq gun and shot a couple of guys with the sniper rifle and the achievement popped when it was supposed to.  I just made sure there were no red arrows and re-loaded from the last checkpoint if I got one.
  8. Youth Trumps Experience

    Youth Trumps Experience
    By carefully pushing his buttons, you provoked Marburg into fighting to the death.

    5 UNLOCKED ON 1/22/2014

    I followed the directions in the walkthrough to get to the proper reputation level and provoke him into a fight to the death.

  9. Antisocial

    Antisocial
    You earned the hatred of 3 people.

    10 UNLOCKED ON 1/22/2014

    I intentionally chose dialog options and actions that would piss people off until three of them hated me.

  10. Desert Spear

    Desert Spear
    Following orders, you killed Sheikh Shaheed on Operation Desert Spear.

    25 UNLOCKED ON 1/21/2014

    Executed Shaheed instead of letting him live.

  11. No Time For Love

    No Time For Love
    You went your entire career without being distracted by love interests.

    20 UNLOCKED ON 1/20/2014

    Didn’t seduce any of the ladies in the game.
  12. Respected Enemies

    Respected Enemies
    You gained Marburg’s respect and bested him in battle.

    5 UNLOCKED ON 1/20/2014

    I picked actions and dialog options that would make Marburg like me and then defeated him.
  13. Never Trust A Sociopath

    Never Trust A Sociopath
    You successfully alienated “secret agent” Steven Heck.

    5 UNLOCKED ON 1/19/2014

    Picked dialog options that made Heck hate me enough to roll over on me.
  14. Thorton, Inc.

    Thorton, Inc.
    You turned all of your former enemies into allies.

    10 UNLOCKED ON 1/18/2014

    Used the walkthrough to pick dialog options and actions that won over all my former enemies.
  15. Rising Star

    Rising Star
    You joined Halbech and put an end to Alpha Protocol.

    25 UNLOCKED ON 1/18/2014

    I turned corporate sell out and sided with Halbech to take down Alpha Protocol.
  16. Ladies' Man

    Ladies’ Man
    You romanced all the ladies of Alpha Protocol.

    10 UNLOCKED ON 1/18/2014

    Chose the correct dialog options and actions to seduce all the ladies in the game.  Even the old ones.
  17. Savage Love

    Savage Love
    You gained the affection of SIE and allowed her to consummate her lust.

    5 UNLOCKED ON 1/18/2014

    Allowed SIE to have her way with me.  The squickiest and most amusing romance option in the game.
  18. Exclusive Interview

    Exclusive Interview
    You and Scarlet Lake had a romantic trist.

    5 UNLOCKED ON 1/18/2014

    Got it on with Scarlet at the hotel.
  19. Technophile

    Technophile
    You completed 5 missions using a wide variety of gadgets.

    5 UNLOCKED ON 1/15/2014

    I made sure to use 6 different gadgets each in five missions.
  20. Shotgun Crowd Control

    Shotgun Crowd Control
    You scored 100 Critical Hits with the Shotgun.

    5 UNLOCKED ON 1/15/2014

    I focused on the pistol and the assault rifle the first time out, so for my “easy” playthrough I put all my weapons points into the Shotgun and the SMG.  I got this achievement without trying for it specifically.
  21. SMG Havoc

    SMG Havoc
    You achieved the maximum SMG Critical Hit Multiplier 7 times in your career.

    5 UNLOCKED ON 1/15/2014

    Same as the achievement above.  I primarily used the shotgun when faced with single opponents and used the SMG to mow down larger groups.
  22. Hard to Read

    Hard to Read
    Across 90 dialogue choices, you’ve used each stance at least 25% of the time.

    10 UNLOCKED ON 1/15/2014

    I popped this one just by playing the game.  It seems to be cumulative across all playthroughs.
  23. Building a Deadlier Mousetrap

    Building a Deadlier Mousetrap
    100 of your placed devices have detonated.

    5 UNLOCKED ON 1/12/2014

    I didn’t use placed devices much in actual game play, so for this during the tech training at the beginning of the game, I just kept placing devices and exploding them until this popped.

  24. Friends Before Strangers
    Friends Before Strangers
    You saved Madison Saint James from certain death.

    25 UNLOCKED

    I chose to save Madison instead of disarming the bombs.
  25. Office Romance

    Office Romance
    Your working relationship with Mina Tang turned into something more.

    5 UNLOCKED

    Got some Tang.

 

In addition to finishing Alpha Protocol, I popped an opening achievement in The Witcher 2, Arcania, Laura Croft: Guardians of Light, Far Cry 2 and Lego: Lord of the Rings.

My updated True Achievements stats are:

ErdricksDescent has won 257 Achievements out of a possible 6,024 (4.27% Completion – 5,767 remaining)

ErdricksDescent has a GamerScore of 4,103 out of a possible 132,800 (3.09% Completion – 128,697 remaining)

ErdricksDescent has a TrueAchievement score of 5,552 out of a possible 262,634 (2.11% Completion – 257,082 remaining)

I am 2.3% to my 100000 gamerscore goal.  I completed my January goal of 4000 gamerscore ahead of schedule. I set a less ambitious goal of 6000 gamerscore for February, because I anticipate binge watching the Winter Olympics will curtail my game playing time.

Next up is ArcaniA – Gothic 4.

Alpha Protocol Complete

Video Game Sales

I ran across the following video game sales:

Best Buy:

$15-$30 Off Select PS3 and Xbox 360 Games

$10 Off Select Great Gaming Titles for Xbox One and PlayStation 4

Sale titles include:

  • Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Blacklist
  • Far Cry 3
  • Ryse: Son of Rome
  • Dead Rising 3
  • Call of Duty: Ghosts
  • Madden NFL 25
  • LEGO Marvel Super Heroes
  • NBA Live 14
  • FIFA 14

 

Alpha Protocol Update

I finished my non-achievement seeking playthrough of Alpha Protocol.  I played on the “normal” difficulty setting and chose the “recruit” option.  There were a few challenging boss fights, but for the most part, Alpha Protocol was pretty smooth sailing.

Here are the 25/50 achievements I unlocked for 690/1000 gamerscore:

  1. Full Circle

    Full Circle
    You have finished Alpha Protocol.

    125 UNLOCKED ON 1/11/2014

  2. Evolution of an Action Hero

    Evolution of an Action Hero
    You survived Alpha Protocol as a Recruit.

    10 UNLOCKED ON 1/11/2014

  3. A Plot Uncovered

    A Plot Uncovered
    You discovered the identity of Sung’s assassin.

    5 UNLOCKED ON 1/11/2014

  4. Ask Questions First, Shoot Later

    Ask Questions First, Shoot Later
    When talking at gunpoint, you never pulled the trigger.

    15 UNLOCKED ON 1/11/2014

  5. No Compromise, No Mercy

    No Compromise, No Mercy
    Choosing your own path, you put an end to Halbech and Alpha Protocol.

    25 UNLOCKED ON 1/11/2014

  6. Operation True Heirs

    Operation True Heirs
    You completed Operation True Heirs.

    75 UNLOCKED ON 1/11/2014

  7. Secret Service

    Secret Service
    You prevented the assassination of President Ronald Sung.

    25 UNLOCKED ON 1/11/2014

  8. Ready For Anything

    Ready For Anything
    You acquired the vast majority of Intel available in the game.

    5 UNLOCKED ON 1/11/2014

  9. Pistol Mastery

    Pistol Mastery
    You scored 100 Critical Hits with the Pistol.

    5 UNLOCKED ON 1/11/2014

  10. Russian Alliance

    Russian Alliance
    You forged a partnership with Sergei Surkov.

    5 UNLOCKED ON 1/10/2014

  11. Operation Blood Feud

    Operation Blood Feud
    You completed Operation Blood Feud.

    75 UNLOCKED ON 1/8/2014

  12. A Price On Mercy

    A Price On Mercy
    You spared Konstantin Brayko.

    25 UNLOCKED ON 1/8/2014

  13. Black Belt

    Black Belt
    You defeated 50 enemies with CQC.

    5 UNLOCKED ON 1/8/2014

  14. Lurker

    Lurker
    You Evaded (or defeated via Takedown moves) 75 enemies.

    5 UNLOCKED ON 1/8/2014

  15. Circuit Breaker

    Circuit Breaker
    You bypassed 20 electronic devices.

    5 UNLOCKED ON 1/7/2014

  16. Social Butterfly

    Social Butterfly
    You gained the favor of 3 people.

    10 UNLOCKED ON 1/7/2014

  17. Alpha Protocol

    Alpha Protocol
    You survived Operation Desert Spear.

    75 UNLOCKED ON 1/6/2014

  18. Stay of Execution

    Stay of Execution
    You allowed Sheikh Shaheed to live.

    25 UNLOCKED ON 1/6/2014

  19. Breaking and Entering

    Breaking and Entering
    You picked 10 locks.

    5 UNLOCKED ON 1/6/2014

  20. Data Theft

    Data Theft
    You hacked 10 computers.

    5 UNLOCKED ON 1/6/2014

  21. Basic Training

    Basic Training
    You have finished your training.

    50 UNLOCKED ON 11/2/2013

  22. Operation Deus Vult

    Operation Deus Vult
    You completed Operation Deus Vult.

    75 UNLOCKED

  23. Hard Choices

    Hard Choices
    The Roman History Museum is safe, thanks to your efforts.

    25 UNLOCKED

  24. Rome-ance

    Rome-ance
    You became more than friends with Madison Saint James.

    5 UNLOCKED

  25. Assault Rifle Marksmanship

    Assault Rifle Marksmanship
    You scored 100 head shots with the Assault Rifle.

    5 UNLOCKED

Next up is to finish up the remaining 25 achievements in Alpha Protocol.  I will also need to pop an achievement in two games I recently purchased: Lego: Lord of the Rings and Far Cry 2.

My updated True Achievements stats are:

ErdricksDescent has won 227 Achievements out of a possible 5,820 (3.90% Completion – 5,593 remaining)

ErdricksDescent has a GamerScore of 3,728 out of a possible 128,600 (2.90% Completion – 124,872 remaining)

ErdricksDescent has a TrueAchievement score of 4,779 out of a possible 253,216 (1.89% Completion – 248,437 remaining)

I am now 1.9% to my 100000 gamerscore goal and 87.2% of the way to my January goal of 4000 gamerscore.

Alpha Protocol Update

Alan Wake Review

Alan Wake is a genre defying video game that could be classified as a thriller, action/adventure, shooter or survival horror game.

The player assumes the role of Alan Wake, a Stephen King like writer, who finds himself in a waking nightmare after going on vacation in Bright Springs with his wife Alice.

The story is presented in a very cinematic style, broken up into episodes which even have “previously on Alan Wake” segments to increase the feeling of playing an interactive television show vs a video game.

While the story, is at its heart, a survival horror story presented in a manner similar to a RPG or adventure game, the gameplay most closely resembles that of a shooter, though with some non-traditional shooter elements.  The primary gameplay mechanic is “light and fight.”  The player must use their light source to destroy the enemies’ shields and then blast them with traditional shooter style weapons.  However, the art of running away is much more integral to Alan Wake than it is in most traditional shooters, making it more of a survival game.

I found the gameplay a bit awkward at first, but I quickly got the hang of it and once I got used to the unique aspects of the fighting style, I enjoyed the light and fight system tremendously.  The checkpoints and ammo are plentiful enough that even on Nightmare difficulty, the game isn’t all that difficult, but players seeking a larger challenge can choose to stay and duke it out, when others might just run to the next safe haven. In addition to the combat, the game includes some mild puzzle solving and exploration elements, with plenty of “collectibles” to find along the way.

alan wake review

image credit: xbox.com

Alan Wake’s best aspect is its story.  The game successfully manages to keep the player guessing from beginning to end whether the events are real, a dream, a psychotic break, part of a story or some combination of the four.  I found the narrative to be engaging from the opening to the closing credits and while the story is often dark and creepy, there is also humor to be found, particularly towards the end when Barry and The Old Gods of Asgard become more involved in the story.  The game also makes interesting use of its music to augment the story and add emotion.  I still find myself singing about the Lady of the Light from time to time. Stephen King references are plentiful with everything from Pet Semetary and The Dark Half to The Shining getting a nod and Wake himself cites King as one of his writing inspirations. The story of Alan Wake itself feels very much like something King could have written.  The ending of the story leaves the player with more questions than answers, but still manages to be satisfying.  Unfortunately, the sequel the ending seems to beg for has yet to see the light of day, but there is some DLC and an Xbox Live arcade game to tide fans over.

Positives: One of the most engaging stories available in a console game.  Innovative cinematic story telling style and gameplay mechanics.  Keeps the player guessing.

Negatives: A bit on the short side, particularly if you don’t count the cut scenes.  Limited replay value.  A bit on the easy side once you figure out you can run away from most of the fights.

Recommended for: Survival Horror and shooting fans.  Stephen King fans.  Anyone who likes a good story telling game, as long as they don’t mind the dark/creepy elements. Achievement hunters looking for a relatively easy 1000g.

My take: Definitely worth picking up via your favorite pre-owned game vendor.  I don’t anticipate I will replay this one, but I plan to hang on to it in case they ever release a sequel, since I like to play the whole series in order whenever a new game comes out.  I don’t plan to purchase the DLC at the current going rate, but I might if the right sale comes along and I’d definitely purchase the sequel if it ever gets made.

Alan Wake Complete

I completed Alan Wake today for a total of 50 achievements and 1000 gamerscore.  I popped 29 of the 50 during my non-achievement seeking play through.  I picked up most of the remaining 21 achievements by playing the game a second time on “nightmare” difficulty and then cleaned up the small handful left over by playing specific episodes.

I popped the following 15 achievements on my nightmare play through:

  1. Hardboiled Writer

    Hardboiled Writer
    You completed the game on Hard difficulty.

    40 UNLOCKED ON 1/4/2014

    This is a stackable achievement and will pop when you finish the game on either hard or nightmare difficulty. Unless playing on normal just isn’t your thing, there isn’t any real reason to play the game on hard, since normal unlocks nightmare and nightmare pops both achievements.
  2. Alan, Wake Up

    Alan, Wake Up
    You completed the game on Nightmare difficulty.

    50 UNLOCKED ON 1/4/2014

    The only real difference between nightmare and normal is that the enemies’ darkness shields last longer, it takes more damage to kill them and they do more damage when they hit you.  The only real adjustments I made from my normal play through was to a) make sure I had taken down their shields before firing, and not just blasting away.  It takes more bullets to kill enemies, so you can’t afford to waste them.  b) Save the shotgun/hunting rifle, flare gun and flash bangs for the bigger enemies/larger groups and use the revolver for everything else.  Resources aren’t super scarce, but wasting your big guns on minor takens that can be easily dispatched with the revolver will make your life more difficult than it needs to be.  However, don’t be too stingy, no sense dying repeatedly to try and save ammo, when most of the time you will finish an episode with ammo to spare and you can’t take it with you.  If you get in a tough spot, don’t be afraid to use your flares, flashbangs, etc to make things easier.  c) Run to safe havens without fighting as often as possible.  Large groups of takens and some of the bigger takens can deplete your supplies in a hurry if you try to fight them all, so if it wasn’t a huge hassle to do so, I mostly avoided fights by running/dodging until tired and then either dropping a flare or turning around and walking backwards while stunning the enemies with my flashlight until I could run again.
  3. Gunless Wonder

    Gunless Wonder
    You managed to make it all the way from the dam to Cauldron Lake without firing a single bullet.

    30 UNLOCKED ON 1/4/2014

    On nightmare, it’s generally better to run if you can, so this one is pretty easy to pick up on your nightmare play through.  The only draw back is not being able to use the flare gun against birds, but it’s not a huge deal.  You spend a lot of time driving in this segment of the game, so running over takens as much as possible makes this achievement a lot easier.  When you can’t run them over, drop flares and sprint to safe havens and if you get in a tight spot, toss a flash bang or two.  The only thing that’s useful in the boss fight at the end is the flare gun and flash light and you will have a box of infinite ammo, so you don’t have to worry too much about conserving items.
  4. Missed by a Mile

    Missed by a Mile
    You managed a slow-motion dodge 20 times.

    25 UNLOCKED ON 1/4/2014

    I got this one in the course of normal play.  You will do a lot of running away on nightmare, so hopefully you’ll get your 20 dodges, if not, just pop back in and grind a few.
  5. Bright Falls Aficionado

    Bright Falls Aficionado
    You have examined every sign and point of interest in the Bright Falls area.

    30 UNLOCKED ON 1/4/2014

    I used this walkthrough to track down all the collectibles I missed the first time.  I read most of the signs the first time out, but missed a few late in the game.
  6. Picking Up After Yourself

    Picking Up After Yourself
    You have found every manuscript page in Normal mode.

    30 UNLOCKED ON 1/4/2014

    This achievement is for collecting all the manuscript pages that are available on “normal” difficulty.  I missed a few on my first play through.  This achievement is cumulative across playthroughs, so you don’t have to pick up pages you already have, but they do still appear in the game, as do all the collectibles, except for coffee thermoses.  You can get these pages on any difficulty, so if you missed them the first time, it is fine to collect them in your nightmare run.
  7. Couch Potato

    Couch Potato
    You have watched every single TV show on offer.

    30 UNLOCKED ON 1/4/2014

    As you proceed through the game you will see a number of TVs.  Some of them will automatically play story related scenes, others you will need to turn on yourself. Most of these play episodes of a Twilight Zonesque TV show called “Night Springs.”  I used the walkthrough to find the couple I missed the first time around.
  8. Drink 'Em Both Up

    Drink ‘Em Both Up
    You drank ‘em bot’ up.

    10 UNLOCKED ON 1/4/2014

    When you enter the diner the first time, one of the old rockers asks you to play the jukebox for him.  I did this the first time, but later in the game, when I was in the diner again, I didn’t play the jukebox the second time that pops this achievement.  This one is missable if you don’t play the box both times, so don’t forget!
  9. Taken Season

    Taken Season
    You have dropped 50 Taken with the hunting rifle.

    20 UNLOCKED ON 1/4/2014

    I didn’t have to do anything special to pop this one, it just happened during my nightmare run.
  10. KBF-FM

    KBF-FM
    You haven’t missed a single radio show.

    30 UNLOCKED ON 1/4/2014

    I turned on the radios I found my first time through, but missed a couple that were off the beaten path.  With the help of the walkthrough, I found them all.  In addition to popping the achievement, the radio shows flesh out the story a bit more.
  11. What Light Through Yonder Window

    What Light Through Yonder Window
    It is the east, and the flaregun is the sun to 50 Taken.

    20 UNLOCKED ON 1/3/2014

    I didn’t have to do anything special to pop this one, it just happened during my nightmare run.
  12. Medical Opinions

    Medical Opinions
    You listened to Hartman’s recordings.

    10 UNLOCKED ON 1/3/2014

    I played the first recording in Dr. Hartman’s office on my normal run, but there are 2 more after that, that I needed to play to get the achievement.  You will also get a bit more of the story by listening.
  13. Heavy Metal

    Heavy Metal
    You destroyed the bulldozer.

    10 UNLOCKED ON 1/3/2014

    There isn’t any real reason to fight this thing, as opposed to just running by it, so I didn’t fight it my first time through.  It was a bit of a pain to defeat the thing on nightmare, but it wasn’t too difficult.  Boosted light, flares and flashbangs if you got em are key.  If you want to conserve items (I didn’t find I needed to) you can always reload the game after you pop the achievement and then run past it.
  14. Carny

    Carny
    You have heartlessly knocked over five defenseless can pyramids.

    10 UNLOCKED ON 1/3/2014

    I saw the little can pyramids on my first play through and even thought about shooting them, but I didn’t want to waste ammo, not knowing how scarce it would be.  You only need 5 out of 11 or 12, so this is pretty easy to get.  Use the guide if you don’t find them on your own.
  15. Sound and Fury

    Sound and Fury
    You blasted four Taken into ashes with a single flashbang.

    10 UNLOCKED ON 1/3/2014

    This one happened through the normal course of play for me.  If you don’t get it naturally, just find a spot with four weak to medium takens, wait until they are close together and flashbang em.  A few takens towards the end of the game can survive a flashbang on nightmare, so do it on normal or do it early in nightmare.

The 6 achievements I mopped up after my nightmare run are:

  1. An Idyllic Small Town

    An Idyllic Small Town
    You fought your way through the streets of Bright Falls without getting killed.

    30 UNLOCKED ON 1/5/2014

    I’m sure this is doable on nightmare, but I decided it would be too much of a pain, so I went back and did it on normal.  To unlock this, you must complete episode 5 from the beginning, up until the helicopter ride after the boss fight without getting killed or restarting from a checkpoint, which is what kept me from getting this achievement on my first play through.  I quit after episode 4 and continued the game, which counts as restarting.  I started the episode on normal, made sure I didn’t fall off anything and didn’t go after any extras that spawned any tough enemies.  For the battle in front of the church, when the second wave of takens starts, I started dropping flares to keep those fast takens from sneaking up on me and used my hunting rifle to finish off the big guys.  For the boss fight, since I had ample supplies, I tossed flash bangs at any groups of enemies and blasted the rest with the hunting rifle, making for a pretty easy fight.  I find it’s best to stay on the platform by the helicopter between waves to make sure you don’t get killed by debris from the tornado.
  2. Meet the Deadline

    Meet the Deadline
    You made it all the way to the Cauldron Lake lookout in under 30 minutes.

    30 UNLOCKED ON 1/5/2014

    I still had collectibles to look for on my nightmare run, so I had to go back and do this one again.  I chose the normal difficulty selected “Mirror Peak” from the episode 3 menu.  I avoided going off trail to pick up supplies and only gathered what I ran across on the main trail.  I ran past most enemy encounters and when running was too much of a pain, I used flashbangs, the flare gun and/or the shotgun/rifle to quickly dispatch enemies.  If I got turned around too much, I restarted from the last check point.  Using a walkthrough to see what is coming up is helpful.
  3. Child of the Elder God

    Child of the Elder God
    You shone a light upon this night of otherworldly fiends.

    10 UNLOCKED ON 1/5/2014

    You get this achievement by defending the stage at the Anderson farm without ever letting your health go critical in episode 4.  This is pretty easy on normal difficulty.  Avoid standing in the middle of the stage where the safe havens generate, so that if you go critical, you can restart at the last checkpoint without having accidentally trigger one after a critical.  I used a similar technique as at the helipad, tossing flashbangs at groups and using flares to keep takens from sneaking up on me.  Once those ran out, things got a little hairy, but fortunately there was only a few seconds left in the fight at that point.
  4. Hypercaffeinated

    Hypercaffeinated
    You have discovered every thermos of coffee.

    30 UNLOCKED ON 1/5/2014

    In spite of using the walkthrough, I finished nightmare with 99/100 coffee thermoses.  Since there is no way to tell which one you missed, I feared having to comb through most of the game to find the missing one, but fortunately, the one I missed was from early in episode 1.  The walkthrough clearly instructed me to backtrack to the car before proceeding to the cabin at diver’s isle, but apparently I didn’t follow directions, much to my relief when I popped this achievement without the effort I feared would be required.  The thermos I came the closest to missing for a reason other than not following directions, was the one in the diner in episode 5.  I almost left, thinking I must have picked it up the first time, but spotted it on the floor behind the counters (you have to jump over to get it) on my way out.  Since thermoses don’t re-appear in the game after you collect them the first time, if you want to be extra sure you have collected one, check a video guide.

  5. Collector's Edition
    Collector’s Edition
    You have found every manuscript page in the game.

    50 UNLOCKED ON 1/4/2014

    There are a handful of pages that you can only collect on nightmare difficulty.  I used the walkthrough for this, but I didn’t understand the directions that take you to a chest and a page right after you jump through the broken fence to get into the field that takes you to the Anderson farm stage battle.  Unfortunately, once you trigger the cut scene, the gate to the buildings where these are is closed and I couldn’t find another way to get to them, so I had to replay the episode on nightmare to get one last page to unlock this.

  6. Every Nook and Cranny
    Every Nook and Cranny

    You have discovered all of the hidden chests.

    30 UNLOCKED ON 1/4/2014

    See #5.  I found most of the chests when I played the first time, but there were a few that I deemed “not worth it” because of swarms of enemies in the general area and a couple that I just didn’t see that I needed the walkthrough for.

    My updated True Achievements stats are:

    ErdricksDescent has won 203 Achievements out of a possible 5,820 (3.49% Completion – 5,617 remaining)

    ErdricksDescent has a GamerScore of 3,088 out of a possible 128,600 (2.40% Completion – 125,512 remaining)

    ErdricksDescent has a TrueAchievement score of 3,912 out of a possible 253,179 (1.55% Completion – 249,267 remaining)

    I am now 1.2% of the way to my 100000 gamerscore goal and 57% of the way to my January goal of 4000 gamerscore.  Since my last post, I picked up Sleeping Dogs as the first of the January Games with Gold free games and popped one achievement.  Next up on the quest is Alpha Protocol.

    Alan Wake Complete

Alan Wake Update

I finished my non-achievement seeking play through of Alan Wake today.  Alan Wake only has one game mode, so to complete this play through, I played the game on the “normal” difficulty setting.  While the game isn’t a cakewalk, it’s not particularly challenging on normal mode either, so this was pretty easy to finish.  Alan Wake has a great story and I had a lot of fun playing it, but I’ll get more into that when I write my review.

I unlocked 29 of the 50 (without DLC) achievements for a total of 465 gamerscore.  The achievements I unlocked are:

  1. Departure

    Departure
    You completed the game on Normal difficulty.

    40 UNLOCKED ON 12/31/2013

  2. Tornado Wrangler

    Tornado Wrangler
    You calmed the fury of the storm.

    20 UNLOCKED ON 12/31/2013

  3. The Lady of the Light

    The Lady of the Light
    Cynthia Weaver has taken you to the Well-Lit Room.

    20 UNLOCKED ON 12/31/2013

  4. Come One, Come All

    Come One, Come All
    You wiped out four Taken with a single flare.

    10 UNLOCKED ON 12/31/2013

  5. If It Flies, It Burns

    If It Flies, It Burns
    Not a bird lover, are you?

    20 UNLOCKED ON 12/31/2013

  6. Gatekeeper

    Gatekeeper
    Truly, you are the master of floodgates.

    10 UNLOCKED ON 12/31/2013

  7. Thunder and Lightning

    Thunder and Lightning
    50 Taken have felt your fury. Also, your flashbangs.

    20 UNLOCKED ON 12/31/2013

  8. Perchance to Dream

    Perchance to Dream
    Oh, so THAT’S what happened.

    20 UNLOCKED ON 12/30/2013

  9. It's Not Just a Typewriter Brand

    It’s Not Just a Typewriter Brand
    QWERTY? DVORAK? 50 Taken know it’s neither.

    20 UNLOCKED ON 12/30/2013

  10. Collateral Carnage

    Collateral Carnage
    20 Taken have been drowned, electrocuted, or dispatched by some other indirect means.

    20 UNLOCKED ON 12/30/2013

  11. Boob Tube

    Boob Tube
    You checked out some important messages.

    5 UNLOCKED ON 12/30/2013

  12. Wheels Within Wheels

    Wheels Within Wheels
    You found the kidnapper, but what he had to say wasn’t what you wanted to hear.

    20 UNLOCKED ON 12/30/2013

  13. Back! Back, I Say!

    Back! Back, I Say!
    You bought yourself some breathing time with a flare.

    10 UNLOCKED ON 12/30/2013

  14. Energized!

    Energized!
    You changed batteries 100 times.

    10 UNLOCKED ON 12/30/2013

  15. Iron Horse

    Iron Horse
    You made the train engine run out of steam.

    10 UNLOCKED ON 12/30/2013

  16. They're Heeeeeere!

    They’re Heeeeeere!
    You have destroyed 20 poltergeist objects.

    20 UNLOCKED ON 12/30/2013

  17. Right of Way

    Right of Way
    You have peeled 15 Taken off your bumper.

    10 UNLOCKED ON 12/30/2013

  18. The Six-Gun Scribe

    The Six-Gun Scribe
    You capped 100 Taken with the revolver.

    20 UNLOCKED ON 12/30/2013

  19. Damn Good Cup of Coffee

    Damn Good Cup of Coffee
    You have found 25 coffee thermoses.

    20 UNLOCKED ON 12/30/2013

  20. Two For the Price of One

    Two For the Price of One
    You took out two Taken with a single barrel.

    10 UNLOCKED ON 12/30/2013

  21. Float Like a Butterfly

    Float Like a Butterfly
    You avoided getting hit — with style!

    15 UNLOCKED ON 12/30/2013

  22. Park Ranger

    Park Ranger
    You survived Elderwood National Park.

    15 UNLOCKED ON 12/29/2013

  23. Paging Mr. Wake

    Paging Mr. Wake
    You have discovered 25 manuscript pages.

    20 UNLOCKED ON 12/29/2013

  24. Finders Keepers

    Finders Keepers
    You have discovered five of the hidden chests.

    20 UNLOCKED ON 12/29/2013

  25. Under a Thin Layer of Skin

    Under a Thin Layer of Skin
    You disobeyed the park ranger’s instructions.

    10 UNLOCKED ON 12/29/2013

  26. Bright Falls' Finest

    Bright Falls’ Finest
    You finally managed to make that phone call.

    20 UNLOCKED ON 12/29/2013

  27. Nordic Walking

    Nordic Walking
    Unlike Stucky, you enjoy incontestable health benefits. Namely, you’re not dead.

    10 UNLOCKED ON 12/29/2013

  28. Let There Be Light

    Let There Be Light
    You have restored power.

    10 UNLOCKED ON 12/29/2013

  29. Follow the Light

    Follow the Light
    You were enlightened by a dream.

    10 UNLOCKED ON 11/2/2013

My updated True Achievements stats are:

ErdricksDescent has won 181 Achievements out of a possible 5,770 (3.14% Completion – 5,589 remaining)

ErdricksDescent has a GamerScore of 2,543 out of a possible 127,600 (1.99% Completion – 125,057 remaining)

ErdricksDescent has a TrueAchievement score of 2,847 out of a possible 251,542 (1.13% Completion – 248,695 remaining)

I am now .7% to my 100000 gamerscore goal and 31.3% to my January goal of 4000 gamerscore.  Next up, I will attempt to unlock the remaining 21 achievements.

Alan Wake Update

World of Keflings Review

A World of Keflings is a casual “god game” in the Xbox Live Arcade format and is a sequel to the title A Kingdom for Keflings.  I picked up the game for free as part of the “Games for Gold” promotion for Xbox Live Gold members.  The game is currently listed for $9.99 in the Xbox Live Store.

The bulk of A World of Keflings is a story mode which revolves around helping the “King without a castle” build up his kingdom and ultimately construct his castle.  The gameplay primarily involves constructing and customizing buildings.  In order to complete quests and structures, the player must assign the Keflings to various tasks, such as mining or transporting goods and/or perform those tasks with their avatar.  Quests are mostly fetch quests and assignments to complete certain types of structures.  The player can customize their world by painting their structures and decorating them with a variety of items that players can share with each other.

The story mode packs in wacky characters and scenarios and has a fun sense of humor.  As you move through the quest, you will visit ice, desert and forest worlds and complete a variety of missions, most of which revolve around managing your resources and constructing different types of buildings.  There are more stories available for purchase as DLC.

In addition to the story mode, there is a weekly challenge, which presents a specific scenario to accomplish, a multi-player mode, which is basically the same as the single player mode, except with multiple players and the “Avatar Famestar” challenges, which reward the player with costumes and other avatar awards for reaching certain fame levels.

In A World of Keflings, you play as your Xbox Avatar, who the Keflings consider to be a giant.  As you play through the game, you can unlock various costumes your avatar can wear in the game.  The game play is very casual and doesn’t require  much strategy or concentration.  A World of Keflings is a fun, relaxing take on the world building/god game genre, but lacks in any real depth.  Think of it as Civilization light.

World of Keflings Review

Image Credit: Xbox.com

The highlight of story mode is the liberal dose of humor and fun characters.  I often found myself chuckling at the characters’ dialog and the game kept me smiling.  I didn’t see much point to the multi-player or the weekly challenge, other than to accumulate “fame,” though the game has enough content that if you’re really into the world building thing, you might enjoy constructing and sharing your unique worlds with your friends.

A World of Keflings offers the chance to unlock some nifty avatar wards, including costumes and even a dragon prop.  I refuse to actually pay for things for my avatar to wear, so my avatar is mostly decked out in a motley assortment of items unlocked in various games.  If you’re really into avatar games and avatar bling, pursuing the various Famestar challenges to unlock goodies may make the game worth the price of admission for you.

Positives: Fun, humor filled story mode.  Avatar awards.  Lots of customization options.  Nice casual break from shooting zombies and such.  Kid friendly.

Negatives: Not very challenging.  Limited replay value, unless you are willing to pay for DLC or really enjoy world building and/or avatar bling.

Recommended for: Casual gamers.  Kids.  People who love avatar games and avatar bling.  Players looking for easy gamerscore.

My take: I wouldn’t pay for the game, but as a free download, I enjoyed the title and it was a nice break from the darker and more difficult games in my collection.