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My first experience of trophies was in September 2008 when on collecting my first piece of treasure in Uncharted: Drakes Fortune I was greeted by a mysterious chime and the now satisfying grey box/message alerting me that I had unlocked the ‘First Treasure’ trophy. As this was all new to me I didn’t really know what to make of it at the time but looking back on it now it was the start of a new gaming chapter in my life...the era of the trophy.  While Uncharted was my introduction (to trophies) it wasn’t until a few months later when I started playing Call of Duty: World at War that I became fully aware of how addictive and challenging the quest for trophies can be. Now I had a reason to replay games, obtain all the collectables and try different difficulty settings. Therefore since then trophies are not too far from my thoughts when playing any game as you need to be prepared if you want to unlock some of the more challenging ones as the window of opportunity can be quite small. As trophy support for older titles such Metal Gear Solid 4, Oblivion and Modern Warfare is one of the most requested features on the Sony Blog and various forums it seems I am not alone in my love for Sony’s ‘achievement’ system.

Having recently obtained my 1000th trophy and my 4th Platinum I started thinking about this fairly recent phenomenon that they call 'Trophies'. Initially introduced by Microsoft for the Xbox 360 in the form of 'Achievements' these in game rewards are obtained for the completion of game-specific challenges, such as beating a level or amassing a specified number of wins against other players in online matches. After numerous requests Sony released their equivalent in game reward system, Trophies, in the summer of 2008. On the 1st January 2009 Trophies became mandatory for all retail and downloadable games released on the PS3. I have been playing games for over 20 years now and I feel nothing has enhanced, and damaged my gaming experience (and health!) more than the now seemingly ubiquitous trophies/achievements system.

20 December 2010 KingofMetal79 

Indy and Idol

Confessions of a (part-time) Trophy Hunter

Trophy Unlocked Cropped

While the idea of easy trophies would never persuade me to buy a game or the possibility of a platinum in anyway dictate which games I buy (as the main reason we all love games and the reason why you are reading this, is because of a game's ability to immerse you into another world and distract you from day to day stresses and banality and not whether a game can easily bolster your trophy/gamercard) there are some notable games that I ignored for quite some time as they did not have trophy support, Orange Box, Elder Scrolls: Oblivion... One of the main positives about trophies is the replay value they generate. In your quest to complete it on the hardest difficulty setting or get a kill with every weapon type you'll normally have to complete several play-throughs. This means an extension of a games shelf life and possibly may result in you discovering elements to the story, certain levels or characters you may have missed first time round.

While I like trophies there are a type I have the tendency to dislike immediately - Online/Multiplayer trophies! These are heinous as they normally make you grind through the levelling system if you want to get the Platinum and this can be quite tedious. Funny thing is the only game where I wouldn’t mind subjecting myself to hours and hours of online abuse and endless death and respawning, Call of Duty, doesn’t have any substantial achievements. Considering this is one of, if the most played game online I find it quite surprising that there is not a whole suite of trophies available to reward some of the most die-hard players.  One final comment regarding online trophies is the lack of players on older games (and even the servers being turned off for really old games) means some of the trophies may not even be obtainable.

I find a lot of the time I simply cant be bothered to put the time in to get certain trophies as the time required to unlock trophies varies wildly. For example to get gold trophies on Final Fantasy XIII or Just Cause 2 may take in excess of 100 hrs but there are some gaming houses (here’s looking at you Ubisoft) that seem to give trophies for the most inane of tasks such as watching the initial cut-scene or completing a compulsory tutorial...pointless. They should be fun and challenging and extended your enjoyment of the game and not be for stuff you couldn't f*** up even if you wanted too! Personally I dislike trophies for the collection of inanimate objects too (eg feathers in Assassins Creed, treasure in Uncharted, pigeons in GTA etc). While some may argue it means you explore and experience every nook and cranny of the game world I feel they are time consuming, pointless and add nothing to the game. All I end up doing is following videos that have been posted on Youtube to find them if i want to unlock the platinum. I guess this leads me to the question “are watching videos online cheating?” Probably, but the elements of the game that require true skill (boss fights etc) can’t be faked regardless of how many videos you watched as the player still has to sit down and do it.

As it seems trophies and achievements are now a fully integrated part of gaming life there is one obvious console set that has been overlooked…handhelds. While I love my PSP I do wish it had trophy support. I am sure I read the reason for the PSP not having trophy support is due to ease at which the PSP can be hacked and therefore could comprise the legitimacy of any trophies detailed for the hand held. With the increase in console security of late (following a very high profile Jailbreak incident) I’d be very surprised if future handheld consoles didn’t support some type of rewards system. The heavily rumoured introduction of trophy support into either the 3DS or PSP2 may be the deciding factor in which next gen hand held console I buy one (and not just the price) as they both look equally brilliant on paper with regards to rumoured games and spec’s.

Finally why are trophies so coveted by some and why do people make it their life’s work to grab as many of these little digital wonders as possible? Is it for recognition from their gaming peers? Like the leader boards on arcade games back in the day Trophies are a way of showing off your gaming prowess to others, a visual indication of how good you are at a game and some digital proof of how much of a game you have completed. Remember those arguments you had with mates at school as they didn’t believe you had completed Street Fighter 2 Championship Edition on fastest setting? Well those days are over as there is now visible evidence in the form of trophies.

Trophies and Achievements are such a huge part of gaming now that I feel in some way console gaming has changed forever. While you get a real sense of achievement (no pun intended!) when you ‘platinum’ a title and are able to show the gaming universe the love you have a for a certain game it does gets a bit out of hand if people are simply buying or renting games just to get easy trophies. They are a nice addition to games but still should be seen as a bonus and not the main reason for buying a game. You only have to look at some player’s trophy cards and see figures in the multiple of thousands (including 50 plus platinum trophies) and it would seem the pursuit for trophies is as important as a games story, look or atmosphere. Whether you believe game trophies/achievements are a good or bad thing depends on your point of view, however one thing is for sure, trophies are here to stay!

Concodrance Officer First Bronze First Gold First Platinum First Silver In Memory of Petruccio Gunslinger No Hitter Redeemed

For those interested here is a short time detailing significant points in my trophy hunting and some of the more memorable moments:

[No Hitter] Assassins Creed 2 – Again this took me quite a few attempts and was the one trophy that stood between me and my 3rd Platinum

Unlocked 23/12/2010

First Bronze Trophy – [First Treasure] Uncharted: Drakes Fortune

Unlocked 27/09/2008

First Silver Trophy – [Charted! – Easy] Uncharted: Drakes Fortune

Unlocked 03/12/2008

First Gold Trophy – [The Horror…The Horror] Far Cry 2

Unlocked 01/02/2009

First Platinum Trophy – [Concodrance Officer] Dead Space

Unlocked 23/06/2009

[Gunslinger] Call of Duty: World at War – This took me about 40 attempts and it was the first time I purposely replayed a level just to get the trophy

Unlocked 31/12/2008

[Concodrance Officer] Dead Space – I unlocked this trophy after completing it on ‘Impossible’ difficulty using only the plasma cutter. For some reason I thought it was a good idea at the time to go for these two trophies on the same playthrough. D’oh.

Unlocked 23/06/2009

[In Memory of Petruccio] Assassins Creed 2 – I hate these types of trophies as they are very time consuming and to be honest boring as hell but I did get a great sense of achievement when it was finally unlocked.

Unlocked 24/10/2010

[Redeemed] Red Dead Redemption – 100% Completion of the game. I loved every moment of this game and this trophy was a nice reward for the 50 hours I had sunk into the Single Player Campaign

Unlocked 22/06/2010

What do you think of Trophies and Achievements? Do you think they are good or bad? What are your favorite Trophies? Let your thoughts known on the TFTV Forum