Completing video games 100%: Essential?
The other day, my friend caught me enjoying a stint of retro video gaming via my Nintendo 64 console and Super Mario 64 cartridge…
“Why are you playing this?” he asked. “I completed this years and years ago!”
I responded; “How to you get this star then? I’ve shot myself out of this damn cannon so many times!”
“Oh, I don’t know. I never got all the stars in the game just enough to reach the final Bowser boss.”
“Er…you didn’t COMPLETE the game then, did you?!” was my irked response.
This incident got me thinking about how much video gamers need to accomplish in a game in order to declare the fact that they have “completed it.” I have always asserted that one can only claim that they have completed a game when there is no more that can be done in the way of earning extras, achieving unlockables and finishing objectives.
Sandbox titles of recent years (such as the infamous Grand Theft Auto series) however offer players a plethora of “value added” extra tasks to complete, many of which are not significant to the main plot – but is this reason enough to dismiss them from the “complete” rule?
Whilst it is possible to complete the role playing game Fallout: New Vegas in around four hours if you just work your way through the main story quests, playing through the game a second time will see you soon realise just how much you missed during the initial play (i.e. ALOT!) If you skip the Great Khan quests, the enemies within these missions will show up to help your opponents in the final showdown (a difference that players would not have noticed if they had only played the game through once).
This is just one example of a game with a branching narrative –the more of the game you explore; the more you effect the direction of the story. How much this matters is again debateable, since different subplots will have a different level of influence on the chief narrative framework. The popular thriller adventure title Heavy Rain works similarly in narrative structure as does futuristic sci-fi shooter Deus Ex making players feel as if they have taken the role of some kind of Jackanory God.
This narrative structure can actually be incredibly frustrating at times too. When I was bored during one summer whilst attending university, I decided to start playing Final Fantasy X-2. As the player, I got to decide which different areas I visited and when and this made the narrative extremely confusing – especially because I was rewarded with a cut scene after completing each chapter which of course, I viewed in ad hoc order. Needless to say, I did not complete this wearisome game, instead calling it quits at 55% completion.
This blog post is not extensive enough to explore the topic of video games narratives fully, nor solidify my opinion that everything must be ticked off when one declares they have completed a game. All I know is that if I spend £40 on a title for my Playstation 3 or Xbox 360, I want to ensure that I get the most out of it that I can, even if my obsession with finishing a game makes me a tad “anal” in the eyes of my friends. I also like how finishing a video game fully increases both my Xbox 360 gamer scores and the number of gamer achievements under my belt
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