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Gaming collectables

I’m back, but not with a review this time, more of a rant.
A lot of games like to put in collectables wherever they can, to extend the game time, slow the pace of the gamer down, to add replay value as well as to include more information linked to the story in a different way. Sometimes it’s a good thing to implement, adding a gaming experience. Sometimes collectables are thrown in to just annoy.
Recently, having played and 100% completing Mafia II, I started thinking about what games offer in terms of the collectables, and how they are put to use in games. I spent hours searching for wanted posters, all for 40 gamer score. Nothing came of it, collecting all those posters apart from frustration and it was probably a bad time to choose a first game I’ve actually gone out of my way to finish completely. Usually i get to 600 gamer score out of 1000, and just end it there. But this time, i thought I would actually complete it. The posters were pointless, and added nothing to gameplay or story enhancement, they were just hidden, annoying wastes of time.
Then I played Rayman Origins. As the title suggests, it takes Rayman back to the original days, where it was a simple, yet mildly challenging game, with all the humour you’d expect. This too has collectables, but it also adds a purpose of getting them. Getting every electoon meant more characters are unlocked as well as making it a key to progressing through the game, without them, further paths are blocked. Seems meaningless, but at least it offers something a little more than Mafia II did with it’s collectables.
Currently, I’m playing Assassins creed revelations, with a rich engrossing story, every collectable you find in the form of animus data fragments, which help the story of Desmond unfold and for the players to understand Templar control outside of the main story. This allows me to enjoy collecting the data fragments, with more desire to actually seek them out, rather than doing it for little more than a couple extra gamer score (or trophies if you’re a PS3 user). These are the types of collectables games should have, to expand the story meaningfully and to enrich the gaming experience without having to search every corner slowly.
I also recently completed Prototype 2. This too used collectables in a different sense. In game, you would have to consume people or infected, with the DNA capable of upgrading your skills, making your character stronger. Purely for a better gameplay use, but one that makes the player set out to explore the available areas. But it just seemed to be pointless. This, as mentioned earlier, made you replay the story in order to fully upgrade everything. However, I had started and finished it on hard already, going back to replay the same story was easy, no matter what difficulty I repeated it on. The reborn completionist I had now become made me do half the game again in order to fully get that 100%. But i still knew i was wasting my time.
Most collectables have guides online with some vague locations to the larger mapped games. Games should however offer some sort of indication as to where these collectables are in game. Batman did this brilliantly, with the map giving a general area as to where the in-game collectables were, or a riddle as to the location, which tied in nicely to the whole aura of the Batman world. Sometimes it’s made I guess the level of use for collectables depends on the game type, with Rayman, there isn’t really an intricate story to tell and so, just adding a few more characters as a reward for rounding up the electoons, is a little more than nothing. Then there is the Assassins Creed level of collectables, where the story is the driving force, there is no better way to reward players with even deeper story ingredients.
With games increasingly looking to extend their product life, there has to be something more to give than just collectables though. I think that Assassins creed uses it perfectly. With a brilliant all round story, the little extras complete it just that little bit more. Also, with my recent experience with Prototype 2, having collectables in that is pointless once you’ve completed the story. If there are upgrades to a character, they should be achievable first time around, but I could just be asking too much. Nothing much more to it. I think I may want too much from games to satisfy me first time around…

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