Gameplay vs Story vs Achievements

AKA Motivation for my 10x Sonic Boom chain win
Having experienced quite a range of games in my time I can honestly say that there are now three key elements that I can attribute as the reason I finish an electronic adventure.
Previous to the world of Xbox Live, it would have all been pinned on gameplay alone. However, ‘Achievements’ decided to spring out of the ground and suddenly I found myself playing games, that I would normally discard in a heartbeat, only to grab that last bottle of freshly squeezed orange juice and attain 1000/1000 achievement points (please note: this is a completely made up achievement, however if this achievement does exist, don’t bother to tell me it does). It’s gaming crack, for me at least, I will literally replay a scenario over and over to get 5 freakin’ achievement points in a game I could care less about. Whoever suggested the idea at the boardroom/basement meeting should not only be hailed a champion of everything that is awesome but also slapped in the face for making me want to play that ridiculously difficult mission at the end of Call of Duty 4 Modern Warfare on Veteran setting – that achievement will send get you a one way ticket to Loonsville double time.
Connect 4: good gameplay
Now there is that other part of the gaming formula called ‘Storyline’ – A funny thing this is as well, not really necessary to a title’s success but it certainly can be. I don’t limit a story tocutscenes and FMV’s, as I move through a virtual world I am experiencing the developers storyline. Whether it’s stumbling across an interesting lamp post or it’s putting a steel pipe to a zombies head I consider it to be telling a story of sorts. Sure, some can be simplistic in nature and may appear somewhat non-existent but the otherside can be a whole lot worse. Ever played Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty? Now that is a game I couldn’t skip through storyline quick enough. Anytime a dialogue would take place I thanked everything that was good that I could tap a button to skip through the tirade of boring and unnecessary ‘drama’ and get back to the good old fashioned gameplay that a MGS game offers. The problem here was that there was so many cutscenes and wishy washy dialogue that by the end of the game I had no idea what was happening story wise, could care less about the main character and his feminine issues and straight out hit the Off button on the Playstation 2 the second the last boss dropped. Certainly a different experience from my time in MGS on PSone. But this was an example of where storyline grew to an extreme which forced me into hating the game.
MGS2: Save the drama for yo momma
However there are many games out there that do have great storyline and even overshadow thegameplay, I am sure you have a dozen in your head already and there’s no need for me to rattle them out. So that brings me to gameplay.
Without a doubt this has the strongest hold on me. Sure achievements are like crack and storyline can keep you interested (as long as it’s flowing as to not slow down the pace thegameplay sets) but when it comes down to it, jumping on a mushroom and hitting a question marked box does little to nothing in terms of the obvious storyline, but it is a form of gameplayand the result is fun. Some forms can be quite challenging and some of the better titles manage to tune that challenge just enough so it’s still playable without cheating and fun enough to make us not throw our controllers away in disgust. But this isn’t anything new.
My point or question rather is when it comes down to it, do you play because of gameplay, story or perhaps it’s the achievement factor? What is the single most important attribute that will bring you in no matter how bad the others are? Let me know, I am interested.
Picture 1 Source: ‘The Old Educator’ http://www.oldeducator.com/connect4.jpg
Picture 2 Source: ‘Wikipedia’ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:MGS2_Raiden.PNG

About the Author

Dan co-hosts the Gameolio Podcast and handles the administration of the website. Occasional poster and frequent deleter with a strange love of the colour green.