To collect or not to collect, that is the question

GERARD CAMPBELL
Last updated 13:56 20/07/2012

AlanWakecoffeeblogIt's easy to be cynical when a publisher brings out an HD re-make of classic games, accusing it of slapping on a fresh lick of paint to an old title as a way of eeking one last drop out of a last-generation franchise, but every now and then an HD remake comes along and it's welcome: Ratchet and Clank HD Trilogy is one of those.

Starring perhaps one of the PlayStation 2's most loved duos, Ratchet and his robotic side-kick Clank, the HD trilogy packages up three classic games: Ratchet and Clank, R+C: Going Commando and R+C: Up Your Arsenal into one tidy package, also bringing with it Trophy support and 3D gaming - if you own one of those swanky 3D TVs, of course.

I've been playing through the HD Trilogy for the past week and while Sony will probably tell you that the R+C games were all about exploration, the platforming and the story, but for me those games were about one thing and one thing only: smashing stuff up. Crates, robots, anything you could - just so I could collect the bolts that spilled out then go and upgrade my weapons or gadgets to cooler stuff. Forget the evil plots and threat to mankind, I just loved smashing stuff and collecting bolts.

The R+C games were probably some one of the only games that I'd actually scour every inch of a map just to find stuff to smash. I wonder if Insomniac, the developer behind the Ratchet and Clank games, ever realised that people would do that: Somehow I think they did, otherwise why would they put so many breakable crates in the game, right?

Of course, Ratchet and Clank isn't the only game series to feature in-game collectibles: we've seen lots of games over the years include lots of collectibles - ranging from comic books, pigeons, treasure maps and feathers to audio recordings, dog tags, intelligence information and diamonds. Most add to the gaming experience but often, they just miss the point of what a collectible is all about.

A collectible, to me, must make sense, provide some tangible benefit and move the narrative of the story along. A horror game that has audio logs from missing staff members works because it can provide a valuable insight into what went wrong before a horrific event. Don't just put a collectible in because you can. Coughing up an achievement or trophy just because a player collected 50 collectibles out of a possible 700 isn't a reason for celebration. It's just rewarding gamers for their persistence.

Some games just get the idea of collectibles plain wrong, too. Take the horror action game Alan Wake for example. It had you collecting coffee thermoses. COFFEE THERMOSES! I mean what was that all about? Was the coffee to help keep Wake awake as searched the forests and abandoned saw mills for yet another thermos (as well as fighting off ghostly baddies, of course)? 

So, today, I'd like to hear your thoughts on in-game collectibles? Are you a completionist freak who must hunt and collect every single collectible in a game or do you not bother trying to track down even one of the 700 pieces of data scattered about a game world?

Stuff you might also find interesting: Game Junkie is on Twitter and you can email him here. He'll even answer your emails, not get some smart robot to do it.  He also has another gaming blog here. It's updated at least once a week.

21 comments
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J Smith   #1   02:24 pm Jul 20 2012

Collectibles drive me crazy... On the PC, it wasn't so bad, but on PS3 you end up with hardly any trophies if you skip all the collectibles. GTA has to be one of the worst. I once spent hours, with a list, going through to do all the tags in San Andreas. When I did what I thought was the last one, I only had 99... Needless to say at that point I gave up.

My brother got 100% completion in San Andreas, how he had the patience to do all those taxi etc missions, and all the collectibles I have no idea.

m0rph3us   #2   02:41 pm Jul 20 2012

Games that got collectibles badly wrong included Assassin's Creed 1 (we ran out of time to build those side missions so let's just throw a ton of flags in here), and The Amazing Spiderman (700 collectibles, most of which are lying blatantly out in the open).

I'll sometimes go for the collectibles if the payoff is worthwhile. I liked the 'Web of Intrigue' from Prototype 1, which fleshed out a lot of the story. Normally it's not worthwhile though.

The bizarre thing about Alan Wake was, although the coffee thermos collectibles were retarded, the TV show ones were actually pretty cool.

Black Dahlia NZ   #3   02:53 pm Jul 20 2012

Cant stand collectibles, but if they arent too many and there is a checkpoint select or at least level select to get ones missed I'll get them.

Lumbus   #4   02:59 pm Jul 20 2012

I liked the Crackdown orbs to be collected, the crazy sounds made them addictive for some reason and they increased your skills.

Other than that I absolutely hate them, its a modern day part of a game like a fetch quest or a bodyguard quest.. its kind of lazy if they just thrown it in for no reason.

al   #5   03:00 pm Jul 20 2012

No interest in collectibles whatsoever. There are too many amazing games with great main stories already out there without spending hours and hours poking around in one looking for coffee thermoses or some such.

Andrew   #6   04:14 pm Jul 20 2012

Acheivements are almost always a complete waste of time. With the exception of the Borderlands on PC, and Ratchet and Clank I've never bothered. Even then I didn't focus on them. They annoying thing is if collecting them gives you an advantage or extra content in the game. I don't want to have to jump 5000000 times in order to change my character skin, or get a weapon upgrade.

Trophies? They're even worse, and I can't even see the point.

a   #7   04:35 pm Jul 20 2012

fall out 3 bobble heads where grt to collect, even got one with the game

Ratchet   #8   04:35 pm Jul 20 2012

I have an XBox and am sad that the Ratchet and Clank series is only developed for PS. One of my all time favourites, has been for years.

Jazz   #9   05:14 pm Jul 20 2012

Like you, Gerard, I don't mind collectables if they have a point but in games like Alan Wake and the Assassin's Creed series they really annoy me. I got to 99 feathers in AC2 and decided never to bother trying again. Mafia 2 was annoying with its wanted posters that had no point, and seemed to materialise one at a time once you had collected a particular poster in a particular area. I'm sure there was 100 of those too. If they add to the story, like in Gears 2-3, then all good. If not, then I'm not bothering to find them (well, maybe I'll use a guide on occasion).

Laurence   #10   06:07 pm Jul 20 2012

I love collecting. It is almost a compulsion with me. I HAVE to collect everything, including pointless achievements, or else the game isn't complete. I'm the same with levels. I have to max out all possible attributes, upgrade every possible item etc. I collected all the gargoyles in Fable 2, maxed out every D2 character, and got everything in AC Brotherhood. I think I need help.


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