Orbsessive Compulsive Disorder

Originally Published: 21 July 2009

I’ve been playing Star Ocean recently. Admittedly I haven’t played it for a couple of weeks now, but when I do play it I, erm, PLAY it. For a long time. At once.

What I’ve found is that it’s bringing out my slightly obsessive side. There’s so much to do that has got nothing to do with the main story. I’m getting cross if I miss areas to explore, and therefore the possibility of chests to open. I’m getting annoyed if I leave an area without having taken out enough enemies to register 100% on the Monster Scans (so I can turn them into, on the whole, not very useful amulets). I’m getting annoyed as I try and work out what I need to do to unlock each character’s 100 Battle Trophies – some are ridiculously obscure, like “Jump 1000 times”.

This obsession is not just limited to Star Ocean. You’ll find that most games now have a set of things to collect – whether it’s Superman’s kitten fetish, Spidey’s gang symbols or Prototype’s hint orbs there are hidden things scattered to the four winds of the gaming multiverse.

The most mentioned game when it comes to OCD collection is always (I’ve checked) Crackdown. Bearing in mind that this was a title that most people bought purely to play the Halo 3 Beta, it had a nasty habit of sucking people into it’s strange GTA-lite super-powered gameplay while waiting for Beta to launch. And what did people find when they started playing?

These lovely green orbs were scattered across the entire map – collecting them granted your character increased agility which in turn allowed you get to previously unreachable places and collect more orbs. For many, this became an essential collection which needed collecting before they could sleep.

But that wasn’t all. Not content with five hundred agility orbs, Realtime Worlds snuck in a further three hundred hidden orbs… shiny blue circles of goodness that increased all your skills but were often fiendishly hidden – their location given away by a distinctive sound that, if heard, would make any Crackdown addict look all over the place like a crazy person.

It’s a sign of the orb obsession that the game even had an update to enable players to hear the orb noises from a little bit further away that in the original release. If you do a simple Google Images search for ” Crackdown Orbs” you will be inundated with maps detailing the location of every last spherical menace.

When Crackdown 2 was announced, people’s ears pricked up. They scanned the press-release which mentioned open-world (check), upgradable character (check), Weapons and explosions (check), zombies (wait, zombies… everything has zombies in now. But that’s a good thing. Ok, check). No mention of orbs. Not a sausage.

So when the Crackdown 2 video was screened, people didn’t watch it for the gameplay or anything technical like that. No, they watched it for the tell-tale glow of a green agility orb, shining out against the cityscape.

They were happy to report that they spied an orb.

It’s not slated for release until next year, but for some reason I’m sweating with anticipation already…