“If They Came to Hear Me Beg” will go down as one of the stupidest gaming achievements in all my video gaming experiences past, present, and future. This one goes in the Hall of Shame immediately, an imperfect, yet impossible-to-relinquish achievement that takes place in Mission 10 of Halo: Reach titled “The Pillar of Autumn.” If it weren’t for some out-of-nowhere patience on my part and soothing music in the background, I would be 25 achievement points lighter this very morn. But alas, frustration and indifference lost as I thwarted my enemy and smelt its ruin as it lay on the ground beneath my digital feet.
For those of you unknowing of this achievement, a little background: Mission 10 begins with Noble 6 and Emile running along the top-side of a mountain/mesa/earthly-growth. Spotted over the cliff below is a gaggle of Grunts and an unsuspecting Elite. While utilizing the Sprint ability, Noble 6’s goal is to jump from the cliff and assassinate the Elite below which, in turn, prevents Noble 6 from dying due to the extreme plunge. This. Is. Stupid. The idea itself isn’t so bad, but the execution of the achievement bestowal on the game designers’ parts is laughable at best. I swear on my unborn child that I assassinated said Elite no less than 30 times (with the assassination animation–not just a knock on the head) and received absolutely no achievement. Granted, there were oh-so-many times I plunged to a clanking death, but I connected more than enough for this achievement to work.
What is even more saddening than this apparent lack of effort on the part of an otherwise terrific game design team? The fact that, no matter what, I could not tear myself away without accomplishing that achievement. I knew it could be done, I had seen the YouTube videos and read the testimonials on various forums. I entered some Zen-like state where nothing could break the focus of getting this stupid, meaningless 25-point achievement. With Bear McCreary’s Battlestar Galactica score stringing and thumping in the speakers I was one with Reach and the aforementioned, despite its stupidity. Perhaps this was Bungie’s goal. Maybe they intended for the achievement to be so ridiculous to actually achieve in order to brainwash their users, implanting various subliminal messages like “buy gold” and “build little model airplanes”. Maybe they are secretly training gamers around the world to hatch some crazy scheme for their purposes through subliminal methods, like storming Microsoft in Redmond, Washington or erecting a statue of a sniper Jackal made out of toothpicks, Gorilla Glue, and Starburst wrappers.
Needless to say, on a whim, I actually got the achievement. I don’t know what I did differently other than the fact that instead of smashing the Elite’s face in the dirt, I happened to land behind and beside him and stabbed him in the neck. I don’t exactly know because at that point I wasn’t really paying attention. Performing the act was just a reflex, requiring very little (or even less) thought. I heard that sweet blip of success and immediately went on with the mission at hand. It was like I was stuck in some sort of time-travel causality loop, a la Groundhog Day or Star Trek TNG’s “Cause and Effect”. Once the pattern was broken I was again free to my own devices, ready to destroy as many Covenant bastards as possible while delivering “the package” to the Pillar of Autumn and Capt. Jacob Keyes. All while being 25 Achievement Points richer.