In the early years of gaming, playing was all about getting that high score on the arcade machine that everyone else would see and revere. Making it through 574 identical levels of Pac Man meant that your score would hang out in infamy for quite some time, giving you bragging rights and a sense of superiority over other gamers.
These days, games rarely keep score. The content and format of most games are not conducive to such a tally, and as such, they have been replaced by other rewards. On Xbox360, the Gamerscore is the amalgam of all individual reward points earned in all games attached to a single Gamertag. This score carries with your avatar anywhere you go – online play, websites, or other friends’ consoles. It is the ultimate “nerd cred.”
The problem with the Gamerscore is that not every game developer designs their achievements the same way. Some games make it terribly difficult to gain achievements, while others throw them at you for doing nearly nothing. For that reason, Gamerscores are not always reflective of a player’s true ability.
Regardless, people are always searching for ways to boost their score. They are always seeking what games will give achievements points for less work, letting them pump up that score quickly. Essentially, people like to exploit those games teetering towards the easier side of the achievement earning spectrum.
In this article, you will find a list of games that are great for your Gamerscore, both from the retail and XBLA realms. Keep in mind, however, that there are certain games that are looked down on by the gaming community as “Gamerscore boosters,” or titles that people only ever really played as a way to boost their score. Some fellow gamers will sneer if your score is compiled entirely of these games, calling you an “achievement whore.” But, if you are a hardcore gamer and also have a milieu of difficult titles peppered throughout your list, you won’t come across as a total sissy.
There are also a number of well-respected, fantastic games that the gaming world has adored that make it fairly easy to gain achievements. These are the best kind of games to have in your list. Additionally, you’ll see some of the games that make it extremely difficult to obtain achievements, or require deep time investments in order to access meager point values. That way, you’ll either know what to avoid, or what to play if you want a real challenge.
As a quick note, games from 2006 & 2007 generally have easier achievements than more recent games. The achievement system wasn’t as well developed at the console’s launch, and developers didn’t understand the impact they would have. Thus, they didn’t make them a real element in the game, and they are often easier to get.
Also, be aware that the worst possible way to boost your Gamerscore is to cheat. Microsoft watches for that stuff, and if you exploit a game via unethical methods, you may very well end up with a Gamerscore of 0 or find yourself booted from LIVE.
Keep in mind that the standard retail game has 1000 possible achievement points. If one on the list has more, or can potentially have more via DLC, they will be noted as such. The average XBLA game has 200 possible achievement points, which also varies on occasion.
Xbox360 Retail Games:
Starting off with a brilliant game that most gamers adore, Bioshock is not only a fantastic title, but fairly easy when it comes to gaining achievements. On your first play-through, you’ll likely be 700 points richer. The game has a total of 1100, so there are slightly more available than the average game. Around 900 of the 1100 can be obtained with little sweat, but the last bit can be a challenge.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Fun for Harry Potter fans, this game will net you a solid 800 points if you just do everything available as you play. There is a lot of repetition, some boring bits, but overall not too bad.
700 or more points are easy to grab just for getting through career mode.
This is another well-respected game. While a handful of the achievements for this game are hard as sin, gamers generally consider this a fairly easy game. Expect 500-600 to come without effort as you progress through the story, then you can work on the rest.
Fight Night Round 3
Play through the solo game, you’ll have them all. It doesn’t get any easier than that. Actually, it does…
Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Burning Earth
Play this game, and literally in as much time as it would take you to eat a sandwich, you’ll have every achievement. This is one of those achievement-bumping titles for which a lot of gamers will have no respect. You basically hit B a bunch of times for 1000 points.
Simple play-through nets you around 800. If you have a lot of patience with doing boring stuff, like blowing things up and looking for hidden junk, this game will be a great way for you to get its full offering of achievements.
This game is really short, so the points come pretty quickly. It is also kind of stupid.
FIFA Street 3
You can get over 1000 points easily with this game. The DLC brings the total possible over 1000, but doesn’t make them any more difficult to obtain.
Another no-respect game (as it is a highly-used score booster), this is one of the easiest games on the console to get every achievement. By the time you finish the story, you have them all.
Any LEGO Game
None of these are terribly difficult, whether it is Indiana Jones, The Star Wars Saga, or Batman.
Many sports games, including Madden 06, 07, 08, 09, NBA 2K6, NBA 2K9, NBA Street Homecourt, NCAA March Madness 07, NHL 2K6, any WWE Smackdown
Sim through the Madden games when you can, and you’ll get the points fast. NBA 2K6 is another ridiculous game where you can turn the difficulty down as low as possible and net 1000 points in about 10 minutes. Same goes for March Madness. However, nobody will be impressed by these achievements.
This is a kid’s game, so the 1000 comes super quick.
This game is pretty stupid, but one play through will net you 650 or so points. You can’t die, so that helps.
Scene-It: Lights, Camera, Action and Box Office Smash
Both Scene-It games are super fun, and don’t make the achievements too hard. Box Office Smash upped the difficulty a bit, but not a lot. There is also a DLC pack available for BOS that gives you over 1000 potential points. Knowing a lot about movies helps, obviously, but in time you’ll get them all anyway. Especially when you start getting nothing but repeat questions, which happens rather quickly.
Spider-Man: Friend or Foe
The first 925 are simple; the last 75 are a challenge.
Any Viva Pinata Game
Shrek The Third
More kids games, more simple achievements. Generally, that’s a formula on which you can rely.
The Force Unleashed
All of the above get you 600 or more points in a single play-through.
Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland
This one will be easy if you were an avid player of earlier, better Tony Hawk games (i.e. Tony Hawk 1, 2). If so, put your skills to use for quick points, because there is a Classic Mode which is made of recreated levels from earlier games.
This game is boring and not worth playing unless you are achievement hunting, but they will come rather fast.
TMNT is another crap game that nobody respects, and is also a very easy 1000 points.
1250 possible here with Shivering Isle, and while it may require a larger time investment than some others, none of the achievements are particularly difficult.
Still vastly popular and one of so many gamers’ favorite games, Halo 3 has a lot of achievements that come with ease. Plenty are very, very hard to obtain, but 600 or so can be nabbed rather quickly and painlessly.
This game has an expansion that adds points, but even without, it is another one of the many titles that make around 600 points fairly easy to get.
This one will take a little time, and it’s not super easy, but once you get the hang of the game it’ll move faster. There is an expansion that ups the total to 1250, and the game is well worth playing to get them all.
If you can stand playing a really bad game based on a TV show, this one will net you 1000.
Left 4 Dead
This game is sort of addictive, which is handy for its achievements. Play it rather religiously for a few days and you should have 700.
Brothers in Arms: Hell’s Highway
Yet another title that, despite being somewhat boring and uneventful, will net you at least 600 on a single play through the solo story.
A few games of Monopoly, which don’t last as ridiculously long as they do in real life, will get you at least half the points available.
If you go through the story and don’t skip a lot, you can get over 800 during a single game. There is a lot of repetitive annoyance here, but it can still be a lot more fun than many other games, and worth it for the points.
One of the weird games with less than 1000 points (970 possible), it is very easy to get nearly 900 of them in a single day’s worth of playing. The game is actually pretty fun, too. Avoid the sequel.
Saints Row 1 & 2
Do all things available to you, and you’ll easily net at least half of the 1000 on both titles. The other half will be trickier.
You don’t even have to finish this game to get 500 points. Almost all the achievements are story-based, so play through for a load.
Tomb Raider: Legend
Half are easy, half are hard. If you are a Tomb Raider fan, this game has 1250 potential points to offer.
Play through it twice and you can easily have 700 of the 1250 possible.
A rather underrated and unknown game, you should be able to pick up around 700 without much trouble. The game is fairly short.
Bully: Scholarship Edition
Formerly a PS2 and Wii title, this game came to the 360 with simple points. It’s also not that great of a game.
An absolutely terrible game – but, if you can suffer through it, the points aren’t hard to get.
One of the most popular XBLA games on record, Uno’s 200 points can be obtained if you just play for a while. Obviously much of any card game is based on chance, luck, and your opponents, but develop a little skill and these will come to you quickly.
Same story here, as with Uno. Once you figure out the game, the 200 won’t be hard to grab.
This arcade game is one of the few to have more than 200 points, clocking in at 235 possible. Getting about 150 of them will be easy-peasy, while the rest aren’t as fast.
Galaga is an old classic with fairly simple achievements, as well as a low price tag.
Golf: Tee it Up!
It is very easy to get all 200, especially if you have any aptitude for golf games – or a fundamental understanding of the game at all.
A rather overlooked XBLA card game, this fun and creative arcade release gives you 150 points rather soon after you get a hang of the game.
Duke Nukem 3D
Everyone loves an old shooter, and both of these classics make the first 150 easy to obtain, with the 50 remaining being quite challenging. These are especially super as they sell for 400 MS Points.
Play through once and you may very well have all 200. It is possible, at least.
Elements of Destruction
Another overlooked game where your sole purpose is to destroy things.
Dash of Destruction
A terrible arcade game by Doritos that is given away for free, all 200 can be had within 15 minutes. This is good, because that’s all the longer you will want to play.
A Kingdom For Keflings
This is a charming little game where you play as a giant building cities for little people. 180 of the points are based on solo play, and can be gathered easily. The remaining 20 come from online gaming.
Can be completed within a few hours for the whole set of points.
Widely considered to be one of the best XBLA games for boosting score.
Games With Difficult Achievements
These are some games that make it extremely challenging to pull achievement points from their cold, greedy fingers. Some of them require to you reach the top of online leaderboards (often impossible), rely too heavily on online gaming, require way too much time for very insignificant point totals, or just plain aren’t worth doing.
Often, the games that rely on online play or topping leaderboards make it literally impossible to get all the points. People eventually stop playing the game so much and leave the online areas empty, giving you no opportunity.
Battlefield 2: Modern Combat
Way too many multiplayer achievements in this one.
Very, very time consuming to get all the points.
Call of Duty 2
This may be easy if you are absolutely awesome at the game, but most of the points come from doing things on the highest difficulty levels.
Dead or Alive 4
Far Cry Instincts Predator
Lost Planet: Colonies
Need For Speed Carbon
Perfect Dark Zero
Lots of multiplayer achievements are required for all of the above. Enough said.
Dead or Alive Xtreme 2
Unnecessarily time consuming. Seriously.
Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock
GHIII is by far the hardest of all music video games. You can be fantastic at the game and it will take you a long time to get over 150 points. If you suck, you have no hope.
Final Fantasy XI
Ridge Racer 6
Tony Hawk’s Proving Ground
Virtua Fighter 5
Very difficult in all respects.
Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle Earth
Not only is this game overly difficult to earn points, but there are only 705 possible! Total rip off.
This is an utterly atrocious video game, and the achievements are hard to boot. Not even good as a coaster for your coffee.
Similar story to Beijing 2008, this game is plain awful.
Enemy Territory: Quake Wars
This is not like any other Quake game. It is very, very challenging, not particularly fun, and the achievements are a beast. You can play for hours and only get 15 points.
Devil May Cry 4
Not good for anyone looking to boost their score. Hours of play nets you only a handful of points. Lots of time/skill investment required for any payout.
Leisure Suit Larry: Box Office Bust
This is a hideously bad platform game with very difficult achievements. You likely won’t even be able to tolerate the game long enough to earn any.
Naruto: Rise of a Ninja
This Naruto game is another one with really, really long time investments. I played for somewhere around six hours and had yet to earn a single achievement. Obviously, it’s not good for boosting score. It is, however, a fun game.
C&C Red Alert 3
Red Alert 3 is difficult, time consuming, and not all that great an entry in the C&C catalog of games.
Silent Hill Homecoming
Not fun, not good, and the achievements are hard.
Army of Two
Finding someone to play with is tough, and there are a lot of multiplayer achievements to be had. Beating the game solo will net you less than 100, and there are 1250 total.
Too much time, too little payout. Hours of play gets you only a few dozen points.
Soldier of Fortune: Payback
Horrible game – that’s all you need to know.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09
Unless you are really into Tiger Woods and plan to invest a lot of time and energy, this definitely will not pay off quickly.
Gears of War
Despite being an awesome game, you’ll have to play through many times and spend an awful lot of time doing online play to get many points. Finishing the game solo on a regular difficulty setting only nets you just upwards of 100 points, and 1250 are possible. However, the achievements in the sequel are not as difficult.
Splinter Cell D.A.
Not a great Tom Clancy game, and the achievements suck to get.
Now, here is a short list of XBLA games that won’t make it easy for you to boost your gamerscore. While several of these are fantastic games, they won’t serve the purpose of giving you swift and simple points. Many are, however, worth checking out – with the exceptions of Yaris and Big Bumpin, which are utterly garbage.
Sonic the Hedgehog
TMNT 1989 Arcade
Vigilante 8 Arcade
Bionic Commando: Rearmed
The best way to up your score is to just play games, and play them well. The points will come along with dedicated play. However, this list should be a resource for those times when you just want to tack on some points.
And remember – renting games is the easiest way to get your hands on as many titles as possible without shelling out serious cash to buy them all. Let the local video store or Gamefly be your friend.
If you ever have trouble with particular achievements, there are handy sites like Xbox360achievements.org that have walkthroughs of every achievement for every game, both retail and Arcade. This can be a great tool for figuring out what to do on ambiguous achievements, or seeing what those pesky Secret achievements are for the game you are playing.
Xbox360Achievements is a great one to find many lists, but there are others out there as well of course. Here’s a few more useful sites for information about games and achievements:
That’s just a few sites to find more information, I know there are more out there, so please comment and add any that you find useful and informative.
PS- Happy Father’s Day!