These days, the end is never the end. You finish a game, and instead of immediately moving on to the next game, you spend another week – if not another month or another year – hunting for hidden treasures, completing bonus missions and whoring for Achievements / Trophies.
Not all collectibles, however, are created equally. For every skull, package, purple coin and bobblehead – secrets that are both fun and rewarding to find – the 100% obsessed gamer also has to suffer through, well, one of these.
See if these numbers make any sense to you. Mafia II includes two types of collectibles. The first are retro Playboy magazines featuring classy centerfolds of naked young women who, while undoubtedly now either dead or old enough to enjoy Wii bowling, are nevertheless still very young and very naked here. How many can you find? 50.
The second set are Wanted posters, featuring… Gangster characters from the fictional setting of Empire Bay? No. Real-life mobsters ripped straight from the history of organized crime? No. Cheesy photos of the game's developers wearing themed, store-bought Halloween costumes and pretending (rather poorly) to be tough guys? There you go.
And how many must you find? 159. The first of which is stuck on the roof of an un-climbable building and is only reachable by driving your car off the side of a freeway. Have fun!
What happened, Bungie? Your collectibles used to be the absolute best. Halo 2 introduced the skulls, powerful talismans that not only rewarded you with game-changing, replay-enhancing effects, but were so cleverly concealed in the obscurest corners of the missions that most players didn't even realize they existed until the Internet filled them in a few weeks later. Halo 3 added Saved Films, which made digging for this buried treasure nearly as entertaining as the main campaign. And even ODST had audio logs, which unlocked an illustrated side story, plus 125 Achievement points.
Halo: Reach, on the other hand, has data pads. They have zero effects. They are tied to zero Achievements. Your only reward for tracking them down is random, incomprehensible snippets of text that will only be of interest to those who write and/or edit Halo wiki pages. Here's a snooze-inducing sample guaranteed to prevent you from ever using our awesomely complete, yet probably pointless, data pad collection guide: