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Cameron Schott's blog

3:22 PM on 04.26.2010

E for Effort: Metal Gear Solid 4

Metal Gear Solid 4 angers me. Every time I play it, I get frustrated while trying to figure out what about it has earned it such praise.

My final conclusion: It simply doesn't deserve its status.

Yes, you could argue that Metal Gear Solid isn't really about the gameplay, so much as it is the story, but Metal Gear Solid 4 makes no effort to appeal to new players with little knowledge of what's happening. And considering how convoluted and, honestly, stupid the storyline is, that's a pretty big problem. Maybe if the game had more than about 20 minutes of gameplay then the lack of coherence in the game's story (to me, of course) would be excusable.

Actually, maybe not. Because as much as I dislike the game's story and characters, the gameplay itself is the worst part of the game. The shooting mechanics are overly simple and somewhat clunky, the level designs are confusing, and once you're spotted by an enemy, it's pretty much impossible to hide again. Now I know what you're thinking: "You clearly just suck at the game!"

Well, you're wrong.

The problem is that the gameplay is extremely rudimentary, but it's littered with frustrations, such as constantly respawning enemies, shitty stealth and shooting mechanics, and confusing, uninspired level designs.

So basically, if the game had a better, more sensible storyline then the crap gameplay would be excusable, and if the game had better gameplay then the convoluted story would be excusable. The solution? Proper balance. Hideo Kojima has clearly put too much focus on the storyline, trying to make it complex and provocative, but all he's done is alienate people like me who just want a fun gameplay experience.

But that's fine, because people like me who want a fun gameplay experience can just go online and mess around with Metal Gear Online, right? Yeah, not so much. Why? Well, remember what I said about how the gameplay is the worst part of the experience? Well, the online play is entirely focused on the gameplay, which combined with glitches, dull matches and the fact that you have to pay for additional characters, makes for a rather terrible experience.

But the worst part is the latter of those issues I mentioned. You can only create one character for free, and then you have to pay with real money to make more. That means that you can only have one character on your system unless you pay for another slot. This is an extremely cheap, terrible way of making you pay extra for features that should have been included for free.

Also, I accidentally created my character on my brother's account and couldn't play online on my own. So yeah, that sucked. I guess.   read

6:07 PM on 04.25.2010

E for Effort: LittleBigPlanet

LittleBigPlanet, eh? Build anything and customize the crap out of your Sack Person, you say? That sounds awesome! Right? Right?!


Why? How? Where did this game go wrong? Well, for starters, it promises incredible creative freedom that allows you to customize your character and create your own levels with apparent ease, but, alas, fails to deliver on this promise.

Let's start with character customization. Going in, I hadn't paid much attention to LittleBigPlanet, so I didn't know much about the game's creative tools, but I was expecting an epic character editor that would allow extreme flexibility to create anything I wanted. But once I started creating my character, I realized that the customization was as simple as picking costume pieces and maybe giving them a paint job. Problem is, there's no specific tool for coloring items, meaning that you have to use a clunky sticker tool to color things, and hope that it doesn't color over your other work.

If you don't want to make your own character, then you can buy some costumes from the PlayStation Store. But that's a decision only for the truly invested. The downloadable costumes are overpriced and only keep your interest for a few minutes before you go back to using a custom style. And remember those awesome Final Fantasy costumes we saw a while ago?

Yeah, not a sign of those anywhere.

LittleBigPlanet's biggest feature is the level editor, which should have extended the game's replayability immensely, but due to clunky controls and some overly complex tools that almost never work how you want them to, only serves to frustrate me every time I try to create a level that's even slightly more complex than some boxes and a tree. Another problem is that you have to unlock the tools and items for the level editor by playing through the main game, which means that until you've unlocked just about everything, you have practically no items at your disposal.

Sure, I could just play other peoples' levels, but sadly, about 90% of the game's user levels suck, and it can take a ton of time just trying to find a half decent level to play. And with no real reward for completing these levels, you start to realize after a while that it just isn't worth it.

But that's fine, because the game also has a story mode that I could play instead. But unfortunately, the single player is short. Also, it has no story. So... yeah... not much of a "story" mode. Sure, the level designs are great, but the gameplay NEVER changes. EVER.

So in the end, LittleBigPlanet has a lot of potential, but it fails to fulfill it. The creative tools are clunky and hard to use, requiring way too much time and commitment to create anything cool, and the gameplay itself lacks the originality or diversity required to sustain my interest for long.

Close, Media Molecule, but no cigar.   read

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