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Nothing is sacred: I�m afraid I can�t let you do that.


Just bought Super Smash Bros: Brawl? Heard all about Sonic and Solid Snake as special characters? Wanted to play using them straight away? Here�s your reward when you boot up the first character select screen for Brawl:

What�s wrong?

Oh! You were thinking you�d be able to play as Sonic and Solid Snake straight away! Oh, you are funny! No, you have to unlock them by dragging yourself through story mode, or at very least by playing hundreds of matches! Why would we want to just hand them to you?

Sometimes, graduated unlocks make sense. You don�t want to be given the most powerful weapons in an RPG or adventure title straight away, as there�s no sense of challenge or accomplishment in being provided with a world-destroying arsenal against miniature grunts, but for multiplayer games such as Rock Band, Super Smash Bros Brawl and Gran Turismo 4, asking that you drag yourself through the solo campaign to unlock the more exotic paraphernalia of a title is patronising. We expect it, and imagine that the designers know what�s best when they�re making these games, but oftentimes there are crucial parts of games that you�re not given access to until you�ve jumped through the developer�s preset hoops.

Wanted to play "The Who" straight away in Rock Band? 'Fraid not, buddy.

The level of control relinquished from the gamer is equally evident when you look at what settings you are allowed to change for multiplayer. You want custom weapon sets for same-screen deathmatch in Call of Duty 4? I�m afraid I can�t let you do that. You want to select what weapons are available in Mario Kart Wii multiplayer, and switch off the cheapest weapon in history, The Blue Shell? I�m afraid I can�t let you do that. More recently, the co-op-vs-waves-of-enemies Firefight mode in Halo 3: ODST doesn't allow you to play alongside those not on your friends' list. Not even allowing it to be optional but not recommended smacks of excessive control.

Even Halo 3's Forge, lauded as one of the most flexible editing tools for a console experience, has its limits. Ever wanted what it would be to drop a Scorpion in the middle of Guardian? Well, keep wondering because Forge won�t let you do that. Would it be stupid? Maybe. Let us find out why it would be stupid though, would you please Bungie?

No tank here for you.

None of these ideas are beyond the realm of programming ability, nor do they annihilate the challenge from gaming. It�s simply a developer�s belief that they know better what should be adjustable or immediately available in their games, and what shouldn�t.

Perhaps they�re not always right.
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About Sean Daisyone of us since 11:13 AM on 07.16.2009

Formerly CaptainBus.

Commentoider and MassDebate founder/contendor. Has heard a lot of jokes about helmets.


Xbox LIVE:CaptainBus


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