Online: Help Or Hindrance?

Before this generation our consoles were simple machines, push in the cartridge or insert the disc and wait for the game to begin. The entire experience was locked into what came out of the box. A simpler time, but was it a better time?

These days I can play against people across the world, get new content for my games and even new features for my console; sounds great, right? Well, a lot of people can be jerks and new content can cost a pretty penny, but that could just be me being cynical.

Patches are something PC players have long been used to and at face value they’re great, adding new features or fixing bugs. Sometimes I worry though that now developers know they have the ability to patch, games are being forced out the door early knowing they can be fixed at a later date. In Fallout 3 PSN updates cause the game to pause for several seconds, surely that is a basic problem that should never have passed Sony or the internal QA’s testing. Knowing it could be fixed later it makes more sense for them to put the game out day and date with the Xbox360 version. Even our beloved LittleBigPlanet is missing the online create feature that was originally intended for release, with no idea when we will see it added.

Alone in the Dark was a game not fit for release day and date with its 360 counter part and so was pushed back to be fixed. It sounds like we should be getting a much better game because of this, the developers took the time to make the game work and also fix the problems even the original 360 version had. So instead of several months of a broken or unfinished game, we got a better, more complete experience on release day.

Onto downloadable content. Our good friend DLC has been amazing at adding much free content to PS3 games such as Pixel Junk Monsters and Burnout Paradise, but what it gives with one hand it takes with another. LittleBigPlanet costumes that were probably completed before the game was shipped are being charged for, some as much as £4! Soul Calibur 4 came with “console exclusive” characters that they then had the gall to charge for later. In the old days all this content would have been on the disc instead of trying to lynch us later.

I have documented my love hate relationship with online play before. As much as some of these things irk me, when used correctly the online console is a fantastic experience. Games such as LittleBigPlanet would have not been the same without it, I just wish some develepors would stop using it to rip of the consumer and push out incomplete products.

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