Weight Loss: Things We Want Slimmed Down Like the PS3 Slim
Sony is unleashing the more svelte version of its PlayStation 3 this week, and at a reduced price point to boot. The PS3 Slim is a sign of how rapid the pace of change can be in the videogame industry. Hell, games that were full-fledged disc releases only a generation ago can be downloaded to a memory card today. The promise of smoother, more streamlined experiences is part of what keeps gamers coming back to their favorite medium. But it's not only hardware and processes that need to trim the fat. Read on for a list of other things that we'd like to see lose some girth.
1. Self-indulgent Metal Gear Solid cut scenes
Everyone praises Hideo Kojima as one of gaming's greatest storytellers; and yes, his Metal Gear Solid games have been more thematically ambitious than most other videogame fare. But clearly the man's never heard that brevity is the soul of wit. His characters drone on and on about the fleeting beauty of the cherry blossom, how the trout in Lake Michigan are really biting this time of year, and whether or not waterboarding is torture. By the time their soliloquies are over, you've forgotten the plot point you're supposed to be chasing after. Isn't Snake a military man? Isn't he supposed to be quick and to-the-point? Lose some of that dialogue, Kojima; your franchise will live longer.
2. The PSP's noisy disk drive
Sony has put the current PSP through two hardware revisions at this point, each one slimmer, lighter and slicker than the last. But the one thing that persists about the soon-to-be-extinct version of the handheld is the painful whirring that emanates from the games as they're loading. It sounds like a coffee grinder. You can even hear it over the game sounds when you're wearing earphones. It's bad enough that the system's plagued by bad ports and shovelware, but its inelegant noise pollution will pull you out of any game that actually tickles your fancy.
3. Hernia-inducing Hori fighting sticks
Sure, our resident Hadouken expert Matt Zerbo loves these arcade-style joystick setups -- but have you ever lifted one of these things? Just try to, if you'd like to throw out your back. The worst part is the pressure you feel to be adept at using a fight stick. To admit that you can't throw down with one of these for your fighting game of choice is to be roundly mocked by your sparring partners. The laughter will end your fighting-game tournament career before it even starts. If you're going to commit to carrying one of these around by the time Tekken 6 comes out, you better start your P90X regimen now.
4. Commentator chatter in EA Sports games
Nobody puts more polish on a videogame than EA Sports. (It saves tons of time by not innovating.) But the way that Madden's Al Michaels and Fight Night's Teddy Atlas blather on about everything, from the play clock to their mother's pasta recipes, can make the most exciting prizefight or playoff game seem like a quilting bee from "Little House on the Prairie." The same holds true for all of EA Sports' hotshot titles. Newsflash, EA! Most gamers have someone to talk to. It's the person I'm playing against, and I can't stand him either. The next time the golf guys in Tiger Woods or the hoopheads in NBA Live come to their recording sessions, someone should cut their time in half. It'll save the company money and everyone some headaches.
5. Pricey Xbox 360 peripherals
Not to be outdone by Sony's redesign, Microsoft ?coincidentally? announced a price drop last week for the Elite and Arcade versions of the Xbox 360. Yay! But, it's also gone on record as saying that the price for that damnable Wireless Network Adapter will be holding fast at $100. Same goes for the 120 GB hard drive, which retails for $150. Thing is, these overpriced peripherals symbolize even more egregious price gouging with the price drop. They're respectively one-third and one-half of the price of the premium 360 console offering. That's ludicrous. To compare, that'd be like Apple charging you $83 for standard earbuds when a classic iPod goes for $249. When your MSRP shenanigans make Apple look good, you know you're doing something wrong.
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