Cheats and Walkthroughs
By Timothy J. Seppala
In the last four years, the current consoles have changed substantially since they launched. Thanks to downloadable software updates, our consoles have transformed so much you’d barely recognize them compared to when we first brought them home. The 360 now has motion gesture support, the PS3 can upconvert DVDs to 1080p resolution, and the Wii…well, the Wii has an Internet browser.
But, not everything's changed and we’ve been scratching our heads as to just why there hasn’t been a quick fix yet for many issues that've existed since launch day. On their own own they're minor, but added up they're much bigger annoyances. Why haven't they been fixed yet? Read on for our featured list of gripes that need some attention.
HOW SLOW CAN YOU GO?
Yeah, the PS3 is a technological beast, but it takes forever to do just about anything on it. Whether it’s downloading any of its seemingly weekly -- but actually monthly -- firmware updates or downloading something from the PSN Store, it feels like we’ve spent more time watching our PS3 update than we have playing games. What’s worse is you can’t do anything else while this stuff downloads – even watching a Blu-ray pauses a file transfer. Identical game patches take 30 seconds max on the Xbox 360, and even the biggest system updates take 15 minutes at the most. That Sony offers scheduled updates via its for-pay PSN + service feels like a smack in the face.
How many of you skipped out on buying Mass Effect 2 off the PSN Store because it was faster to drive to the nearest games store and buy a physical copy? We still don’t have the option to put our PS3s on standby and download items while the console itself is in a low power consumption state, either – a feature many Xbox 360 users use religiously. We always feel guilty about leaving our PS3 running so we can download the Prince of Persia Classic Trilogy or pull a movie from the PSN Store while we’re at work. We’re trying to go green Sony, give us a break! At the least we'd like the option to queue up downloads from a mobile app or a website and just have them ready to go when we get home.
ALL THE WRONG PARTS OF A COMPUTER
Sony started calling their consoles “computer entertainment systems” with the PS2, but that verbiage wasn't entirely fitting until now. The PS3 brought stuff we hate about our computers to the forefront – namely, having to install everything. You grabbed the demo for MLB 11 The Show? Well, if you background downloaded it, in addition to it taking forever to transfer from the PSN Store to your console, you also need to install it – adding at least five minutes to the amount of time between picking up your DualShock 3 and when you actually get to play a few innings.
Even worse are mandatory installs of retail games. Sure, there are benefits to installing it, such as faster load speeds and a quieter-running system, but after waiting almost six years to play Gran Turismo 5, the extra two hours it took to download a patch, then install it and the game was just pouring salt in the wound.
Again, the 360 doesn’t have this problem – as soon as a demo finishes downloading there’s no more waiting, just find it in your library and press the A button. Installing retail games? Only if you want to, and unless you have one of the sexy Slim 360’s you’ll definitely want to given how loud those older consoles can run.
GUIDE MY WAY
When the 360 transformed with the New Xbox Experience dashboard in 2008, the only reminder we have left of the old blade dashboard is when we press the Guide button on our controller. Of course, we like the subtle reminder of what the dash used to look like with a different tab for each group of functions , but it runs and looks like crap. It doesn’t sound like much, but the ten seconds it takes to go from a game to inviting a buddy to play Battlefield: Bad Company 2 with us feels like forever. Moving between the panes to access achievement info and our music collection is clunky, and we’d like to be able to adjust our system settings without exiting whatever game we’re playing, too.
LET'S GO SHOPPING ... OR NOT
Xbox 360, Wii
Not only is the Wii Shop channel laid out terribly, but you have to reenter credit card info for each transaction. And like the 360, you have to buy points in predetermined blocks which means you'll invariably have some left over just sitting there doing nothing after a purchase. You know what else is terrible? Entering our credit card or Wii Points card info with the Wii-mote --it’s just too shaky and slow. Excessive load times between menus don't help matters, either.
YOUR POPULARITY PRECEDES YOU
PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
We’re pretty social and have tons of friends we love playing Firefight with in Halo: Reach. The only problem is, when it comes to adding more friends to our roster, we always have to delete someone. We hit our friends list cap of 100 a long time ago, so whenever we meet someone new we have to make Sophie’s Choice and determine who’s the least worthy on our list, or find those we don’t play with anymore. Microsoft said the reason the friends list caps out at 100 was due to legacy support for Halo 2. That’s been offline for quite a while now and we still don’t have additional room for our fave fraggers. Hopefully we’ll see this is the next update. The PS3 had no such precedent and it's also limited to this arbitray number. Why? We suspect Sony just followed Microsoft's lead, here.
RUNNING OFF AT THE MOUTH
Why doesn’t the PS3 support cross-game chat? Sure, we might be playing Uncharted 2, but if a pal jumps online and he’s slaughtering Helghast in Killzone 3, we’d like to be able to catch up with ‘em. This is still one of the biggest reasons why we like playing online on 360 better, it doesn’t matter what any of our friends are playing, we can talk to them all regardless.
Playing with your friends all night is great. It provides a great bonding experience. What’s even better than jumping on Netflix Instant with your crew to unwind with Zombieland or The Big Lebowski? But like we said above, we’re pretty social people and having only eight of our closest friends with us online isn’t nearly enough. We’d love to fill that Bad Company 2 match with a full 16-player match with our friends exclusively, but with how the party system is currently setup, we can’t always guarantee that’ll happen.
LET'S JUST BE FRIENDS
You’d think by launching a year after the 360, Nintendo would've taken a look at how best to implement Microsoft’s tried-and-true, ever-growing online functionality to their Little White Box That Could. Instead of easy-to-remember online aliases, we’re forced to recite 16-digit friend codes whenever we want to play Mario Kart – it’s like redeeming a download code for on your PlayStation, except rather than scoring a sweet new game you wind up with a person you’ll rarely interact with online. We realize scrapping this system now would end up making a total mess for the few who bother to play with the slew of people they’ve added, but we have all we can do to remember the PIN for our ATM card, let alone a number four times as long. Perhaps a new system can be introduced alongside what’s already in place allowing for migration of the code to something a little less forgettable. It might end up a wasted effort though, because there aren't enough games to play online worth our time.
IN THE ZONE
The first time we set up our profile on the 360 we had to pick a “gamer zone” in addition to our Gamertag and default game preferences. We didn’t know how our zone choice would affect us back in November of 2005. Honestly, we still don’t. Regardless of setting it to “Underground,” “Recreation,” or “Pro” we come up with people telling us how great our mom was in bed the night before or why their race is better than ours. What could have been a great way to separate the idiots form the rest of us ends up being an inconsequential choice. It’d be great to see Microsoft embrace this system for matchmaking in our favorite games, but we doubt it’ll ever happen.
CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?
The 360’s voice chat quality flat-out sucks, even after the new update boosted its quality. We’ve heard calls from phone booths in the middle of a hail storm that sound better. Listen, we aren’t asking for Skype quality voice chat (although it’d be nice), but anything is better than whatever codec Microsoft is using now. The crackling and static-y audio fidelity hurts our ears and only gets worse the more players join the party.
Those are just some of the things that we wish the console makers would address. What bothers you about your game system that you want someone to take a wrench to? Let us know in the comments below.