The 7 worst ways to pad a game

In even the best games, you're going to come across some filler. You know what we mean: some content that didn't need to be there, and didn't enhance the experience. These are levels, tasks, and areas added to the game specifically to make it last longer, and that add nothing to the experience save frustration. These segments can run the gamut from merely inconvenient or irritating, to absolutely infuriating. What follows are some of the worst culprits, and the tactics they used to flesh out the total gameplay time.

Almost any adventure game has to have a certain amount of junk lying around for you to collect. It gets you from place, keeps you on track and ascribes a loose continuity to your otherwise aimless meanderings throughout the game world. Some games, however, take it too far, and actually require you to pick up asinine numbers of pseudo-symbolic knickknacks, many of which are in the same area but require you to wander around performing dull tasks (like jumping puzzles) to find them.

Above: You will learn to hate this sight

Here’s an idea, guys: If it’s do damned important to get every single one of these things, make it convenient or fun to do so, instead of forcing us to run all over the game world. Case in point: Super Mario Sunshine. Having to collect huge numbers of Shine Sprites is enough of a pain, but having to play the same level several times over so you can get enough Shines to open up the next area? That’s villainy of the highest caliber.

Worst offenders: Super Mario Sunshine, Crackdown

Notable exception: The Saboteur

Above: The FUN way to gather resources

This is what we like to see. The only real collectibles in the game weren’t actually about “collecting” anything, but rather blowing things up. At times, you were required to get some more contraband together, but to do so you had to blow up Nazi installations or murder officers. Joy and lucrative business ensued.

What is a cutscene without a purpose? That’s not some ancient proverb, but rather a question that arises when you come across cinematic sequences that added literally nothing to the game. The answer is that a cutscene that does nothing to advance the plot, develop the characters or do anything apart from fill time is essentially masturbation. We know they’re part of the developers’ artistic vision, but we’re here to play a game, not to watch a self-indulgent movie. If you can remove a cutscene without impacting the story in a negative way, then do it – your fans will thank you.

Above: Sure, it looks sweet, but it loses its charm after you’ve seen it a dozen times

This idea would have been an especially good idea if implemented in Kingdom Hearts 358/2 days, in which there was a cutscene after almost every single 10-minute mission. As if that weren’t bad enough, most of those cutscenes are just Roxas, Axel and Xion sitting on a clock tower, eating ice-cream and making idle chit-chat for anywhere between 30 seconds (not too bad) and five minutes (dear god, when will it end?). We don't know who thought this was a good idea, but we’d like to speak to them and explain, via crowbar, that we vehemently disagree.

Worst offenders: Kingdom Hearts 358/2 days, Metal Gear Solid 2

Notable exception: Modern Warfare 2

Above: This was a gripping moment indeed

In MW2, every cutscene was significant. When the game went pre-scripted, it was generally because something cool was about to happen - say, falling off a cliff to just barely be pulled to safety. There was clear entertainment value to be had here; each cutscene showed an inherent care, attention to detail and purpose that’s sorely lacking in a lot of other games.