So This is What Beta Means…

I trust that everyone’s enjoying their first taste of Metal Gear Solid 4, with the online beta available for download now. Stunning menus…

…and not much else, because it’s still not working. Having been released for download over a week ago and taking an inordinate amount of time to download (I was at 17% of a 741MB file after three hours), it required the immediate download of the 1.01 patch, which would either time out on the HTTP download or, on the BitTorrent option, max out at about 16kbps while uploading at over 40. And now there’s a second patch, which you have to download after 1.01, because they’re incremental. And I’m having the same download problems after eight days.

Not to mention that when it does work, you need a Konami ID (lower-case alphanumeric), a password for that, a game ID (lower-case alphanumeric; must be different to the Konami ID), and a second password (this time only numerical). Given the fact that every online PS3 user will already have a unique ID… why!?

Epic fail, in other words.

Xbox Live gets a lot of stick for costing £40 a year, but I’d be more than happy to pay that for PSN if the damn thing worked half the time. I’ve never spent more than 30 seconds downloading a Live patch (unlike Super Stardust HD, a twin-stick shooter that inexplicably gets a 153MB patch) or dashboard update, and because it’s a closed system I know that my one account will work on all games. On Live I’ve participated in three betas – Halo 3, Call of Duty 4, and currently Battlefield: Bad Company – and all worked just as transparently as any demo or downloadable game.

That’s worth £40 to me. I’d rather pay for a nice steak than get a free grease burger and I’d rather have something that works to something that doesn’t. I’m not even demanding feature parity with Live on the original Xbox (universal friends list, cross-game invites, etc), though that would be nice; just a system that works. Yes, it’s free, but so is Steam, and that’s arguably better than Live at the moment.

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