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FEATURED VOXPOP oblivion437 Update: I was unfortunately not aware of Shamus Young's severe criticism of Fallout 3 available here to link in the original piece and I regret that.  It dovetails rather nicely with what I've written and it's much better executed than my piece.  I strongly recommend anyone...

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Please Feed My GameShark

Posted on Wednesday, August 6 @ 17:54:32 Eastern by

I miss cheat code devices. Codebreaker, Game Shark (or what it used to be at least), Action Replay - none of these are yet available for any next-gen consoles, excluding the handhelds. These devices manipulate the values for any variables in the game, allowing you to play with infinite health, unlimited ammo, and virtually any cheat you can think of. Only a small percentage of people use them (or even know that such a product exists), but nonetheless, it's a group of people that's being left at the wayside by the wave of next-gen.

Some of you more straight-arrow, paladin-istic, can't-even-say-the-word-"walkthrough" gamers might be shaking your finger at me in the "Shame On You" kind of way, but using cheats for personal use is justifiable and even beneficial for the industry. To be sure, the line is drawn if cheats or hacks are being used in a game for a review, in a competition, or in any game mode, particularly online, where having an even playing field is necessary for everyone to have fun. Leaderboards, gamerscores, and fair online play would have no meaning if someone could just artificially sabotage the system. Personally, I test out a game before I even think about using cheats, and even then, I try to complete the game once legitly before or after a cheated playthrough.

But when I take off my reviewer hat and put on my gamer hat, I frequently pop in my PS2 Codebreaker and start having some mindless fun, say, hacking through every enemy in God of War like a god or speeding through a long-ass, yawn-inducing-battle-system RPG just for the storyline (Xenosaga 2, anyone?). Yes, that destroys any sense of challenge in the game, and it destroys the so-called "real" gameplay I'm "supposed to" experience, but that's sort of the point. Sometimes, I am not willing to spend time playing a game I don't find that fun, but am willing to spend time playing and purchasing the same game with cheats.

At the end of the day, being entertained is the whole point of cheats: To each gamer, their own brand of fun. Who doesn't want to go through a Call of Duty with a grenade launcher that doesn't run out of ammo? Or put on a no-fail or unlock-all-songs cheat when Guitar Hero n00bs crash your party? Or literally dial in a helicopter that can scour and scorch the streets Grand Theft Auto IV... and then instantly removing your six-star rating with an evil laugh?

As you may have infered from those questions, many developers have gladly taken the reins of cheat code devices by supplying in-game cheats that automatically lock some Xbox Live achievements and that can't be used online. On some consoles like the Playstation 3, game saves which are easily transported from a GameFAQs page to a compatible memory stick also provide a quick runaround.

Still, that's nothing compared to the power of being able to freely pick and choose (and if you're really tech-savvy, actually create) cheats for any game on a given platform. If there is a way to disable online play and achievements (and PS3 trophies) while using such a device, and ensure that it doesn't provide a gateway for hackers to break through the system's security, a Codebreaker for Xbox 360, PS3, and Wii could be brought into the market without much trouble.

Cheats devices, when taken with caution and a dose of common sense, open new ways to have fun and add to the replay value of nearly every video game on the shelf. I know that if I had a Codebreaker for the 360, I would be scouring through the nearest used box-o'-games/bargain bin, snatching up titles like Def Jam Icon, The Godfather, and Kameo: Elements of Power. I mean, I bought Final Fight: Streetwise for the PS2 because I had a Codebreaker - oh, the game hurts in every way you think it would, but with cheats, it's almost passable.

Using cheat code devices may not be the purest, most genuine way to play a game, but sometimes, it's certainly the funnest. So where's my next-gen Codebreaker, already?!

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