10 Gaming Franchises That Suffer From Extreme Over-Complication

Remember back in the day before Metal Gear was about half wolf-women and octopus-armoured Presidents? Us neither.

Complexity and complication are like the hilt and blade of a Hattori Hanz sword; one grants control, a sense of empowerment, and in some cases, great power. The other will cut your hands off if you're not careful. In gaming, complexity and complication get confused. Far Cry 3 is complex. Borderlands is complicated. Mass Effect 2 is complex, Final Fantasy XIII is complicated. The difference is in how game developers point the sword. If they bury the systems of a game under needless menus, or crush the narrative under poorly acted subplots and flights of fancy, the player ends up with the sharp end. If a developer is careful to deliver as much cool stuff as possible while focusing on intuitive design, the player can wields it instead. When it comes to overcomplicated gaming franchises, the sins are many and varied. A game like Assassin's Creed is needlessly complex in multiple ways - its dual narrative and complicated stealth mechanics are elements you work against, instead of with. Meanwhile a franchise like Metal Gear Solid can become so entwined in plot developments and overlong cut-scenes and a ridiculous egg metaphor, that jumping into the franchise as a new player and figuring out what's going on is nigh impossible. These complications can put off folks who may be genuinely interested in the subject matter of a given game, but confusing mechanics, overwrought back stories or needlessly clunky menu and inventory systems can make those folks think twice before plopping down their hard earned money for a title or its sequel. Thus, this list of ten gaming franchises that are mostly worthwhile but take a bit too long to fully understand, and could stand to shed a few founds pounds of baby fat if they want to stay trim into their old age.

Paul is a writer, video producer, gamer, lover, and tie-fighter. E-mail him at