I Mixed Drinks, Stomped on Scorpions in the PS3’s Bizarre New MMO ‘Sodium One’

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For some reason, you’ve got to stomp on a bunch of scorpions. I have no idea why, but it’s part of your objectives. There’s a small hot spot full of them, and I saw avatars running back and forth over scorpions of different sizes and colors, making “splat!” sounds and splashing colored blood as they went. When I tried to get my stomp on too, the scorpions would sting me and spray my screen with green goo. There seemed to be no visibly detrimental effects to my avatar, except for the view-obstructing green screen. The scrolling text at the top told me to approach the creatures from behind, but it still wasn’t too easy.

But then I noticed that other players were stomping on all kinds of scorpions like nobody’s business. They were wearing special shoes that looked like they just stepped on two empty tissue boxes (upon closer inspection, I saw that they were actually cement blocks). I asked someone where they got their shoes, and they directed me to the “Commerce Point.” Apparently I missed the shopping station earlier, a round glass tube displaying a jacket, and when I went there, I found the “Scorpion Stomper Shoes” were available for 99 cents. In real money.

Why do I have pay real money for something that will allow me to play the game in a way that doesn’t irritate the hell out of me? Though I felt wronged, I shelled out the dollar for the shoes and quickly ran back to the hot spot. Only by now, the scorpions had disappeared. I asked around and no one knew where they went. Other people said that this happened yesterday too, where the things just vanished. I didn’t have the strongest desire to run back and forth over scorpions anyway.

The press release promised “more than 100 games to play, 50 spaces to experience, and over 2000 virtual items to collect,” but I certainly didn’t see much more than what I described above. Sodium One feel likes it’s half-finished, and there’s nothing charming or fun or engaging about this experience thus far — there’s not even an interesting narrative behind all this.

In fact, it’s been nothing but confusing. There are so many questions left unanswered: Why is it called Sodium One? Why was this “new MMO” released with such a lack of features and polish? What’s up with the mixed messaging regarding how to unlock the “free” game? How is the shopping mall experience of Home connected to this seemingly random futuristic desert world overrun with scorpions? Why do I have to pay for stomping shoes to make the game fun? Why are we stomping on scorpions anyway? What are the incentives for players to stomp on scorpions, serve drinks or shoot spaceships? Basically, what’s the point?

As my friend Gus succinctly put it, “I think the reality here is Sodium One is something slightly different to do while waiting to cyber.”

Granted, brand-new online games always need to work out the launch kinks. But it isn’t server issues or small populations or bugs that are keeping Sodium One down — it’s just not any fun. At all. I’m baffled by how Sony could release something that feels so incomplete, and ask for our money to enjoy it. Until it receives some major content updates and makes the user experience less frustrating, I’m staying away from Sodium One.

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