Electronic Arts Launches a Facebook Version of New Puzzle Title Create

Some of the best games on the market are those that give players a creative spark. From Scribblenaughts on the Nintendo DS to Little Big Planet on the PlayStation 3, such games have allowed for tremendous creative outlets for users. The latest is Create by Electronic Arts, released on all the major consoles.

Along with the main version, EA has just announced Create for Facebook, which was actually developed by The Game Agency (TGA), a marketing company. Simplified down from its full PC and console counterparts, Create tasks users to manipulate ordinary objects in a Rube Goldberg sort of way, in order to get an object from Point A to Point B. Interesting as it sounds, the presentation of the game is rather lacking. With its puzzle solving coming down to trial and error using the same sets of objects, the game becomes boring very quickly.

The idea is simple. Players are given a balloon, a windmill, a see-saw, a box, and some sort of pinball bumper. Each object has its own set of physics applied to it: balloons pull things upward; windmills push objects; boxes fall; see-saws, well, see-saw; and the bumper bounces objects in the opposite direction. Using these tools, players must get a soccer ball from its starting position to a goal somewhere in the level.

With odd layouts, pitfalls, and spikes, Create makes things a little difficult, as getting stuck or touching a dangerous obstacle will result in failure. Of the five objects, however, players can use as many as they like, anywhere they like, and each will alter the path of the soccer ball in its own fashion. Furthermore, all of the objects can be rotated and affect one another as well.

Though it’s not a totally new concept, it truly is interesting. The real difficulty is that there’s no sure fire way to tell what affect objects will have on each other, so the four puzzles really become tasks of trial and error.

Puzzles is a term used very loosely, for each level is merely a different layout with the same objects. Yes, players can attempt to use these in different ways, but it just becomes uninteresting after a while. A puzzle game needs to provide actual puzzles to the player, not a layout and the concept of “creating your own puzzle.”

In order to try and hold the player’s interest, Create offers a scoring system with bonus points earned for each time the ball interacts with an object or touches pre-placed hoops in the level.

This wouldn’t be so bad if there was more than five things to play with, or even if it looked better. Considering the names behind the game, the presentation is dramatically underwhelming, consisting of basic background, bland levels, and Photoshopped objects. Everything looks and feels sophomoric, save the physics system, which actually works decently well.

Other than score, there’s also no sense of progression in this game (some might call it more of a “toy” then a game because of this). Right off the bat, players get all four “puzzles,” all five objects, and can place as many objects as they want. Nothing is unlocked, nothing is earned, and there isn’t anything gratifying, save a leaderboard system based on scores.

The saving grace to Create is an interesting concept of “sharing” one’s ball. Balls (which users can create more of) can be passed between profiles on Facebook. Additionally, each ball tracks how many people have played with it, how many times it’s been played, and how many places (levels) it’s completed. Furthermore, users can view the creator of the ball and actually see who has used it. Despite all the problems with Create, this feature is pretty neat.

Another aspect of the game that could help it succeed is that since Intel sponsored the development of the app, for the PC launch, users can enter to win a laptop with an Intel Core i5 Processor, as well as a copy of the console game.

But that’s also the real issue. At the end of the day, Create is yet another half-baked Facebook title that exists only to draw publicity for the full console or PC versions. We’ve seen this idea used before (for core games and other products) with games from Sony Ericsson, LucasArts, and other big name companies, and most are failures. Like the concept of gamification, the problem with such titles is that they’ve been created not for fun, but for marketing.