Does size really matter?

The age old question, right? And it has to be answered. I have noticed a lot of articles and reviews recently where the major upside or downside of a game is the longevity of play, but is that really a factor we should be paying that much attention to when picking our next gaming purchase?

Obviously, as the dedicated RPG fan that I am I can’t say that there’s not a level of satisfaction to finishing a game after playing it constantly for weeks on end, madly clocking up the hours and basically having to live the game to get it finished before the next big release comes out. However, since the dawn of the new age consoles we have been seeing an increase in gorgeous, playable games that just don’t last.

Personally I feel that with gaming becoming increasingly popular in recent years, I would rather have a new game every week that was short to complete but breathtaking and innovative. However, I am aware that those who don’t have quite as much time to dedicate to their gaming hobby may end up with stacks and stacks of half completed games with not enough time to finish, and too much choice to dedicate themselves to just one game at a time.

Part of my mate\'s collection!

As someone who flies through games at the speed of light I live off the trade-in system at my local games shop, constantly changing what I’m currently playing, but this really isn’t for everyone. So, let’s think about the fabulously playable yet devastatingly short games that have appeared in the last year or so. Well, obviously if you have some sort of allergy to being online then Call of Duty 4 is incredibly short, yet still praised as one of the best games in it’s genre. The couple of people I know without Live who have played this game offline still praise it as amazing.

Another obvious but now quite old one that has to be mentioned is Tomb Raider Legend. By far the shortest of the Tomb Raider games, I had completed everything on every difficulty and in time trial mode within 5 days, but it remains in my games drawer to this day (one of only two games I haven’t traded in because I found it soooo playable!). Although it won’t keep you occupied for long in the first run through, the puzzles are fun to work out, the gameplay feels so natural it’s untrue and you’ll find yourself loving every second of it (unless you get stuck on a puzzle and end up yelling at the TV!).

I would also like to take this time to mention other gems such as Bourne Conspiracy, Beautiful Katamari, CSI, Bioshock, and the many other games I simply whizzed through but thoroughly enjoyed.

And then there’s the epic long games. RPGs aside, (let’s face it, if they were short there’d be an uproar), there have been many titles which mean you lose a significant chunk of your life, and get left thinking, “Was it really worth it?” Certainly first up on my list of these is Kingdom Under Fire: Circle of Doom. I managed to clock up an obscene amount of hours playing this whilst not really enjoying myself. Anyone who read my reader review in 360 Gamer will know I gave the game a 6 – I was thoroughly unimpressed and horrified to find it makes my top ten games played list on 360voice.

The next one to mention is a bit of a strange one but I know Kate will agree with me on this one – DOA Xtreme 2. Possibly one of the most ridiculous and pointless games ever, but myself and several people I know found ourselves hopelessly addicted to this volleyball game that meant you spent 20ish hours to get a 20 point achievement.  The problem with this game was not the lack of enjoyment, but the fact that everything took so much time. Once I realised how much time I’d already spent on the game with so far to go, I marched myself into town and traded it in in order to regain my life, or at least time for other games!

Ok guys, you can stop staring now!

So which is preferable to you? Long or short? Does it really make a difference? I’ve played a lot of amazing short games and not regretted trading them in the next week, and I’ve also played some awful or just ridiculous long games, and honestly I can say that to me size really doesn’t matter – it IS what you do with it that counts!







9 responses to “Does size really matter?”

  1. Michael avatar

    Oh, Zoey, now you’re asking!

    I actually like a mixture of the two types; while I have said short games charged at £40 or more is not right – something I still think – I would play the likes of CoD4 without (much) griping… mainly as it had such a quality MP mode AND the multiple difficulties to extend the game’s lifespan. For a truly short game, like Portal, the price isn’t an issue. I have gotten into a habit of playing a lengthy game, typically an RPG, and balancing that with several small games – Portal, Puzzle Quest etc. But I don’t trade in games much these days.

    I could’ve told you that Kingdom Under Fire would be rubbish before you bought it! I played a previous game in the series and knew, KNEW, that stripping the strategy away would make this game a horribly repetitive hack’n’slash.

  2.  avatar

    It’s the quality of the experience that counts.

    But when you’re having a great experience you want it to last as long as possible. So the balance is between extending the playtime, but not diminishing the rewards by making it repetitive, or cheesy, or otherwise artificially lengthening the game.

    Portal, Braid, short and beautiful.

    BioShock? I love it. It’s a classic.
    But would it be an even greater game, with a running time between 12-15 hours instead of 20?

    Movies know that good editing strengthens the end product. Games don’t seem to have that knack yet.

  3.  avatar

    It’s playing silly buggers. Skill said that ^^^

    Umm, and this.

  4. Kate avatar

    When I was younger, I’d be thrilled to learn a game had 40+ hours of gameplay. But now that I’m older and I have more committments, something like Fable II fills me with dread. When am I ever going to find time to play it? If there was an RPG out there boasting 20 hours of gameplay, I would be thrilled. I think a lot of people who have grown up gaming share the same problem as I do.

    That said, I find it much easier to sink forty hours into GRAW than Lost Odyssey, because you have the co-op, playing together element.

  5. Emily avatar

    Yes, Tomb Raider Legend is a perfect example. Very short and sweet game for the size and number of levels, but it was very enjoyable… made me feel like I was awesome at games because I finished it so quickly 😛

    Imagining that quality isn’t a factor I’d prefer something longer, that I can sink my teeth into and will keep me occupied for a long time. I know TR:L had its time trail and collectables, but they were pretty easy and quick to do.

  6. Kirsten avatar

    I remember playing Tomb Raider Chronicles and being appalled when it was half the length of the previous four games. These days though I’m entirely in agreement with Kate. I’d rather play a shorter game that I will actually complete that end up not playing something because I’d have to commit 50+ hours to it.

  7. Dave avatar

    Hmmm, I’m very split on this one. I used to love losing myself in a game for hours on end, rushing home from work to get straight back to it then staying up as late as I could manage before sleeping deeply before the next hit the following day. I wanted games as long and deep as they could fit in a cartridge / on a disc…

    BUT…my life doesn’t seem to allow that as much now. I COULD do it, but I’d have to sacrifice other things I enjoy in my life now to fit it in. A true dilemma. Instead I go mad for a game for a few days, then either stop playing for a few days, or switch to the new big thing. I do suffer from the frustration of endless unfinished games now though.

    (Like the owner of the games in your pic…*ahem*)

  8. Lorna avatar

    I suppose I like a mixture and it can be frustrating when a good games ends swiftly but a bad one lingers like an unwelcome relative. Nowadays I don’t have the time or inclination to pour hours and days and weeks into something like I did when I was a kid unless it is very worth it, and even then I take a break, such as with Oblivion. Maybe we are just all getting too old 😉 😀

  9. Andy Turner avatar
    Andy Turner

    As time goes on people are expecting longer and longer games but then my experience during my game retail days and the speed at which games get traded in also tells me that they get bored with things incredibly quickly too, So we find ourselves in a bit of a contradictory position where people seem to want long games that don’t repeat themselves and do not drag in the slightest, and its situations like that when I feel the sorriest for game developers.

    Personally these days I think were kind of spoiled for game length (at this point I could go into a rant about in my day you could finish a game in an hour and if you turned it off you had to start again but to try and avoid making my self feel old I’m going to avoid it.) Anyhow the 360 era and in turn the rise of the mighty gamerscore and achievements have increased game longevity in ways just lengthening games never could…before gamerscore rested on it I would never dream of bothering to finish a game on its most obscene difficulty level before moving onto the next title just for the fun of it or to unlock a meager extra for a game I had just finished playing to death on its most challenging setting probably negting my desire to ever play said game again (I’m talking to you Devil may cry on the PS2)

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