The prospect of a forty-hour role playing game fills me with absolute dread, but thankfully not every game requires a mammoth investment of your time. In fact, when we broke the news that Journey could be completed in three hours that revelation brought a sense of relief and joy.
However, the comments that surfaced at the weekend after NowGamer suggested Killzone 3 can be beaten in four and a half hours completely baffled me. Aside from not actually being wholly correct, the news that a AAA first person shooter could be wrapped up in half a day provoked a stunning response from the internet.
“Well its just typical isn’t it!” exclaimed the commentor on the NowGamer piece. “All the hype non stop hype about this game… and they end up giving us a measly few hours playtime. Bulls**t. ”
Some of the comments on the N4G article were similar in theme, with a few questioning the reviews published at the time based on the playtime reported by NowGamer. Even if it was true, the question really should be ‘why does it matter’?
If you’re a die-hard Killzone fan, chances are you won’t be rushing through the game on Normal anyway (which should take between six and eight hours) – rather plumping for a higher difficulty level, but that’s not really the point – if Killzone 3 was just four hours long, why would that a) affect your decision to buy the game and b) affect any of the already published scores?
Game length shouldn’t be dictated by the current market, rather the other way around. Developers that elongate their single player campaigns should only do so when they’ve got more story to tell, not artificially to please the baying masses, and whilst Killzone 3’s plot won’t win any awards, at least it’s concise and exact.
Filler is the plague of many a console game, fetch and collect quests peppering an otherwise enjoyable story bore me senseless – I no longer have time to hunt out anything that’s extraneous to completion of the story so if Killzone 3 asked me to fanny around looking for token collectables I’d have not been impressed: save that for the likes of inFamous – at least the blast shards could be done away from the main missions.
As it stands, whatever time it takes you to get through Sev’s latest adventure, you can be sure that there’s nothing in there that’s not meaty. Sure, it’s far from perfect, but it’s the equal of any of the recent Call of Duty games with regards to exposition and – besides – isn’t Killzone 3 all about the massive online portion?
So why does it matter how long a game lasts? The misconception that games are getting shorter is exactly that: my earliest memories of gaming include some really short experiences and I’m not alone: Peter said Sonic took him four hours back in the day and that’s with a lot of restarts.
And the perception of value? £40 for Killzone 3 gets you (assuming you play it through more than once and try Elite) around fifteen hours or so of single player campaign, countless hours of co-op, the huge Botzone mode and then there’s online multiplayer, which will presumably run as long as Killzone 2’s did – that is, for at least a couple of years.
Games are, and always have been, good value for money. Relatively or otherwise – think how much a ticket to the cinema costs and how long that lasts…