So when I start a game, I usually know what I’m getting into. I know that once I start a linear, third-person action-adventure game; like your Uncharted’s, and Gears of War’s, I’m looking at roughly 10-15 hours for the main campaign. A traditional FPS campaign would be anywhere from 6-8 hours. And a traditional RPG whether Japanese or Western, would be 50-80 hours to complete the main story. But there are times where some games just feel like their running a bit long in the tooth. But then they end, so it’s fine. Then there are other times where I keep screaming at the screen saying, “End…end…f*cking END ALREADY!”
And this could happen to any game. Whether a 200 hour long RPG, or an 8 hour long FPS campaign. It’s not so much about how long the game is in terms of hours, but the feeling that the game isn’t introducing anything new, either narratively or gameplay wise and in turn becomes incredibly dull and drab. I finished the The Witcher 3’s main story at around 60 hours, but felt that I had barely scratched the surface. So I went back and kept playing. Another 40 hours later, and I was thoroughly satisfied but still felt I could do more. And it’s because the gameplay and upgrade loop was interesting and engaging enough for me to want to keep playing. The Quests and Hunts were still fulfilling, as were the narratives of side characters. But I’ve played campaigns in shooters for less than 10 hours, and felt like they lasted f*cking forever – ahem Destiny.
Now there are also other games where I felt that they should have ended 3 times before the actual ending, and it would have been perfect if they did. For me, these games are the ones that really frustrate me. Because I felt that there were these moments, both narratively, and otherwise, where I was completely satisfied with the experience, and saw an ending forthcoming. But then…it goes on for another handful of hours. The two games that come to mind when thinking about this is Okami and Uncharted 2: Among Thieves.
Listen, both Okami and Uncharted 2 are fantastic games. But they both, Okami especially, dragged out for far too long. Let’s talk about Okami first.
Orochi, Orochi, and Oro…JUST DIE!
Before I start, there are *spoilers* so yeah…you’ve been warned. Or whatever.
The game starts off incredibly slow. Like wrist-slit-ingly slow. But then it picks up. And boy does it pick up. Like any other Zelda game, Okami starts you off in a small town, with an incredibly annoying sidekick, and tells you your the saviour of the land. But of course you need to gather all the Dragon Balls, and find all the trinkets before you start your big battle against the big bad dude. So you go off. Going dungeon to dungeon, getting new weapons for every boss you beat. Talking to the quirky towns people and doing side quests. Then about 12 hours into the game, you face off against the dude that has been fucking things up for everyone, Orochi. And no this isn’t Orochi Maru from Naruto, this dude is this 8 headed beast. Now when you beat Orochi, it really feels like you’ve beaten him. The way the music plays, and the characters converse, and the darkness that lifts from the land; it truly feels like the game is ending. And at this point I just went, “Oh, was that it? Okay. That was a good amount of fun. I felt it could have gone a bit longer, but okay. Good!” But of course, some bullshit about darkness going to other parts of the land, and a bigger threat at large happens and so we’re off again. And honestly, I was glad. I wanted to keep playing. But the next “ending” is where I started to get annoyed.
Around 25 hours into the game, you come across what I’ll call the second “final boss.” And this time, I truly, genuinely, almost certainly knew, that this was it. I had been playing for 25 hours, which seemed like a solid amount for a game like this. I had gotten most of the brush techniques aside from a couple, which I at the time assumed were secrets for players to find post game, or in a second play through. I had helped a number of people, done side quests up the ass, and had gotten kickass weapons. I felt ready. My body, was ready. Even the lead up to the last dungeon was epic. A long ass bridge that connected you to it. With epic music playing. It was great. And the boss? F*cking great. It was this big ass nine tailed fox from like Naruto or some shit, and the f*cker could do a lot of the same moves as you. It was the first time I actually felt challenged from a boss this entire game. And once I’d finished him off, it was very gratifying. And just like beating Orochi the first time, I felt that the game, with the way it was going, was about to end. And it would have been perfect.
But, of course not. No, the game had to keep going. I won’t go into all the bullshit you had to go through to finally get to the ending fucking 40 hours in. But it was, as Jim Sterling would say, a load of bollocks. The entire 3rd act of the game was completely uninspired and took away so much of the satisfaction from beating the nine tailed fox. I mean aside from one particular area which was quite cool, and one character that was interesting, everything else was just, “meh.” And don’t get me started on the entire ending of the game. Actually, f*ck it, I will get started.
So after beating these two pieces of f*ck:
you then get access to this wannabe Noah’s Ark, and learn that the side kick you’ve been with this entire game, is a complete and utter asshole, and a selfish piece of shit.
Once inside, you now have to beat EVERY BOSS AGAIN. That’s right. All the main bosses in the game you already beat, you now have to beat them again in a boss rush. That means you have to fight Orochi for the third goddamn time. Oh did I not mention that you had to fight Orochi a second time? Yeah, well you do. Cause of some time travel crap. So after the boss rush, you know get to finally go up against the actual final boss. And…it’s shit. The boss is literally just a big Pokeball. And he transforms into other versions of…Pokeballs. Oh and it’s a complete shit of a bullet sponge.
And then that’s it. You beat the game. And are treated to an incredibly anti-climactic and dull ending sequence. A 40 hour game that should have been half as long.
So now let’s talk about Uncharted 2:
We’re Killing The People From Avatar Now?
So this game obviously has gotten universal acclaim out of its ass, and though I personally prefer the third game over it (don’t kill me), I understand why. However, I did feel that it lasted about 5 chapters too long. Uncharted 1 & 3 both lasted about 18-22 chapters. I could be wrong but I’m too lazy to fact check. Regardless, all I remember is that the second game was 5-6 chapters longer than the other two. And was all the worse for it. After coming across what felt like the thousandth, “oh no, our treasure is in another continent” Uncharted moment, I was getting exhausted of the game. I felt it wasn’t going anywhere. I had been fighting the same enemy types for 7 chapters now, and there was no progression in the story. The game started out fantastically. And I loved Chloe, Cutter, and Elena. Though I disliked Lazarevich as an antagonist, and felt the story was more Hollywood than I’d like, I was still enjoying my time with it.
But by the time I got to like chapter 20, I was ready for the game to end. But it kept going. The characters were going from one setting to the next. Set piece after set piece. And don’t get me wrong, the set pieces and locations in this game are great, but it comes to a point where all the transitions are simply artificial game lengtheners that don’t really add anything to the game. And then when we get to what feels like the end, there’s one last thing we gotta do, because why not, and it’s fucking start killing the blue dudes from Avatar, except here their on steroids and are massive bullet sponges. Like, did we need this? The location is pretty, but was it really necessary to have basically the same supernatural twist just like we did in the first game?
The Ye Olde Saying Of Quality Over Quantity
I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but for me so many games just go one step too far when it comes to length. These were the main two that jumped out but I feel this way about a ton of games. And surprisingly, most of these games I think about tend to be single player action games that are more narrative driven, which are supposed to last between 10-20 hours. I think developers have a tough time balancing being able to both tell a cohesive story and also have good gameplay mechanics that evolve as the game progresses. Sometimes I feel that they feel their game needs to show off more gameplay, and so they just have an entire level of big rooms of bland enemies and just a clusterfuck of bullets flying everywhere.
But those are my thoughts. What about you? Do you have any games that you felt overstayed their welcome? Let me know in the comments below.