I have a decent collection of games for the 360 – more than a dozen, if you count XBLA titles – but the game I’ve played far more than any other is Oblivion. At last count, I’ve put in somewhere in the neighborhood of 140 hours. I have a friend who has put in 200+ hours and he hasn’t even finished the main quest line. I think he just likes grinding in dungeons.
Now, I love the game, but I reached a point recently where I started wanting nothing more than to just beat the damn thing. That’s a bit of a herculean task when it comes to an open-world game like Oblivion. It’s not that I haven’t done my best. I’ve completed the main quest-line, as well as the quest-lines for almost all of the guilds and both the Knights of the Nine and the Shivering Isles expansion packs… but I’m not done yet because I don’t have all of the achievements.
You might scoff and say that achievements are just about the size of your e-penis, and, sure, I won’t deny that getting as many achievements as possible makes me proud of my gaming abilities. The thing is… achievements are the only real way of measuring the “doneness” of a massive game like Oblivion.
I have fond memories from my childhood of sitting down on many a Sunday morning and performing a 3.5 hour run-through of Super Mario Brothers 3. I had it down to a science. I knew where all of the warps were, and I loved knowing I could beat the game so quickly. Beating that final boss and watching the credits roll is, in my humble opinion, one of the purest pleasures available in the world of gaming.
However, in these days of high prices and abundant storage space, it seems like one of the most common criticisms leveled at new games is that they don’t have a long enough playtime. We’ve all read the horrified quotes about Resident Evil 5 saying that the game had taken years to produce and could be beaten in a shamefully short amount of time… but the reality is that RE5 is fantastic and has a playtime that hits a nice sweet spot.
Besides, if every game took 100+ hours to beat, when exactly would people find time to play them all? It’s kind of like how I’ll never understand the MMO market. If your demographic is already devoting 30 or so hours a week to World of Warcraft, how is there room for a new and unproven MMO on their calendar? As for me, I’ll never play an MMO, but I do own Fallout 3, which I haven’t cracked open in months because I didn’t want to get caught up in two 100+ hour games at the same time.
I think I’d rather have more 12-15 hour games with definite endings as opposed to ones that you can just keep on playing without end. I do like getting achievements, but I still prefer the feeling of beating a game and wrapping things up so that you can move on to the next adventure. Gotta have that closure.
How about you? Do you demand games that are massive and playable until the end of time, or do you like ones that wrap bows on their endings and call it day? Does the length of a game affect whether or not you buy and/or play it?