Saturday, 23 February 2013

1up Blog #45: Game Length: Why Mirror's Edge is Not Short (01/24/2009)

For those who dabbled in games this last fall (well, you're reading this page so you should have!), you are likely well aware of the buzz of Mirror's Edge running the gamut of 4-8 hours long. Generally, that's not a whole lot of value for the recession dollar on a full-price game. I feel avoiding games because of that is short-sided. I could sum this up by saying, “Please, like you finish half the games you buy anyway!” But that's too simple.
     The discussion games being too short kind of bothers me because though I understand where this comes from (not too many years ago I thought the same way), but games just are not made with the thought 'This will be 12 hours long.' At least, I hope that’s not how some are made (I’m looking at you JRPG’s!). I'm not saying it's hard to add a few extra levels in these games, but that’s the purpose of the cutting-room floor. Look at Chrono Cross, a great RPG that, at 20 hours, is pretty short from what I would've expected from an RPG. As a huge fan of the game, I would've loved it to go for another 20 hours. However, looking back on it, the combat was getting a little boring at the end of the game, and though the story wrapped everything up rather quickly, it sure picked the right time to do so. How about another? Panzer Dragoon Orta, one of the shortest games ever made is also one of my favourite, and is my most replayed game of them all. That's some damn good praise for a game whose length would normally steer the average game-buyer away!
     I'm absolutely positive Dice made Mirror's Edge as short as it was in order for its flame to die out at just the right time. The game components are pretty minimal - it's mostly just running around doing parkour for the entire game. It could have easily been longer by peppering more enemies throughout the levels, but first of all the not very good combat is not very good combat because that was not the games focus, the combat was just something to do in between the stellar parkour. Second, this artificial lengthening would have just lessened the game experience, and I am sure that would have been reflected in the reviews. Still, had Mirror's Edge been 10-12 hours long, I can be damn sure it would have sold better regardless.
You don't treat short people differently, so why pick on short games?
      This is really disheartening, because even though Mirror's Edge was the quickest game I've beaten in recent memory, it was also the most satisfying throughout. Further in Lost Odyssey, I feel hours of cut-scenes and wandering could've been trimmed from the game for the better. I look forward to beating Mirror's Edge again soon, which again is not something I can say about anything in recent memory. I could beg you in uncountable ways to tell you to go buy this game, but that's not my meaning (I can’t really defend the combat or the story). What I’m saying is, right now, if there is anything keeping you from buying this game, let it not be the length. And it still goes without mention that Mirror's Edge may actually be the only game you finish of all the holiday releases!

So, this blog might be running a little short, here’s a little bonus to raise the value : My 2008 Games of the Year.
      1.  Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII
After the fun, but shallow Advent Children, and the half-assed Dirge of Cerberus, I actually never lost hope in this one. Maybe because the thought of going over FFVII’s brilliant story is more exciting than continuing it, or maybe it’s just because I could tell they would get this one right. The combat doesn’t quite live up to the original’s pedigree, but the rest was so fine-crafted I hardly even noticed.
      2.  Ninja Gaiden II
When RebelFM almost unanimously called NGII the most disappointing game of the year, I was pretty much shouting at the wall. NGII may be a slight disappointment compared to the original, but is that supposed to be a surprise when the predecessor was one of the best games of the last decade? It actually added many things that made the combat even better though (weapons, speed, the finisher...). When it comes down to it, it’s like comparing lobster to lobster with shrimp .
      3.  Mirror’s Edge
Despite all the talk of Mirror’s Edge not being represented as a racing game, I actually enjoyed the slow-paced platforming the most. The unforgiving checkpoints are key to getting yourself to master the environment, and really, it controlled so well that I really didn’t mind running over the same wall over and over.
       Most Likely Game of the Year: Gears of War 2
I bought this game for my brother for Christmas instead of for myself, as I wanted him to get back in gaming. We played hour after hour of Horde over the holidays, and I have to say it was the best multiplayer gaming I’ve played... ever. No joke. Maybe it’s because I’m much less of a competitive player, but Epic really nailed it (looks like they turned lobster with shrimp into two lobsters... with shrimp). It was worth it, even though I face the dilemma of not being able to play the game myself!

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