It feels good to be back and writing again for PlusXP! (Cheap pop)
Ok enough of that.
Hot off the heels of The Order: 1886 being released; the question of morality in gaming has once again reared its ugly head. Sequels, tie-ins, DLC etc. There are so many things for people to complain about nowadays that I’ve just realised I’m complaining about complaining.
For now, I’ll delve into the hot topic of longevity in a game. The Order’s length is being scrutinised for being a mere 5-6 hours. To be clear, I HAVE NOT PLAYED THE: ORDER 1886. Well, not the full game at least. So I will not be biased, for or against the game.
Once again…..I…HAVE……NOT………PLAYED……THE ORDER: 1886.
So let’s break this down. The hours you can get out of a game are completely subjective. Yet many arguments are bereft of objectivity about a game’s length. Why? Because sometimes there is no objectivity when it comes to a games length. It comes down to: preference, dedication, commitment, and the feeling of pretty much getting your money’s worth. These are key factors in determining how much you get out of a game.
The Order is single-player only. Ready at Dawn wanted to ‘establish the franchise’ first before creating the multiplayer component that will inevitably be seen in the sequel. That’s great! I prefer games that emphasise their campaign and try to build on the fundamental basics of gameplay and storytelling.It seems that since the PS3/Xbox 360 came along it’s become mandatory that you have to have multiplayer, even if it’s worse than death itself. Call of Juarez and Bioshock 2 always spring to mind.
One of my personal highlights from 2014 was Wolfenstein: The New Order. The old-school makers of shooters have reinvented their franchise and made it feel fresh and fun. But do you know what else made Wolfenstein awesome? It’s 12+ hour campaign that took us through castles, prisons, torture camps, cities and always entertained. I’ve played many first-person shooters (FPS) and been very dissatisfied with their meagre 4-6 hour offering. I mean when you’ve got people paying £40-50 upfront for a game that lasts slightly longer than some films, you have to ask, is it worth it?
A point, raised by Ready at Dawn founder Ru Weerasuriya, was that “it’s a matter of quality, not quantity”. Is it? That’s a subjective statement with little substance behind it. It again comes down to what the gamer prefers. I don’t think he can quite speak for all the millions of gamers out there.
I myself have no fixed preference. I love most games. I will happily play an indie game that can be completed in only a few hours. The original Portal, Limbo, and Brothers are examples of this. On the other end of the scale, my heart yearns for levelling up, the monotonous chore of killing the same enemies over and over just to upgrade a weapon or armour…BUT IT IS SO WORTH IT. I’ve sank hours into The Elder Scrolls games, The Fallout franchise, Far Cry, Kingdom Hearts, Final Fantasy etc. I just never get over the feeling of strapping myself into my seat and preparing myself to feast on a delicious gaming banquet just dripping with XP and smoky barbeque customisable characters. Man I do love to feast, always chomping at the 8-bit….game over?
As long as you enjoy the game, then it shouldn’t really matter how the long game is as you’ll enjoy it regardless. Blind loyalty can leave you to become a casualty of wanting a game. Even Duke Nukem fans may try to repress the game but, Duke Nukem Forever is an example of a game that people bought out of loyalty to the franchise. I think it’s fair to say that it was a game devoid of quality, but had some, and I use it in its loosest sense, quantity (the Hive level does not exist in my mind).
I don’t find blind loyalty to be a bad thing, I bought Haze for the PS3 just because the media and I had hyped it to death. Was it crap? Absolutely. Did I enjoy it? Surprisingly I did. Metal Gear Solid Ground Zeroes is just about the most perfect example I can think of. If you know anything about me, then you’ll know that I love Metal Gear Solid. I did write a 4,000 word about the beautiful franchise after all. Ground Zeroes is basically a prologue to the upcoming and highly-anticipated Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. It is probably going to be the last proper Metal Gear Solid game and it wraps up the last remnants of Big Boss’s story. It is my most looked forward to game and so I just had to buy Ground Zeroes! My god, the fun, the creativity and the FREEEEEDOM. I could just feel the Mel Gibson bubbling up inside of me as I remember that I wasn’t constrained by restraints in Ground Zeroes. However, the bulk of Ground Zeroes is one main mission that, on my first playthrough, took me about an hour and a half to complete.
You see this is where perception meets reality. One guy does a speed run of it in less than 10 minutes and everyone loses their minds. As soon as word got round that you could complete the main mission in less than 10 minutes, the internet exploded into hate and vilification towards Hideo and his game. “It’s a glorified tech demo”, “We have to pay for this?” Ermmmm the last time I checked, no one was forced to buy a game. If you don’t want to part with money to play it then don’t. Now if people look at the flip side and actually did their research, you’d see that value is there in the game; not to mention the fact that the costs half the price of a normal game. Including the main mission, the additional bonus missions, the challenge to achieve top ratings in each mission and all the unlockables; no one should really complain about the content on offer. I easily got about 10-12 hours out of this game for £25. I feel that’s value for my money.
Now let’s put that into context for a second, I’ve read opinion pieces and MANY comments from people saying they don’t want to pay £40-50 for 4-6 hours. That’s completely and utterly fair. So this is once again where I bring the matter of subjectivity up when it comes to a games length. Already I’ve covered dedication and commitment to buying your favourite/most-looked forward to games, and certainly getting your money’s worth. Haze was a typical FPS that didn’t last long, I found enjoyment in it but couldn’t justify what I’d paid for it. The Order is either trying to cover up for its flaws by saying quality over quantity, or Ready at Dawn realise they may have cocked up on this one. In either case, the game has been number one in several gaming charts and is obviously doing well; despite its mediocre reviews.
If the game comes down to quality, then it still doesn’t seem to quite deliver. The game itself looks absolutely stunning. The visual direction is that of a film, the lighting and cinematic styling really emphasises the visuals and storytelling. On the other hand, letting the gameplay take a backseat to the orchestrated action isn’t usually what people want. Granted, this is coming from someone who hasn’t played the game so I won’t be overly critical, but I did more than enough research before I wrote this. The Order isn’t the first and damn sure won’t be the last game to break up its game with unplayable cutscenes.
Metal Gear Solid is infamous for spewing out its masterful writing via cutscenes. Metal Gear Solid 4 currently holds 2 world records: one for having the longest cutscene in a game at 27 minutes! The other is for the ending which is the longest cutscene sequence in history at an even more astonishing 71 minutes!! It takes the length of some films just to finish off the story of the game. Remarkable. Final Fantasy being another game that is culpable for using too many cutscenes to keep its action jogging along. In any case, cutscenes are an ever-present in any game with a half-decent story and there’s nothing with The Order using them. The only problem is that Metal Gear Solid and Final Fantasy games are not known for being short. The excessive amount of cutscenes aside, there is a lot of gameplay to be had in the games. When The Order is barely pushing 6 hours, some of which are accounted for with quick-time events and cutscenes, then you have to sit back and wonder for a second, when did this become acceptable?
I have to throw my two cents in here and say that, it isn’t acceptable. Now I’m no game-maker and I would be able to create game coding as well as I can cook, but when you have a full company working on an exclusive top AAA title, you expect a bit more. Also, I can’t cook. The game seems to be of the similar nature to an Uncharted or God of War. Even though both are completely opposing genres, they’re actually very similar if you look at them. They are both story-driven, linear games with cinematic set-pieces and combat sequences. Apart from the main characters ranging from a treasure hunting hunk to a god-slaying brute; the games themselves have similar qualities. The Order is more akin to Uncharted really and as someone who has played all the Uncharted games, I’ve never completed one of the games (first-time round anyway) in less than 9 or 10 hours.
I’m absolutely all for new games, new IP’s joining the ever-expanding world of video games, but a line has to be drawn somewhere. The Order is not the only game to be very short without multiplayer or something extra. But it needed exactly that, something extra. All of the Call of Duty and Battlefield games have notoriously short and usually uneventful campaigns. But Call of Duty has Zombies, Spec-Ops, Survival Mode and/or competitive multiplayer to sustain its life force.
I’m just hoping that when the sequel to The Order: 1886 arrives in the next 2 or 3 years, it’ll be a fuller experience with a more fleshed out campaign. Even throw a half-decent multiplayer and it’ll be received much better. I just hope that other companies don’t follow the way of The Order and release shorter games. It won’t be long before we have 2 hour games with 1 hour and 58 minutes of it being cutscenes!