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Top 7... Painfully slow beginnings to great games

5. Silent Hill 2

If you went to the cinema and the first 15 minutes of the movie consisted of little more than a man running through thick fog, you'd think it was a bit dull. Because no matter which way you look at it, a man running through thick fog *is* dull. Unless, of course, you're taking film studies. In which case you'd probably have a wank about it and then write a 10,000 word thesis.

Fog is formed as water vapor condenses. The atmospheric conditions in Silent Hill must be perfect for creating dense, low lying cloud as it's a common occurrence in the town. Which is handy, because fog also makes a great backdrop for evoking a sense of ominous foreboding. If we were going to make a game as tense and as psychologically unsettling as Silent Hill, then we would definitely set the weather to 'really, really foggy'.

What we wouldn't do, though, is force the player to run a half-marathon through the fog at the beginning of the game when they don't have a bloody clue where they are or where they're supposed to be going. It's great for disorientation. Not so good for getting on with the real business of smashing up faceless abominations with a heavy piece of timber.


4. Fallout 3

In a real-life post-apocalypse scenario, where would you rather be: A) In a well-equipped anti-radiation bunker, or B) Eating your own hair on the fallout contaminated wastelands? Unless you like the taste of hair, then the answer is A. But in a game, where common sense is routinely subverted for the purposes of entertainment, being holed up in a shelter is about as thrilling as a mandatory install.

Fallout 3's Vault 101 was tedious. It was tedious because we all knew that the real game would only get started once its depressing confines had been escaped. No amount of aptitude tests or parties with moronic NPCs or talking to Liam Neeson could make it an absolute rip snorter.

Every second in the vault was another second spent not killing mutants. And doing things like killing mutants is the whole reason we play games. We don't play games to ponce about in safe, underground shelters for the best part of an hour when there are mutants to be killed and nuclear warheads waiting to be detonated.

Note: You may remember that Fallout 3 also appeared in our 'Top 7... Best beginnings' last year. So, like, WTF!? Charlie wrote that list. And I'm writing this one. Different opinions are healthy. The hive mind has collapsed.


3. Heavy Rain

The introduction to Quantic Dream's interactive drama does an excellent job of capturing some of the inescapable banality of everyday life. Get out of bed. Take a piss. Have a shower. Get dry. Brush teeth. Shave face. Take a piss. Get dressed. And that's just the first 10 heart-stopping minutes. There's still plenty more to come before the opening credits even think about putting in an appearance.

Check this shit out: there's juggling, getting something out of the fridge, carrying shopping bags and a totally insane bit where you actually get to set the table. But be careful - the dinnerware's a present from the mother-in-law. Better not drop it Mr Butter Fingers!

We can appreciate that Quantic were setting the scene and providing some context in order to wring a little emotion from our dry, shriveled hearts when whatever inevitable disaster finally struck, but it was crushingly dull. It was Mundane: The Video Game. When the kid got run over because he didn't do what the fuck he was told, we didn't feel sad. We felt relieved that something interesting had happened.

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91 comments

  • silentmusic16 - June 28, 2010 2:49 a.m.

    the only thing i'm gonna say is kingdom hearts 2. i love the game (and the series in general) but until about an hour and a half in, the game is freaking boring!
  • FunkSoulBrother - June 24, 2010 11:34 a.m.

    I wanted to shoot myself for the first 10 hours of Final Fantasy screw that game and it's stupid face
  • Hendetta - June 1, 2010 12:41 a.m.

    Notably absent - Persona 4. The game spends about 3 hours setting up the STORY before it even begins to put you in combat, then it takes quite a while longer to really begin playing the main part of the game. Still, pretty much my favorite game of all time.
  • darkdispatch523 - May 1, 2010 11 a.m.

    For the TRUTH go to:: http://www.sovereigntimes.com/
  • WayByWind - May 1, 2010 4:07 a.m.

    I noticed someone else mentioned Kingdom Hearts 2. I completely agree.
  • Ravenbom - April 30, 2010 10:41 p.m.

    I'd put Twilight Princess up there too, especially since it forces you to play as the wolf with no items to use (when Zelda games are about solving puzzles with items) before the each of the first couple dungeons. Also, MGS4, but that's to be expected from the franchise.
  • TheWebSwinger - April 30, 2010 10:24 p.m.

    THANK you. I couldn't f*cking stand the beginning of AC2, and frankly it really soured me to the whole experience. I also agree with FO3 - it was pretty awesome the first time around, but on the repeat play throughs that the game demands, it was a chore.
  • AElli - April 30, 2010 8:16 a.m.

    Where is GoW III..
  • Time4Tiddy - April 29, 2010 10:10 p.m.

    Have to agree about FFXIII - the first four hours especially I found so boring I almost stopped playing. But it does pick up quite a bit shortly after that and by 10 hours or so the gameplay is mostly laid out for you. I wouldn't say it's a 20 hour investment before you have fun, but it's definitely more than one evening's playtime.
  • DesROWRoku - April 29, 2010 9:35 p.m.

    Heavy Rains beginning wasnt that painful, mainly because it wasnt all that long.
  • zaldar - April 29, 2010 6:34 p.m.

    I have to disagree with the whole concept. what makes a game good is the story. The best games are like playing a book. Having an engrossing story in the begining makes the gameplay have meaning. The begining of Fallout three for example is what provides the nessecary contrast to going outside. It isn't about gameplay it is about story. But then I like RPG's and not shooters and I am a pc player who despises consoles so I'm obviously insane.
  • Clovin64 - April 29, 2010 4:58 p.m.

    Okami, Silent Hill 2 and FF13 all on the list? Yeah, thats three of my all time faves! By the way, I dont think theres much difference between the first 20 hours of FF13 and the rest of it, aside from the fact you can switch youre characters. Theres one big giant field, but thats about it, the rest of it is just the pretty corridors we've been running through for the first 20 hours. I've finished FF13 twice now so I obviously don't have a problem with it.
  • sleepy92ismypsn - April 29, 2010 1:07 a.m.

    the first 20 hours is slow how damn long is that game most games arent that long at all. i just bought arkham asylum and ico today im playing batman and i didnt think it was slow maybe cuz i didnt play batman begins. im getting okami pretty soon and i wanna play ff13 but im not interested in assasins creed 2 i just dont really like whatever time period that game was in. i loved heavy rain but the first 3 chapters are boring and corny as hell except when jason gets hit
  • FantasticMrStarFox - April 28, 2010 9:45 p.m.

    cant level up for 2 hours? seems like a real waste of time then. epic article.
  • pin316 - April 28, 2010 12:18 p.m.

    I don't get all the hate the FFX111 keeps getting... SE tried something different. Yes, it's about 20 hours until you get to more extended open-world, loads of stuff to do a'la previous final fantasys, but in no way did they make a bad game. Perhaps more than any previous FFXIIi, they really delivered on the story front-there is so much detail in the story, and so much to setup for the entire character set... If they had not bothered with all that I reckon the game would have been all the poorer for it. I know a lot of people will disagree, just my thoughts
  • greenjoker - April 28, 2010 9:21 a.m.

    good article sir! those pictures are hillarious... from my exp. a game that was awesome in the end and deep but slow at the first 2 hrs was freakin monster hunter for ps2..to get sum of the bad ass weapons you had to mine and carve an absurd amount of things that wouldnt matter in life.
  • Reubenguy - April 28, 2010 4:44 a.m.

    What about KOTOR2? for a game that your supposed to have high replay value the tutorial is like 5 hours long!!!! seriously. it was good the first time but now its just like ARGH LET ME PLAY
  • RogueRED - April 28, 2010 3:03 a.m.

    Really? Trusted sources? YOU HAVEN"T EVEN PLAYED THE DAMN GAME., yet you render judgment.
  • Craza - April 28, 2010 3:01 a.m.

    Fallout 3's beginning was slow, but it was quite good at the same time. Though, I never really remember griping over the slow start in AC2. Maybe it's just because I was so pumped up to actually have the game and to finally play it, that I was ecstatic just looking at it. Lol.
  • GameManiac - April 28, 2010 2:16 a.m.

    I a way, I'm not surprised that an RPG would be #1 on this list. It's always slow at the start, but not all of them.

Showing 1-20 of 91 comments

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