2. Assassin's Creed II
Should it really take hours to provide context for a game that is essentially about a dude running around Italy in a hood and stabbing other dudes in the neck with two hidden blades he keeps stashed up his sleeves? No. We'd say that it should not take that long. But before leading man Ezio gets a sniff of becoming a proper assassin, there's a whole bunch of menial chores to chug through first.
Deliver some stuff. Can we stab someone now? No. Run over some rooftops. Can we stab someone now? No. Find some feathers. Can we stab someone now? No. Steal some money. Can we stab someone now? No. Go visit Leonardo Da Vinci. Can we stab someone now please? Uh... no. And so on until you're wondering whether Ubisoft remembered to actually put any assassining in the bloody game at all.
The game's scriptwriter, Corey May,explained that because Ezio's origins were an "integral part of his adventure" it was necessary to spend time with him as a carefree adolescent at the start of the game. That's a carefree adolescent that also doubles as a general dogsbody for anyone that can speak in a fake Italian accent.
And, honestly, if that entire section had never been made, would anyone have really given a shit? Would there have been a 'We demand to know what Ezio was like as a carefree adolescent' petition started online? It's very, very doubtful.
1. Final Fantasy XIII
This Top 7 list could easily have consisted entirely of RPGs. They are, generally speaking, slower to get moving than a pensioner's bowels. But a list full of RPGs wouldn't have been much fun. And you've been having fun so far, right? So there you go.
I should point out that I haven't played Final Fantasy XIII. I could pretend that I have. But I don't like to do that sort of thing. So I'm not. Besides, the reason I haven't played FFXIII is conveniently relevant. I've had it on good authority from numerous trusted industry sources that Final Fantasy XIII doesn't start revealing how good it is until somewhere around the 20 hour mark. That's 20 hours. Twenty. Hours. 20 of them. I may be missing out, but that's a serious time-investment that I can't commit to.
Easily more time-consuming than a delayed transatlantic flight, that hefty 20 hour chunk (which is about a half/third of the way through, depending on your own level of RPG competency) plays a lot like the world's longest tutorial, liberally interspersed with cut-scenes. By all accounts that 20 hours is by no means terrible, it's just not as good as what follows.
In 20 hours you could easily complete, say, Ico three and a bit times. And it's really good *all* the way through. Seriously. 20 HOURS! Sure, keep your best set-piece or boss battle or whatever for a big finish... But a game not getting really good until 20 precious life hours have been sacrificed is utterly brain baffling.
Developers! If you've got a really good game, stick it up front. Only dogs and pirates bury their treasure.
April 26, 2010