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Top 7... Painfully slow beginnings to great games

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

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Top 7

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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