How short is TOO short for a video game?

Considering the game is clearly a triple-A release, these complaints arguably say more about what people expect for their money than they do for the quality of the gameplay.

So tell us - how much game do you expect for your £40/$50? We've put together a short list of games to help you decide at which point you'd be happy with your purchase:

Tomb Raider Legend: 4-6 hours.

Modern Warfare 2: 5-6 hours to finish story mode, but months of online play await.

Uncharted 2: 10-12 hours.

Batman: Arkham Asylum: Around 13 hours for the main game.

God of War 3: Somewhere between 8 and 12 hours.

Metal Gear Solid 4: 10-20 hours, depending on whether you watch the cutscenes (fnar).

Grand Theft Auto IV: Approx 25 hours, unless you want to 100% it, in which case you can easily double that.

Pokemon Platinum: 40-60 hours to beat theElite Four and finish the story. Collecting 'em all? How long have you got?

Final Fantasy XIII: 50-60 hours.

Final Fantasy XII: 50-100 hours. Probably nearer the latter.

Disgaea: Probably 35-ish to finish the story. But if you want to do it properly, you're looking at anything up to 250, maybe 300 hours.

If you put them into a sexy graph, you can see the whole story. Most actioners are between 8 and 20 hours long, before you get into the realms of GTA and RPGs. Some games are shorter, but equally well-received. We've put Portal in there to show that even ultra-short, cut-price games can be awesome. We evensaid it was perfect.

And just to put all of the above into perspective,we all used to pay similar prices for 16-bit games that you could finish in an hour. And how many of those are counted as classics today? Times change, sure, but if you consider inflation, we were actually paying more for the privilege.

Perhaps the problem is more to do with replay value than the first trip through a game's world. Back before we had game saves, you would see the early sections of a game several times, getting a little further with every subsequent foray into its world before one day making it all the way to the end in one piece. God of War is simply not that kind of game, as you never have to start again from scratch when you die.

What would make you return toa game like Uncharted 2 or God of War past the obvious visual splendour and set-piece spectacle the games offer? In Bayonetta, you're graded on every fight, so there's always the incentive to try againfor a better rank, or on a higher difficulty level once you've done that. God of War only really has its combo meter and Uncharted has nothing of the sort. And yet it was still a contender forGame of the Year.

So what's your ideal game length? And does that have any effect on whether you buy a game or not?

16 Mar, 2010

Justin Towell

Justin was a GamesRadar staffer for 10 years but is now a freelancer, musician and videographer. He's big on retro, Sega and racing games (especially retro Sega racing games) and currently also writes for Play Magazine,, PC Gamer and TopTenReviews, as well as running his own YouTube channel. Having learned to love all platforms equally after Sega left the hardware industry (sniff), his favourite games include Christmas NiGHTS into Dreams, Zelda BotW, Sea of Thieves, Sega Rally Championship and Treasure Island Dizzy.