Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes has gotten some pretty mixed reviews lately. MGSVGZ has been praised for its phenomenal gameplay. But equally, the game has been criticized for its incredibly short story. Speed runs show that the game can be beat in 10 minutes. Because of this, one of the major overriding questions on many people’s mind is this: is $30 a justifiable price ($20 for a digital download on the PS3 / Xbox 360)?
The criticisms may be justified. What is confusing is that some are reacting as if they were somehow tricked. The length of the story wasn’t a secret. Game Informer reported, well before the game came out, that it was possible to beat the game in less than 2 hours. Time Magazine had an article talking about it. Hideo Kojima specifically addressed it on his twitter page on February 5th: Kojima created an interesting problem that is being played out among gamers and critics. Plenty of gamers and Metal Gear fans are probably used to playing console games with “Clear Time” in mind. Almost every game that has come out up to this point has emphasized the length of time it takes to complete a mission or game. It is what makes speed run-throughs so impressive. We all can sit back and marvel at the skill of some of these people as they do the impossible. “Play Time” was always a nice bonus, never really the primary focus. It was normally thought of as replay value, or replayability. If a game’s story and/or gameplay was fun enough, the game is played again and again. “Play Time” came about in this way, and I believe this is what is mainly thought about with “Play Time,” but there are more ways it could be thought of. If there are a lot of small things someone can do, like with Skyrim or any other RPG out there, it could extend “Play Time” for a few hundred hours. A good friend of mine has played Final Fantasy X for more than 300 hours at this point trying to complete every small thing in the game (like destroying the grid and replacing it all to max out stats, getting max of every item, etc). The problem that Kojima created touches on the nature of games in general. The rules of a game tend to define what the game is. It dictates how the game is played, what the player can and cannot do, and what the goal(s) of the game can and cannot be. All games tend to take awhile to win, by design. I am thinking about board games like Settlers of Catan, Monopoly, Ticket to Ride and all the other ones out there. All of them take a minimum of 30-45 minutes to win. Or maybe a game like Super Mario Brothers. It could take as long as 4-5 hours to win if you don’t use the warp zones or if you’re relatively new to the game. You can only beat the game quickly if you are really good at the game and know all the warp zones / tricks. So when we see speed runs, we know that person is awesome. Kojima wants us to play the game without worrying at all about how long it’ll take to beat the game. This seems to fly in the face of what some gamers expect / want out of their games. What is your take? How important is “Clear Time” to you versus “Play Time”? Also, is MGSVGZ worth the money?