Forza 4

Are Shorter Games Better?

You could argue that gaming is like waiting for a bus. You spend the baron wasteland of the summer months patiently hoping for a decent release to appear on the horizon and just when you start to lose hope, loads arrive together at the same time. Within a two month period we have had Arkham City, Skyrim, Gear of War 3, Forza 4, FIFA 12, Battlefield 3, Call of Duty: MW3 and Rage all vying for our attention. Even though it is said the average gamer is now around 34, not many people can afford to spend over £300 in the run up to Christmas in the current climate, or even have the time available to fully enjoy the experience offered by some of these games.

With this is mind, it appears that gaming is becoming a double-edged sword where we pay £40 for a game that lasts 6-8 hours and then trade in the following week for the next must have title. Does this cheapen the experience and simply add gaming to the disposable culture heap of the 21st century, where we lust for something only to bore of it very quickly, and move onto something else?

I thought it would be interesting to look into the case for and against short game lengths.

In many ways we have now come full circle, as gaming actually began life with short playtimes in arcades all over the world, with titles that were designed to get all of the loose change out of your pocket at a rapid rate. A quick visit to some of the classic arcade titles available on XBLA or PSN illustrates this. As soon as games moved from cartridges onto discs, developers rushed to cram as much information as they could in order to have the biggest and best game.

8 hours of quality over quantity?

However in 2011, the audience is a little more sophisticated and a less forgiving about games that are padded out for the sake of it and quality now takes precedence over quantity. This can only be a good thing, after all, six hours of pure ‘wow’ has go to be better than twenty-five of ‘meh’, hasn’t it? (more…)

GAMEFEST 2011 BIRMINGHAM NEC

Most of you reading this will already have the much-anticipated Eurogamer Expo firmly stamped in your calendar, but this year, high street store GAME has decided to get in on the act by putting on a show of their own: GAMEfest 2011 at the NEC in Birmingham. The event was exclusive for GAME Reward Card holders and is conveniently tagged on to their annual conference, allowing them to dip their toes into the event market.

The timing of the event has caused criticism from some publishers who feel torn between a new event from the UK’s biggest games retailer, and an established consumer show.

One affected publisher anonymously told MCV recently that “with just three days to move from one site to the other, many are unimpressed by the expected costs”. Eurogamer chief, Rupert Loman, told MCV he was “disappointed GAME is attempting to split the market”.

The reality is, there is room for both events and publishers should cease complaining about their overwhelming success, and realise that gamers exist outside of London town. The figures speak for themselves as last year, over 20,000 people attended the Eurogamer Expo in London and it was so successful they have doubled in size this year. The GAMEfest event has been attended by over 30,000 GAME customers and there are already plans to expand on this next year, after being taken by surprise at its success.

To put things into perspective in 2011, where the exhibition and event market has been struggling, over 70,000 people will have attended a gaming event in the UK in ten days. Gaming is now a mainstream entertainment medium and games such as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3 will have opening weekends to rival the majority of Hollywood blockbuster movies. The world is slowly waking up to this.

GAMEfest had something special up its sleeve in the form of an exclusive showing from Activision; this was the first time UK Gamers were able to play Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 before its release in November. Considering the only other people to have played MW3 were at the CoD XP event in L.A along with Kanye West a few weeks ago, this is quite a coup for GAMEfest.

Upon entering the gaming hub for a presentation of MW3 by Activision, I sat down and was tweeting during a truly cringe-worthy Turtle Beach advert, I was tapped on the shoulder and told to turn my phone off. This seemed a bit of overkill, considering the majority of people have already seen this footage from E3 online anyway.

No phones allowed in the hub…

However, you cannot deny that the footage, showing you surfacing from the depths of the ocean and climbing on to a Russian submarine to witness the New York skyline ablaze (complete with the Freedom Tower in the distance), is nothing short of epic. If that doesn’t grab you, then a battle on the London Underground will make you admit that this shit actually looks good. Hey, the Daily Mail would probably be outraged but that is a foregone conclusion.

With my own fingers and thumbs I was able to play the Survival Spec Ops mode, which, I am sure you are aware, involves fending off assaults from increasingly difficult waves of enemies. I was paired with a member of the Activision team, who I must admit performed better than I did, as my accuracy rating could use a little work. The levels France and Dome were typical Modern Warfare but, with the TurtleBeach cans turned right up to eleven, it was very hard not to be won over.

Before playing Battlefield, you have to get past these guys.

When originally arriving at GAMEfest, I was expecting Battlefield to blow CoD out of the water, but after playing through the Battlefield 3 single-player mission, Operation Guillotine, which is a somewhat generic, night-based mission set on the outskirts of Tehran, I was left feeling a little underwhelmed. (more…)