I'm on record as an advocate of shorter games. I'd rather play an expertly paced 10-12 hour game, one which keeps surprising me and has the good sense to quit while it's ahead, than one that repeats itself for 40 or 50 hours and focuses too much on minutiae.* When the biggest criticism of a game is that it's too short, I think to myself, isn't that a good thing? Shouldn't a good game leave you wanting more? I think it's a better use of my time and money to play something short and sweet, rather than something that outstays its welcome.
But even I can't believe how short Wanted: Weapons of Fate is.
I sat down to play this game at around 1:30 on a Sunday afternoon. By 5:30, the end credits were rolling. This isn't the kind of game where the single-player mode is a perfunctory intro to the real game -- that is the whole game. There's no multiplayer to be had. You can play again on higher difficulty, or with different costumes, or with certain challenges, like only using physical kills, but nothing that fundamentally alters or expands the gameplay experience you've already had.
The tricky part is that Weapons of Fate is actually pretty good. I could make some token complaints, especially about the unimaginative boss battles, but it succeeds at its main goal, which is to give players the ability to bend the trajectory of a bullet. That's fun. The environments were varied enough, and the battles pitched enough, that there was a real sense of progression through a story. When the game ended, I felt I could have happily kept going.
Trickier still: if it had been fully twice as long -- a still-slim 8 hours -- without introducing any other new ideas, it's likely that I would have gotten tired of it. I can't say for sure, but even Wanted's last level, a chase up the stairs of a bell tower, starts to feel padded. So does the game deserve props for getting out while the getting is good, or reprobation for charging $60 for what ends up feeling like half a game?
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*Fallout 3 excepted, of course!