Games To Beat In A Day – Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes

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Games To Beat In A Day – Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes got a lot of crap when it released back in March for being too short and too expensive. Now that all that the furor has died down and the price has fallen, it's the perfect time to give the prelude to Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain a chance if you haven't already.

It all begins with a visually rich and cinematic cutscene partially set to "Here's To You" by Ennio Morricone and Joan Baez. At first it's strange to hear music from early '70s obscure soundtrack, but the lyrics fit the story well and the game's set in 1975, so it all makes sense looking back. At first, it's strange to hear Kiefer Sutherland's new take on Big Boss (he replaces longtime voice actor David Hayter), but it doesn't take long to get used to it and even enjoy it.

Big Boss and Master Miller's goal is to infiltrate Camp Omega in Cuba and extract Paz and Chico. He starts on a rocky cliff with rain pouring down and lightning flashing in the sky. This seemingly simple mission can be completed in any number of ways and in any order. You're not given the location of the targets so it's all about gathering intel to pinpoint them first.

Games To Beat In A Day – Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons

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Games To Beat In A Day – Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons snuck up on me, but in a way I appreciated. Preview coverage for the game prior to release focused on the its odd mechanic – one player playing as a pair of independent brothers on a single controller. It was a pretty game with an interesting control scheme, but there simply wasn’t much to get excited about. After release, review scores for the game were high and our video producer Ben Hanson kept insisting I play the game, aware that it fell in line with the sorts of games I typically like. And he was right.

The game begins during a dark memory with the younger of the two brothers remembering when he failed to save his drowning mother. In the present, he stares solemnly at his mother’s gravestone remembering the terrible incident when his older brother calls him over to help move your ailing father. From that moment on, the story never takes a break.

Brothers only clocks in at about three hours, but the experience is perfectly suited to a journey that is shorter compared to most video games. For one thing, the adventure feels like it takes place in real time giving you the opportunity to fully embody the brothers as you push them along their journey. You never leave the siblings’ sides as they try to collect the medicine necessary to save their father.

Games To Beat In A Day – Mirror's Edge

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Games To Beat In A Day – Mirror's Edge

A successful intellectual property usually lands a sequel within one to three years. Games that fall outside this window are usually one and done, or destined to come back in a much different way years removed from the initial offering. I thought Mirror's Edge would fall into the category of "loved by many, but likely never to return." The game released on November 12, 2008, and almost became a cult hit overnight. Despite garnering considerable buzz and positive reviews, the game didn't come close to hitting its sales forecast of three million – selling just one million copies as of February 2009. At last year's Electronic Entertainment Expo, Electronic Arts updated Mirror's Edge's lifetime-to-date sales to over 2.5 million.

At that show, Electronic Arts also revealed that free-runner Faith was coming back in a Mirror's Edge sequel. If the rumored 2016 release date holds true, we have plenty of time to dust off our copies of Mirror's Edge, but you won't have to set aside much time to finish it up. The game can be completed easily in one sitting. Website How Long To Beat lists the campaign length at six hours.

Games To Beat In A Day – Heavenly Sword

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Games To Beat In A Day – Heavenly Sword

When I was younger, I’d be crushed if I beat a game in a day. In my eyes, I’d either squandered a trip to the video-rental store, a weekend trade with a friend, or – worst of all – $40. Now that I’m older, I’ve grown to appreciate games that get in, do what they do, and get out. That’s one of the reasons that Heavenly Sword has stuck with me all these years. Ninja Theory’s PS3 game didn’t wear out its welcome, and if anything it left me wanting more.

In the PlayStation 3’s early days, there weren’t many mind-blowing exclusives. The Xbox 360 had a year on Sony’s console, and most third-party developers were having a difficult time working with the PS3 and its unusual architecture. My friends were on Xbox, which made me lean toward that console for multiplatform releases, too. The first year was pretty dire on that front, and as much as I tried to get into Resistance and Motorstorm, I just couldn’t. 

Games To Beat In A Day – Mark Of The Ninja

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Games To Beat In A Day – Mark Of The Ninja

One of my favorite games of 2012 was Mark of the Ninja, and it remains a top pick for several reasons. Klei Entertainment’s game revitalized my love of deep stealth mechanics, and introduced new elements that capitalized on the 2D landscape. And while stealth is usually the goal, the designers go out of their way to provide numerous paths to game completion, allowing players to choose their own path. No matter your course through the game, Mark of the Ninja unfolds its many layers in just a few hours. A full run at the story can be completed in about a single day. And if you like it, the game’s enormous replay value will have you coming back for lots more.

Mark of the Ninja casts the player as a ninja that’s part of an ancient clan. With your clan in danger, you must accept the mark that provides superhuman ninja prowess, but at the cost of your own madness and eventual death. The story unfolds through beautiful animated cutscenes that are clearly inspired by the heyday of Saturday morning cartoons, albeit with a significantly more mature and bloody spin. In between the cut-scenes, the richly illustrated game world walks that fine line necessary to provide detail in a game shrouded in darkness, and the brutal character animations further accentuate the ninja vibe. 

From Revelations To Unity: Creative Directing Assassin's Creed

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From Revelations To Unity: Creative Directing Assassin's Creed

Every year we hear about the increasing team sizes that develop the Assassin's Creed games. Expanding beyond Ubisoft Montreal to become a synchronized global development, creating each entry in the series is a gigantic and complicated task that always manages to land on its feet. Leading the charge with Assassin's Creed Unity is creative director Alex Amancio. While he previously worked in the same role on Assassin's Creed Revelations, he is quick to note that the development of Unity feels quite different. We spoke with Amancio about the stressful development of Assassin's Creed: Revelations, the early days of the Unity project, and how you manage and focus hundreds upon hundreds of game developers.

Watch the video interview with creative director Alex Amancio below to learn what it's like to be the creative director on an Assassin's Creed game.

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Games To Beat In A Day – Ico

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Games To Beat In A Day – Ico

Ico is one of the titles most commonly used in the "games as art" debate, but regardless of your opinion on that issue, you can appreciate this mysterious and charming adventure. What starts as a simple puzzle game evolves into a memorable journey unlike anything else in gaming.

You control Ico, a boy with horns who is brought to a temple to be sacrificed. However, he breaks out of his stone cell and must escape the enormous and ancient structure. Despite being largely abandoned and ravaged by time, the temple isn’t completely empty. Ico encounters and frees Yorda, a young woman in captivity. Despite the fact that they can’t speak the same language, they come to depend on each other in their search for a way out.

In one sense, much of the game is an escort mission. Ico needs to stay close to Yorda in order to fight off shadowy creatures that appear, and many of the puzzles involve creating a path for Yorda so the two characters can continue through the temple. However, the most remarkable thing about Ico is how it conveys a bond between the heroes. It doesn’t feel like you’re hindered by Yorda; fluid and expressive animations (not to mention simple things like hand-holding) give you the sense that these two people have a developing relationship. This subtle, minimal way of portraying characters is surprisingly effective.

Games To Beat In A Day – Shadow Complex

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Today, the Game Informer staff explores a series of games that you can beat in a day. Personally, I rarely beat short games in one sitting – often preferring to break them up into multiple playthroughs. I played Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons in three days, and split Shovel Knight into several 30 minute play sessions. It's not that I don't like short games; I just like stretching out the experience if I enjoy it. This was not the case with Shadow Complex; as soon as that game got it hooks in me, I knew I had to see it to completion that night.

The game follows an everyman named Jason Flemming who follows his girlfriend out to the forest for a day hike, only to get caught up in the machinations of a mysterious organization, which has built a massive underground complex in the side of a mountain. The game’s events run parallel to Orson Scott Card novel Empire, and the script was penned by comic book luminary Peter David. However, I don’t want to spend too much time talking about the game’s story, because Shadow Complex’s main draw is actually it’s Metroid-inspired gameplay.

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Games To Beat In A Day – Shovel Knight

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Games To Beat In A Day – Shovel Knight

Yacht Club Games’ Shovel Knight lends itself to a breezy single-day jaunt through the various castles, airships, and towers that make up the homage-laced platformer. Shades of DuckTales and Mega Man run throughout, and the title can be played through with little difficulty in a single session during a long afternoon or extended evening. There’s plenty of side exploration, new game+, and cool things for players looking for more, but the base game shouldn’t take more than a sit down or two.

Shovel Knight’s Mega Man-esque levels and Super Mario 3 overworld create an interesting blend of challenges, with a flexible sort of optional difficulty via reward checkpoints. If you’re having trouble with any given level, work your way through by trial and error making sure to snag each conveniently located checkpoint. If you’re feeling a bit more audacious, you can choose to smash the checkpoints for additional rewards, but that will make errors much more punishing.

Games To Beat In A Day - Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon

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Extended holiday weekends are my favorite time to revisit my favorite movies. I celebrate Thanksgiving break with a marathon of James Bond films, and always rewatch the best Christmas films ever, Die Hard and Home Alone, during the winter holidays. This Labor Day is a great opportunity for you to do the same with the best '80s action film that ever released as a video game.  Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon's ludicrous story about a cybernetic commando named Rex "Power" Colt is short and sweet enough to finish in a day, but packed with enough laughs and carnage to have a long-lasting impact.

Far Cry 3's lush, tropical open world is a blast to explore in first-person, but Blood Dragon delivers out of the gate in a totally different way. It begins with an NES-style story slideshow depicting Rex Colt being powered up with cyborg enhancements and heading out in a chopper to assault a neon-drenched enemy compound. Within minutes you're using a minigun to mow down enemy robots that explode in bursts of blue goo while "Long Tall Sally" by Little Richard blasts (a la Predator).