Take a glance at almost any given review of a game. Chances are, at some point, there will be a mention of the amount of time “completing” the game will take, and not rarely, a complaint that said game is too short.
Call of Duty, for example, is annually criticized for being “too short”, and while some might argue that Soap & Co.´s war-adventure is lacking in length, I respectfully disagree.
Take Borat, which in my eyes is a work of pure genius, both in terms of comedy and social commentary. Borat, as good as it might be, lasts only about one hour and twenty minutes, yet in that time, the film has said everything it needs to say perfectly well.
To name a video game example, the recent Alan Wake took me about eight hours to complete. Those eight hours had consisted predominantly of running through the woods while aiming my flashlight.
And I found Alan Wake to be an amazing game, as running through said woods with said flashlight was an experience I´ll look back on with fondness.
I never felt the game was repetitive. But had the game lasted twenty hours, that might not have been the case.
I´m not saying all good games need not be longer than a demo, what I´m saying is that the elements of a game should fit the length. Alan Wake´s gameplay lacks the depth to support a 70-hour game, just as the story lacks the complexity to support something that long. Mass Effect 2, on the other hand, has story and gameplay perfectly fitting it´s 35-hour length.
That does not necessarily mean Mass Effect 2 is “better” because it can support a longer game, it just means it´s different in style.
For example, I found GTA IV to be a little too long. The game was brilliant, sure, but I must say I felt Rockstar´s supposed “masterpiece” dragged in places. The story was engaging, but did not have enough to say to warrant the 30-or-so hours of game time, and the same “enter room-shoot everyone” combat started to lose it´s edge towards the game´s end. The length of GTA IV, was out of balance with the experience of GTA IV.
So when you feel the credits screen in CoD: Black Ops makes it´s appearance too quickly, ask yourself:
Would this game really be enjoyable for another five hours?