If you like Games for Lunch, you will probably additionally like the new "Hour Play" review format being rolled out at Pushing Play. Editor Jacob Karsmeyer lays out a detailed and thorough justification for why an hour is enough to get an idea of how a game feels:
Like books, movies, plays, radio shows, and any other form of entertainment, video games should be designed with a ‘hook’ to draw in players. Video game designers often design the first level of the game last, so that they can employ all of the tricks and techniques that they’ve learned throughout the game’s development. While a deeper understanding of a game can be achieved through extended play the major gameplay elements of a game can be experienced within the first hour. Usually players familiarize themselves with the game controls within the first few minutes of gameplay. Once familiar with the controls, the player sets out within the game world to encounter whatever challenges it has to offer. It is during this stage that the most accurate and relevant criticism can be offered. The player is no longer inhibited by any resistance to the control mechanisms in the game, and is completely focused on the challenges within the game world (beating the level, finishing the mission, etc), and how they are presented. This style of gameplay usually continues for an extended period of time, if it ends at all.Despite my somewhat snarky comment on the site, it seem Karsmeyer came up with the idea completely on his own. Always nice to see others breaking free of the tyranny of the 60-hour playthrough.