With the vast amount of video game reviewers now voicing their opinions all over the web, it can be difficult to keep track of what critics are saying about a new release. This is one of the many reasons why review aggregator Metacritic has become so popular in recent years and why many people turn to it to get a quick snapshot of how critics reacted to a new release.
Unsurprisingly, Metacritic’s top video games of all time page is frequently viewed, as players look to see what critically acclaimed game to play next. The quality of the games is frequently debated, but one factor that is often overlooked is how long they take to beat. To help those curious about how much content they’ll be getting with their money, let’s rank every game with a 97 or above score on Metacritic by their main story completion time on howlongtobeat.com.
Note: There are sixteen games with a Metascore of 97+ (excluding duplicates), but only fifteen will appear on this list as sports game NFL 2K1 doesn’t have a main story or campaign and consequently hasn’t been given a time on howlongtobeat.com.
15 SoulCalibur – 35 Minutes
The fighting genre is one of the most consistent in the gaming industry. Fighting games were some of the best and most popular titles back in the arcade days, and the genre has had excellent releases on each generation of console.
A completion time of 35 minutes may seem laughable when compared to the open-world adventures of today. However, SoulCalibur doesn’t need a lengthy story, as jumping into a match as soon as possible is all most players want to do.
14 Perfect Dark – 9 Hours
To say that Rare was in a great run of form before the release of Perfect Dark would be an understatement. Along with the classic platformer Banjo-Kazooie, Rare had revolutionized console gaming with the release of GoldenEye 007. Consequently, there was a huge weight of expectations when the studio announced its next first-person shooter, Perfect Dark.
Perfect Dark didn’t disappoint, providing one of its generation’s best FPS campaigns, along with an excellent deathmatch multiplayer mode.
13 Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 – 9 Hours
Those without much knowledge of gaming history may be surprised to learn that there are two skateboarding games among Metacritic’s highest-rated games of all time.
The games don’t take players on epic adventures like many quintessential titles, but they fully deserve their high scores for being among the most enjoyable titles of all time. Despite its whopping 97 Metascore, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 isn’t the highest-rated game in the series.
12 Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 – 9.5 Hours
The title of the highest-rated game in the Tony Hawk series goes to the second entry in the franchise, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2.
Although they may not seem like much today, the game’s maps were incredible for the year 2000. As well as impressing players visually, their size was unparalleled at the time, encouraging people to explore the best spots to perform tricks.
11 Halo: Combat Evolved – 10 Hours
Halo: Combat Evolved has a strong claim for being the greatest launch title of all time.
Microsoft has often tried and failed to replicate other products’ success, such as with Zune and Bing trying to compete with the iPod and Google, and many people thought that the Xbox would be a similar disappointment. However, the console immediately turned heads the day it hit stores, thanks to word getting around that Halo: Combat Evolved was an incredible shooter that truly felt next-gen.
10 Super Mario Odyssey – 12.5 Hours
Speaking of launch titles that immediately gave credibility to a console, Super Mario Odyssey, along with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild immediately eased fears that the Nintendo Switch was going to flop like the Wii U.
Although Odyssey is the shortest Mario game on this list, it arguably feels like the mascot’s biggest adventure. This is largely thanks to the impressive range of locations that players will travel to and the huge variation in gameplay styles thanks to the new Capture mechanic.
9 Super Mario Galaxy 2 – 13 Hours
It’s not often that Nintendo releases numbered sequels to its modern titles, which speaks to the quality and commercial success of the original Super Mario Galaxy. The space setting allowed for some of Mario‘s most creative and innovative levels ever, making Super Galaxy 2‘s announcement of little surprise, as the concept was far too good for just one game.
Super Mario Galaxy 2 didn’t disappoint, offering creative and enjoyable levels just as players expected.
8 Super Mario Galaxy – 13.5 Hours
The aforementioned predecessor to Super Mario Galaxy 2 was released in November 2007, almost exactly one year after the Nintendo Wii hit stores. Many people were disappointed that a Mario game wasn’t launching with the Nintendo Wii, as the GameCube also didn’t have a Mario launch title.
Complaints were soon silenced when Mario Galaxy was released, though, and it is today recognized as one of the gaming industry’s best-ever platformers.
7 Metroid Prime – 14 Hours
Metroid Prime was initially released in 2002, and debates soon began as to whether it was the best entry in the entire franchise, which is especially impressive considering the classic games that are part of the series.
Metroid Prime differentiated itself from previous games in the franchise by switching to a first-person perspective, though it kept much of its Metroidvania style and puzzle-solving gameplay intact.
6 Grand Theft Auto III – 16 Hours
The first but not the last Grand Theft Auto game to feature on this list, Grand Theft Auto III hit stores back in 2001 and was noticeably ahead of its time with its impressive and influential open-world.
The game’s open-world isn’t the only feature that has inspired games up until this day, as GTA III also lets players have multiple ongoing missions at once, a unique option for a console game at the time.
5 The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time – 26.5 Hours
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is Metacritic’s highest-rated game of all time, with an eye-watering 99 score that is yet to be matched or beaten. In fact, it’s unlikely that the score will ever be equaled due to the sheer amount of reviewers contributing now compared to 1998; for example, Ocarina of Time‘s score was aggregated by 22 reviewers, whereas Breath of the Wild on Switch was aggregated by 109 different reviewers.
Although the game does, of course, show some age, Ocarina of Time is still a wonderful 26.5-hour adventure to play today. It’s easy to see why so many people regard it as the greatest game of all time.
4 Grand Theft Auto IV – 28 Hours
The follow-up to the aforementioned Grand Theft Auto III unsurprisingly had a ton of pressure to succeed. Thankfully, the game didn’t disappoint and garnered instantaneous critical and commercial success.
Despite this, Grand Theft Auto IV is somewhat looked down upon today, with many claiming that it has aged badly. However, it’s worth recognizing that this isn’t so much a fault of GTA IV and more a testament to its successor’s quality.
3 Grand Theft Auto V – 31.5 Hours
Speaking of its successor, Grand Theft Auto V finishes just ahead of GTA IV with its 31.5-hour campaign. The game’s trailer was mind-blowing when it first surfaced and was likely a key reason behind GTA V‘s record-breaking sales figures.
GTA V fully deserved the incredible commercial success it received and is still receiving thanks to its online mode. It provided one of the most well-designed open-worlds of all time, filled with memorable characters and missions.
2 Red Dead Redemption 2 – 48.5 Hours
Speaking of memorable open-worlds, Red Dead Redemption 2 was released in 2018 and attempted the tough task of topping Grand Theft Auto V‘s map.
Rockstar’s game certainly had a good crack at it. The visuals and realistic mechanics of Red Dead Redemption 2‘s open-world amazed fans and critics when the game was first released, making it fully deserving of its near-perfect 97 Metascore.
1 The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – 50 Hours
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is one of the few games that can compete with Halo: Combat Evolved for being the best launch title of all time. The game took the Legend of Zelda series back to its roots, offering players a level of freedom unparalleled today with the influx of hand-holding and help offered in many open-world games.
Breath of the Wild‘s lack of hand-holding helps the game truly feel like an adventure, one that players will struggle to put down despite its 50-hour length.