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Portal 2 In 4 Hours? The Steam Timer Is A Lie

A screenshot of Richard's so-called completion time.

We have seen some astonishing claims for completion times of Portal 2. When I criticised a number of the recurring nonsensical complaints against the game yesterday, one of the aspects I highlighted was that the game simply couldn’t be finished in four hours. But we’ve since received so many comments, tweets and emails from people claiming to have finished between 4 and 5 hours that we became a little suspicious. Having spent yesterday morning replaying the game, knowing all the solutions, I was certainly nowhere near finished in four hours. And the rest of us on RPS have found it’s taking at least seven hours. And then we started hearing about some even more incredible finishing times for Portal 2, based on Steam’s in-built timer. We’ve some news for you: the timer doesn’t work.

People’s desperation to finish games quickly has always bemused me. It’s like spending £20 on a Blu-Ray movie and then watching it on fast-forward, and boasting to your friends it only took you 45 minutes to watch Avatar. (Well, that’s not a good example, but you understand the point.) When spending £30-£50 on a game, surely you’d want to take your time, get the most out of it? Take the “1000G” approach (to speak in the parlance of our console cousins).

But here we have people saying they explored as much as they could, listened to everything, and yet clocked in times under five hours. With a Valve insider telling me it takes them around six hours to finish the game, something is surely up.

Which leads to two conclusions:

1) People are missing out chunks of the game by some means.
2) Steam’s timer doesn’t work, and people can’t tell time.

2 is definitely true. There’s no doubt about that. People have reported to us finishing times as low as 33 minutes according to Steam. Our own Richard Cobbett had Steam tell him an entire day’s play had lasted only two hours. And we’ve heard many, many more. There’s no doubt that it’s very broken, and all those basing their extraordinary finishing times on this stat should probably have taken a look outside and noticed the sun went down and they’d forgotten lunch and dinner.

As for 1, that’s even more intriguing. Another RPS contributor has told us he doesn’t remember playing some of the areas, including the section where you bounce repeatedly between two walls to reach a distant platform, and the second time you use blue paint on turrets. So are those who have based their completion times on their own timing – rather than Steam’s – and still find it came in under five hours, missing out on content?

Is this possible? Could there be a big, ugly bug that’s skipping a chunk of game? Is the Director at work here, stripping out sections? Or are people just mad?

We’re contacting Valve to find out, although replies aren’t very forthcoming at the moment.

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John Walker

Senior Editor

One of the original co-founders of Rock, Paper, Shotgun, I'm now a senior editor and general hero of humanity.

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