So I played Bioshock Infinite for the first time last night. It had been a long day and I wasn't feeling too charitable, but within moments of sitting down with a pad, I was utterly hooked. An incredible amount of work has gone into Irrational's latest game - into the exquisitely ornate period furnishings, the staggering quantity of NPC dialogue, and into the backstory which holds Columbia's demented, airborne milieu together.
And all that's merely the iceberg's tip of a project that, according to studio boss Ken Levine, encompasses an entire trilogy's worth of raw material. "I can't tell you how much of this game... we probably cut two games worth of stuff out of the game, and I say that just in terms of content," he told AusGamers yesterday (hat tip to VG247 for spotting it). "Finishing and polishing is a whole other matter, but this is just the raw amount of content, we cut tonnes and tonnes of stuff."
Of course, we've heard about cut content from developers before, and there's always the worry that said content is, in fact, DLC waiting the right moment to pounce. "Oh, there's definitely a definitive end to the narrative in this game," Levine reassured the site.
"Any of the content that I talked about, there's nothing that we could pack together and ship. (a) It's cut for a reason: we didn't think it fit, and (b) it's left in a state that is completely... there's a term that we have called "rot", in the games industry. If you leave a level, or if you leave some code for a long time, and you don't tend to it, other code evolves around it, and that code gets broken, effectively.
"It's very much like rot," he went on. "Everything would be so deeply rotted, you wouldn't be able to do anything with it. So I think to... there's nothing in that, that we're ready to go with, even remotely, that we'd really be able to release - there's no day-one DLC on this thing, in terms of a content package.
"I think that we didn't have, certainly Irrational, as a studio, didn't have the bandwidth to be even thinking about that. We just were really focused on making this game ready."
Levine understands, naturally, that for some no amount of playtime is too much playtime. "As a gamer, I like content. Fortunately, I'm at a stage in my life where I can afford to buy the games I want to buy, so for me, the more the merrier.
"But I totally get the perspective of people who are... I remember very well, being in my early 20s, and being like "well, if I'm going to buy that, it has to have this much time of gameplay, and this much of...", so I get that. But I also like the fact that it gives the hardcore fans the chance to experience more in the world, where you used to have to wait for expansion packs for years."
Log reckons Bioshock Infinite is the most exciting game of 2013. As of last night, I'm in full agreement.