Metal Gear Solid series part 2

METAL GEAR SOLID 4:  GUNS OF THE PATRIOTS – man, remember 2008? what a pretty shitty year that was (with rare exceptions),  not only was it a crappy year for me personally (but that’s another story) it was not so good for the country as a whole, for one thing that was the year the economy tanked and we haven’t stopped hearing about that fucking shit for 4 straight years now

but it was also the year of disappointing sequels, most them related to the number 4, Grand Theft Auto 4,  Metal Gear Solid 4,  Silent Hill Homecoming and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, only The Dark Knight and Fallout 3 managed to break the curse of bad sequels that year

and yes,  Metal Gear Solid 4 was a disappointment, I remember when the first trailer debuted in mid 2005 I almost creamed myself, I mean Metal Gear Solid 4 ON THE PLAY-STATION FUCKING THREE!? how could this not be anything but purely awesome? the future was bright…

but 3 whole years later after it’s debut and almost 4 whole years after Metal Gear Solid 3 the game FINALLY came out after what felt like forever aaaaaaaaaaaaaand….

well to be fair, I don’t think the game is THAT bad,  or really not even a bad game at all objectively, it’s just that after so many years and so much hype the Metal Gear Solid series just kind of caved in under the weight of it’s own popularity, it got to the point where it just wasn’t going to live up to everyone’s lofty expectations no matter what (the parallels between Metal Gear Solid 4 and the fourth Indiana Jones are interesting) and I think this is why Hideo Kojima wanted to end the series at 2, he knew this would happen, he knew it would be best to let the series end on a  high note and start something new, but alas there was too much money to be made and 4 is the result, everything in the game is a double edged sword, for everything  it does right there’s a downside, but let’s start with the story…

this is the most controversial aspect of the game and really what 99% of the debate was over, basically the storyline in Metal Gear Solid 4 bends over backwards trying to give explanations and tie up loose ends for every single thing in the series, who are The Patriots? why is Vamp still alive? what will happen to Snake? etc etc, Metal Gear Solid 2 was SUPPOSED to end with some mystery, with some stuff left open to debate and imagination, but 4 provides answers to all of it and the result is that it feels very forced, like Kojima was making up stuff as went along (The explanation for Vamp’s powers is the best example of this, no way was that what Kojima had in mind when he created the character in 2), plus Kojima consciously tries to tone down the crazy plot twists this time and make everything crystal clear to avoid any confusion

but on the flipside, while the story does feel forced, it IS undeniably cool to see all of the major characters in the series return for one last (hopefully) hurrah, if a conclusion to the story just had to be done, this is as good as it could have possibly been handled and Kojima does deserve credit for that…

*deep breath* ok now the gameplay,  remember that? the basic premise behind it is SOLID (har har), basically the idea is to take the camouflage gameplay (but automatic this time instead of having to choose from menus) of 3 and transplant it into active warzones instead of the jungle, that’s a cool idea, but the game also puts more of a focus on shooting as well as sneaking, not only are guns and ammo 100 times more plentiful, but there’s a third person targeting camera this time that makes it more like your average action game, you can’t just play the game like an average action game though because of your “Psyche meter”, which means the more you shoot the more stressed out Snake gets and the harder to control he gets, it’s obvious that they had to put that in just to give you more motivation to sneak

it’s ok though, I played the game on hard and got a decent challenge, I had to take things slow and frequently got my ass kicked, the gameplay itself is pretty good and doesn’t get enough credit, everyone’s so focused on the story, but I don’t have too many complaints with the actual gameplay, the only real downside is some of the time the game almost feels more like a Splinter Cell game than a Metal Gear Solid one

another thing is the game is broken up into “chapters”, which is also a doubled edged sword, instead of the whole game being set in one fleshed out location with a lot of character (like Shadow Moses, Big Shell or Tselinoyarsk) it’s set in locations all over the world, while it would have been boring for the whole game to be set in the same nondescript Middle Eastern city you play in at the start, the downside is that having more traditional levels makes the game feel more like your average action game and less like a METAL GEAR game, you know what I mean?

but the plus side is that it does allow for greater variety and more unique gameplay, only about half the game has Snake sneaking through battlegrounds, the other half has crazier stuff, like one chapter where you’re in a nondescript Eastern Europe city wearing a disguise trailing a guy while trying to avoid hired mercenary guards, not only is that chapter unlike anything in previous Metal Gear games, it also offers a pretty hefty challenge on Hard (one part I had to keep doing over and over again)

another chapter has you *SPOILER ALERT* revisiting Shadow Moses! it’s incredible to see it rendered with PS3 graphics (in fact, like God of War 3 it’s a good showcase for the PS3’s power) and is by far the coolest part of the game, yeah it’s total fanservice, but it’s very well done fanservice

so overall Metal Gear Solid 4 is not a bad game, it’s got some flaws to be sure, but it deserves a better reputation, that said though out of Metal Gear Solid 1-4 it’s by far the weakest of the series…

METAL GEAR SOLID: PEACE WALKER – ok now this is where for me, things start to really go wrong, I did not really like Peace Walker at all, in fact I was actually shocked at just how much I disliked it, I was very disappointed, to me this is the game that says that the Metal Gear series needs to be over for good

where do I begin? first off the gameplay, it’s just flat out boring and uninteresting (“boring and uninteresting” pretty much describes the whole game), there’s camoflage in the game, but it doesn’t work at all,  so instead you try to sneak around in a more traditional way, which sounds alright, expect that it has the camera and controls of Metal Gear Solid 4,  so this basically translates to shooting the enemies with tranquilizer darts and moving on, yawn

I think one of the biggest problems is being a PSP game (although I played it on the HD Collection) the game is broken up into mini chapters that only take about 5 to 10 minutes to complete or so, so just as soon as you get going the chapter is already over and you’re on to a cutscene, the debriefing and the main menus and then selecting the next chapter, then the briefing and ugh, it just RUINS the flow of the game, yeah I get that it’s a handheld game, but for one thing why does the world need a handheld Metal Gear game in the first place? and for another you had the Metal Gear game on the Gameboy Color that didn’t need to be broken into chapters (which I’ll get around to reviewing that one day)

being on the PSP is really what kills the game, everything has to be scaled down because it’s a PSP game, I already mentioned the chapter breaks, but then you have the graphics, this might seem unfair because again,  it’s a PSP game, but when you’re playing a Metal Gear game in 2011 that looks worse than Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3,  released in 2001 and 2004 respectively, it just makes you wonder “what’s the fucking point?” the game at best looks like a budget PS2 game circa 2003, yippee…

and then, also being a PSP game means we can’t have normal cutscenes, they have to be that fucking “motion comic” bullshit with that shitty “IDW comics” art style (the company that did the Metal Gear Comic), it might not be so bad if the artwork had things like color and the characters actually vaguely resembled the characters in the game, instead Snake (or Big Boss, whatever) looks like a crazy hobo and everyone else looks almost nothing like their character models do, what the fuck is this supposed to be? like those “courtroom illustrations” you see on the news? hey you know all that stuff is going on in real time guys, but please view these “artist’s illustration” of events we didn’t have the technology or money to show you, if it was literally impossible to have cutscenes done with the in game graphics, why not make the cutscenes animated instead of this lazy motion comic crap with shitty art? probably because that would take too much time and money, laaaaaaazy

the result is that I just couldn’t bring myself to care much about the story, not that it was that interesting to begin with, something about AI and a prototype Metal Gear and righteous South American rebels fighting the big bad US and yawwwwwwn,  it’s obvious Kojima has pretty much run out of ideas as to where to take this universe, just let it end already

and there’s other problems too, like the boss fights, you don’t fight any squad of super soldiers this time (probably because Kojima just flat out can’t think of any more ideas on that front), instead you fight either tanks, helicopters or robots,  yes robots,  robots like out of some other video game series entirely, tell me, if there was AI advanced enough to pilot Metal Gear like robots in the early 70’s, why did the later Metal Gears (like Rex) need pilots? where did all this AI technology go and how in the hell would AI like that in the era of Pong be possible? I know the Metal Gear series has had anachronistic science fiction technology before, that’s kind of what makes Metal Gear Metal Gear, it’s not a huge deal, but the difference is that the the other stuff was at least plausible in a Michael Crichton kind of way, having advanced AI in 1974 when the Magnavox Odyssey was cutting edge is just silly

*sigh* ok one more thing, another aspect of the game is the Sim like minigame of managing the “Militaires Sans Frontières” PMC company, you pick weapons to be “researched” (real advanced stuff like machine guns and shotguns, ya know stuff that they couldn’t just buy) and even pick soldiers to go fight in places and whatnot, it’s all very boring, what was even the point?

man, it’s crazy that the Metal Gear series has sunk so low, we’ve gone from the classic first three games to Peace Walker, the series has gone from bringing me almost to the point of orgasm to making me say “meh”, I would have thought you were nuts back in 2003 if you told me that was the future of the series, I never would have imagined this is where we would wind up, it’s depressing…

(for this next part, please listen to this music for the right mood )

it’s time for Snake to hang up the bandanna guys, it had a good run, now it’s time for it to be over, but the problem is that Konami is greedy as fuck, they never want to do something new, first they ran Silent Hill into the ground and then Metal Gear, when will it be enough? I used to think you were cool Konami…

I still love Hideo Kojima though, I don’t really blame him so much for this, what needs to happen is Hideo Kojima needs to start a new series, maybe something sci fi themed again along the lines of Snatcher or Zone of The Enders

what we need is Hideo Kojima’s Bioshock Infinite, by that I mean Bioshock Infinite is a perfect example of what the gaming world needs more of, it’s not a direct sequel to Bioshock, it’s a whole new, fresh and beyond brilliant take on the same themes, by the same developers and that’s what Hideo Kojima needs to do, something NEW, I’m convinced that he still has plenty of good games in him and I’m also pretty sure that one day he will come out with a new game that will recapture that magic we all felt when we played Metal Gear Solid for the first time, I can dream…..

P.S. oh yeah, I did say that I would say something about Metal Gear Rising didn’t I? I’m pretty “meh” to be honest, it doesn’t piss me off, I’d rather the Metal Gear series be totally over, but at least this is a spinoff with totally different gameplay

it could be cool I guess, the impression I got though is that it looks pretty dated, it looks like a game from 2007 or something, but I’ll check it out and review when it does come out


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