What's got everybody hatin' on ol' Snake?

I played the MGS4 demo yesterday, and I found myself really, really enjoying the baroque stealth gameplay. I liked the fact that the radar is a bit confusing and that there are a bunch of readers to keep track of to know everything you must know in order to tackle the moment. I like the feeling of hiding in plain sight and outsmarting my enemies not because I can deal more damage than they do and aim slightly better, but because I’m better at parsing the available information.

The sheer amount of screen furniture and read-outs didn’t turn me off at all, it rather brought me closer to the game because finally I had full disclosure in terms of what was going on in the game mechanics at any given moment. Since there’s so much going on, I get really pulled into the weird brand of simulation that MGS has been sporting since the second game. The realistic and strangely nuanced actions and reactions of the enemies gives me a feeling of really influencing my surroundings, of something happening, like really happening apart from people dying because I pointed my gun at them. It feels incredibly fresh and different from all the other tactical shooters out there and, in a way, it feels more like an RPG than for instance Fallout 3 ever did. I feel like my abilities, the amount of information presented to me and my capabilities in relation to my enemies really invites experimentation and toying around with the game’s malleable but minimal sandboxes. I have no idea whether the play style I arrived at is the one the game demands, or if there’s a wealth viable tactics, but it felt like I got to express myself and develop my own take on every situation I was presented with.

Sure, I was frustrated initially because I couldn’t get what was going on and the camo system felt arbitrary and the gunplay awkward, but then I started trying to feel what was going on, sink into the game instead of expecting it to feed me rewards (I had played Ratchet & Clank Future just a few minutes prior, which force-fed my brain saccharine junk for absolutely every action I performed). So, weirdly, I get the same vibe from this as from Crysis and STALKER: Egregiously convoluted, but for a reason. There’s not just feature heaped upon feature to satisfy the expectations of an audience who thinks every game should aspire to be The Game to End All Games.

It’s a set of restrictions and expectations imposed on the player because they will force the player’s thoughts and behaviors into the mode intended by the game designer. Or maybe it’s just dumb, silly luck and my brain has a bunch of Crysis, STALKER, Metal Gear Solid 4 and Disgaea-shaped slots that no-one else has that causes me to overdose on happy hormones when I submit to their peculiar dynamics? In any case, I get the feeling MGS4 is something special, and that I’m willing to endure Kojima’s schizophrenic storytelling to see what it’s really about.

Or am I getting it all wrong? Did I just stumble upon a moment of bliss playing the demo, a moment that’s unlikely to reemerge from the full game? Does the game collapse into self-indulgent bouts of dreadful storytelling that eventually drowns out what I thought was pristine gameplay?

The problem with MGS is that the gameplay has increasingly taken a backseat to drug-fuelled Japanese conspiracy theory cutscenes.

So the gameplay I seem to like is in there somewhere I just have to dig through Hideo’s shit to get at it? I can deal with that. I think his paranoid clone army constant state of war spiel is reasonably entertaining, because it stands in such stark contrast to the man’s obvious military fetish. The care lavished upon weapons and vehicles, and the glorification of the surreal authoritarianism of the chain of command strikes me as perfectly Japanese. It’s like Kojima is to Japan what Tom Clancy is to the US: Reflecting the population’s latent imperialism, but tempering it with what the readers consider to be their primary virtues. In America, everybody’s inherently moral while in Japan everyone is curious and tolerant. Both are, of course, widely off the mark.

MGS4 should definitely be given a chance by everyone. Even though there’s complete insanity when it comes to the plot, the gameplay is phenomenal. The quality in presentation is astounding - Right from the moment you start a new game you’re treated to this odd universe via faux high-quality TV channels that you can change at will. Arguably best graphics of the generation, not so evident when looking at a still image, but the animation and art direction are miles ahead of most games out there. Also has some of the best surround sound that my 5.1 system has ever produced.

It also has a surprising amount of variety in the game elements. Each chapter plays different then the one before it. Some may prefer a section more then others but the quality remains throughout. Also each chapter brings these high-intensity “Holy Shit” gameplay moments that can leave you breathless.

Biggest fault of course is the cutscene direction. As I’ve said before it BADLY needs an editor, especially around the end game. It kind of reminds me of MGS2 as a whole: amazing gameplay within a LOLWUT story. I hope they bring out a sub-whatever re-release with a large amount of VR content that focuses purely on the gameplay.

I liked MGS4. I could tolerate most of the cut scenes, because most of the time I could at least play with the robot.

But that last sequence at the cemetery… My god. The horror. How many times can someone pretend to die, before gasping and continuing to talk for another 15 minutes.

It just seems to go on and on in an endless denouement in which nothing is explained but what you just learned by playing the game already.

I liked MGS 4 as well, though Had it featured more gameplay and less long winded babble I proabably would have loved it. I don’t mind that there are a lot of cutscenes, but for fucks sake spit it out already. Talking is not that hard.

Erm, you might wanna hide this quote in a HUGE spoiler tag…

Also, the cutscenes rock.

I got MGS4 with the PS3 bundle that I bought last year. It’s not my style of game at all, so I enjoyed the “movie” of it more than I liked the gameplay. In other words, if they cut out all the gameplay, made the gameplay into cutscenes like the rest, I would actually have liked the game more. Although, it’d hardly be called a game.

That’s exactly what they did on a bonus disc in the Subsistence edition of MGS3.

The cutscenes are high quality but the plot is terrible. Kojima and his team basically obliterated all the cool backstory buildup that had been going on in the previous games and retconned several other parts, then proceeded to tie up all the loose threads at the end.

Not only that but the actual gameplay segments are shorter than ever now. There’s just so many cutscenes and codec conversations squeezed into it all. There are parts where you get to play around for a while without much interruption, but there’s not a lot of them and you’ll trigger a new cutscene before you know it if you progress quickly instead of fooling around with the guards.

I’m a huge Metal Gear fan but MGS4 has just too little game content, even for me. Graphically stunning and amazingly well made but at the same time so very, very disappointing to play through.

And don’t get me started on MGO.


I find my own description of MGS4 to be fairly accurate.

Elsewhere, in the Middle East of 2014, wheeling and dealing of protracted, ham-fisted exposition is going on at the 41st Annual International Chain Smokers Summit—the number of assertions that “war has changed” because of a move towards “war economy” because of “PMCs” employing “nanomachines,” with the linguistic gait of Dan Quayle channeling Irwin Corey, would put the map [from Dora the Explorer]'s re-affirmative tendencies to shame.


What is baroque stealth?


You are Regina Susanna Bach. Last child of Johann Sebastian. Mistress of the Harpsichord. Mistress of Ninjutsu. Coming in Spring '09: Fugue: Nocturne – The Awakening!

I don’t remember any Jews offhand…

Am I a wierdo for really wanting to play this game?

I think they improved gameplay possibilities in MGS4, shooting mechanics and all got better. Not that they were horrible in the other games.

However, I felt they wasted a lot of their potential with bad pacing. The game had awesome parts, but really, MGS3 had a much more coherent progression. Spoilers ahead.

Their whole idea of making the game in different acts in different locations wasn’t very well executed, because each location felt very limited. You saw the potential, and the cool stuff they could have made, and suddenly you were put in another situation, and the transition was very weird. Each part felt incomplete, and Act 3 was just bad. I liked the game a lot for its good parts, but it was disappointing.

That makes as little sense as the plot of most MGS games. Was that the point?