Why I Find Metal Gear Solid Overrated
  • POSTED BY Joel Castro on Feb 29, 2016

    I took the time to play the Metal Gear Solid series for the first time. I got through all of the games (not 100%, and I haven’t gotten to play The Phantom Pain yet), and I have to say: I’m more than unimpressed. For such a fantastic and intriguing premise, I was surprised that very little of it was engaging to me. I liked the characters, and the gameplay was good, if a little clunky, but here are the things that piss me off the most about this series.

    <ins>The Environments</ins>

    To put it simply, there’s not enough variety to keep me visually stimulated. People complain about modern military shooters consisting of mostly gun metal gray and brown shades all over the place, and yet I’m seeing similar settings in the MGS series. The first game? In a mostly gray and blue military compound in Alaska. MGS2? You’re on an oil tanker and some sort of power plant, both of which are mostly gray with the occasional sunset-filled sky box breaking the monotony. MGS3? It’s a forest, sure, which is a wonderful change of pace, but that’s all it amounts to, with mostly brown military bases in between. And MGS4? You’re mostly in the Middle East, which is mostly shades of tan, brown, and copious amounts of sand. Not one location has engaged me long enough in the visual sense, in spite of how graphically impressive they are for their respective times and systems. I don’t want to be in these levels for long because I fear I’ll suffer from sensory deprivation after five minutes. I get that the nature of the story limits the kinds of locations you could find government encounters in, but with all the crazy crap they put you through, they could’ve had a bit more creativity in the environments.

    <ins>The</ins><ins> Story</ins>

    This will be without spoilers, just so you know – not like I could even cover all the craziness going on here anyways. I’m all for government conspiracy stories. I like the premise of shadow organizations shifting the balance of power in the world. I like the espionage elements. Hell, I even enjoy the occasional moments of comedy to alleviate the tension. However, two problems occurred as I played. One was that the story has grown so convoluted and complex that it became increasingly difficult to follow along without needing to read the cliff notes on every previous game. Too many plot twists just for the sake of having them (including a ton of retcons as of MGS4 that basically try to “fix” what was left unexplained in previous works), horrendously long and redundant exposition dumps within the cutscenes and codec conversations, and a fundamental lack of understanding of basic science were all red flags to me from the start. Kojima may have great ideas and is able to tell a good story when he’s focused enough, but his execution needs drastic work.

    and I know what you’re thinking: “oh, well it’s supposed to be tongue-in-cheek because it breaks the fourth wall and nobody really takes anything too seriously.” Oh, how wrong you are on that last bit. Now, with the first game, the fourth wall breaks are fun and silly. It truly does feel like an homage and deconstruction of the typical action movie formula, as well as a welcome acknowledgement of what the medium of video games is capable of. In that regard, I understand. However, the joke got old right with the next game, and they started using references and breaks pointlessly. Which makes me so sad because the story does take itself way too seriously. They’re pointing out the craziness in a matter-of-fact way most of the time, and aren’t even trying to wink at you like in Twin Peaks or Saints Row. In a conspiracy story, it makes sense for things to get taken seriously, and with that, there has to be moments of relief against the tension. That’s not the issue. The campy acting, fourth wall breaks, and general silliness of some of the characters’ actions and dialogues, at least to me, serve to undermine the experience as a whole, leaving the whole tone of the games inconsistent at best and irritating at worst. Having to stop to remind you you’re in a video game while you’re on a time-crucial mission (plot-wise, anyways) doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.

    <ins>The Gameplay</ins>

    While the basics of the gameplay are functional and can be fun in certain sections, I find that it becomes needlessly complicated at times. I don’t know if its having to hold down so many buttons for a lot of basic functions like using a gun properly, or if it’s the too human movement mechanics feeling stiff and clunky whereas Snake is supposed to be this agile mobile stealth army, but the gameplay itself just doesn’t feel right at times. MGS4 fixed a lot of the movement issues, to be sure, but the rest of the series still suffers from this. I had little issues with the camera, but the AI were ridiculously bad, either being selectively deaf or hoplessly blind until you fall into their arbitrary sight range. In the first game its understandable – the PS1 wasn’t exactly known for its intelligence in enemy patterns. But to have the same problems persist into the PS2 games and to some extent in MGS4 was more than a little annoying. Sure, they did have moments of surprising intelligence, and were able to completely throw my plans off here and there. But those were few and far between.

    And there you have it. My reasons for why I think Metal Gear Solid, as a franchise, is overrated. If you like it, that’s fine. Go ahead and enjoy these games. There’s lots to find interesting and/or engaging in them. I just feel like people too often overlook the issues or ignore them altogether, thus placing this series on an unearned pedestal.

    And please, if you want to discuss, please be reasonable human beings. Or else I’ll send Snake over to your house and have him snap your neck silently.

    POSTED BY xsuicidesn0wmanx on Mar 06, 2016

    I tend to agree with the overall point, though I think for different reasons, though I would add I never finished MGS3 and have ignored 4 & 5 until I finally do finish 3. For me the series just got old rather quickly. I loved MGS1 & 2, and even beat both 2 or more times, but by the time the 3rd game came out, a much better stealth game in the form of Splinter Cell had been released. While I do think the MGS series is one of the best out there, during the PS2/Xbox era, Splinter Cell was a much better game, while MGS was more of the same. The other main issue I had was the excessively long cut scenes, some of which were carried out over the radio which felt more like audio books than video game.

    I will say though, I believe the most recent MGS seemed to be a much more polished game than I remember, and would put it relatively close to the original Splinter Cell games in terms of being a high quality stealth game with fairly good controls, though I would have preferred the game rely a bit more on the stealth aspect than it has so far. The game is way down on my backlog though, and I’m not sure when/if I will ever get back to it.

    You're all zombie thigh-fat people brought into animation by some evil force of forceful evil!!! - Happy Noodle Boy.

    You're all zombie thigh-fat people brought into animation by some evil force of forceful evil!!! - Happy Noodle Boy.

    POSTED BY elheber on Mar 07, 2016

    I was about to say the same thing about Splinter Cell. Once I played that; using the shadows and a realistic human cone of vision, all from a 3rd person perspective, I was sold.

    When I went back to the original MGS, I could not even. I just couldn’t even. The controls were so clunky, even compared to Splinter Cell which are now somewhat clunky as well. Today, Splinter Cell hasn’t had a good game in so long that I favor MGS again.

    I never beat any MGS game up until Portable Ops on the PSP. This was the first game you had to recruit your army and that was such a strong draw for me that I put up with the controls and convoluted story. I was knocking fuckers out and dragging their limp bodies to a truck left and right. I retried a boss fight a dozen times (at least) trying to capture him alive so I can put his ice-power having ass on my team. It was the first game where going non-lethal just made sense to me.

    The same sentiment goes for Peace Walker and most recently MGS5. Something about capturing soldiers to build your army just speaks to me. I’ll put up with the awkward controls (MGS5 isn’t that bad in this regard), the nonsensical convoluted plot lines with more named characters than… I can’t even think of any comparison, and the fanbase. I’ll put up with all that because there was just something about those 3 games and only those 3 games.

    So I’ve always assumed that everyone who likes the other games has a similar draw that lets them put up with the series problems in their own way.

    "A closet intellectual, he acts dumb to impress women."

    "A closet intellectual, he acts dumb to impress women."
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