Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The best kind of complaints: unreasonable and petty

Yes, Metal Gear Solid V is, at the very least, a pretty good game. That does not mean that it does not have a few significant problems. In the spirit of its faux-military nature, I am going to fire a few shots across its nose. Or maybe up it.

Unreasonable, petty complaint number 1: This does not feel at all like a main series Metal Gear game. Metal Gear Solids 1 through 4 were plot heavy, linear masterpieces. There can be debate as to which is the best (though 3 is the best answer) but there is no denying that all four are worth playing. They are not worth playing just for the stealth/action game play as everything that Metal Gear did in stealth has been eclipsed by the later Splinter Cell games and its action was always passable at best. They were worth it for the bat shit crazy, over wrought, incredibly complicated stories.

Metal Gear Solid 5 has flipped this. The way the game plays is definitely better. The addition of a few split seconds to kill a soldier after Big Boss is spotted alone makes it much more forgiving. Alerting one bad guy still alerts them all and a single mistake can destroy a significant amount of work but that is nothing new. I accepted that little bit of bull shit years ago and have come to expect it from these games.

My problem is that the story is completely absent. Nothing fucking happens. I have been playing for several hours a night since Thursday and there have been maybe two or three important plot events. The first was the opening chapter which was brilliant. Sign me up for more of that. Nope, it took hours and hours for the next thing and that was nothing more than the introduction of who I assume is the main bad guy. I don't know for sure because he hasn't shown up since. The third was the sniper fight with Quiet, and that was the special, distilled, pure form on frustrating foolishness that I was dreading and looking forward to.

Nothing happens. There is no story. This is not Metal Gear.

Unreasonable, petty complaint number 2: It was a mistake to make this game open world. This goes hand in hand with the 'nothing happens' argument. A good open world game, say Red Dead Redemption, has a balance between story missions and time consuming, ultimately pointless side missions. There are enough story missions or they are different enough from side missions that the story's momentum is never lost. The player does not forget the main character's motivation while murder not plot-essential enemies for fun and profit.

Metal Gear Solid 5 has precious little story so all the missions feel like side missions. And they all, so far, take place in the same area. I am really tired of sand. Dragging the improved mechanics through the same checkpoint choking out the same guards over and over is boring. Metal Gear should never be boring. Frustrating or confusing, sure, but never, ever boring.

Unreasonable, petty complaint number 3: Fuck Kiefer Sutherland. No offense Kiefer, but you are not the voice of Big Boss. Not even close. It is also not your fault that you have almost nothing to read. Big Boss almost never speaks and when he does it is always a short reaction to something someone else did. This makes him less of the established character from Metal Gear Solid 3 and more a stand in for the player which hurts what little story there is.

The player is the observer in the previous Metal Gear games and that was okay because it was interesting to observe. There is nothing to observe this time and if there was it wouldn't matter because the player him or herself is the character doing the observing. Big Boss is just the player's eyes now. Kojima got a little too much Half Life in his Metal Gear and it just doesn't work.

Metal Gear Solid 5 is pretty good but it is not Metal Gear. This is just another open world shooter. Metal Gear should never be just another anything.

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