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a masterpiece for countless horrifying reasons
April 23, 2010 12:13 AM   Subscribe

While Metal Gear Solid is considered "one of the best and most important games of all time," its myriad descendants have been polarizing players for almost a decade. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots has a particular knack for inspiring people to write convoluted screeds about its flaws. In contrast to most of the game's criticism, James Clinton Howell and Jerel Smith's Monstrous Births: A Formal Analysis of Metal Gear Solid 4 attempts to interpret the game and explain its creators (often peculiar) decisions. (previously)
posted by jsnlxndrlv (35 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
...and if you'd rather just read a goofy webcomic retelling of the Metal Gear Solid games' story, Peachi's work is pretty fun. Not sure how much appeal it has for people not already familiar with the games, though.
posted by jsnlxndrlv at 12:19 AM on April 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


You know what? I liked Raiden. I liked how they faked gamers out, swapping Snake for this whiney henpecked effeminate dude- because games don't normally play jokes on gamers like that.

The next Splinter Cell should involve Sam Fisher infiltrating a Mexican drug cartel- but to do so, half the game should be spent honing his skills playing in a mariachi band.
posted by dunkadunc at 12:41 AM on April 23, 2010 [6 favorites]


I thought ArmyOfKittens described MGS 4 perfectly the other day: It's also hooray silly fun and Kojima indulging himself with insanely long cutscenes, and I could have played an entire twenty-hour game based on mechanics the game spends just an hour on in its second act, and I bet a good third of the people who try it will hate it because Kojima left basically nothing on the cutting room floor.
posted by joedan at 1:16 AM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Agreed about Raiden, dunkadunc. The Metal Gear games have been consistently innovative; some of that perhaps gets lost as other designers pick up some of the great ideas. And they have incredibly responsive and good-feeling controls (once you come to grips with their logic). Walking around as Snake just feels good in a way that few other games replicate.
posted by breath at 1:23 AM on April 23, 2010


Warning: This comment contains spoilers.

I enjoyed my recent playthrough of the game, and easily think that putting the player in charge of Old Snake having to trudge inch by inch through the microwave hall, his stealth suit flayed and burning, getting knocked down until he's bare crawling on his hands and knees and then finally, having to pound the triangle button just to get him to pull hismelf forward with one good arm, was one of the game's crowning moments.

I also thought that Snake and Liquid, two old men all hopped up on stimulant sticks, slugging it out until they could barely stand was a crowning moment of awesome.

And Big Boss confronting Snake one last time time, slipping into CQC... to give him a hug actually got me all choked up.
posted by ShawnStruck at 1:44 AM on April 23, 2010 [5 favorites]


Use the coolant on him.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 1:53 AM on April 23, 2010


I think one of the primary reasons people complain about the MGS games is that they take them too seriously. They're a send-up of the genre, and people want them to be as serious as Splinter Cell or whatever is hot these days. The song "Snake Eater" had me nearly rolling on the floor laughing, and the on-going jokes/references about the Box are great. I mean, we're talking about games in which the creator begged to have Snake included in Super Smash Bros!
posted by explosion at 4:18 AM on April 23, 2010


The song "Snake Eater" had me nearly rolling on the floor laughing

The ladder scene in MGS3 is probably one of my favorite moments in gaming, because that song is so over-the-top ridiculously awesome.
posted by graventy at 4:46 AM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hell, I even liked the bizarre pomo-ness and meta-ness of MGS2, complete with Paul Auster references. And the frequent cryptic mentions of the La-Li-Lu-Le-Lo or whatever they were called.
posted by Mocata at 5:01 AM on April 23, 2010


I need scissors!
61!

posted by Dr-Baa at 6:01 AM on April 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


But these are ART! Everyone says so! These aren't masturbatory gamer screeds! They are /art critiques/
posted by clvrmnky at 6:24 AM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


The main attraction of MGS4: all of the action shots of Snake's ass. That outfit leaves nothing to the imagination.
posted by iconomy at 6:46 AM on April 23, 2010


This is a sneaking mission, Snake! Stealth is required!

*sneaks into the thread disguised as a cardboard box*
posted by daniel_charms at 6:49 AM on April 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm so tormented about MGS3 and 4. I love the first game unconditionally. It is a classic. The 2nd one made me tear my hair out in parts, but I still enjoyed the gameplay, the gutsiness of the Raiden bait-and-switch and the utterly insane thirty xanatos pileup ending.

MGS3 is where the series lost me. I tried so hard to like it but we never clicked, and while I still liked the (steadily lengthening) cutscenes I had to admit to myself that I just wasn't enjoying the actual game. It was sad. I had gone out of my way to get the "Subsistence" version, With Improved Camera, so it felt like I was betraying an old friend when I eventually sold it. I haven't played a lick of MGS4 and for the most part don't care, and if we're being honest I still feel slightly guilty about that, because how can I love the first one so much and not want to know how it all ends?

I want to like them, but I feel like I can't anymore. The torment comes in when I read interesting comments and articles (like the Eurogamer review above) about how brilliant and post-modern and risky MGS3 and 4 are, and then I start to think, "Yes, I want to see these things and also be part of the conversation about them" but then I remember that when I sit down to actually play them I will probably be shouting obscenities and regretting ever paying money to put myself through this.

(thanks for this post jsnlxndrlv)
posted by Monster_Zero at 7:07 AM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


I loooooooooooove MGS3. What a great parody of Bond movies and espionage video games.

You eat snakes. And the main character's name is Snake. I mean, come on! This isn't award-winning stuff, and once you stop expecting it to move mountains it becomes an incredibly cheesy and entertaining ride.

There's just so much melodrama in the MGS series, you can't help but take it lightly.
posted by achompas at 7:29 AM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, MGS2's bait-and-switch of the main character was downright incredible in retrospect, and the game played so much better than MGS1.

Okay let me leave this thread now.
posted by achompas at 7:30 AM on April 23, 2010


I think the whole series is auteur game making at it's best. A weird and bat-shit crazy vision of one man.
posted by HumanComplex at 7:38 AM on April 23, 2010


I adore MGS3 and think that the ending was one of the better game endings I've seen. It's one of those games I wish people played so I could talk to them about it. Mmmm, gnosticism.

Anyway, the MGS series is meticulous, even in it's ridiculousness. It shoves as much melodrama, obsession with military weaponry, self-awareness/fourth-wall-breakage, movie adulation, comedy, exploration on the human condition, and love of game play and graphics as any series out there. A problem is, a lot of times people like one aspect but then find another aspect off-putting. This kind of strikes me odd as ever sense MGS, it has pretty clearly contained everything.

It's a fun ride. I like the stories too. They're also some of the few games that give me some laugh-out-loud moments. So, MGS 1, 2, 3, and 4, you're okay with me.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 7:54 AM on April 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


I've only played the first game, just a couple months ago. I've got MGS2 and MGS3 waiting for me when I get some free time. My thoughts on the first chapter alone, as an utter n00b:

1. Ridiculously over-the-top double-crossing espionage/superweapon interweaving plotlines rule.

2. Ridiculously long cutscenes don't rule nearly so much.

3. The controls and camera were some of the most annoying I've ever dealt with in a video game, making navigation and precise weapon use almost impossible.

4. I enjoyed the stealthy sneaking around parts. I wish there were more of them, and I wish they were implemented as well as the stealth in Uncharted 2. Granted, that game is a lot newer than MGS.

5. The final shootout in the Jeep when you're escaping down that tunnel out of the base was incredible. I'd love more action like that.

6. After how the game ended (I saved the girl and retired in Alaska, though I've heard of an alternate ending where Snake lets her die and saves Otacon instead), I'm skeptical about all these sequels. I'll assume, given the series' popularity, that the stories aren't forced, but it's hard to imagine all those closed-up storylines unraveling for more action.

I haven't read much of this thread for fear of spoilers. I just hope the other games in the series address some of my complaints though, because the gameplay alone almost made me give up in the middle of the first game. I'm glad I stuck with it though; the pros did outweigh the cons.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 8:49 AM on April 23, 2010


The series isn't really my thing (I mostly like old-school games, sandboxes and games where you beat people up), but I think it's one of the most unabashedly arty experiences in mainstream video games.
posted by box at 9:54 AM on April 23, 2010


For anyone who played the earlier games and is just itching to try MGS4 but can't quite bring themselves to put up with the increasingly wobbly mountain of controls: fear not. Kojima threw out the entire control system in MGS4 and rebuilt it, and now it makes sense. It's precise, straightforward, and fun: you can aim and move in first-person mode, fire extremely accurately, and even perform CQC while being composed entirely of thumbs like I am.

I've actually never played 3, so I'm currently hunting down a copy of Subsistence and preparing a large padded area of wall to throw stuff at.

I think the whole series is auteur game making at it's best. A weird and bat-shit crazy vision of one man.

Hell yes. I always want to know what Kojima is working on, because yes, he makes mis-steps and mistakes, and he totally lacks a backspace button on his scriptwriting keyboard (although he wrote the line, "The birds are pecking at my face! And my soul!" for which I am eternally grateful, and which I cannot stop quoting), but he has ideas by the bucketload, and passion, and a crazy kind of style, and the drive and the giant stick to bully a whole company of people to implement his madness.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 9:54 AM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


How could you not get that the series was a friendly send-up of the genre right from the start? When you beat the first game, you can play it through again in a tuxedo, for chrissakes.
posted by sciurus at 10:07 AM on April 23, 2010


While I don't disagree that the series is not always intended to be taken seriously, consider that in Silent Hill 3, a dark and distressing journey into repressed memories, you can, in a new game plus, dress Heather up in a Sailor Moon-esque costume and give her the power to shoot heart-shaped lasers from her eyes.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 10:21 AM on April 23, 2010


jsnixndriv, I've been looking for the source of that webcomic for more than a year since I saw them uncited on 4chan. You have made my day!
posted by spamguy at 10:24 AM on April 23, 2010


And actually, I think one of Kojima's signatures is that he apparently sees absolutely no tonal difference between, say, a heart-rending scene in which your life-long friend and lover bleeds out in your arms, and an extended sequence of diarrhea jokes; or between a man near the end of his natural life contemplating his own mortality, and one of the boss characters ordering you to place your controller on the floor so he can make it vibrate and move about.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 10:25 AM on April 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


and if you'd rather just read a goofy webcomic retelling of the Metal Gear Solid games' story, Peachi's work is pretty fun.

"This realistic background footage is jarring and unnecessary!"

Most excellent. Thanks for that.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:35 AM on April 23, 2010


I could never get into the earlier ones because I'm just tragically awful at sneaking, but, although not having put a ton of time into it, with 4 it seems you can really run and gun it like a shooter if you want to. I still felt like I was "playing it wrong," but at least I was able to make progress.
posted by juv3nal at 11:49 AM on April 23, 2010


As much as I love the series—I liked MGS3 so much I bought both versions—I've never been a huge fan of actually playing the games. It might be because I don't have the timing and adaptability under stress needed to do well in stealth games; as with the Silent Hill franchise, I admire what (many of) the games accomplish, but the actual experience of play is too intense for me. That's one of the reasons I enjoy it so much when James Clinton Howell posts another analysis; it's a way to break down the game's bizarre aspects into something comprehensible and deliberate, and it makes me appreciate the game more without necessarily needing to actually be playing it.
posted by jsnlxndrlv at 11:54 AM on April 23, 2010


with 4 it seems you can really run and gun it like a shooter if you want to

I'm sure I would have got some kind of pacifist award at the end of the game had I spent the final chapter the way I spent the first four -- sneaking around, quietly tranquilising people, making friends with the militias by giving them cucumber sandwiches, and generally being quite charmingly nice to the people trying to kill me -- but I got all excited and was all RAAAR I HAVE A RAIL GUN, popping out of cover and lancing people in the face with super-accelerated wotsits. I had to send the monkey for more ammo about ten times.

And then on my new game plus I had the mind control doll that lets you throw people around by chucking the controller across the room, and now I'll never get that pacifism badge.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 12:00 PM on April 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh, and full disclosure: I forgot that Howell's a Facebook friend because we post on the same videogame forum. We've never met or spoken at length; I'm a fan of his work, but I think I first actually read Driving Off The Map when it showed up on Metafilter two years ago.
posted by jsnlxndrlv at 12:00 PM on April 23, 2010


For anyone who played the earlier games and is just itching to try MGS4 but can't quite bring themselves to put up with the increasingly wobbly mountain of controls: fear not.

Not 100% sure on this, but I heard Konami hired someone away from Epic so they could replicate the Gears of War control system for MGS4.

Regardless, Gears of War was cited as a major influence on the game's control scheme.
posted by achompas at 12:03 PM on April 23, 2010


Not 100% sure on this, but I heard Konami hired someone away from Epic so they could replicate the Gears of War control system for MGS4.

Regardless, Gears of War was cited as a major influence on the game's control scheme.


Really? That's kind of surprising; I wouldn't have made that connection at all. Gears of War's controls are admirable in their own right, but I never noticed any parallels with MGS4's intricately ornate control scheme. Maybe I'll see if I can bring myself to play it this weekend.
posted by jsnlxndrlv at 12:07 PM on April 23, 2010


The main attraction of MGS4: all of the action shots of Snake's ass. That outfit leaves nothing to the imagination.


Feels like I’m wearing nothing at all.
nothing at all
nothing at all
...
posted by Widepath at 5:24 PM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


...Metal Gear?
[smokes a cigarette]
posted by fuq at 6:53 AM on April 24, 2010


You eat snakes. And the main character's name is Snake. I mean, come on! This isn't award-winning stuff, and once you stop expecting it to move mountains it becomes an incredibly cheesy and entertaining ride.

The series is also rife with homo-sexuals references and innuendo.
posted by P.o.B. at 7:21 PM on April 24, 2010


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