A Hideo Kojima Game
September 1, 2015 9:29 AM   Subscribe

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, As Told by Steam Reviews [Kotaku]

Related:
- Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain trailer. [YouTube]
- E3 2015 Game Play Demo | Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain [YouTube]
- Interview with Hideo Kojima by IGN - Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain [YouTube]
- 10 Things You Should Know About Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain [Paste Magazine]
- Hideo Kojima cameo in Metal Gear Solid 5 [Gamespot] [Twitter: @EdmondTran]
- Hideo Kojima's name removed from Metal Gear Solid V: the Phantom Pain box art. [IGN]
- Timeline of the Kojima/Konami controversy. [IGN]
- 'Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain', Hideo Kojima, And The Dangers Of Hero Worship [Forbes]
- 'Metal Gear questions US dominance of the world' [The Guardian]
Previously. Previously. Previously.
posted by Fizz (77 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
Spoiler: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain has a giant flaming whale that explodes in the first hour of the game. True story.
posted by Fizz at 9:30 AM on September 1, 2015 [4 favorites]


That seems unlikely.
posted by boo_radley at 10:08 AM on September 1, 2015


boo_radly, I don't want to keep on with the spoilers but I'm not making this up! It shows up right around the end of the prologue, about 50 minutes into the game.
posted by Fizz at 10:12 AM on September 1, 2015


The Retronauts podcast has a pretty good episode this week talking about the history of the Metal Gear franchise if you are looking for a listen.

I think that this franchise has had an enormous positive influence on many stealth and environmental-interaction based games that I enjoy, but I find actually playing the MGS games utterly dire. The Ground Zeros/FP duology looks like it plays very differently, though, so maybe I'll give them one last try.
posted by selfnoise at 10:12 AM on September 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


That seems unlikely.

This is significant because it is the first unlikely thing to occur in the Metal Gear canon
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:15 AM on September 1, 2015 [10 favorites]


To be fair, by the time the flaming whale came (in the tutorial/prologue, no less), I think I had already run out of surprise for the time being. (Can't wait to pick up more tonight, but I wanted to get through the prologue, at least)

I mean, using a shotgun to fend off a fire unicorn-pegasus-thing while on horseback. That's about where I gave up and started leaning into the madness.
posted by CrystalDave at 10:18 AM on September 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


does anyone know who this game is by
posted by griphus at 10:21 AM on September 1, 2015 [7 favorites]


does anyone know who this game is by

American McGee?
posted by selfnoise at 10:31 AM on September 1, 2015 [4 favorites]


but I find actually playing the MGS games utterly dire.

Same here. I don't really have the time or patience for playing them through in their 'intended' fashion, and run-and-gun gameplay seems like it's almost as difficult, and doing a disservice to the game's design. I'm the same way with super-technical brawlers like Revengeance or Bayonetta or Devil May Cry.

That said, I absolutely love the utterly enthusiastic chaos that is the Metal Gear mega-plot, so I'm super glad that there are people who have done extremely good Let's Plays of them. I've spent the last week or so meandering through Chip & Ironicus Metal Gear Solid 3 and Peace Walker LPs, doing a chronological watch of the plot.

I'll probably end up buying MGSV because I am a sucker for hype, but hopefully I'll restrain myself. First time for everything, I guess.
posted by majuju at 10:33 AM on September 1, 2015


I got this game "for free" by virtue of having bought a GTX970 in the last month. I downloaded it this morning partially out of curiosity and partially because I don't have any other games that might be an interesting test of the 970. The first thing you see clearly in the initial cutscene is a nurse's cleavage. Sigh.
posted by Slothrup at 10:39 AM on September 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


So Chip Cheezum (with his regular collaborator Ironicus, and some other friends) has done play throughs of all of the Metal Gear Solid Games (originally posted to the Something Awful forums but also available on his web site.

If you have no interest/ability to play the games but want to marvel at their absurdity, his LPs are the way to go. He's going to do Ground Zeroes/The Phantom Pain once he masters them (he doesn't do the Day 1 stuff).

MGS3 and Peace Walker are the ones that chronologically precede Ground Zeroes and the Phantom Pain.

I will say that MGS3 (and some of the other early stuff on his web site - parts of MGS1 too, probably) are a little rough content wise. He started doing six or seven years ago when he was like 19 and it shows (there's a couple of homophobic slurs/jokes that slip in like once or twice in the earlier stuff - maybe not even the Metal Gear stuff, but I'm not 100% certain of that - and they're shitty and he apologized, but I didn't want anyone to be taken by surprise.

on preview: damnit majuju beat me to it!
posted by dismas at 10:44 AM on September 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


I feel that any environmental subtext in Metal Gear is undermined by Konami printing thousands of CDs containing only a Steam installer
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:45 AM on September 1, 2015 [4 favorites]


There is little to say about this game. Except that it's a Hideo Kojima game, and I'm sad that Xbox doesn't have these advanced Steam features like user reviews so I can't post there that this is, indeed, a Hideo Kojima game.
PS. Didn't pre-order. Will need to wait several weeks. Several weeks.
posted by wwwwolf at 10:46 AM on September 1, 2015


I've played on and off the past 10 years and on multiple time-lines in the wrong order. What fascinates me about these games is that it requires you to play in a very specific way. As has been mentioned up above, you can gun n' run but it's not recommended and it does detract from your enjoyment of the game.

This franchise insists on some level of patience and thoughtfulness with how you approach each level and I've always appreciated that about them. I've only managed to play the first hour of this game because of work obligations but I'm quite eager to delve into TPP. If only because I appreciate its open world sandbox concept and am intrigued to see how it changes the game play.
posted by Fizz at 11:17 AM on September 1, 2015


I've never played more than the opening hour- or, if you know what the hell you're doing or are even marginally competent at controlling the game, opening 15 minutes- of the first Metal Gear Solid, but Ground Zeroes/The Phantom Pain (and hearing about the series for years and years as an endless candyland of insane garbage/cool shit) have me so excited I'm embarking on a project to replay the entire franchise in order, starting with the original 1987 Metal Gear. If I can make time for it in a very busy semester, I'm going to try to blog it too, god help me.
posted by Merzbau at 11:46 AM on September 1, 2015


The first thing you see clearly in the initial cutscene is a nurse's cleavage. Sigh.

A Hideo Kojima game

Seriously, I love the Metal Gear series to death but it has always had indefensible and uncomfortable creepy camera angles on women. Starting from the original MGS when the first time you meet Meryl is peeking in on her working out in her jail cell in her undergarments to MGS4 when you get a psyche bonus for switching to first person when Snake is looking up Naomi's skirt. The thing that makes it the most frustrating is that when you look at the series, you can see that Kojima can do wonderful female characters (like the Boss) when he just steps away from the ogling a bit.
posted by aranyx at 11:52 AM on September 1, 2015 [4 favorites]


at the end of the prologue, about 50 minutes into the game.

This sentence is a perfect summary of a MGS game.

Lest we forget: the final cutscene of MGS4 is around 90 minutes I believe?
posted by Pyrogenesis at 11:54 AM on September 1, 2015


The "phantom pain" is that you're playing yet another Hideo Kojima movie pretending to be some kind of pseudogame.
posted by Sternmeyer at 11:54 AM on September 1, 2015


Is this game as cutscene-heavy as MGS4? I couldn't even bring myself to try with that one even though I love how loopy these games are. I get itchy with cutscenes that go on longer than a minute or two, these days.
posted by sonmi at 11:57 AM on September 1, 2015


I'm about to embark on this sucker as soon as I get my new gaming PC built, and I'm looking forward to it. The previous Metal Gear games have always excited me with their highly original and high quality storytelling (well... in a way), but I've never really enjoyed playing them. But this big open world, the base-building, the collecting dudes and weapons.... I'm gonna have a good time.

Though yeah, I believe it is a Hideo Kojima game, with all that entails. I wonder what this mad genius is going to do next?
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 12:33 PM on September 1, 2015


Just got to the flame whale. A ranked the prologue. Is that good? Bad?
posted by codacorolla at 12:36 PM on September 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


Seriously, I love the Metal Gear series to death but it has always had indefensible and uncomfortable creepy camera angles on women.

There's also the small matter of the vaginal bomb in Ground Zeroes*. And, uh, the tape recording you can find of it being installed...

* yes, as far as I can tell that's exactly what the title is referring to
posted by neckro23 at 12:53 PM on September 1, 2015


East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94: "This is significant because it is the first unlikely thing to occur in the Metal Gear canon
"

my complaint is why so long. Was he all "the exploding whale needs more exposition"? Artistic grounds for not just cold opening with whale and Ode to Joy?
posted by boo_radley at 12:56 PM on September 1, 2015


I spoiled the game for myself by watching leaked streams of it and it's incredible. Can't wait to pick up a PS4 and play it myself.
posted by gucci mane at 1:01 PM on September 1, 2015


gucci man, I'm playing on old-gen Xbox 360 and it's pretty flawless, I haven't noticed any significant lag or anything like that. Load times are moderate for a game of this size. But, I could understand wanting to play this on a PC or a new gen console. I'm building a PC at the moment but I couldn't wait.
posted by Fizz at 1:04 PM on September 1, 2015


neckro23: You're absolutely right, the handling of Paz and the awful (and ridiculous) things that happened to her in Ground Zeroes are far and away worse than the creepy camera work. After listening to Chico's tape, I didn't really delve through too many of the others but was assured they got worse.

Also the title thing never occurred to me. I always chalked it up to a reference to Zero, since MGS4 gave him a pretty large role in the canon, and there was the big speech about taking things back to Zero in the MGS4 epilogue. Your interpretation is alarmingly plausible.

That said, I still look very much forward on picking this game up after work today. Having re-played MGS 1-4 in the past few months in preparation, their flaws are fresh in my mind but so are their strengths, which is why you couldn't keep me away from The Phantom Pain if you tried.
posted by aranyx at 1:26 PM on September 1, 2015


If like me, you've played from zero to three hours of Kojima's metamedia quasi masterpiece, Eurogamer's wonderful/hilarious Aoife Wilson has a summary of the series to date in about five breaths. Spoilers for everything but mgs V, obv.

Eurogamer's Rich Stanton also has dense and thoughtful articles unpacking mgs, mgs2 and mgs3.
posted by Sebmojo at 2:45 PM on September 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


Seriously, I love the Metal Gear series to death but it has always had indefensible and uncomfortable creepy camera angles on women. Starting from the original MGS when the first time you meet Meryl is peeking in on her working out in her jail cell in her undergarments to MGS4 when you get a psyche bonus for switching to first person when Snake is looking up Naomi's skirt. The thing that makes it the most frustrating is that when you look at the series, you can see that Kojima can do wonderful female characters (like the Boss) when he just steps away from the ogling a bit.

Assume he put all that stuff in as a conscious, adult, artistic decision; what does it mean?
posted by Sebmojo at 2:47 PM on September 1, 2015


Assume he put all that stuff in as a conscious, adult, artistic decision; what does it mean?

It wasn't.
posted by griphus at 2:49 PM on September 1, 2015 [4 favorites]


I mean you could argue it was a conscious and adult decision, but it wasn't artistic in the sense that he was trying to speak a deep truth about the human experience through his art.
posted by griphus at 2:51 PM on September 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


Is this game as cutscene-heavy as MGS4?

No, by literally every account. In fact, a lot of people who happen to like that sort of thing have been concerned that the game goes too far in the other direction and is too light on story. Snake in this game isn't the chatty cathy he was in MGS3 and Peace Walker, though he does talk more in optional tapes.

Yes, the prologue takes about an hour to play through and it is cutscene heavy relative to the core of the game, but it's also basic movement controls and a bunch of plot setup (it's also a crazy horror game on a certain level). The main game is an open world thing where you can play for hours and hours with nary a cutscene to be found. A lot of that stuff has been relegated to tapes. The game also shares Ground Zeroes' "look in binoculars, hit a button to get more info about what you're looking at" thing, which takes away a lot of the other codec calls in the game.

It is definitely still A Hideo Kojima Game™ in every respect that matters to me with all the good and bad that implies. I haven't heard about anything as extreme as the stuff that's in one particular Ground Zeroes tape and the final cutscene, and the game lacks the ESRB "sexual violence" warning Ground Zeroes carried... So I'm hoping it's "regular Kojima gross" (sigh/cringe) and not "THAT WAS A BIT TOO FAR AND THEN SOME, DUDE. WHAT THE HELL."

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go Fulton my way to the greatest private zoo the world has ever known.
posted by sparkletone at 3:25 PM on September 1, 2015


I don't like wearing clothes when going on missions either.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:32 PM on September 1, 2015


Isn't this the game that has the almost naked woman sniper? Is it ever explained why she's doesn't like clothes while going on missions?

Yes. Without going into spoilers here (if you're THAT curious you can MeMail me)... It's some seriously Metal Gear-ass silliness for why she doesn't. It is that very specific flavor of dumb that you know when you see it because it's only in these games. But, yes, there is a reason given. Also her appearance is at least partially customizable as with all the buddies' are, though I don't know what the options are for her. The only ones I looked up ahead of time were the options for D-Dog because PUPPPPYYYYYYYYYY.

That said, why Kojima felt the need to say "you will be ashamed of your words and deeds" when it came to Quiet, I have no idea. I can't find the link to the actual twet at the moment, but as I saw someone say recently: "Narrative design should inform why things are in your game but also we should probably tell Kojima it was okay to say 'I like the good tity'"
posted by sparkletone at 3:55 PM on September 1, 2015 [4 favorites]


One of the Game Grumps dudes eats a bunch of szechuan peppers and then tries to talk about MGSV. (It takes him about 2 minutes to start trying to talk about MGS because of how the peppers taste.)
posted by sparkletone at 4:07 PM on September 1, 2015


I sedated a wolf puppy, shot it into the atmosphere, and now it's back on my oil rig as my personal combat hound.
posted by codacorolla at 4:48 PM on September 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


It is that very specific flavor of dumb that you know when you see it because it's only in these games.

So is it problematic, or is it progressive? The portrayal in all of the previews is the former, but there have been debunked rumors of the latter, for example that she is actually a transgendered Chico, and the whole thing is a subversion of male fantasy (though otoh that theory is also problematic, as such an act would have created a trans panic throughout a gamer community riled up by numerous controversies already).
posted by Apocryphon at 5:04 PM on September 1, 2015


So is it problematic, or is it progressive?

The former but not excessively so compared to stuff that's in past Metal Gear games. I'd not heard the transgendered Chico rumor until a couple months ago, which I guess people cobbled together based on certain similarities between the face used for Chico and the face of the actual actress they used for Quiet? I will say 100% flat out that is is definitely not that. That rumor scared me because there's just no trust on my part that Kojima would handle the writing end of that, and watching the average gamer's reaction all over the place wasn't going to be pleasant either (never mind the way gamergate types would react).

Kojima gives an in-universe justification that isn't at all a stretch for the series in terms of "realism" (by this series' standards) or tone. Nothing about it makes me regret having bought the game (aspects of GZ did).
posted by sparkletone at 5:35 PM on September 1, 2015


Is it ever explained why she's doesn't like clothes while going on missions?

I don't like wearing clothes when going on missions either.

Yeah, like, have you explained why you like wearing clothes while going on missions? Huh?
posted by buriednexttoyou at 6:03 PM on September 1, 2015


So is it problematic, or is it progressive?

Is it reductionist or is it holistic?
posted by Sebmojo at 6:23 PM on September 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


I appreciate the critiques (I haven't run in into any of those characters, and this is my first real attempt to play a MG game), but this is the best interpretation of the open world I've experienced apart from maybe, and just maybe, Morrowind.

The cinematic elements are amazing too, from a filmic standpoint.
posted by codacorolla at 7:13 PM on September 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


Morrowind

I'd been thinking of Oblivion and even more so Skyrim, actually. Skyrim begins with your character on his way to being executed but said execution is interrupted by an unexpected dragon attack that leads to a frantic escape sequence. Afterwards, you're let out into the world to play. The prologue in this game functions much the same way, but everything's amped way, way up in a very gripping way before you're set out into the initial portion of the open world.

I'm actually not sure yet if Chico appears in this one (he was a major character in Peace Walker and is important in Ground Zeroes as well). I've seen the prologue and then quite a lot of the first half a dozen or so main story missions and looked up a couple specific spoiler-y things (what was up with Quiet was one, given the aforementioned rumor)... But I am curious as to how much foreknowledge I'll feel like I went into the game with. There's a lot of "WHAT THE HELL DOES THAT MEAN" bits of trailers still left for me to get to in the real game.

I'm still very, very much in the early game of actually playing myself with very little unlocked, but I've already had quite a bit of fun with the game. That prologue is a hell of a thing, and the basic stealthy/shooty stuff once you're out and about feels like a more polished Ground Zeroes (a good thing imo as the controls in past games could be pretty clunky), and then there's the Peace Walker-style base building stuff that I've barely had a chance to touch.

This thing's gonna eat a lot of my time, and I am way okay with that.
posted by sparkletone at 7:48 PM on September 1, 2015


* yes, as far as I can tell that's exactly what the title is referring to

Historically, Metal Gear plot revolves around nuclear missles on a walking robot. The subtitle Ground Zeroes is borrowed from the nuclear detonation term, probably.

Arguably, Ground Zeroes gets its name from the fact that the base you built up in MGS: Peace Walker is completely destroyed. But you have an interesting, and not invalid interpretation I hadn't considered.
posted by pwnguin at 12:56 AM on September 2, 2015


One last thing I want to drop here is a this magnificent article (VICE) written by the magnificent Leigh Alexander about MGS3, her favourite game. Worth a read if you've never really touched MGS, and doubly so if you've let it get its hooks into you.
posted by majuju at 8:22 AM on September 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


That piece on MGS3 is one of my favorite bits of games writing in the last year or two. She's tweeted a few times about not being that excited about Phantom Pain for various reasons, but also not concerned because nothing can really take away her connection with MGS3 either. I'll be curious to hear what she thinks if she tries it though.

For some more analysis of past MGS games, I can't recommend the videos on MGS1 through 3 here. In particular, I think the person doing those videos really, really, really nails it when it comes to breaking down why MGS2 is such an audacious game formally while also doing some funny things with his own video that mirror the way MGS2 breaks the fourth wall and pokes at the player constantly. It's the first thing I want to show people when they say they "like Metal Gear but WTF WAS WITH MGS2."
posted by sparkletone at 9:15 AM on September 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


I can't recommend the videos on MGS1 through 3 here.

Oh god, I left out that I couldn't recommend them highly enough (as the rest of my paragraph should make clear). The rest of Super Bunny Hop's analytical/editorial stuff is generally very good, but his MGS videos are my favorite of what he's done to date.
posted by sparkletone at 9:30 AM on September 2, 2015


sparkletone, majuju, That really is a wonderful article, insightful & passionate. Snake Eater is a great game, it was my first entry into the franchise. I do appreciate all the video-game history/articles we are getting with this latest release. Not that you need an excuse to go back and play old games, but every time a franchise like this is added to, its nice to go back and re-experience some gaming memories.
posted by Fizz at 9:37 AM on September 2, 2015


Ugh this has been sitting on my hard drive for about 40 hours now and I haven't even launched it. I bought a PS4 and took a week off work for MGS4.. times have changed, and I'm getting old.

I don't like Kojima's weird boobie shoehorning fetish (it is clear to me that he desperately wants his own "Bond Girls," nothing more, and probably genuinely doesn't realize it's kind of passe and gross to do this now. OR maybe he does know, and is just being an asshole and exaggerating the creepiness factor, just for the lulz. But I also hope he will also never stop making those form-fitting sneaking suits for Snake and Raiden.

Given how much the rest of his games constantly, absurdly smash through the fourth wall and troll the shit out of the audience, who then take everything completely seriously (I'm pretty sure he wrote the last 5 hours of MGS2 thinking "hahaha they're going to try SO HARD to make sense out of this and analyze it as meaningful commentary, I was literally just making shit up while high as fuck")

I'm ready to vote with my wallet, and not buy another Metal Gear project from Konami if Kojima's not involved. But somehow I doubt that would happen. Anyone else would miss the point entirely, and the series would just become another action Splinter Cell-alike, not the HILARIOUS JAPANESE COMEDY presented totally deadpan that is now. I don't think even Konami is clueless enough to continue the franchise with someone else.
posted by jake at 5:44 PM on September 2, 2015


(He has announced his retirement like 8 times, too, so even quitting Konami shouldn't be seen as any kind of final end to his MGS work. I won't believe it until 20 years go by without an MGS6, and 2 weeks after I give up hope, they'll probably announce it.)
posted by jake at 5:45 PM on September 2, 2015


hahaha they're going to try SO HARD to make sense out of this and analyze it as meaningful commentary

I have trouble not rolling my eyes hard enough at this to sprain something. Yeah, Kojima enjoys his juvenile, scatalogical humor as much as the next person, but that doesn't mean there aren't serious things in the games too. There's also crazy, over the top, campy stuff. Part of the fun of the games is seeing how (and if) it manages to be all those things at the same time. MGS3 manages to pull off quite a lot of humor, but then also arguably the most emotionally impactful final fight of the whole series.

Also, it's seriously not that hard to put together what's going on with MGS2. Two comments above yours, I linked to someone explaining it in plain English and being entertaining while doing so to boot. And it's interesting reading the original pitch document and seeing how much of that stuff was very carefully considered from very early on. There's some seriously, gloriously dumb stuff in MGS... I struggle to think of a more boring thing one could take away from that game than, "I don't understand this and don't care to try therefore drugs."
posted by sparkletone at 7:42 PM on September 2, 2015


20 years go by without an MGS6

MGS6 has more of a chance of being a slot machine than it does a game Kojima's a part of. They're already hiring. He's said he's had ideas for other games for years and years (part of why he wanted out after 2), but every time he thought was out they dragged him back in. Now he gets to go do them! That's much more exciting than Konami's continued slide into free to play irrelevance.
posted by sparkletone at 7:46 PM on September 2, 2015


No way, I don't believe Kojima is being serious at all for one second, any more than I believe Tommy Wiseau funded The Room himself. I think the entire thing is a huge send-up of spy movies, thrillers, and even ITSELF, as most elements of the MG universe have wrapped around and become pop culture / self-parody. I'd be willing to believe MG1+2 and MGS1 were made 100% earnestly but it's gone way off the rails since then, in the best possible way.

For crying out loud, one of the climactic emotional scenes in 3 (SPOILER ALERT IF ANYONE IS PLAYING THE WHOLE SERIES FOR THE FIRST TIME) is two extremely old dudes beating each other to death on top of a gigantic self-aware robotic nuclear submarine. Every "serious" part of all of the games is totally over-the-top, kitschy, and caricatured.

Another emotional high point is when Naomi gets insta-killed by turbo cancer from a super assassination / gun-safety virus, after fighting a cyborg bishounen ninja who riverdance-fights with an immortal bisexual vampire later on. Or how about the death scene with Big Mama where she briefly postpones her death rattling to chat with her strangely-aged kid for 3 hours about nazi gold, illuminati / skynet AI, and the creepy charred saran-wrapped torso sitting right over there.

I didn't fail to follow MGS2, I understood the wall of text completely (look, me and walls of text get along fine) I just think Kojima's intellectual and aesthetic excesses and gore-porn are almost ALL pure BS, and the brooding po-faced bits of presentation are there as set dressing between the exploding whales and magical cardboard boxes and super-serious wild-west Russian army lieutenants going "REEAAAAAARRRR" like a cat with the hands and everything.

I mean, this is one of my favorite game series of all time, maybe #1. I adore it completely, one time I wrote a 20 minute arrangement medley of the music, it's something special to me. But I am not taken in by the sappy melodrama, which I believe is only there to throw you off the trail, and give Kojima some plausible deniability about the entire thing being a huge put-on. I cry like a baby in sad movies, I don't think I have a mis-calibrated or unhealthy emotional radar!

And re: Konami making slot machines and this "really being it" -- sure, like I said, in 20 years I'll happily concede that you were right, but I've heard extremely convincing rationalizations every other time he's quit, as to why he can't POSSIBLY change his mind this time and do another sequel, how Konami has moved on, this time it's totally almost definitely for real! Dude is like the Rasputin of game designers.
posted by jake at 8:25 PM on September 2, 2015


Sorry, I meant 4 up there. 4 is where the old men have a submarine bum fight.

3 is the one with the guy who projectile vomits hornets, the guy who shoots lightning out of his hands, the one where you climb a ladder for 25 minutes while a parody James Bond song plays, and one of the only semi-okay female antiheroes in video game history, but Kojima was too busy being awesome to give her a different name from the main guy.
posted by jake at 9:05 PM on September 2, 2015


But I am not taken in by the sappy melodrama, which I believe is only there to throw you off the trail,

Okay, I guess? I find "I understood the wall of text" very difficult to square with "they're going to try SO HARD to make sense out of this and analyze it as meaningful commentary."

The reason the games at their best have such a wild-ass spark to them and aren't just a dreary, self-serious, anime-infused Tom Clancy thing is that it's very much not a con. There's no figleaf there. I find it really, really hard to believe Kojima sees a problem with a game, to go with the first one, having: heavy anti-nuke themes, scatalogical humor, heavy-handed moralizing about how horrible war is, a twist involving literally an evil twin, a boss that's literally a cowboy and another boss that's literally a ninja. And it ends with a monologue about fate and nature vs nurture... over footage of a bunch of wild life.

MGS4 is a giant submarine-load of fan service that spends a lot of time rubbing in your face how old and tired of this shit Kojima is at this point, but if this is what you want fine. Here you go. As much as I can give it to you. Fine, you get to the pilot the robot yourself now. Fine, I'll tie as neat a bow as I can on this because you people wouldn't just leave well enough alone. Oh, and the submarine has a fucking Mount Snake-more on it. Remember all those guys? Haha. Woo. (But also from a modern perspective it plays a lot more smoothly than mechanically than the previous games... Insert joke about cutscene length here.)

There's something really human in these games that people don't find in your churned out Splinter Cells or in most other games of this scale and budget. It's because it's trying to do and be all these things in one package (to varying degrees of success), and to do all that without ignoring that the game should be fun or at least interesting to play on a purely mechanical level.

The goofy 60s spy send up with the Yelling Hornet Man, the Sniper What Photosynthesizes (who owns a chill parrot), a stupid crocodile hat that everyone makes fun of you for wearing... Really actually doesn't have to be goofy for its entire running time. It's got room for all of that dumb stuff but it's a cold war story with the threat of nuclear annihilation dangling over everything in which people are regularly have their weapons snatched away and literally dismantled and that's not an accident. It's got room for the pathos in The Boss' story and the really great jokes about Snake feeling at home inside a box and glowing mushrooms recharging your batteries.

4's as weird and wild and stupid and smart and hilarious as any of the other games... And like those, it's silly when it wants to be, serious when it wants to be and wants you to come along for the ride. That willingness to operate at seemingly-contradictory extremes tonally is part of what's made the franchise so successful.

There are always things that are compromises due to external pressure, or technical issues, but someone with Kojima's obsessive attention to detail doesn't just toss things off because "LOL I WAS JUST STONED."
posted by sparkletone at 12:34 AM on September 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


To put it another way: I find it disappointing though not surprising that people are put off by a video game that tries to combine over the top action, a disrespect for genre boundaries, formal audaciousness, weird (sometimes creepy) fetishism, puerile humor and an incredible amount of stylish visuals and design... When that's more than tolerated in other media.

The story in Kill Bill contains a lot tragedy and some really emotional stuff between Beatrix the titular Bill because of the betrayal there (Hello, Boss/Snake in MGS3). It's also got what amount to boss fights, references to other media left right and center, weird foot fetish stuff, and on and on and on. The same goes for a lot of Tarantino's movies. Hell, Inglorious Basterds is a movie that interrogates the audience's love of violence in a way that isn't incredibly far off from what Kojima was trying to do for action games with MGS2. That movie's very serious about its themes while regularly being incredibly funny and not that often in a particularly highbrow way.

Liking/disliking the end result is, of course, fine. Tastes are tastes, but being dismissive of the thought and care that's put into why everything is the way it is in this stuff is some really weak sauce.
posted by sparkletone at 12:52 AM on September 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


This whole time, this gaming franchise has been my favorite one ever for all the wrong reasons and I have never learned to appreciate Kojima-san's idiosyncratic genius in the proper way!

That will have to wait though because this son of a patriot just finished downloading to my SSD and it's fuckin ON LIKE OTACON. I wanna get a cute little wolf puppy.
posted by jake at 1:15 AM on September 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


appreciate Kojima-san's idiosyncratic genius in the proper way!

Sorry! I've been trying very hard to write things so that it's not coming off that way tonally. Most of the people I know IRL that enjoy the games generally choose to ignore the story side of things except in as much as it makes them laugh and that's as valid a way to enjoy the series as any other! Someone who really cares a lot about it but also finds it to be on most levels a load of drugged nonsense is ... unusual for me. I was tired last night and am trying to understand what feels to me like a big disconnect. Apologies if I came off as condescending that way.
posted by sparkletone at 6:50 AM on September 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


In other news I finally have a few minor complaints about the game!

1) It makes sense because at least this first big chunk of the game takes place in a war torn wilderness, but the game does feel a little... empty compared to other games of this type and size. I think part of it is maybe because Mother Base is such a separate area from the main playing area (for good reasons). Farcry 3 for instance had that village that served as homebase and a few other "friendly" bits of territory in the main world, but this game lacks that and there's quite a bit of desert between the more interesting bits of the landscape.

2) It took ages but I finally found an activity in the game I don't enjoy! The target practice side ops on your base are a potentially fun time trial thing, but instead of leading you on a path that takes you all over the platform, you're left to find all the targets yourself and figure out your own route. There's a sound cue that'll tell you that a target you haven't shot is near by-ish, but it took four tries to complete the R&D platform one I tried and on two of those tries I got 34/35 only to spend the last 60-90 seconds of time limit scurrying around the platform looking for the final target in vain. Even a vague indication of where to head for the "next" target would've been nice.

Climbing around like it's Assassin's Creed looking for extra diamonds is fun though, and driving around at sunset once you've got additional platforms is really pretty.

3) The movement controls when you're crawling still feel... weird to me. If you face the camera towards Snake and push "forwards" on the movement stick instead of turning to face the direction you're now calling forwards ... He just starts slowly crawling backwards. In other movement stances, he'll turn to face where you're pointing and then move that way and the disconnect there's always felt weird. Luckily it's the same weird that it's always been in this series and if that's the one always-been-clunky control thing from past games you're going to leave completely as is... I'm okay with it being this one.

These are all pretty nitpicky. I'm still having a blast with the game and am looking forward to playing more later today.
posted by sparkletone at 7:07 AM on September 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


one of the only semi-okay female antiheroes in video game history

THE BOSS IS THE MOTHER OF ALL SOLDIERS, YOU TAKE THAT BACK
posted by Apocryphon at 1:48 PM on September 3, 2015


V might have come to, but Server is undergoing maintenance.
posted by sparkletone at 4:09 PM on September 3, 2015


Hey, no worries! I don't have heated arguments on the internet anymore period, only passionate friendly conversations. And I certainly don't have everything figured out, so I'm always eager to hear other people's take on the things I love.

I don't know, it's weird, I mean I DEFINITELY don't ignore the story, I think it's incredibly detailed, but I think it's ..... cynical, more than most people seem to think. Like, I think Kojima is definitely talking directly to us, but I think he sees a large part of his audience as.. sort of.. marks? The way wrestling booking comes up with insane storylines that are carefully thought out but totally unrealistic and caricatured, and many people discuss them totally in earnest at face value, but others just sort of winkingly play along, knowing that it's all in good fun, even if there's legitimate character development and drama.

I almost feel guilty writing my thoughts out on this, because I don't want to seem like the guy who's "too cool for school" or dismissing or minimizing a brilliant creative person's output. But I really genuinely do believe he's laughing at us, and at himself, and at the world, almost the entire time.

Not trying to argue from any kind of authority, but I work on games too, and I know what it's like to have that feeling where no matter WHAT YOU DO, fans are going to misconstrue and analyze it to death in every possible direction, so sometimes you just want to go TOTALLY OVERBOARD and push the crazy way past the point where anyone in their right mind would take it seriously.

But here's the kicker: Only someone in Kojima's position even has the clout to get AWAY with half the insane shit he likes to put in his games. Any other director would be laughed out of the meeting and told that our ideas were "way out of scope" and that we're losing track of the product we're making. The autonomy he has created for his work is a big part of why I find him so compelling. In an almost Woody Allen-esque sense, he's free to be himself in a way that many of us can only dream of (and cry about!)

So I think, knowing this as he surely does and having a 3-mile long mischievous streak, he just tries to get away with as much utter absurdity as possible while keeping a totally straight face, and that's most of the reason why I like his games (including Zone of the Enders, Policenauts, and Snatcher, all of which are more playful and wink-nudge than they have any right to be.) I don't think he's literally on drugs or trying to be "random", I think he has a warped, cynical sense of humor and RUNS WITH IT ALL THE TIME, forcing you to mentally square e.g. a melodramatic death scene with a totally insane premise. I believe in my heart of hearts that he gets a true kick out of watching people be unsure of how to react. I mean, look at us, right here, haha.

Loving V, by the way. Only got to the first mission where you're rescuing dude from lockup, but the graphics, control, audio, voice acting, cinematography, interface, and pacing already feel like "Game of All Time" material. Audio especially, this is my professional field, and it's JUST FUCKIN FLAWLESS, from the environmental sounds to the foley. I yelled "holy SHIT that was AWESOME" like 8 times last night.
posted by jake at 7:47 PM on September 3, 2015


I haven't played a game like this since MGS3. This is - well, it is spectacular so far. But I do worry about just how gruesome it may end up being. I bought this before I knew about the "ground zeros vaginal bomb" thing...

I've always taken some issue with the storytelling of MGS. Part of that was me taking things much too seriously, as I wanted a much more serious and less supernatural and absurd stealth game at first. I've learned to enjoy the absurdity since then - I love that the Fulton system actually existed, and there are all sorts of really great and fascinating historical accuracies and tidbits mixed in with egregious (intentional) inaccuracies and straight-up bizarre shit.

However, I've always had a bit of an issue with how women are portrayed -- except for the boss, who was spectacular -- and there seems to be a bit of a fixation on torture. And these intersect in very uncomfortable ways at times in his games.

It seems like in this, if I don't like the actual core story, I can probably have just as much fun ignoring the missions and playing in the open world. Making a mission out of sneaking in somewhere, planting C4 on all the comms, and getting out undetected is something I could do happily for any of the buildings, and I think I'd be content with a game that gave me the ability to do just that. There is so very much in this.... it's well worth the cost of entry.
posted by MysticMCJ at 9:13 AM on September 4, 2015


There's a pretty decent column by Aoife Wilson on Eurogamer discussing Quiet. Contains some spoilers.
posted by figurant at 9:13 AM on September 4, 2015


Any other director would be laughed out of the meeting and told that our ideas were "way out of scope" and that we're losing track of the product we're making.

That may be true for video games, but in film there's no shortage of auteur directors. And is it even true for video games, really? Suda51, IGA, Tomonobu Itagaki, and we haven't even talked about the legendary Miyamoto's and the Sakaguchi's, nor even non-Japanese game designers. They all have their own styles, but their clout and vision also allows them to get away with excesses and absurdities, in their own ways.
posted by Apocryphon at 10:54 AM on September 4, 2015


Kotaku has a story up about an "important" story scene being cut. I haven't read it because spoiler aversion but it's there for people who don't care or are done with the game.

In other news: The konami status page says servers are up for all platforms. I could connect from TPP but GZ still isn't working so no save upload for me.
posted by sparkletone at 12:33 PM on September 4, 2015


I've finished the Prologue and the first two main missions/chapters. Having established a base and now able to access the Fulton Recovery System, the game has finally opened up. I now have a variety of choices to make.

I'm continually impressed by how well this game is holding up on my old-gen Xbox 360 console.
posted by Fizz at 8:15 AM on September 5, 2015


I'm continually impressed by how well this game is holding up on my old-gen Xbox 360 console.

I'm playing on 360 as well. I lack a sufficient gaming PC (my laptop's plenty to run the kind of indie stuff I play most of the time) and things outside my control prevented the TV and console upgrades I planned to do at some point this year. There's a few games I've held off on because the 360 version seemed too cut down but I couldn't stand waiting in the case of Phantom Pain.

It looks about like you'd expect from Ground Zeroes, which is to say as good as a 360 game can. While it is locked at 30fps, it's a very steady 30 just as PS4 et al get a very steady 60. Foliage pop up is worse than on other platforms and the level of detail stuff can get pretty funny through binoculars (up close: A MAJESTIC HILL OR MOUNTAIN, from a distance: TWO POLYGONS WITH A PAINT SMUDGE FOR A TEXTURE)... But this is definitely a game that'll at least be alright regardless of your choice of platform. I haven't looked at the PC requirements in a while, but you can probably play this on surprisingly low-spec machines just fine as long as you're willing to turn off visual fanciness.

On one level I know it's just because Konami let Kojima spend so damn much making the thing they need to it be as widely available as possible ... But on another level, I'm glad that they've really done right by everyone buying the game regardless of platform in terms of performance online server issues notwithstanding.
posted by sparkletone at 9:35 AM on September 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


There are few things more satisfying than sneaking around planting C4 on structures and vehicles, yet still running a non-lethal mission. I'm really enjoying the flexibility of things in general - I thought it was great that the first time I encountered Quiet, I could actually run away and deal with it later. I also suck at driving, which has lead to some fun discoveries with the physics engine - like being able to crash into and knock down towers.

I'm sure this is a major plot point of the game, but it's really interesting that there are so many voices telling you to eliminate or kill when you can take so many non-lethal options. I'm curious to see where this will go. The "demon" imagery is very non-subtle, it's clear that you aren't exactly playing a hero, so I don't feel like I have any expectations that aren't in line with that. That being said, it was still really interesting to have that sudden realization - as I was destroying tanks with planted C4 and a RPG while hidden in the rocks and mountains - that I'm basically playing what would be considered a terrorist by the traditional USA definition.

I can't help but wonder if this is going to go down the same sort of path as "Spec Ops: The Line" in terms of criticizing players actions, and making them complicit in the choices in the game, when the only other choice is to stop playing.
posted by MysticMCJ at 9:51 AM on September 5, 2015


There are few things more satisfying than sneaking around planting C4 on structures and vehicles, yet still running a non-lethal mission.

My absolute favorite way of handling extractions so far is creating a diversion by blowing up anti-air radar or comm dishes and then just high tailing it out of there either after fultoning the target or with them on my back while everyone is looking in the direction of the explosion.

I'm really enjoying the flexibility of things in general - I thought it was great that the first time I encountered Quiet, I could actually run away and deal with it later.

I stumbled into her completely by accident while trying to go do a side op. I didn't even have a sniper rifle on me. I'm conflicted about whether I want to say exactly how I dealt with the fight (you can take her on the first time you find her using lethal or non-lethal means without affecting what comes after the fight apparently). It was non-lethal but... unorthodox. I felt very clever though I'm sure many others have done the same. I do want to go back and try playing it as a standard sniper duel. There are a lot of great boss fights in MGS3, but the sniper duel with The End is really incredibly satisfying (if you don't use one of the easter egg-y alternate ways to take him out).

I've generally been playing very methodically and very non-lethally, which is kind of my default in these games. That said, I did realize yesterday that side ops aren't graded so I've started loosening up in those quite a bit and will probably start rambo'ing them a bit more than I will ever do in story missions. You've got so many missions and it's just kind of hilarious to blow the shit out of everything, have Pequod set down in the middle of it all and then gatling gun your way out.
posted by sparkletone at 10:11 AM on September 5, 2015


So as an uncultured swine, I've never read Moby Dick. I thought the name Pequod was silly, but I looked it up and turns out it's the name of the ship. I guess it fits, with how obsessed your crew is with revenge. And I guess a bit surprising that a series that more or less uses Revenge for an excuse for a sequel (Snake's Revenge, Revengence, and now Phantom Pain) hadn't mined this allegory sooner.
posted by pwnguin at 9:52 PM on September 5, 2015


I guess a bit surprising that a series that more or less uses Revenge for an excuse for a sequel (Snake's Revenge, Revengence, and now Phantom Pain) hadn't mined this allegory sooner.

Notably, Snake's Revenge and Revengeance aren't Kojima games. In the former case, Kojima wasn't even aware it was being made until someone working on it randomly told him one day. The original Metal Gear for MSX didn't sell particularly well, and Kojima had no plans to make another one but the NES port sold well so someone or other at Konami put a sequel into production. He's said publicly he thinks Snake's Revenge is crap, but it did cause him to make Metal Gear 2 (the easiest way to play MG1 and 2 are via the HD release of MGS3).

Revengeance was made by the Bayonetta people and I'm pretty sure isn't considered canon to the main series, but I'm not 100% sure on that. I'm glad it exists though if only because it brought us the joy that is NANOMACHINES, SON.
posted by sparkletone at 4:37 PM on September 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


I can't help but wonder if this is going to go down the same sort of path as "Spec Ops: The Line" in terms of criticizing players actions, and making them complicit in the choices in the game, when the only other choice is to stop playing.

Yeah, considering how much time I spend abducting and enslaving people (who once enslaved, apparently have Stockholm syndrome and crave for nothing more than for me to beat the shit out of them again) in this game, I'm expecting some kind of nuance in the ending...
posted by paper chromatographologist at 9:50 AM on September 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


It was possible, even mandatory at points, to undertake missions in Peace Walker as someone other than Snake. I'd had a vague idea it was possible in Phantom Pain but not looked into yet. Mild spoilers regarding which early side op makes it easiest to acquire your first female recruit, but it turns out it's more than possible to play as a woman for a lot of the game.
posted by sparkletone at 1:13 PM on September 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm glad it exists though if only because it brought us the joy that is NANOMACHINES, SON.

I love how literally that dialogue, and denouement, play out. Tough guy action movie talk aside, he really did warn him.
posted by Apocryphon at 12:41 AM on September 9, 2015


"In praise of Metal Gear Solid, the strangest great videogame franchise", by Darren Franich

But Phantom Pain crystallized for me what Kojima’s real accomplishment has been with the Metal Gear Solid series. When you drill down to it, most popular action-adventure games are based on the twin principles of Destruction and Conquest. In the Destruction model, you go into a world filled with enemy agents to shoot/squash/explode. In the Conquest model, you begin as a weak character and become a strong owner of things: Purchasing land, purchasing improvements to yourself. There’s a weird third route — a Third Crossing, if you will — of Exploration.

All games involve some kind of exploration, but I’m talking about something like
Myst, the long-ago graphic adventures by LucasArts and Interplay, where the whole central mechanic of the game was basically “click on everything everywhere.” Today, those games can feel hilariously primitive, and they were probably always pretty boring for the vast majority of people who didn’t start playing videogames until they got an iPhone. But there’s a serenity to Myst that you can’t really find in any major videogame today. It’s videogame Tarkovsky, really: The whole point of the game is experiencing the quiet, looking at everything. So Myst is boring, but only in the way Tarkovsky and Russian novels are boring. (The problem isn’t that they’re slow. The problem is that the world has made you too fast.)

Beautifully written.
posted by Apocryphon at 10:25 PM on September 10, 2015


Someone's been model swapping Quiet with other characters:
- Ocelot stretching out pre mission
-
It's raining Ocelot!
posted by pwnguin at 6:28 PM on September 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


Finished the main story last night and played some of the extra stuff after. Right now all I want in life is more tapes of Code Talker and Kaz talking about unzohetref (rot13'd even though I don't think it's a spoiler at all).
posted by sparkletone at 9:02 AM on September 13, 2015


Also, the Giant Bomb review pretty much sums up how I feel about the game without getting into any spoilers.
posted by sparkletone at 9:37 AM on September 13, 2015


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