I’ve played and completed Metal Gear Solid four times (twice for Playstation, twice for Gamecube). That is precisely three times more than I’ve completed any other game. I’m not sure what it is about that game that keeps on bringing me back. I suppose I like the meta stuff like finding Meryl’s codec frequency on the game box and switching controller ports to beat Psycho Mantis’ telepathy. Hiding in boxes, distracting guards, and catching a cold were small touches that went a long way to show me they put a lot of time and thought into the game. Despite my enjoyment of the game, every time I play it, I get super pissed off. For all the ingenuity and all the things it does well, it does just as many things horribly wrong. Here’s a short list:
- Radar doesn’t work while hiding under tables – What the fuck?
- Cut scenes are way too fucking long.
- Codec conversations are way too fucking long.
- Fake stealth.
- Shoot bosses in the face with 20 stinger missiles and they still survive.
- Top-down camera makes it impossible to see anything.
- The controls are completely fucked.
For it’s time, 1998, this was a landmark game. It was the first major video game that was like an interactive movie. And not one of those “interactive movies” like NightTrap where you watch a video reel of scantily clad girls and click a button every now and then. No, this was like you were the main character of some crazy espionage/action/anime film. The story really came to life, and the characters were intriguing and three-dimensional. It did things that no other game had done before. Plus, it was pretty fun.
Today, 2012, Metal Gear Solid does not hold up all that well. The interactive movie idea has been expanded upon and improved with other game titles, and even in subsequent entries into the Metal Gear Solid series. For example, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, which is the best PS2 game of all time.
The controls are extremely stiff, and make maneuvering around the game world very difficult. In order to punch someone, the main character, Snake, keeps his legs firmly rooted to the ground. You often find yourself just barely out of reach from your opponents. No floating like a butterfly for Snake. Now that many of today’s games have adopted a third person view with a fully-functional rotating camera, the limited top-down only nature of this game makes it infuriating. You can’t see shit around you. You do have the radar, but half the time it’s blocked, rendering it useless.
Once the novelty of the “stealth” aspect of the game has worn off, and having played far better stealth-oriented games like Hitman, Splinter Cell, or MGS3, you realize that this game has practically no stealth at all. The game consists primarily of a North-South directional facility. Every building is adjacent to the one prior, and there is no going East or West. You are essentially locked into a linear path. That makes it extremely hard to maneuver your way around the guards. Fortunately, the AI for the guards is practically retarded (they spot you, but give up looking for you after 30 seconds). And then, after you get through each building you are forced into an unavoidable boss fight. Some of these boss fights include battling a tank, fighting a cyborg ninja, shooting down a military helicopter, two crazy sniper battles, and on and on. It’s amazing that with all the missile launching and gun shooting, the guards in the facility were not able to pinpoint Snake’s location.
The most annoying part of all is fighting the final boss, Liquid Snake. He personifies the typical final boss aesthetic. You have to kill him several times, in different forms, each more annoying than the last, just like in Twilight Princess or any of the Final Fantasy games. First, you have to shoot down his military helicopter with 20 stinger missiles. Next, you have to disable Metal Gear with him piloting it. Then, you have to shoot him in the face with 20 stinger missiles while he continues to pilot Metal Gear. After that, you have to beat the shit out of him in hand to hand combat. And then, you have to shoot his bare-chested body with a machine gun while in a high-speed car chase. And after all that the stupid motherfucker STILL isn’t dead. He only dies from some fucking chemical that was injected in his body before the game even started. Snake (you, the player) doesn’t even get kill him. What a crock of shit.
Which brings me to what really pissed me off about Assassin’s Creed II. A long time ago I posted the Things I Hate About Assassin’s Creed. Basically, it included a lot of annoying shit like beggars constantly getting in your way, collecting stupid shit, fighting guards in public all the time, and no stealth whatsoever. I was wary to play Assassin’s Creed II, because I figured they wouldn’t have improved upon any of these things. But, Mrs. Brik started playing it, and since I have no willpower, I decided to start it up, as well.
They did improve a lot of the terrible shit from the first game. They got rid of the “poor and sick and hungry” beggers with cockney accents. Unfortunately, they replaced them with the equally annoying mandolin players who get in your way and ask to play a song for you. Stupid shit like beating up people, entering races, and collecting crap are all still in the game. However, they are now optional. You don’t have to collect flags anymore just to find out who your fucking target is. Thank god. They made it easier to blend into the crowd, and they also made it easier to escape from the omniscient guards. I think they also decreased the sheer number of guards from 12 guards for every 1 non-guard to about 2 guards for every 1 non-guard. Overall, the gameplay became more tolerable. My favorite improvement was that it is now a little easier to assassinate people, and they don’t talk for 20 minutes after you stab them in the neck.
The stealth aspect is still sketchy. You can maneuver around a bit more deftly without being seen outright, which was a huge problem in the first game. However, it is still almost impossible to kill a boss without being seen. The huge battles with a billion guards still take place. It’s not quite Warrior’s Creed like the first game, as you can more easily escape, but there are still times when you are forced to fight people and it gets old fast. The battle controls are repetitive and clunky. They also decided to add the most annoying fucking thing ever: the escort mission. You know, the one thing that all game developers love but all game players hate. The type of mission where you have to escort a brain-dead, slow-walking weakling from Point A to Point B. They are rarely able to run or fight. Assassin’s Creed II adds several of these missions, and while some of the VIPs you escort can fight, they are usually terrible at it, leaving you to do everything. I’m not sure what sick bastards think escort missions are fun, but they need to fucking die. They also included a super annoying chase level where infinite guards go after your carriage and Leonardo da Vinci (don’t ask). The thing is as wobbly as hell, almost as wobbly as the fucking rubber car from Mass Effect. This level couldn’t end fast enough. And what the point of it was, other than to piss me off, I’ll never know.
So, finally, the reason why Metal Gear Solid reminds me of Assassin’s Creed II. Well, the sketchy stealth is one thing. The other is the Invincible Final Boss Syndrome. The final guy, Borgia, has to be killed 17 or 18 times. Ezio (you, the player) stabs him to death in three different, consecutive battles, and each time his health completely refills and he runs away. You later encounter him in Rome and stab him to death again, only for him to escape. You then punch him to death and he still lives. Then, you watch a cinematic cut scene only to see Ezio spare him. WHAT THE FUCK?! This dude had Ezio’s family wiped out, the impetus behind the entire fucking game was to get revenge, and Ezio lets him fucking live?! What a goddamn cocktease.
I hate this Invincible Final Boss Syndrome bullshit. It’s in a million videogames. Every Final Fantasy game. Every Metroid game. Every Ninja Gaiden, Castlevania, Dragon Quest, Kingdom Hearts, and Legend of Zelda game has this. The final boss sequentially gets more difficult, often times physically larger, and always more ridiculous. Well, this Syndrome is fucking ridiculous. It’s like a goddamn horror movie, where the villain can’t ever die on the first try. It’s a huge fucking cliche, and it needs to stop. These game developers need to realize this trope is just as horrible as any escort mission or unending grind to level up. It’s time to come up with some new ideas already. At least in No More Heroes 2 they parodied this cliche quite hilariously. But a single lampooning isn’t going to fix the problem.
Metal Gear Solid: (in 1998) Awesome; (in 2012) Average
Assassin’s Creed II: Good