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 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.
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 military compound. MGS2? You're on an oil tanker and some sort of plant, both of which are mostly gray. MGS3? It's a forest, sure, which is a wonderful change of pace, but that's all it amounts to. And MGS4? You're in the Middle East, which is mostly shades of brown and sand. Not one location has engaged me long enough in the visual sense. I don't want to be in these levels. 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.
This will be without spoilers, just so you know. 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. However, two problems occurred as I played. One was that the story grew so convoluted and so complex that it became increasingly difficult to follow. Too many plot twists just for the sake of having them, horrendous and redundant exposition dumps, and a lack of understanding of basic science were all red flags from the start. Kojima may have great ideas, 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 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. However, the joke got old right with the next game, and they started using them pointlessly. Which makes me sad because the story takes itself way too seriously. In a conspiracy story, it makes sense for things to get serious. 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.
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 sights. 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.
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.
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.