Like any fan of the series, I got excited upon the announcement of the fourth game and decided I was going to pick up a copy as soon as they make it available where I reside and I did. I bought a PS3 at launch (which costed me $600 but mine is 60GB and backward compatible so its still okay) and a copy of Metal Gear Solid 4 later. Once I popped in the disc, I was extremely excited but that big excitement was soon to be turned into a huge disappointment.
The first thing I didn't like about the game was the lack of direction. While I'm perfectly aware that its a stealth game, it seemed to me as if there wasn't anything to do other than crawling from one point to another. Using the octocom to match the suit with surroundings didn't make it fun for me because as in the previous game, you still needed to crawl while in the octocam. Were supposed to play the game in many different ways. Wearing the octocam should allow me to move around as long as it matches the texture of the object which I'm using to hide. If my octocam cant copy the texture of that object then its here when I have to crawl. Sending the MK to look for items was cute but that wasnt something that would change the whole experience and only lasted for a short bit. The only segment I enjoyed in the first act was helping out Meryl's team. I found myself skipping most of the dialogue in codec because even though I'm playing as the legendary Solid Snake I was told what to do and why am I holding a gun. I was thrown in the middle of a warzone. People were fighting everywhere and I was chased by those rexes. But I felt all that was just the surface of a rather shallow pond.
The second act is where you witness more teams fightings and have to make your way to an office situated in the middle of a base. It was then when I felt the game was not going to get any better. The calls I got before each fight were extremely boring. Why should I know about a character who wasn't going to contribute to the story other than being a boss fight? Let alone the fact that each background story was very unrealistic and very boring. What happened to telling stories about how people ended up in wars from real life? Snake was still acting as if the whole thing was a new experience to him. He was out of character most of the time and they didn't try to explain it. They didn't even use well he got Alzheimer with the whole growing old package. I sensed a potential in the third act. It appeared to me as if Kojima was trying to include most common forms of stealth. Snake was told to wear a suit which miraculously made him look half his age. (or probably the effect of the gene that caused him to grow old) He was asked to trace a man whos a member of a gang. Of course if following a man was an easy thing to do they wouldn't include it in a video game. You do this while trying to avoid the many obstacles thrown before you as barrels, cars and policemen hunting for mafia members. I don't know what this part had to do with the whole story. Even if we did know the cause of all this mess, the nanomachines, there was absolutely no need for us to travel to different parts of the world. This isn't an adventure where you're looking for pieces to put together. Maybe we needed to put pieces of the puzzle but whether the cause of this is the nanomachines or not is not what the series is about.
Revisiting Shadow Moses in the fourth act ruined what I thought were nice memories for me. The place was completely deserted. There was no one there except for black thingies acting as guards; blocking your path with laser beams and exploding sometimes. So far I've been into chases which didnt feel like chases because I could put down the controller and wait for the cutscene to play and that's it, boss fights that were both pointless and dumb and sneaking in open big areas. I dont know what goes in Kojimas mind but he probably thought that making a video game was like filling in a set of blanks. What you write in the blanks? It doesnt matter. Its true that video games or Action/Adventure genre often has bossfights at the end of each level or act, chases and other conventions but not every game has to go down that road. For Kojima, making a video game was just about having those. Dont get me started on the ratio of gameplay to cutscenes in Metal Gear Solid 4. Unfortunately, the same goes to Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3. The gameplay in Metal Gear Solid series is almost nonexistent. Its a bland mixture of lazily designed levels, boss fights, chases, escort missions and gimmicks. Lets move on to the story of Metal Gear universe shall we?
I'm someone who have only played Metal Gear Solid games so if you see me writing anything wrong, feel free to leave a comment in the box below and I'll be happy to edit it later.The chronological order of the games is 3, 1, 2 and 4. So this is how it started; Big Boss the legendary soldier who later turned into a terrorist and was taken out by Solid Snake and thus he became the legendary soldier after him, was sent on a mission in a place somewhere in Eastern Europe. Metal Gear games often make reference to real life events as World War 1 and 2, the Cold War, the Afghan war and I'm not sure what else but these events have nothing to do with the plot of MGS series. They don't bear similarities nor they influence any of the characters in the games. The first Metal Gear Solid game was set in a time where technology was so far ahead that they could make suits that made you disappear. Back in 2005, no one could make such thing. The same could be said about high tech weapons and warheads used in Metal Gear Solid 3. Why set a game in the sixties when such things did not exist? Why not set it in a fictional time period? Does it even matter? No. Kojima could have simply avoided this by not referencing any event or mentioning the time in which the game was set in.
So Big Boss was sent by a group of people who work for the government, to stop the terrorists from launching a nuclear attack which could kill many innocent civilians. Once he takes out all the members of this terrorist group, he discovers that they were actually freedom fighters and were fighting for a noble cause. What was the cause? We don't know. All that we know is that the boss turned against the government after they took her baby boy (which we find out later that it was Ocelot). For now let's assume that The Boss wanted revenge because the government took away her child. The same scenario is repeated in Metal Gear Solid 1, 2 and 4. Though at the end of Metal Gear Solid 4, you learn that the bad guys Big Boss was fighting all along were the very people who helped him in his mission. If these guys work for the government and were repeating the same thing The Boss went through then theyre not the ones who started the cycle right? How come they're the bad guys then? Who were the people who took The Boss' son?
In many occasions, the games mention things about soldiers being merely puppets in a stage built and used by a group of influential people. Were well aware of our times warmonger's motives. Some waged wars for ideological reasons, others for imperialism and more power. Yet we don't know the motives of the Boss or Big Boss enemies. The games never really delve into the reasons why these guys have turned into bad guys.
There was no mention for the reasons that led to Solid Snake, Raiden, Big Boss and The Boss' defection. Besides the pretense, the games bombarded us with scenes which served no purpose other than complicating the plot because explaining everything eventually means not releasing the games on parts and the last thing Kojima wanted was running out of material for his upcoming Metal Gear games. It's a conspiracy theory series where you don't know the motives of either side of the conspiracy. The characters in the series are very poorly written. Even if I were to write about a character thrown in a situation similar to the one in Metal Gear games, he/she would wind up a million times more identifiable. There were attempts to show the difference between how Snake and Raiden handled the situation. They were both shocked when signs of the mission being staged were showing as objectives dying in a mysterious and similar fashion, coming across things that werent part of the mission (Grey Fox and Vamp) and finding out that the closest people to them were hiding things (Campbell and Rose). If someone sent you on a mission to take out the bad guys or retrieve the legacy as in Metal Gear Solid 3 and it might cost you your life. And during that mission you discover that they hid things or lied, would you trust them again?
Why did Snake decide to destroy the nanomachines? Why did Raiden decide to destroy the GW? Big Boss and the guys from MGS3 and The Boss and the legacy? Snake gave two long speeches; one to Otacon in Metal Gear Solid 1 and the other to Raiden at the end of Metal Gear Solid 2 about why should they keep fighting but we still don't know. You see giving long stretchy and vague speeches about believing in oneself and overcoming hardship hardly tells anything. These guys decided to become heroes and that's it and the nanomachines, GW, the legacy and the government are all beneficial for the people who made them. The games might tell the means in which the bad guys try to achieve their aims as kidnapping children, training them to become legendary soldiers and call it the S3 plan but it never explains why. The boss didn't stress much on the kidnapping of her son neither did Olga. Hell Olga was there before she even gave birth to her son. If not saving innocent lives who got caught up in this mess then what are they doing there? It's neither implied nor expressed.
Metal Gear Solid series uses the theme of a conspiracy theory without actually telling a story. The series is hollow. It's like having someone telling you to appreciate a play dough because of the of its many potentials but for you it's just a play dough no matter how you look at it.