So after many, many, MANY years of harassment from a pal, I finally got around to playing a Metal Gear Solid game again. It was Metal Gear Solid, Ground Zeroes, a kind of demo version of MGSV Phantom Pain.
It's a big step for me.
Why is it a big thing? Well, let me take you back to a late teenage Tets with a Playstation 1 and a friend with a copy of Metal Gear Solid. My generous friend, knowing that I have a thing for stealth games recommended MGS as it was a stealth game.
So I played it and it was ok, but it never really grabbed me. Sure, the stealth was good, and it was a lot more flexible than Tenchu was, but there were many things that bothered me, by far the biggest was the incessant chatter on the radio. As you play the game the radio was constantly going off, chatter about cute office ladies and Godzilla movies were two I remember.
Holy shit man, I am a lone agent trying to stop something nasty from happening to the world and I have some chatty ass-hat talking to me about Godzilla.
Now, it could all be very "world buildery" and wonderful, but it was just a taste of the thing that really bothered me about the MGS series.
Sure, the guy can make interesting games with interesting and fun mechanics, but his excessive ego messes it all up. Along the way I've started a few MGS games on various platforms and they've had stuff that has made me think its an interesting idea, but they also have a large amount of wank in them as well.
Skip on a bunch of years later and a friend has MGS4 and I hear there is a big ass long cut scene in the middle of the game. Welp, I don't care how good the game is; that kind of crap can just get stuffed.
So generally, while I respect that Kojima has good ideas for games, he manages to mess it up by putting movies in the middle of them. If I wanted to watched an MGS movie, I would watch a movie. You know what I am saying?
As a result, most work by Kojima is met with zero enthusiasm from me. Hence my avoidance of MGS.
So here I am, finally playing MGSV Ground Zeroes and yeah, it's all right. It starts with a kinda slow cut scene which looks pretty good using the game engine. You can really see the details, such as the soldiers' raincoats dripping water and being hit by the rain etc. There is stuff going on with a Skullface guy (I guess he must be a bad guy) doing nasty things and POWs involved.
For some reason, I am breaking into this base to rescue a couple of kids. Yeah, all right. Finally you get a real 4th wall breaking comment from Yaguy(bigboss?Boss?Snake?Liquid? Don't know, don't really care). "Kept you waiting huh?" he says. I'm not too sure if that's just because I had to sit through 8 minutes of cut scene, or because there was long development between games. However, yes, I was kept waiting.
Game starts and there's a lot to do. I do like the freedom you have to tackle things as you like and you can go in guns blazing, or take it a little more quietly. Of course I go for the quiet route and manage to spend a long time in there, eventually finishing the mission.
It was fun and doesn't hold your hand. I would've liked a bit more help on the controls side of thing. I didn't realise you could punch people, or hold them up until I watched a youtube video. But I guess, the exploration of how much you can do and discovering it yourself is part of the freedom. After all it is a demo of sorts, so I suspect people would replay this a lot and get to the point where they are confident enough to easily mess around with things.
One thing I do appreciate is that you can listen in on soldiers conversations and get information. A couple of times, its been revealed that some of the soldiers are there under duress, their families are threatened and that is why they are there. This puts a bit of moral pressure on the Yaguy. They may not necessarily be bad guys, so should I kill them, avoid them or knock them out?
You can grab them and interrogate them and get information about where things are, and even extra mini-missions. On my first play through, I learnt about a POW who was about to be executed, so I had the option to go and rescue him if I wanted. I couldn't work out where he was, so sadly I didn't. They also reveal pickups, extra ammo areas and weapons. These items don't show until you get that information though, which could be a good thing... I was told about a sniper rifle in a lookout tower. I know that I had definitely just been to that tower and there was no rifle. The lookout was also dead, so it's unlikely he put the rifle there....
Still little things like that enhance the atmosphere somewhat, and Kojima likes his atmosphere.
I rescued the required targets as well as some other dudes and completed the mission. Yeah it was fun. Then other missions opened up. Being a demo of sorts, you can play different missions on the same map area. The good news is that you get to know the layout of the base. Of course the guards change position (I think) and the time of day and weather is variable.
Here is a clincher though. The first level is at night in the pouring rain. Guards can't see or hear too well. The next level is in the day, and your mission is to take out two particular dudes. However if the base is alerted, then they make a run for it. The difficulty is increased somewhat ridiculously. If you kill a guard and they are discovered, base on alert, target runs. Knock a guy out and they are discovered, alert, run. Bloody everything is alert, run. No mistakes allowed.
Eventually I completed that one, but my results were horrendous.
A minus score! Great! The resets were generally after the base went on alert. I found this extremely frustrating and a stark contrast to the previous rainy, pretty easy level.
"So, that's a fun story, thanks for sharing Tets," I hear you say, "what do you generally think?" Well, I think its all right. Worth a look. It's not orgasmically wonderful and there is still a lot of Kojima wank in there, the guy on the mic blabbering about how the rain reminded him of the first day of meeting for example, or that Paz was blah bah blah when they found her. You know what? I don't bloody care.
I'll play around a bit more in this, before moving on to the MGS PP, which I remember starting and it has an opening of having to crawl from your hospital bed. How is that fun?
Kojima wankery at it's finest. That is the exact type of thing that makes me avoid Kojima games.
I'll just have to push through, I just hope there isn't too much to push through with though, as having to push through means the game isn't fun.