Posts Tagged ‘Metal Gear Solid 4’

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Metal Gear Solid 4 Impressions

June 24, 2008

Yes, I’ve finally seen the proverbial light I mentioned in my recent MGS 4 related blog post. I’ve finally played Metal Gear Solid 4 and…let’s just say I am very, very pleased.

It all began last Sunday when I was at work and a customer walked to my register with a copy of the game in question in his hand to trade in. Once I completed his transaction, I promptly informed my co-workers that I’d be checking the game out when my shift ended and set the game aside. That night I took it home and…didn’t play it. That day at work had worn me down so I was in no mood to play any games. Of course, the very next day, I finally popped the game into my Playstation 3 and started to play.

Let’s get the wild praise out of the way first before getting into the meat of these impressions. The game is freaking great. It reached out and grabbed me from the first minute like no other Metal Gear Solid game has. The story is keeping me compelled to see it through to the end to the point where I had to force myself to stop playing the other day after having played for nearly 4 hours.

Now that the unmitigated praise is out of the way, I can start being a critic. Now, one of the reasons why the Metal Gear Solid series has never reached out and grabbed me before now is in part due to the clunky shooting and combat controls. I’ve never gotten the hang of the whole, press lightly on the button to raise the gun and hard to shoot thing that has been utilized in previous entries. While I realize that this is a stealth game and thus, shooting and hand to hand combat shouldn’t be your main priority but almost inevitably, the game would find a way to make you do so, which puts a bit of a damper on the experience if you’re a stealth purist.

In MGS 4, this isn’t a problem. The shooting controls have been completely revamped and vastly improved. The camera instantly jumps into an over-the-shoulder view, similar to Resident Evil 4 or Gears of War, once your weapon is drawn. From there, it plays sort of like a third person shooter, a very good third person shooter at that. It’s because of this new perspective on combat that it becomes significantly easier. The emphasis on stealth is unfortunately diminished and the consequences for alerts take a nosedive early on. It’s far too easy to take out the squad of soldiers closest to you and then duck into an out of the way corner for a little while until things calm down.

But despite the ease of combat, stealth is a very viable option, especially with Snake’s new Octocamo. This invaluable addition to Solid Snake’s equipment is one of your greatest allies in the field and perhaps the greatest sneaking tool ever utilized in any stealth game. What it does is automatically change its texture and appearance to blend in with whatever surface you’re pressed up against, be it a brick wall or grass covered dirt. Oftentimes, AI soldiers and NPC’s will walk right past you without noticing, should you p

Everything isn’t all rosy and wonderful though. One of Metal Gear Solid 4’s biggest strengths is also its biggest flaws. I’m referring to this series’ particular brand of storytelling in which impossibly long cutscenes tell its far-reaching, rich and sometimes utterly convoluted story. It doesn’t help that the ratio of cutscenes to actual playing time is damn near 1:1.These cutscenes are entertaining to sit through sure enough, but occasionally, I can’t help but wish the game would shut up and let me play.

In the end, the game is everything I expected it to be and more. I expected it to be great but the sheer magnitude of its quality and ability to make me hopelessly addicted (I’ve actually taken time off from playing it because I didn’t want to finish it too quickly). This truly is the best Metal Gear Solid game and one of the best reasons to own a Playstation 3. Looking back on my previous blog post once again, I see that my lack of excitement was unfounded and that playing truly is believing.

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So, Metal Gear Solid 4 is Finally Here…

June 12, 2008

Why am I not excited?

After all the months of waiting, after saying repeatedly that this is the reason I bought a Playstation 3, after all the times I’ve said I’m getting it day one, here I sit in front of my computer with my copy of the collector’s edition still waiting in the back room at GameStop instead of in my PS3’s waiting disc drive. I should know, I was the one who put it back there when I walked in for work earlier today.

What’s the deal? Is there something wrong with me? What am I missing? It’s been a long time coming but the excitement…it’s just not there. I’m not even a little excited for it, not even a modicum of hype exists within me right now. As much as I hate to say this (and I know Metal Gear fans the world over will hate me for this as well), Metal Gear Solid 4 is just another game to me.

But for a second here, let me delve into my past experiences with the series. I’ve never been a big fan of the Metal Gear Solid series. The only Metal Gear Solid games I’ve ever played through to the end are Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance and Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops. This is strange because I own many, many games in Metal Gear Solid collection, spanning various consoles, as you can see from the pictures below.

(By the way, the Metal Gear Solid 3 you see on the lower left of the first picture is the original Snake Eater. The cover art you see is from an EGM pullout with replacement cover art. Pretty cool eh?)

Despite owning all of these games, as I stated before, I’ve only completed two of them. I’ve never been sucked into the series like its legions of fans. Sure, the storytelling is great and the cutscenes are enjoyable (albeit incredibly long in some cases) to sit through but the gameplay has never really grabbed me. I can see its appeal, but not when it relates to me.

Again, the question I must ask is…what’s wrong with this picture? Metal Gear Solid 4 is bar none, the most hyped exclusive game for the PS3. It’s the game to get for the PS3 and…I don’t own it and to be honest, I don’t know when I’m going to get it.Hell, the game is getting nines from just about every reviewing outlet worth its salt. While it’s easy to say the reviewers merely bought into the hype, I don’t think that’s the case here. I guess I can attribute my sudden frugality to the fact that I’ve been trying to budget myself, seeing as I’ve got an HDTV purchase coming up very soon (that’s also why I haven’t added Ninja Gaiden 2 to my collection yet). But there’s some games that transcend budgets. Some games are so good that, no matter what, you can afford to buy. I recognize Metal Gear Solid 4 as one of those games…or at least…I think I do.

So. I guess I can end this post here as I still haven’t convinced myself that I truly need to get this game now or in the near future. Before a bunch of Metal Gear fans (or maybe fanboys…) rip my head off, please note that I’m not trying to bash the game or diminish its importance in any way, shape or form. I’m just not excited for it at the time being. Perhaps this will change in time, perhaps not. Perhaps I need to play it before I’ll see the proverbial light and rush back to GameStop and finally pick up my copy.

Or hey, maybe I’m just crazy.

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Sony, You’ve Just Been Put On Notice

May 12, 2008

Aaron Greenberg, director of Product Management for Xbox 360 and Xbox Live, has thrown down the gauntlet in an interview with Destructoid, calling Sony out in a form we rarely see outside of internet forums. What could the basis of his argument be, considering his wallet is being filled (one can imagine rather heartily) by Microsoft’s golden checkbook? Sony’s string of endless delays and overall failure to honor the multitude of promises they’ve made. For his full, unadulterated response to Destructoid’s question, read on my friends, read on.

I know a lot of folks enjoy watching the console wars and we would never underestimate our competition. But answer to your question specifically, didn’t Sony promise all of this last year including Home as well? We have been fighting Sony’s promises from the day we entered the market and if you remember at that time it was all about PS2 being an online cybercity with partner announcements from the likes of RealNetworks and AOL. Then three years ago at E3 they showed what PS3 games would supposedly look like with the Killzone 2 video, that we are now learning will ship four years later. That means that we will have shipped Gears of War and Gears of War 2 before they can even get Killzone out the door. Think back to GDC 2007 when Sony promised to leap ahead in online with the Sony Home unveil. Here we are two years later and multiple delays for a product that has appears to have little to no buzz. Where are the achievements? The friends list integration across all games? Where is the long-promised video store? Where are all the other products using and networking with their CELL chip? How come Blu-ray did not result in better games? What happened with Sixaxis and rumble? Where is the complete 1080p game library we were promised? If Blu-ray as they said would be such a catalyst to PS3 console sales, then why have PS3 sales over the past couple months not seen any lift since the format victory?

Wow. Strong words indeed. But why should we believe him? He is, after all, a representative of Microsoft, one of Sony’s prime competitors in the console space. What weight do his words carry, considering his position? If it isn’t immediately apparent, think back to what Sony has promised over the years. Think back to all of the claims Mr. Greenberg addressed in his comment. Now, tell me how many of those promises Sony has actually delivered on. Don’t worry, I’ll wait. For the record, I am on the side of the fence that agrees with everything Greenberg said. Seeing this made me, as a PS3 owner, stare reality in the face and I quickly realized that everything he said is the truth, pure and simple. He brought to light many of Sony’s missteps and reasons why the PS3 is viewed in the eyes of many as a cheap Blu-Ray player and less as a gaming console.

Now, when this news broke, people have been bashing Aaron Greenberg left and right for his comments, calling him immature, defensive and of course, consistently playing the Three Red Lights of Death” card. What I haven’t seen are legitimate reasons why his argument is wrong, faulty, invalid, etc.

Well, in my experience, it’s pretty hard to argue against the truth.

I’ve been following the Playstation 3 since the rumors of its creation first began to swirl all those years ago when it was revealed that Sony was developing a new type of microprocessor to power their new beast. I remember E3 3005 when Sony officially pulled the curtains back, unveiling the PS3 to the world. Sony was riding high in those days. Heads held so high they were in danger of being hit by passenger jets, they touted the Playstation 3’s supposed advantages over the Xbox 360, saying the Playstation 3 was twice as powerful as the competition and could produce games that ran in native 1080p resolution at sixty frames per second, showing off “target rendered” trailers for upcoming games such as Killzone 2 and Motorstorm, which took the gaming world by storm and left similar offerings on the Xbox 360 in their high resolution dust. For a time, the Playstation 3 was on top of the world. Sony was now touting the Playstation 3’s uncanny ability to output games at 120 frames per second and continued to hold firm to their claims that the Playstation 3’s hardware could out perform the Xbox 360’s at every turn. Certainly lofty promises to live up to, promises I was growing increasingly skeptical of. It was all too good to be true and makes me recall a recent proverb.

Don’t drink the Kool-aid!

When the Playstation 3 officially launched and as the months following passed by the wayside, gamers were forced to realize that the wool had been pulled over their eyes. Where was the 1080p? Where is the proof that the Playstation 3 is twice as powerful as the Xbox 360? At GDC 2007, Sony once again wowed audiences by showing their answer to Xbox Live in the form of “Home”, an interactive online social gathering for Playstation 3 users in which they could interact with fellow users with their own 3D avatars. Here we are, over a year later and it has suffered a fair share of delays. Where’s my Xbox Live-killing Home? Most importantly of all, where’s my killer-apps?

When I purchased my Playstation 3 back in October of 2007, I thought I was making a purchase that I could easily justify in the coming months with the release of Metal Gear Solid 4, Home and Little Big Planet (which has seen its own share of little delays and disappontments) that would last me well into 2008 when I could expect such hard hitters as Killzone 2, Gran Turismo 5 (the real one, not Prologue) and Final Fantasy XIII to drop and carry me into 2009. Now what do I have to look forward to, to cap off this year? Killzone 2 and Final Fantasy XIII have gotten the boot into 2009 and well, I’ve already reported that Polyphony is doubtful that Gran Turismo 5 will even make it in by the end of 2009. Metal Gear Solid 4 is about the only big exclusive title that Sony has this year and as my current gaming preferences have me buying multiplatform releases on the Xbox 360, I can’t see many games I would honestly buy for the PS3 this year aside from Metal Gear Solid 4 and Resistance 2.

All of these questions go unanswered as Sony can do nothing but shrug their shoulders and continue to reassure me that they are indeed coming. While I appreciate the reason for the delays are to work the kinks out of the final product and the end result will probably be better for it, I just keep thinking to myself that maybe I could’ve waited to jump on the PS3 owning bandwagon. Sure, scoring a fully backward compatible 60 GB system while they lasted was great but that doesn’t count for much when the system just sits there while the Xbox 360 gets the lion’s share of my next-generation gaming love.

Sony, I’m sorry it had to come to this point, but you brought this on yourselves. It’s put up or shut up time. Enough of the empty promises and endless delays, it’s time to deliver, and this is your final notice.