I had high hopes for this game - it was my main reason for getting a PS3 - but I gotta say, I’m a little let-down. Let me explain why.
The environments are boring. Gray, brown, tan, brown, tan, brown, gray, tan, brown, and saturated with bright sunlight. This is one of the reasons I hate the war in Iraq - it has saturated America’s TV screens and public consciousness in palettes of boring tan and drab sun-baked sand, and this aesthetic has come to define “warfare in the year 2009” and it has carried over into video games. Part of me feels guilty for deriving entertainment from games based on war that real people are fighting and dying in, but the other part feels that, strictly from an aesthetic standpoint as a consumer of entertainment, some wars are just more photogenic than others. I love World War II games because of the verdant scenery of the European countryside and the old towns with historical churches and everything. It’s just an interesting environment to look at. But a sun-baked, desolate, generic Middle Eastern environment (the setting for MGS4 doesn’t even have a name, it’s just labeled “Middle East”) is not easy on the eyes ESPECIALLY after the jungle setting of Snake Eater which was, by comparison, extremely diverse and interesting to look at.
Cliched special-ops team. Huge muscular black guy, tattooed guy “with attitude,” nerdy computer-hacker specialist guy, and HOT CHICK. This is like, the most cookie-cutter kind of team for a video game. It’s the equivalent of the World War II movie with the tough Italian guy, the wisecracking Jewish guy, the hayseed redneck guy, etc. Why do they feel the need to keep sticking to these stupid, token stereotypes? It’s become a caricature of the genre.
It’s annoying that you have to play in the midst of other guys fighting each other. The “PMC” and “The Militia” are blasting the hell out of each other in every stage of the game, and you have to sneak by them. It’s just…annoying. The other Metal Gear games never overdid it with the number of enemies. There were a few guards in strategic positions and the challenge was to figure out their routines and movement and then sneak by them unnoticed. It kind of takes the suspense out of it when there are a zillion other guys in every area blasting each other with automatic rifles and RPGs. If you get detected by one guard, all you need to do is kill him and run into a corner and hide with your “Oto-Camo” and in five seconds the enemies will all be back to shooting at each other and forget about you. (BAD ENEMY AI.)
Toilet humor? Really? It’s not enough that Johnny shit in his pants, they’re actually going to have a big brown stain on the seat of his trousers, and have him make farting and shitting noises in every successive scene? One gag, a nod to the character’s recurring stomach problems from the other games, would have been enough. Having him fart and shit his head off throughout a half-hour of gameplay is really beating a dead horse.
Right now I’m just at the point where the female harpy-like android things are swooping down out of the sky. I’m just feeling…apathetic.
It’s not like Snake Eater, where as soon as I got that game, I was glued to it until it was over, like a book you can’t put down. Everything about that game, the hip retro Cold War aesthetic of it, the lush environments, the hunting for food and interacting with your environment, the interesting conversations over the codec radio about all the items and weapons in the game, just totally captivated me. There was a unique game. This one…just, blah. I don’t know what to say. The graphics are sharp as hell, but the game itself is just a pretty huge disappointment.
Should I soldier on? Does it get better? Does the environment ever change? Does the story become SO incredibly interesting that it’s just impossible not to get sucked in?