My thoughts on Metal Gear Solid 4

So I completed Metal Gear Solid 4 earlier today. Here are some of my thoughts on the game.

  1. Either something was seriously lost in the translation from Japanese, or Hideo Kojima is an unbelievably preachy, pretentious, high-handed windbag despite being highly skilled at creating atmospheric and unique gameplay. The cutscenes in this game looked amazing, but I really did not need to be lectured for hours about the evils of the “war economy” and how evil war is and how it traumatizes poor little children.

  2. The origins of the “BBs” might be one of the stupidest things I have ever seen in a video game, or in any storytelling medium at all. The little girls were traumatized when they were young…so “The Patriots” adopted them and turned them into genetically altered supersoldiers? Are you kidding me? And I really did not need to hear an hour-long history lesson by Drebin, after defeating each super-soldier-femme-fatale, about how they became who they are. I don’t give a damn about how some little girl grew up during some war and had her family killed by ravens or something, so she grows up to be an evil raven-soldier, or how her parents were killed by wolves so she grows up to be a super-wolf-soldier-woman, or she was tortured and had to listen to the screams of other prisoners, so she grew up to be a “screaming mantis”, or some other stupid shit. This is like bad-comic-book story writing. Can you possibly get any cheezier than these absurd origin stories? They really undercut the seriousness of the game. Between this, and the whole Joss Whedon-universe and Kill Bill and a dozen other things, the whole “GRRRRRRRRL POWER SUPERSOLDIER” thing is getting played out. Oh, and after they’re defeated, their armor falls off, revealing the poor, tormented, vulnerable girl underneath. How profound…or something.

  3. That’s another thing, the Metal Gear series has pretensions of being a highly serious commentary on the realities of war - so why are they unable to give us military characters who are actually believable? Extremely talented special-forces soldiers in real life do not have supernatural backstories or hidden childhood trauma that gives them boundless rage or genetic engineering - what they have is extremely high levels of training, extreme personal motivation, and the ability to both follow orders and make quick decisions on their own. I realize these attributes alone do not automatically make a character compelling, which is where writing comes in to give characters unique human personalities. So why don’t they write the Metal Gear characters in a realistic, nuanced way instead of making them super-this or super-that?

  4. Recycling (in a roundabout, weird way) the characters of Vulcan Raven, Sniper Wolf and Psycho Mantis was not interesting or unique, it was just lazy. Snake Eater created some memorable bosses, so why did the fourth chapter of Metal Gear have such unbelievably lame and uninspired bosses?

  5. David Hayter’s voice acting was great, as always. The voice acting for everyone else sucked. Otacon’s was particularly horrible - I cringed during all of his “emotional” moments because his whimpering and stammering noises that were apparently supposed to sound like heartfelt crying were so absurd and distracting. The same was true of every “extra” character in the background (all the nameless, ski-mask wearing enemy goons who act surprised or scared during the cutscenes) - they all had the same silly, stammering, sputtering noises which did not sound even remotely like sounds that actual human beings under duress might actually produce.

  6. Mei Ling used to be a cute Chinese girl, so how did she become white? Seriously, her character transformed into a Caucasian woman. It’s one of those ironic things that a Japanese game cannot make a woman with Asian features - actually, this is true of a lot of things from Japan and not just video games. The Japanese seem obsessed with creating characters who look European and “pretty” in an exaggerated way, like a Hilliard portrait. They are in love with that whole pointy-chin, tiny-nose, big-eyes, long hair thing; apparently they think that the ideal male looks like Zac Efron, regardless of nationality. And I guess they’re also in love with Caucasian women, because in a game filled to the brim with Caucasian women, they managed to make the one Asian female character look Caucasian. What happened to the real Mei Ling?

  7. How did Mei Ling become a Navy captain and commander of a gigantic warship? Do they give out commissions in the Metal Gear universe for being cute and giving helpful advice over the radio?

  8. Drebin’s monkey was really annoying.

  9. Drebin was really annoying.

  10. All soldiers apparently wear ski masks all the time. And all of the best super-soldiers are female, and have the ability to jump onto the ceiling and climb on the walls.

  11. Raiden’s high-heeled boots were really stupid looking.

Yeah, MGS4 is good core gameplay surrounded by a big bag of crap.

My only real disagreement with you is on the origins of the BBs. I thought it worked IN a very comic book-y sort of way. It’s cheesy and doesn’t stand up to much scrutiny, but I thought it was a somewhat interesting way to give a backstory to these characters. And I think it helped villainize the Patriots. It wasn’t excellently done, but I’d say if you take all the original story elements from the game…it’s probably one of the best.

Oh, and I kinda liked the recycled bosses. They didn’t actually PLAY the same, so that wasn’t an issue. I was hoping for a big reveal that they were chosen to replicate the Shadow Moses bosses for some sort of REASON, though.

Kojima is a terrible, terrible storyteller. MGS1 was a masterpiece. Everything since then has been a convoluted pile of plot holes, strawman ethics, and patently inexplicable views of militarism. I love that Kojima’s big epic missive against the military is a series where the player runs around and shoots people in the head. No sense of irony. It’s like how James Cameron spent $300M making a CGI-filled 3D movie about the evils of capitalism and technology.

I just generally resent the meme that deep within a raging badass character is some poor, hurt, vulnerable child or something. It has annoyed me ever since the Star Wars prequels. Ocelot, for instance, is extremely badass and he has virtually no backstory. He was not mauled by an ocelot when he was a kid and then later adopted the ways of the ocelot to cope with his poor hurt feelings; actually, there is no explanation for why he is called “Ocelot” because it doesn’t matter. Ocelot has a mustache and a long coat and a revolver and he kills people and double-crosses everyone; that’s all he is, and that’s all that matters. Even the small amount of back story about Ocelot’s origin and his mother, in Snake Eater, I thought was unnecessary and the game would have been better off without it.

  1. The story was terrible. Started off good and just got worse and worse. The cutscenes were extra long due to rambling, not due to story development.

  2. I agree. They were pretty hot though when their armor fell off.

  3. It’s a Japanese game. I can’t think of a game made in Japan that had realistic characters.

  4. I thought the sniper fight was very well done. I felt like I cheated though because I just stayed in the same spot the whole time.

  5. Otacon was incredibley annoying. So was the little girl. Otherwise the voice acting was acceptable to me.

  6. See #3. The Japanese don’t know how to make realistic characters, in behavior OR appearance.

7+8. Japanese developed black guy. Of course he was annoying. I never got the monkey. WTF was THAT about?? Drebin=worst character in MGS series.

  1. Yep
    I’m curious how you felt about the ending. I felt robbed in every way when Snake didn’t kill himself. It would have been a good ending to pull up a mediocre game. Instead they pussed out and had to keep the character alive for future $$ no doubt.

The wedding was BEYOND retarded. What a stupid shitty ending to a Metal Gear game. Only in Japan would a wedding on an airfield be considered a good end to that story. It dragged ON AND ON AND ON. UGH.

I also felt they lost control of Raiden, meaning that they just made him as powerful as he needed to be in each situation. When he single handedly stopped that huge submarine , got crushed by the sub, and then survived it was over for me. Is Raiden supposed to = Incredible Hulk??

I would like to see MGS3 redone on a current console. I never finished it but always wanted to.

I could never play through MGS4 again though. Ever. 6/10

Yes, a retooled Snake Eater would be incredible. I think that game was the peak of the Metal Gear series. The hip, retro Cold War aesthetic of it was just so cool, bringing me back to the memories of the first James Bond movies I used to watch with my dad when I was a kid. I was just fascinated with the look and feel of Soviet Russia, and found it incredibly mysterious and alluring. There was a really good cast of supporting characters, and the bosses were cool as hell, especially “The End” (one of the most creative boss fights ever.) You got to learn all about all kinds of real-life weapons and military technology if you talked to SIGINT over the codec. Eva was sexy and The Boss, with her dominating personality and gruff, seen-it-all attitude, was even sexier (I definitely have a thing for older women.) Young Ocelot provided a little comic relief but was menacing at the same time. The environments all looked incredible.

That game, I think, was a true masterpiece. Guns of the Patriots is totally mediocre in comparison.

I didn’t like the ending. It was, indeed, stupid (the airfield wedding was really ridiculous…and turning Johnny, the incompetent guard [why in the fucking hell would they ever allow such a weak link onto a team that’s supposed to be composed of the best special-forces operators on the planet?] into a major character and Meryl’s love interest was a huge mistake-o.

There was definitely potential for some heart-wrenching and truly emotional moments with Old Snake finally dying, but as usual, Kojima wrecked it. (I honestly think that Hideo Kojima is autistic and does not understand human interaction, either that or there is an absolutely vast gulf between Japanese and American culture that can never truly be bridged by storytelling media.) I wasn’t really hoping for Snake to commit suicide - I wanted to see him just die of old age, naturally, and at peace. That would have been a fitting end for him. He’s spent his whole life fighting and I don’t think it right that he should go out with a self-inflicted bullet; I imagine him dying in bed, in a cabin somewhere, alone, but at peace.

I liked the game. Not much else to say was a unique experience I thought. Have you played Uncharted yet?

I haven’t played MG4 but I think many of your complaints are applicable to the other games in the series. I barely remember playing the original NES version of Metal Gear way back in the day. I played the sequels on the PS1 and the PS2.

I have a similar opinion about a lot of Japanese games. Sometimes I’m not sure if it has something to do with the translation or it’s just bad writing. I suspect it’s a little of both. I don’t really care for Japanese RPGs like Final Fantasy but I love games like Baldur’s Gate, Knights of the Old Republic, and Dragon Age. Likewise I prefer the Splinter Cell games over the Metal Gear games.

There was a real disconnect for me during the first MG game on the PS1. Let’s wax poetically about the evils of war but let me garrote this guard first. I also got really sick of all the cut scenes because I want to play a game not watch it. This was especially true of the MG game for the PS2.

I don’t know if it’s bitter intentional irony, or just sloppy game-design irony, that all of the Metal Gear Solid games feature hordes of ski-mask wearing enemies that all look and sound exactly the same, as if they are not individual soldiers with actual lives and personalities. A generic body model or the same few people doing all the voices would be one thing, but they don’t even have faces. They’re like blank, empty robots. Is this some kind of statement from Kojima about how dehumanizing the enemy makes them easier to kill…or was Konami just too lazy to design a wide variety of face models for all of the enemy soldiers?