30 June 2008






















































Metal Gear Solid 4 (Playstation 3)
by Tom "Sinister Agent" Garvey

As someone who's hated the MGS series ever since an attempt to play MGS2 that ended in a joypad actually being thrown so hard at the floor (since it didn't appear to be necessary) that it bounced up and ricocheted off my TV screen (fortunately, a very sturdy old Trinitron CRT whose thick glass the pad rebounded from without causing any visible damage), me reviewing it personally seemed neither (a) fair, nor (b) something that was going to happen unless someone pointed a fucking gun at my head, and quite possibly not even then. There are things worse than death, and that includes wading through nine hours of wannabe-Z-movie cutscenes of dribbling nonsense written by an overindulged Japanese scifi nerd for the occasional brief snippet of videogame.

So instead, kindly welcome WoS' second-ever guest feature, written by someone who loves the MGS games enough to not only play through them, but to actually pay for them with their own money.

I've more or less finished it now.

Words cannot adequately describe my disgust, horror and contempt at how stupendously terrible this game is. The first "act" is fun, but too cutscene-y. The second is less cutsceney, and the best part of the game. The first level of the third act is neat and pretty fun, mostly sneaky with some chances for killin'. There's one level very near the end that's fun (I got killed on my first go, then got through it in half an hour without getting spotted once on my second try. It was probably the best bit of the game, in fact, though it's nothing revolutionary, just a nice little tricky stealth section. Deus Ex or all the Hitman games have about 20 bits this good, though). The rest of it is 90% cutscenes, and 100% utter, utter shit.

My advice: If you must play this (at a friend's house or something. Don't buy it. Do not buy this "game"), once you've done the level where you tail the resistance member, switch the game off, and never play beyond that point. There is absolutely nothing in the rest of the game that comes close to justifying a quarter of the shit this game contains. Some examples? Okey dokey.

- a cutscene. The game gives you control. You have no choice but to run directly forward along a very long, empty walkway with no scenery while flashbacks play in the audio (most of them from about five minutes ago, so hardly worth flashing back). As you reach the end, another cutscene starts. So, you don't get to control the scene where you beat up five guys in close quarters, nor the scene where you 'ambush' six guys in a helicopter by firing over their heads and hoping for another of the series' trademark dei ex machinis. But you do get to control the cutscene where you walk along an empty corridor in an empty room in a straight line while nothing happens. Great. Thanks.

- there's a corridor that kills you as you walk through it (and you have to, as it's the only way to the advance the sequence of shit cutscenes, or "game" if you're feeling generous). At least, it almost does. It's a microwave corridor, which should kill you and any living thing in seconds - as is pointed out by everyone in the vicinity - but you walk through it, getting slower and slower, as the screen goes split again and shows some random footage of shit characters nobody worth pushing out of the way of a speeding car gives a toss about, as they try to be dramatic. You get slower and slower, to an agonising crawl, and have no choice but to sit there like a twat holding forwards for about four minutes... and then it tells you to press a button repeatedly. You have to press this button repeatedly, faster and faster, for two full minutes, or you die before you reach the other side.

- you meet a recurring (and annoying) boss who you get to fight until he's almost dead, then let him recover, then get someone else to fight him until he's almost dead again. Then, instead of letting you finish the loathsome prick off however you see fit (slit his throat? Kick him around for a while? Fire tranquilisers into his head until he dies? A grenade? Shotgun execution?), you get another cutscene where someone pops up to say how you should make it easy and be merciful, and then she injects him with something that makes him grunt and wince and ARGH before dying. Which is not only less satisfying than simply shooting him in the head, but it's less merciful, too.

So you get to fight an annoying boss down to a sliver, but don't get the satisfaction of finishing him off, despite this being the whole point of a boss fight. For NO REASON. Oh, and someone who has cancer stops taking their medication, and dies almost instantly. That's some fucking fierce mitosis, man. The hell kind of cancer was that?

- "I created an anti-Thing to the Thing that caused all this. Then instead of giving it to you, I gave it to your friend, asked her not to tell you, but to hide it until after I've inexplicably killed myself for a betrayal that was totally pointless and use it as a deus ex machina later on. Oh, also, you know how it's the Thing that's slowly and incurably killing you? This anti-Thing I just made must logically cure it, but even though you saved my life and the entire world about six times, I thought I'd just look really torn up about whether or not to tell you about it so that you can flashback to it later, even though I've no reason not to give it to you and save your life and, by extension, the entire fucking world." *

* Disclaimer: They may go on to use the anti-Thing to save you. I'm not watching the rest of the cutscene to find out, because if I don't watch it, I can always imagine that absolutely all the characters die in a freak steamrolling accident and feel slightly better. If they do use the anti-Thing to cure the Thing, they deliberately withheld the cure for your illness for no reason even though they're supposed to be on your side and you're the only thing that can save the world. If they don't, the protagonist will die a horrible death for no reason. Well done, that writer.

- a character is making a heroic last stand. This person has one more clip of bullets, and says as much while looking at the clip. She then checks her gun, which has one bullet in. She then puts the spare clip down on the floor and runs deliberately out towards a bunch of enemies with one bullet, which she fires right away, leaving a full clip of ammunition behind instead of, oh I don't know, TAKING IT WITH HER AND PUTTING IT IN THE GUN AND KILLING THE ENEMIES WITH IT INSTEAD OF KILLING ONE AND THEN BEING TOTALLY FUCKED OH WAIT DEUS EX MACHINA QUELLE SURPRISE.

- two heroes (you'll wish bacterial death on them at least six times, but by the time you see this cutscene, you'll be wishing sandpaper torture on their children) are in an alcove, cornered by about five hundred heavily armed elite soldiers. They instant head shot about thirty of them (both of these character have proved themselves to be unreliable at best, but are now suddenly superhuman) while trading revolting lines and attempting the poorest excuse for comedy that I've seen since... well, the last one Kojima made.

At no point do any of the FIVE HUNDRED ELITE SOLDIERS think to (a) Throw a grenade, (b) AIM before shooting (although in their defence, they did kill the shit out of Deus Ex Machina Boy before he machina-ed to such an extent that an entire clip of assault rifle ammunition emptied directly into his torso at short range merely knocked him unconscious for a few minutes, after which he was not only fine, but suddenly capable of superhuman reflexes and accuracy, where earlier in the film he didn't even know how to work the safety on his rifle), or (c) Do something other than queue up to be slaughtered two at a time. Who the fuck hires these soldiers?

- "She was abused and tortured for years and everyone she knows was murdered to shit for no reason. Her every waking moment is hell and she's totally batshit insane and responsible for the orgiastic murder of countless innocents. Every negative human emotion has consumed her very soul for years (although it's had a remarkably positive effect on her figure and endowment). But you cured her by, er, firing several grenades into her head until she dropped her weapons, then beating her to death with the butt of your shotgun."

(This happens four times. Apparently, if you violently assault an extremely mentally disturbed woman for long enough, you'll cure her.)

- you're rolling around on the floor, practically dead. About ten soldiers see you, and put their guns away, and start walking towards your helpless body. Really, really slowly, about a foot every ten seconds. Why are they doing this?. The hero - the guy your boss wants you to kill - is lying prone and helpless in a dead end twenty yards away and YOU ARE ELITE SOLDIERS WITH GUNS. SHOOT HIM. Don't advance slowly and menacingly just long enough for a deus ex machina (#7, I think) to appear. NOBODY WOULD DO THAT.

- all the soldiers in a squadron are affected by an evil spell, or something, near the start of the game. Except for one, who is unaffected and the only one who can stand up while they roll around in agony. He rescues some of them. This happens again hours later in a great scene where a million soldiers surround the villain over the course of about twenty fucking minutes, even though they know he can just instantly disable them all at will. In a SHOCKING TWIST, he casts his evil spell and instantly disables them, and everybody takes a fortnight to understand, even though this spell of his is the very fucking reason they're trying to kill him.

(Oh, incidentally, the villain can disable all "ID locked" guns at will, and everyone knows this. Despite the fact that they are well acquainted with an arms dealer who can give them non-locked guns, they equip all the soldiers with ID locked guns, and then look baffled for about two minutes when they stop working. Snake, despite having an armory of functional, non-locked guns and a clear shot of the villain with a scoped sniper rifle, nowhere for him to run and the element of surprise, does not take out a gun and shoot the villain, thus fulfilling his only goal in life. Oh, no. He's far too busy watching the proceedings and uncomprehendingly going "Hruaarwh" in that stupid fucking grunt/sigh he uses in every single scene.)

- the same character is unaffected and saves a few people again. It's not until a third time this happens, TWELVE GAME HOURS LATER, that somebody who witnessed both prior times thinks to ask him why he's not affected, and thus is the only person who can save the day. How can you write this? How can you sit down and write this and film and animate and voice it, and never realise how atrocious it is?

- a character gets on your side, betrays you, then kills herself in a fit of guilt, then turns out to have been trying to stop the villains all along with a highly portable deus-ex machine that she gave to your mate earlier. She has no reason whatsoever to betray you. She intended to help you all along. Her betrayal gained nothing and had no motive beyond trying to make the plot look complex. How in the name of fuck did this get through a writer, a director, the sound bods and the voice actor? "I'm sorry I betrayed you." Okay, great. WHY did you do it? THERE IS NO REASON. YOU COULD HAVE JUST TOLD US YOUR PLAN AND STAYED WITH US AND NOTHING WOULD HAVE CHANGED IN THE SLIGHTEST. RGRAAAAAAARRRRGGH! HOW FUCKING STUPID DO YOU THINK WE ARE?


Okay. Okay. Calming down. Right. More examples coming in a few minutes. I'm going to go and do the washing up until I calm down.

Righto. Did you hold out hope that the ending, that glorious final confrontation would make it if not worthwhile, then at least less indigestible? Please listen to me now. I'm going to spoil the end of the game for you. You'll thank me.

After a cutscene in which you are abandoned on an enemy ship by your best friend while he goes to get you a medic (oh, by the way, the microwaves that would kill you in moments but this turns out to mean will almost kill you, over about six minutes, but then you'll suddenly have the strength to fight a bunch of robots? They didn't kill you), instead of, for example, shouting to the crew of the friendly warship about 100 yards away, who know precisely who you are and how you've just saved the world, or sending one of the three or four deus-ex-machina guys you presumably teleported past on your way back up to the surface to get help while he guards your helpless, near-dead self from the marauding enemy soldiers and the nemesis character who everyone knows is on board but who hasn't showed up yet, your nemesis pops up. He injects you and himself with supersaiyan juice and suddenly your incurable medical condition, severe third degree burns and internal scalding are cured, and you're the picture of health.

(Read through it again if you need to, I'm on a rant here and sentence length can fuck off.)

Another cut scene follows, in which you and he go karate-mental (again making you wonder why you were restricted to a single totally useless three hit combination for the rest of the game) for a while, and are somehow evenly matched despite your degenerative illness, near fatal injuries and several days of fatigue compared to his respectable physique, experience and several days of doing nothing more demanding than waving his hands around dramatically and being allowed to walk out of harm's way by a moustachioed cretin.

Then you're allowed to play again. You go hand to hand against your nemesis, with totally different controls to the rest of the game, no explanation, and only three buttons that do anything. You can hammer the attack button for a longer, farther-reaching, faster and more satisfying combination attack that again, you were unable to use for the rest of the game for no reason. You can block unreliably, or attempt a grab unreliably. If you do anything but grab you'll do next to no damage. If you grab, you get quicktime events. This is the climax to a decade-spanning story, Kojima? Fucking quicktime events? PRESS R1. PRESS R1. PRESS TRIANGLE. WELL DONE. PRESS R1. PRESS R1. That's it. That's the best they could come up with - a fight that's actually worse than the final fight in the first game. Ten years in the making and you get "press triangle as rapidly as possible" followed by "PRESS THIS. PRESS THAT. PRESS - too slow, you lose."

(If you get the quicktime event wrong, instead of slowly and unsatisfyingly hitting your opponent, he'll counter and twat you one. So your only effective move will end up hurting you more than him if you're not an efficient Pavlovian drone. And to think, the plot's supposed to be about granting people freedom....)

The controls are clunky and barely responsive, the collision detection (I got laid out by a punch that quite clearly missed by half a foot, and later laid out by a punch even though I landed a blow as he was drawing back to hit me - my blow just didn't register) is slack, just as you think you've won, the game runs out of ideas and just fills both your energy bars up again, and it was at this point that I died, and said, very loudly "Fuck this, this is fucking bullshit", and chose 'Exit'.

It. Doesn't. Let. You. Exit.

I had to switch the machine off to stop playing. I could go on. I could go on. Every single reviewer in the universe who gave this game more than 3 out of 10 is a corrupt, incompetent piece of shit. Fuck every one of them. If a reviewer or mag gave this game 8, 9 or god fucking help us 10 out of 10, never, NEVER believe a single word they say. They are a cunt. Hideo Kojima is the OverCunt. Don't buy it. Don't rent it. Don't allow your friends, or even enemies, to buy it. Don't even fucking PIRATE it, because that'll encourage them too. Not even if it's 50p. If you get it free with something else, snap it in two and send it back to Konami (I think it's them, right? I don't want to know, because if I know, and I meet someone who works for them, I will be morally obligated to stab them in the face) in a padded envelope filled with faeces.

This is quite possibly the worst game I have ever played. I want to like it. I WANT TO LIKE IT, but I cannot. Even I cannot delude myself to that extent. If there were a full, decent game in amongst all the cut scenes, it might be worth playing beyond the first couple of levels. As it is, there's only about 25% of actual game in there, half of which is shit. So:



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