Well, I made it through the week. The week of Metal Gear Solid. And by "made it," I mean I finally finished the week of headaches and head spinning. Unfortunately, I wish I could say I finished strong and came out on top, that I conquered the mighty franchise and claimed victory to the tactical espionage game play.
Like I said, unfortunately I can't say any of that.
I limped into the last day of the series, beaten and battered, defeated and ready to never touch another Metal Gear game again. The weird thing is, I can't even blame the games, the franchise or the hype I put on the whole week for completely ruining me. No, the only person I have to blame is myself, for attempting this week in the first place. It's all my fault, and more specifically, an extension of the dark side of this year-long blog project and the grave consequences I'm suffering from doing this whole thing to begin with.
I have noticed this growing problem that I am having for a few months now, but I haven't written about it for fear of breaking the golden rule of letting the audience take a peak behind the curtain on stage. The problem is this: I am starting and playing so many great, awesome games, I am beginning to develop a backlog like no other, unable to finish many of the games I am really enjoying, only because I am moving on to the next game the very next day. Sure, I am still playing some of the games I really, really like, and go back to ones that I want to when I can, but there just isn't enough time in the days and nights to complete all the games I really want to.
Sadly, the problem isn't getting any better. And starting the Metal Gear Solid Legacy Collection has only made it worse. Sure, I won't ever need to go back and play the original Metal Gear games, but with Metal Gear Solid 2, 3, Peace Walker and now 4, I desperately would love to finish them. I just don't know when I will ever get back to them.
So when I started Metal Gear Solid 4, I went in completely uninterested and uninspired to get to far and too deep into Guns of the Patriots. It wasn't because I was bored with the story, or I didn't desperately want to experience one of the true crowning achievement games of this generation - because I did. But in reality, I just was bummed about starting yet another game without having the time or energy to finish it.
I played it, I started it, and got a little bit into it, but it just wasn't grabbing my attention. Also, I didn't feel like it was fair to get too far into this epic and awesome game without being able to give it my full attention. I just think this game is better than I was able to give it, and one day, I would like to get back, restart it and give it my all. For now, however, I had to quit it before I projected my frustration of myself onto the game. It just wouldn't be fair.
And with that, I can close the book on my week of Metal Gear Solid. I learned a lot about the series, rediscovered an old love and also was able to finally see what the masses has seen and felt about the series for some time now. I feel bad for being so late to the party, and wish I could have experienced these games as everyone else did, instead of trying to cram them all into one week.
OK, don't yell at me. I know the questions are coming, and honestly, I don't really have a good answer for them. Let's get that out in the air right now.
Yes, I finally got to Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, although, I really didn't play it in the way you probably expected me to. Sure, I could have easily played it on my PS3, since it is included with the huge Metal Gear Solid Legacy Collection. And that's probably the best way to experience this game. But instead, I took a gamble and gave it a shot on the little ole Nintendo 3DS system. I swear I knew what I was doing at the time.
So this game is the prequel to all prequels, as it is essentially the first game in the entire series. I think; For now, at least. You play as Naked Snake, who is Big Boss, but it's all semantics anyway. At this point, the story line is all garbled and I'm just trying to pull whatever I can from the games for blogging purposes. There is no longer reason to try and figure out the entire story. It's just not possible. I'm OK with that.
This game is interesting, for many reasons. It forces you to rely heavily on stealth, and surprisingly, more so than any other games that came before it (but after it in context of the story, I guess). I suppose a lot has to do with the lack of technology in the time period the game is set it, which is actually cool to think that they essentially went backwards in game development despite the technology being better when they created it.
As Snake, you have to utilize camouflage quite a bit, which is a lot more fun than I thought it would be, switching different suits and face paints to blend in with the environment you are in. The gauge shows how hidden you are, which is fun to play around with, seeing which camos are best.
Also, there is the infamous mechanic of having to actually heal particular limbs in order to fully recover your health, and the fact you must actually eat food to keep from fatiguing too much. Don't eat, and your vision gets blurry and you slow down. You can keep food in your backpack for later, but be careful, because some types of food spoil, thus making it inedible.
Here is my problem I ran into, though. The controls SUCK in this version of the game. And I solely blame the lack of a second joystick on the 3DS for this being the reason why. I understand it was a big deal for Konami to put this game on the 3DS, but I can't understand why they would be OK with making the controls a complete disaster in order to try and compensate for the lack of a second stick. It just makes no sense to me. Sure, you could get a Circle Pad Pro extension for your 3DS to add the second stick, but honestly, you shouldn't have to. It is practically inexcusable for Nintendo to be so stubborn about this stick. And I can't blame developers and publishers from shying away from really good games on the 3DS because of the lack of a second stick.
Bottom line is, my experience was skewed heavily because of the system I chose to play on. Once I catch up with my backlog, I will need to give this game the due diligence and play it properly on the PS3
Let's venture outside the box a little bit with this post. And by box, I'm not referring to the cardboard variety that mysteriously scoots across the floors of this franchise without any real detection or second thoughts by the guards. Because that's a totally normal occurrence in real life, right?
No, I'm talking about the box that is what I've been doing all week with the Metal Gear franchise, which is writing about all the games I've been playing as I'm trying to decipher the insanity that is the stories and plots of not only the games themselves, but the franchise and universe as a whole. This time, I want to write about the original release of the game, and how history is always bound to repeat itself.
First off, I don't know exactly I chose to play Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker this day, as opposed to Snake Eater, but for some reason it seemed like the thing to do. I'm pretty sure when the games were released or how they fit into the convoluted fictional timeline no longer matters at all to me, as it's more of a headache to try to follow it than it probably should be. But hey, that's Metal Gear, right?
Anyway, so this game was originally released on the PSP. Since then, it has been updated to HD and released in a couple different collections (although strangely not in the Vita collection), but it's insistent inclusion among the best Metal Gear games isn't indicative to it's overwhelming success, unfortunately. While the reviews of the game were outstanding, and it remains as the third best-reviewed game from the PSP on Metacritic, the rest of the world outside of Japan didn't seem to show how great the game is with their spending habits. To be blunt, the game sold poorly on the PSP, and while the sales numbers should be better if the PSN and collections were included, it is still considered to be an overwhelming failure in terms of sales.
And it is not the games fault at all.
Unfortunately, this great and beautiful game was released on the PSP, which was its death sentence before it was even released. As badly as Sony wanted the PSP to succeeded, and hoped it would with the release of fantastic games like Peace Walker, the portable system with unharnessed potential never found its legs. And the games that tried to get the system off the ground sunk unceremoniously with it.
Why is this a concern to me now, considering the HD version is fantastic looking and I can enjoy it for the first time, as I never was a PSP owner? Because I can't help but think and wonder about the lifespan of the PS Vita, and all the amazing games they are trying to push on it. So far there have been several quality titles to grace the Vita, but all of the sales numbers have been less than ideal. If I were a betting man, the best selling games for the Vita have probably been the cross-buy games, where buying a PS3 version of a game entitles you to the PS Vita version for free. While games like Uncharted and Gravity Rush have been great quality games, I fear that sales haven't reflected the quality at all. I also worry that the Vita has been used for more smaller, cheaper PSN titles, and while there have been a lot of superb titles to grace the screens of Vitas from the PSN, just those titles alone won't help keep the system viable in the long run.
Sony has promised that the Vita will be used in partnership with the upcoming PS4, and that ALL PS4 games will be able to stream and be played directly on the Vita itself, but until those promises are fulfilled, I have to worry. Plus, streaming PS4 games will not keep the system viable, and if sales of the Vita don't increase soon, it's hard to imagine big name studios continuing to support the handheld with games that may get fantastic reviews, but won't fly off of store shelves.
For more proof of the worrisome state of the Vita, all you need to do is look at the HD Collection of Metal Gear Solid that was released for the Vita, as the Peace Walker game was not included, because the developers didn't see the importance of porting a PSP game over to the Vita. That's a scary thought.
Hopefully lessons were learned with Peace Walker. Despite it being a great game, it ultimately sank with the demise of the PSP as a viable gaming system. Now if you excuse me, I have a cardboard box to go crawl back inside.
I'm on a boat! I'm on a boat! Everybody look at me because I'm sailing on a boat!
Sorry, but the whole beginning prologue to Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, I had that song stuck in my head. Why? Because you're on a boat, of course! Don't worry, I'm not going completely mad, as I had this same thought when I played Resident Evil: Revelations. Something about spending a lot of time on a big ship makes my my mind wander a bit, I guess.
So anyway, I started this game. I went in knowing NOTHING about this particular game, and boy, was I surprised. Shocked? Taken back? I think all those words accurately describe my thoughts as I continued in to this game. Talk about a curve ball! But more on that later.
So when I was talking about playing this series with my podcasting co-hosts (Platform Junkies, for those curious), they were shocked and amazed that I stopped after Metal Gear Solid back in the day, and never played or had interest in this game. They wondered why, and after thinking about it, I realized that I was a few years late to the party when it came to getting the PS2, and shortly (and I mean, shortly) afterwards, I ended up going on my video game sabbatical and thus, never had the chance to play Metal Gear Solid 2.
More interestingly enough, they were dumbfounded that I couldn't even remember seeing or being interested in "the awesome" trailer that they showed at E3 to hype it up. Apparently I was either oblivious to really awesome video game trailers at the time, or I just didn't care, because I didn't have anything to play it on anyway. Either way, I don't recall ever seeing it or being wowed by it. So with that, of course, I had to locate it on the internet, which I did, and I will embed here for you all, just in case you didn't see it either. I can't be the only one, right?
Regardless, it's a cool trailer, and I could understand and appreciate why it sent fans of the series into a frenzy. It was dramatic, edgy, explosive, packed full of plot content and looked pretty awesome for being a PS2 game. Apparently, I missed the boat on this one.
So playing it tonight was an absolute treat, especially considering I have the HD version of the game, which only enhances how great the original game looked. Playing it from the start, I immediately liked it. previous games made me remember why I tend to hate stealth games, but for some reason, this game made me really excited to be stealthy. The ability to distract guards, hide from them in lockers, use environmental things to distract them, and even interact with them without being aggressive all made me smile. And then I discovered the first person point of view for shooting, and boy oh boy, did my mind get blown. Finally, this felt like a stealth game I could not only enjoy, but thoroughly enjoy thanks in part to not completely sucking.
Here I am, playing this game, amazed by the awesome new game play mechanics, and I realize I think I am starting to understand the basic concepts of the story line. I am loosely understanding the differences between Solid Snake and Liquid Snake, I realize who Big Boss is and I am remembering some of the reoccurring characters by name. Then the curve ball gets thrown my way, much the same way it was tossed at everyone back when it first came out.
You play as Raiden for most of the game? Say what? They introduced a new protagonist to the mix, after putting in so much work to make Solid Snake a household name? Crazy talk, I tell ya!
Well, it worked. Despite the initial shock, it made the story much more intriguing and lot less stale, keeping it from the border of being a wash-rinse-and-repeat type of plot. They didn't completely abandon the characters they worked hard to establish, they just introduced a new perspective and an interesting story arch, all within the realm they had already created. Kudos to the development team for taking that plunge into the cold water. That took some guts, my friends.
Could you imagine if Nintendo did that with Zelda or Samus? The internet might literally melt.
Oh crap ... I did it again.
Sorry folks, but this is a 12 year old game, and by now, I'm pretty sure I'm the only gamer on the planet to have not played this game. So sue me if you haven't played it yet and were still planning to.
Anyway, in closing, I really liked what I got from this game, and I could totally see myself going back and finishing this game in my own spare time. Of course I say that now, however. Let's see how the rest of the games go this week.
Finally, I got to play the game that started it all. And when I'm talking about Metal Gear Solid, I don't mean the game that started the franchise (although it did start the Solid series, technically). No, I'm actually talking about the game that started it all for me, as a gamer, in being interested in realer, tougher and more mature-themed games.
Up until I bought Metal Gear Solid for myself with my own money from my paper route, I had pretty much enjoyed a fairly non-diverse selection of games, mainly from Nintendo, and mostly platformers and the typical, big Nintendo franchises. When Metal Gear Solid was preparing to come out, I read all about it in a gaming magazine, and I was immediately sold on the game. I can't exactly remember what it was that drove me to it, but I knew it was a game I had to play and experience.
I'm so glad I made that leap of faith, especially considering it was my own hard-earned money. That was a lot of money for a kid, ya know?
Playing this game tonight instantly made me realize how similar it was to Metal Gear 2, despite it being 3D as opposed to the top-down 2D model before it. When it came out for the Playstation, it was an amazing graphical feat, but going back and playing it now really makes me remember that old games are old games. Man, it was hard to play - so rough, so ugly, so ... beautiful in a polygonal type of way.
The gameplay took all the great elements from Metal Gear 2 and implemented them in Solid, but just made them better. The storyline actually becomes much more fleshed out, especially for me, as the conversations with Codec really help in explaining some back story and shining some light on some unanswered questions. As I kid I remember how amazed I was by depth of the characters in the game, as you genuinely made connections with them and their personalities. This was something new to me as a kid, if I recall correctly.
Many herald this game as greatness, and honestly, I can't argue with the point this time around. As I kid was enamored with it, and sunk more seriously invested hours into it than I probably thought I would initially. I loved every moment of the game, especially with how connected I felt to the universe.
And then there is the Psycho Mantis boss battle. Wow. Not only did the fourth wall get shattered, but actually figuring out how to beat Psycho Mantis was one of more frustrating things I had ever done in a game before. Again, I wish I could remember how I eventually figured out how to do it, but once I did, it was one of the most satisfying and rewarding boss fights ever, and even to this day, remains near the top of the list.
Playing this game again tonight helped me remember some crucial plot points, such as Liquid Snake being Solid Snake's twin brother, and both being clones of Big Boss. Again, this is all stuff that could have been figured out by reading all about the franchise, but honestly, its easier and much more fun to discover and re-discover by playing the games.
After this game, however, I have nothing more for context in this franchise. While I am still extremely nervous to play out this week, I am rejuvenated thanks in part to playing Metal Gear Solid tonight. Sometimes its the familiar things that make you comfortable.
Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake is described as being one the best 8-bit video games ever. Let's just get those insanely high expectations out and on the table now before we continue any further. Did I complete the game and give it enough time to determine whether or not this declaration of awesomeness is true or even remotely accurate? Well, no I did not, but you should know that by now if you have read this blog before.
I'm not here to proclaim excellence of any game, give reviews or argue wide-spread beliefs about the validity or credibility of any video game (even though I occasionally do), but instead share some insight, opinions and most importantly personal experiences, past or present, with the games I am playing. And with that being said...
I suck at stealth games.
I can't remember if I have ever talked about this issue of mine in any other blog posts (I am up to 204 now!), but if I haven't, I want this fact to be perfectly clear. I suck at stealth games. Plain and simple. Not even a little bit, like I struggle with extreme stealth combat, but rather, I just flat out suck at being stealthy. I don't know if it is an ADHD thing, or a simple lack of patience type of issue, but whatever it is, I just can't seem to properly play in a stealthy way.
This, I'm afraid, will pose a problem going forward with this week of Metal Gear Solid. Let's just call a spade a spade now and save some time later on. Hopefully, by the end of the week, I will have maybe gotten a little better at being stealthy in a digital world, or at least figure out why I'm so horrible at them to begin with. In all honesty, my inability to play stealthy has made finishing The Last of Us quite the chore, as it is made very clear from the beginning that stealth is the only way to survive that game. While I haven't wrote about The Last of Us yet, I just thought I would share my reasons why. Once I finish it though, prepare for an amazing post. But for now, let's change gears back to the game of the night.
Right off the bat, you are forced into being stealthy, as you walk right into the second screen of the game into a guard, who of course spots you if you are sprinting through the middle of the screen, and chaos ensues, of course. After a few tries (and yes, this was set on easy, thank you), I finally got past that part, only to be treated to stealth combat, some more stealth combat, and then to shake it up a bit, even more stealthiness. I couldn't take it anymore, and eventually had to call it quits.
I will say this, though. The game itself is quite the step up from the original Metal Gear. The guards are far more aware, as they look around and don't see in just straight lines of sight. The countdown clock is nice, letting you know how much time you have before you are cleared of the alert level, and the addition of being able to kneel down and crawl to avoid detection and not make noise worked really well. Also, you can crawl through holes in fences and there is a certain depth to the game, that while it is still 8-bit, makes it feel like less of a top-down shooter game than it's predecessor.
Look, I can see why people really like this game. The storyline is engaging especially if you take the time to follow it. I already know that you defeat Grey Wolf and Big Boss at the end of the game (SPOILER ALERT!), and the major plot is the destruction of the Metal Gear D. I know in the crazy timeline of the franchise, it sits pretty much in the middle of it all, which is already making my head spin.
I just can't wait to start playing some Metal Gear Solid games, in all reality. Despite the fact that my patience will be severely tested when it comes to being stealthy.
Well, of all the "My Weeks" that I have done, this one might be the craziest, most insane one I have attempted thus far. Now, you have to remember that I am not beating all these games that I am playing for this blog, because that would be ridiculous. Besides, I do have a full time job and social life, after all.
But just because I am not beating all these games, does not mean that my undertaking to play the Metal Gear series is an easy one. So why is it difficult, you may be wondering? Because this series is literally the epitome of insanity and confusion. The storyline itself is based around espionage and mental gymnastics (I think?), so the games depicting this mad world that Hideo Kojima has created.
Let's get this out of the way right now before I go any further. My knowledge about this series is very limited. I played Metal Gear Solid when it came out on the original Playstation, but other than that, my experience with the entire series is lacking, big time. And this is not the type of series where you can follow and understand it without playing the games, assuming you can even if you do play the games. I have heard them talked about on various podcasts, forums, reviews and from friends, but it's like someone trying to explain algebra without being shown the equations on a white board.
So that is my main focus with this week, is trying to somehow comprehend something about this series, and take away some solid knowledge of the character, the storylines and the entire universe in which they exist. Essentially, I am trying to prepare myself for the awesomeness that should be Metal Gear 5.
Doing little research before hand, I had no idea where to start. I know the chronology of this series is more complicated than I could imagine, and while doing a basic search on Wikipedia yielded some useful timeline information, it still didn't mean a whole lot to me. So I started with the original, and while it's not technically part of the "Solid" series, I'm still counting it - because well, I don't even know what the "Solid" series means.
Now just so you know, am going to be playing this entire series thanks in part to the Metal Gear Solid Legacy Collection that was just recently released for the PS3, which packs in the entire series into one neat little package. Finding Metal Gear was a chore in itself, as I knew it was part of the collection, but it wasn't blatantly obvious where I could find it. Turns out, it is located within Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, for whatever reason. I guess maybe Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2 were originally packaged with Snake Eater when it was released, and it carried over into this? I don't know, I'm already confused.
So I played Metal Gear. It plays and looks great for being an original NES game, as you can tell they took some pride in polishing it up and making it not only playable, but enjoyable as well. As for the game itself? I know I am Solid Snake, and I talk to people on the radio including Big Boss, which for some reason I always thought was Snake. You have to sneak around as best as an NES game can depict, and use weapons of espionage and war to complete missions. It's a fun little romp, and I'm eager to see how this first game evolved into the ridiculous franchise that it is today.
Wish me luck. This is going to be one heck of a week, I think.
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Games played for project : 365