5 reasons to hate Metal Gear Solid

Week of Hate 2011 officially begins today, giving us yet another opportunity to spew venom and whine like babies about the industry that we love the remaining 51 weeks of the year. And in keeping with past tradition, we’re trotting out some of gaming’s most beloved, venerable franchises this week for the sole purpose of picking apart their flaws and upsetting their fans. We’ll start with Metal Gear, a series that has spent roughly the past 10 years turning itself into one of the weirdest, most divisive, love-it-or-hate-it propositions in modern gaming.

1. Fantastically long-winded cutscenes

This is an admittedly easy target, but it’s still one of the most valid – and most-repeated – complaints that can be leveled against Metal Gear as a franchise. A poster child for the idea that Japanese developers are more interested in making movies than games, Metal Gear is notorious for making players spend as much time sitting through long, exposition-heavy cutscenes and codec conversations as they do actually playing the game. Those cutscenes don’t always have much to do with the plot, either, frequently digressing into historical background or musings on the military-industrial complex.

Art by Alex Barrett 

This approach reached a fever pitch in Metal Gear Solid 4, which tried to make up for its lengthier, more dialogue-heavy cutscenes by actually letting you drive the little Metal Gear Mk. II robot around inside of them, hunting for items (and being totally unable to affect the cutscene in any real way). More recently, the series appears to have finally gotten its shit together, as the cutscenes in Portable Ops and Peace Walker never felt overly long – but let’s wait and see what happens when the series returns to a non-handheld platform before we declare this one fixed.

2. The Raiden bait-and-switch

It’s hard to think of a game that was as strongly anticipated pre-release, and then almost as strongly reviled post-release, as Metal Gear Solid 2. And it was all over one little flaw: it didn’t star Solid Snake. Instead, MGS2 forced us to play through its story as whiny, self-absorbed pretty-boy Raiden. Making matters worse, creator Hideo Kojima had deliberately misled fans about the switch, never indicating that there would be a new protagonist just so he could surprise players with it.

Above: One of these things is not like the others… 

The surprise was pulled off beautifully, but it turned out that a lot of Metal Gear fans don’t like surprises – especially not when they involve a beloved main character being absent for much of the game. Eventually, people got over it, but Raiden remains the only Metal Gear hero who had to be completely redesigned as an impossibly badass cyborg ninja before anyone would even consider liking him as a character.

Above: MUCH better. Now make it so he never talks 

3. Your enemies are colossal morons

Call this one a concession to fun gameplay, but if we were guarding a top-secret facility, and we spotted some old guy who wasn’t supposed to be there, we wouldn’t give the all-clear after a sweep of the immediate area turned up nothing but a suspiciously open vent and a cardboard box that wasn’t there a minute ago.

Above: Guess it wasn’t that clear after all, huh? 

4. The story’s more needlessly convoluted than Lost

Metal Gear’s story, rife as it is with betrayals and secret conspiracies, has never exactly been straightforward. Beginning with MGS2, however, its complexity became preposterously hard to follow, continually delving into weird aspects of the characters’ backstories and tossing up red herrings and confusing new developments. There were multiple conspiracies to keep track of (The Patriots? The Philosophers? The Sons of Liberty? La lu li le lo?), each with several hidden puppet-masters. Certain major plot points actually made less sense when they were explained. (Ocelot tricked himself into believing he was being taken over by Liquid Snake’s arm, just to mislead the Patriots? That’s… creative.)

Above: And where does this fit in, exactly? 

Then there’s all the weird supernatural stuff, like the ghostly Sorrow, the surreal Psycho Mantis encounter and the bee-filled The Pain. That’s not to mention all the characters who can’t seem to stay dead no matter how many times we see them “die.” As the series continues to break its own rules, muddle its own continuity and become increasingly silly and hard to keep track of, we can’t shake the feeling that Kojima’s doing it just to mess with us.

5. Don’t like PSP? Too bad

For the past 13 years, Metal Gear Solid has become closely associated with the PlayStation brand, so it isn’t exactly surprising that there would be Metal Gear games on the PSP. What is surprising is that two of those games would be must-play, canonical chapters in the franchise, meaning that if you’re not a fan of the ever-less-appealing PSP, or of the idea of playing huge adventure games on a handheld, you’re left out in the cold.

Above: METAL GEAR!?!?

Honestly, though, we’d probably find the idea a lot more appealing if it weren’t for the fact that Peace Walker ditched Metal Gear’s tradition of solo sneakery in exchange for a four-player approach that’s much closer to the Monster Hunter games. And, like in Monster Hunter, you’re going to have an awfully hard time bringing down Peace Walker’s huge bosses without ad-hoc help. Is it still possible to fight them on your own? Sure, but bringing friends along means a serious advantage – as well as a fundamental betrayal of everything Metal Gear has previously stood for.

Apr 25, 2011

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  • blakebeauchamp - April 26, 2011 12:39 a.m.

    BUT... BUT... yeah you're right.
  • Phazon117 - April 26, 2011 12:43 a.m.

    Fantastic article.
  • phoenix_wings - April 26, 2011 12:45 a.m.

    I thought the controls for Peacewalker were just...ridiculous. A favourite line from MGS4 *PMC soldier walks up to body on the ground, not moving.* "...YOU HIT?!"
  • usedforglue - April 26, 2011 12:45 a.m.

    Good stuff. I'm a diehard MGS fan, but these things are so true. However, hating Raiden does seem like the cool thing to do these days. I mean, he wasn't that bad... Right? or was he?
  • RebornKusabi - April 26, 2011 12:50 a.m.

    I fucking love this series, to death, but every SINGLE reason given is crap I hate about this series. Ironic, when you think about it, but like a re***ded child you gave birth to that doesn't know any better, I still persist with my love of the series.
  • D0CCON - April 26, 2011 12:54 a.m.

    These are actually the reasons keeping me away from the series. I play games to, you know, play them. Not watch them. And the story, the sad mess of a story that would make it pretty much impossible to jump into MGS even if I wanted to.
  • FVDub - April 26, 2011 1:02 a.m.

    *cough*gameplay stuck in 1998*cough* Sorry MGS fans.
  • BladedFalcon - April 26, 2011 1:06 a.m.

    Yeah, I love the MGS series, but these 5 complaints are pretty damn valid. I don't mind the cut-scenes at all though, but the fact that Peace Walker was exclusive to the PSP did rub me the wrong way, hard.
  • Redeater - April 26, 2011 1:06 a.m.

    Can someone please answer me one question? I played the second Metal Gear to death. I played the third Metal Gear. I haven't played the fourth one yet..... How is it that your half brother or clone or whatever the fuck Solidus Snake was supposed to be was never explained???? Seriously?? The president of the USA is your brother and they don't bother to explain it?? I remember hearing on t'dar about how they don't bring it up in the fourth one but if someone out there has some knowledge please explain this to me.
  • SolarPoweredShitMachine - April 26, 2011 1:12 a.m.

    Isn't a Solidus a forward slash or "/" ? Why did it go from Solid Snake to Liquid Snake to... Solidus Snake? (Never mind just remembered that it's also Latin for solid. Derp.)
  • usedforglue - April 26, 2011 1:15 a.m.

    This link gives a good background of who Solidus Snake was and why he became president - He was basically put in power by the patriots. The MGS story isn't as complicated as it all seems if you can actually keep track of each character and each organization... No, never mind. It is overly complicated
  • Nin10DOH - April 26, 2011 1:26 a.m.

    The damn PSP won't let me enjoy two quality MGS games. Then again, I'm also too cheap to buy one.
  • ricochetguro - April 26, 2011 1:29 a.m.

    Remember this is the week of hate guys, don't get upset. The Raiden switch up never bothered me because I didn't get into MGS until a year or so after 2 came out(so I already knew you played as Raiden) Plus it furthered the story. And I love the psp so boo #5.
  • rockstarsean - April 26, 2011 1:39 a.m.

    ! BLASPHEME But yeah as much as I'm obsessed with Metal Gear, you're completely right. I'd also add: Metal Gear & Metal Gear 2 are both central to the canon and only on MSX or Subsistence --- Metal Gear Solid 3 Subsistence cost at LEAST £40-50 --- Fatman & the bomb defusing = zzzz --- It makes nearly every other series look basic by comparison --- that's it, can't think of any more.
  • crashonskis - April 26, 2011 1:44 a.m.

    well I played through peace walker solo, no prob. exept the torture sequence, which had me stuck for hours ( I was on a roadtrip, so no google) but peace walker was amazing! best shooter on psp
  • Yeager1122 - April 26, 2011 1:49 a.m.

    Yes i hate the overally long cutscenes in the mgs series i want to play the game more then watch it.
  • Markstone - April 26, 2011 1:56 a.m.

    I got into the series at MGS4 (good god those cut scenes lasted forever), so I really don't get all the Raiden hate, I guess I should pick up a copy of MGS2 and see what all the fuss is about. P.S. Great Article!
  • Riche666 - April 26, 2011 1:56 a.m.

    What!?! Why start out the week of hate with this? I love Solid Metal Gears! One of the complaints was that the series had good games on a pretty bad platform? And you know the cutscenes are skipable, which is good if the story is too "complicated" for some people to want to follow anyway. I know one thing, I hate this article;)No, seriously, I hate it.
  • Errrrbo - April 26, 2011 2:33 a.m.

    How did you not mention that the controls are absolutely atrocious? I didn't mind it in the early games, but in MGS 4, you couldn't even shoot from cover without standing all the way up. I know there's some nostalgia tied to crappy controls in MGS games, but to not have it fixed in 2008 is just annoying. If you need bad controls to make a game be liked, you've got problems. Also, the writing isn't very good.
  • CH3BURASHKA - April 26, 2011 2:57 a.m.

    People give Raiden an endless amount of shit that he doesn't deserve. I've always maintained that MGS2 was a third-person-perspective story about Snake, and I loved it on par with 1 and 3, if not more. The end song really hit it home for me. Metal Gear Solid may be all of these things above, but it's still a fantastic series deserving of attention. Can't wait to see what Rising is all about - it's been nearly a year since we've seen anything.

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