28 July 2008

Angel Called "Satan"

I wish I knew where this clip came from. It's whole-heartedly unsettling but I can't take my eyes away!

The clip is actually an adaptation of a story Mark Twain didn't quite finish called "The Mysterious Stranger." Have a look here.

-Thanks Potatofriend!

26 July 2008

Metal Gear Solid 4 is Shit

Metal Gear Solid 4 is one of the biggest pieces of shit I've ever played. I've played many pieces of shit, but MGS4 represents a new industry standard for shit. You could call it stealth shit since nobody seems to have caught on as to just how utterly shitty this shit is. Straight up shit.

Anyway, I started getting furious at this game after the first mandatory (and irrelevant) cutscene at the beginning that emulated a television--complete with live actors. This would have been fun and all, but you couldn't skip it after it got boring. I'm still furious at this game even now as I write this review while the credits are rolling. As I'm considering the problems the makers faced in producing a game they had to have known made no sense and was dull to play, I have to consider the problems of reviewing a blockbuster title like MGS4. One of the problems with an MGS4 review is critics are afraid to reveal plot elements others would consider spoilers (Konami seemed to be paranoid about this as well with their NDA). I ask: "Is it possible to spoil shit?" I suppose spoiled shit is something everyone wants to avoid, but I'm willing to risk it and spoil as much of the plot as necessary to dissuade you from this crap-shoot.

The original Metal Gear Solid is one of the best games ever made and should be the example title of the series which all other Metal Gears are compared with. By combining stealth, fast-paced action, and a plot that carries the game instead of tripping it, MGS landed a spot as one of my all-time personal favorites. Every one of those things is missing in this game, making it difficult to forgive and even more difficult to play.

The real problem with MGS4 starts right from the very beginning with that non-skippable tee-vee cutscene I mentioned earlier. Cutscenes strangle this game with pointless explanations to fill in the plot holes of earlier games. I'll use my shit metaphor again since all the plot holes are filled with the same substance--"nanomachines"--which could also just as easily be called "shit". As in, "you can't kill me as long as I have this shit running through my veins," or, "Liquid is going to take over the world using third generation shit," or even, "use this syringe to suppress the shit causing your seizures." Quite literally, the micro-robots central to this plot could be replaced with poop. Let's also not forget the confusing acronyms this game loves so dearly and frequently abuse in a love-hate relationship, or LHR for short.

I really want to do an in-depth plot analysis to pick apart the shittiness, but the game is frankly undeserving of it. So, I'll just gloss over the points that feel like pungee sticks jammed into my ear-holes. First, there is the little issue of Raiden being like the third or fourth cyborg ninja in this game series. Hideo Kojima has made a habit of taking the same game he made in 1998 and repackaging it over and over again. The same is certainly true for the plot, so I should not be surprised, but it makes me wonder if in the Metal Gear universe nobody buries any bodies since they tend to come back as cyborgs, clones, or simply for the hell of it like in the case of Big Boss making an appearance at the end just so he can drop dead again after hugging the same son who earlier burned him to death with hairspray and before that blew him up with a rocket launcher.

Some who read my opinions on this game might see me as a numskull for "not getting" why Kojima has made the same game over and over again and consider it brilliance to have so many traced parallels between the games, but I think the problem is those individuals are the ones who don't get it and should go play Megaman to appreciate the ultimate brilliance of making the same game over and over again about 20 times. At least they will have more fun playing Megaman than sitting and watching Snake and Otacon's little girl they re-kidnapped make eggs that Snake won't eat. All the Metal Gear games tend to have conflicting explanations about things like Big Boss's age, how many times he has died, etc. so it baffles me each time Kojima presents a long explanation about shit nobody cares about and wrests control of the game away from you so he can sleep comfortably at night knowing, "they finally know why I'm the Voice of God in my game." (Check the credits on that one if you don't believe me.)

There is also the issue of Drebin, a wholeheartedly unnecessary character if it weren't for the fact he had an armored car that popped up every time Kojima wrote himself into a corner that nanomachines couldn't get him out of. Drebin could have just as easily been replaced with the nameless merchant from Resident Evil 4 and not had to deliver lengthy codec conversations explaining why a bitch in a robot suit was crazy. All the characters are afflicted with giving lengthy explanations for questions nobody in the game even bothered to ask. By the time they are done speaking, I may have gotten a sandwich, shopped for some music off of Amazon, or skipped the cutscene entirely because I ran out of sandwich meat and/or money.

Let's not forget Meryl and Johnny, either. Remember the dude in MGS1 who Meryl beat up, stole his clothes, and then for the rest of his life he had crippling diarrhea? Well they got married right after Johnny confessed his love to her while they were shooting girl-ninjas armed with machineguns. There was a flashback of Johnny's censored asshole and him doing CPR on her. I watched the cutscene and couldn't believe anybody was taking this shit seriously. The whole scene felt awkward because I didn't know if it was supposed to be funny or if Kojima actually thought this was the best way for Meryl to get hitched. Either way the cutscene took easily 20 minutes and was glad it was over so I could get back to Snake being fisted in the ass by an army of three-armed robots (quite possibly the stupidest enemy in any Konami game ever).

I'm starting to rant a bit about characters, so I suppose it is time I drop the show stopper for this game nobody else seems to have picked up on. Snake is fantastically old and was told he had only a few months left to live, a theme which should be core to the game. His health and status deteriorate rapidly through the game and, for the first time, you can see just how badly Snake suffers during a mission. I felt highly sympathetic towards him through most of the game and my heart sank during a dumb little codec conversation where Otacon asked Snake for a number you were supposed to remember. Since I inhaled paint fumes out of boredom while playing this game I forgot it within a second of Otacon telling me the number and I had to watch Snake come to grips with not even being able to remember a simple 5-digit number for a few seconds. Another scene that felt very heavy was when Snake told a joke that fell flat during a mission briefing and having Meryl belittle him in a way that sounded like, "hush now grandpa, we need to figure out which rest home you're going to die in." There is also the scene where you have to button mash Snake's crusty old ass through a microwave oven so he can complete his mission to destroy a computer in a submarine.

I really felt for Snake and by the end had accepted that this was going to be his 'last mission' (at least in the front of my mind since in the back of my mind I had already watched the ending on YouTube the day after it came out). Snake was preparing to end his life since he was an old man with no legacy and now only a burden on the world. I worked hard for this moment so Snake could finally be at peace with himself. Then, in a move of surprise-cock-in-your-ass magnitude, Big Boss shows up and tells Snake not to kill himself and to instead live for a few more months and then die. It was especially disappointing since Big Boss usually only came back from the grave for a final boss fight, which the 80 or 90 year-old cock-block wouldn't even afford us. Perhaps that is the brighter side of things, but one long, dull cutscene at the end made all the rest of the heart-felt suffering in Snake's character irrelevant just the same way as when Rose went back to Raiden to raise their retard in a Donald Duck uniform because her marriage with Colonel was a lie.

It's like Kojima wrote the first 80% of the game and then a fan-fiction author finished the last 20% so all his dollies could live happily ever after. Perhaps you might think I'm too harsh as there are many other games with far worse plots. For a convenient, comparable example you could take your pick of the Resident Evil series and it will be written far worse than even this shit-fest, but I don't recall ever having to sit through a cutscene longer than a few minutes in any of the Resident Evils and the plot never took itself anymore seriously than it needed too thanks to cheesy dialog. I suppose dumb plot-devices and lengthy cutscenes could be forgiven if MGS4 actually had some fun gameplay, but Hideo Kojima was more interested in making a crappy movie than a game.

My list of complaints for the gameplay is short since there is relatively so little gameplay compared to the time spent sitting through cutscenes. The gameplay felt like Splinter Cell with more guns, far fewer shadows, and much stupider guards. The laughable AI in MGS2 is every bit as competent as the AI in MGS4, which is cruelly ironic since the ultimate villain in this game is actually an AI. There were no entertaining boss fights, sneaking just flat out doesn't work, and they also did away with the in-depth first-aid and camo system that made MGS3 so innovative. I just stopped sneaking at one point and had more fun walking around killing both sides of the PMC/rebel conflicts. Those conflicts were easily the most dull parts of the game since the rebels tended to ignore you and the PMCs would stop fighting their dumb little war to chase after you if they saw you. The first time a PMC saw me, stopped shooting at the rebels and then called for radio backup because, "the enemy is here," I though it had been a glitch. No, it seems to be just the way the ass-backwards AI works in this game, so I made it my mission to kill everything the AI controls in this game and really stopped giving a shit about Metal Gears and nano-machines.

There were a few exceptions to this rule of shit gameplay, but not many. The Metal Gear Ray vs. Metal Gear Rex battle was almost fun but so isolated from the rest of the game it felt like something out of Wario Ware, which is dreadfully disappointing since the game is called "Metal Gear Solid 4," and I anticipated an epic Metal Gear battle at the end like I had been treated to in all but the original Metal Gear for the NES, but instead quickly killed off Ray and then went right on not giving a shit about the patriots or my dead brother's arm who had possessed a Russian cowboy. The final showdown with Liquid had a similar vibe except I realized I had done that same boss fight ten years ago in the original MGS. And then there was the flash-back to Shadow Moses where snake was young and the graphics were polygonal, I was actually having fun until I realized I could have turned off MGS4, went to a game store, bought MGS1 and played that instead and had a lot more fun. The free camera and array of practically indistinguishable weapons made MGS4 feel painfully dull compared with the snappy and simple gameplay of the original MGS. In MGS4, after you get a shotgun you've pretty much won the game as I killed practically all the bosses using one. In fact, the biggest challenge I faced in the game was making Snake do what I wanted him to. The controls were confusing and felt like standard FPS controls pulled through the eye of a needle--if that makes sense. There were so many occasions where I saw an easy kill but it was already too late to make the kill when I finally got Snake pointed in the right direction with the sights up. Other than that inconvenience I had absolutely no fear of the game winning. You can get hit a bazillion times and stay standing so long as you had your rations equipped and not one of the enemies posed that great of a threat. The Gekko were simple to take down and the Frogs more annoying than anything else. In fact, on my first run through I only had to continue 7 times and at least two of those were because I fell off one ledge or another during a crappy camera angle.

Considering the way games like Resident Evil 4 forever changed third-person shooters, MGS4 made only vague attempts to learn from that game since none of the enemies were terribly interesting in MGS4, which is also the best way to describe MGS4: "Not terribly interesting." This could be called a game for fans, but I consider myself a big fan of Metal Gear and I think this game is precisely shit. I know there are a lot of fans who adore this game and consider it the best out of the series, so good for them, but if you're the kind of person who buys a game to play it, enjoy it, and not to use as reference material for your compendium of Metal Gear trivia, then stay the fuck away from this shit.

09 July 2008


Do I really need to explain this video?

02 July 2008