Sunday, January 9

Game: Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater

What the heck is wrong with videogames today? Maybe I'm just getting old, but I'm struggling to enjoy myself whilst spending time with many of them these days. Echos recently got the chop off my play list, as did KOTOR (both critically acclaimed games). The only recent game which I'm still playing and expect to reach the end of is Half-Life 2.

Take the MGS series. Considering the previous two, I would have thought it impossible for any sequel to disappoint me. In fact, I've been waiting to play the third iteration, Snake Eater, for a good while now, hoping that this would be the one that fills my current need for a good gaming experience.

Instead I find myself writing a blog about how it is exactly that: A disappointment. Ok, I've only been playing for 50 minutes or so (and 30 of these were for the intro. Bear in mind that unlike other people, I don't mind lengthy cutscenes, provided they're of a good quality. And MGS's have always been and still are superb), but I'm already thinking that, like Metroid Prime 2, I may not see the end of this game.

I really don't know what it is. No wait, I do: Egotistical and arrogant games designers who think they know what we want to play without ensuring that we do. MGS3 is a masterpiece in game design - the locations, game mechanic and story are all polished and you can see that a lot of time an effort has gone into creating them. But it's just not fun to play. In their mission to come up with the perfect gaming experience and pushing the boundaries, the developers have literally lost the plot.

If you're looking for objective reasons, here's a couple:

  1. There's no radar. I mean, what the hell? That's just MGS1/2 on super-hard mode. Instead you get three useless devices which don't really help with enemy avoidance and on top of that run on a battery which you have to keep your eye on. Stupid.
  2. Enemies are bloody good. Ok, we're all looking for improved AI and enemies which test you, but so far it's been impossible for me to play this game how it's asking me to. I've tried sneaking around, but no I still get caught. I try stalking an enemy, but he manages to hear me nonetheless.
  3. The whole stamina mechanic is just dumb. As are backpacks and the cure system.
  4. Stunning as the environments are, they're outside and are harder to navigate than the corridors and rooms of the last two games. The maps are counter-intuitive (and a jungle would be) and it's also not always clear in which direction you should go, or where it's even possible for you to reach.

I dunno, maybe it is me. Maybe I'm just not willing to put in the time and effort into the games I play like I was used to. Maybe the reward isn't enough anymore. Whatever the reason, games had better change if they're to satisfy me, 'cos right now they ain't. I'll keep playing MGS3 'cos I owe the series that much, and I really hope I'll be eating my words. However, if recent experience is anything to go by I'm not sure I will.

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