With MGSV coming along very soon I thought I’d post some thoughts and rank out the games I’ve fully played from the series and Rising because I like it. To be honest, I wasn’t that big into MGS until somewhat recently- I’ve played most of the games when they originally released pretty much on the day of them coming out (all but the MSX games, AC!D, and Portable Ops) even multiple times for some, but I just never LOVED the series. It was pretty cool but never hooked me like it had so many others to give a shit about the convoluted story or think it was AMAZING.
That changed pretty drastically the moment the E3 2013 redband trailer released for MGSV. Miller was always my top favorite character ever since MGS1 released (even though that wasn’t actually him) and then PW just made me certain of that, and here he was not only as a focus but delivering (with amazing talent at that) some of the most powerful lines I’ve ever heard come out of a video game and in such a genuine real way. It blew me away and I felt my view on the franchise completely change right then and it made me dig way more into the series, read all the wikis, learn all the random theories, try and figure it all out and really get deep into it. So, while I may not be a typical “mega fan” of the series, I really do love the franchise at this point, know as much as anyone else really at this point, and have more hype for MGSVs release than I’ve had for really any other game. Trying to speculate about so many facets of it has been the most fun I’ve ever had doing that sort of thing ever as well.
So I figured I’d write up a not-too-long personal ranking list of the games and some small thoughts on each which I was able to think more deeply on recently thanks to the past year of Metal Gear Scanlon over at Giant Bomb letting me relive the games through the view of someone just unbelievably bad at video games and a possibly retarded person from Kansas. It helped me sort some of my feelings for the games and really figure out why I hated or loved the ones I did while also just refreshing me on the story and gameplay of each.
This is from worst to best, or rather least enjoyed to most enjoyed.
Metal Gear Solid 4
I hate this game. The story is stupid and the gameplay doesn’t exist. You literally, and I do mean literally, play for sometimes less than 30 seconds before going from one cutscene to yet another – and these are not just ‘long’ cutscenes but ones that are often times literally the length of full feature films out of hollywood. This wouldn’t be as big a problem if the story itself wasn’t fucking retarded beyond anything else Kojima has ever dreamed up with the beloved NANOMACHINES for every “explanation” leaving 99% of the plot threads hanging and of course the fake out ending that just served as an info dump to try and clean all the loose ends up (with nanomachines).
The bosses did this game no favor either, which is sad given they are almost the only gameplay you get the entire game. Each boss fight is very boring and lacks any thought on your part, but the worst part is the bosses as characters. They have no purpose and are not actual characters – instead of Kojima’s usual interesting over the top villains we get generic models in robot suits with a sloppily thrown together generic “their lives were bad as kids” backstories for all of them told to us after the fight in the most boring fashion possible…looking at a still image while Drebin drones on for 15 minutes.
The game does have some good stuff though like Sunny, the return of Raiden (fuck you, Raiden was always likable), customization for your weapons, mount snakemore, MOTHERFUCKING REX, and a cool but poorly implemented fist fight with Ocelot. It just doesn’t let those things live up to their potential because everything else drags them down so fucking much. MGS4 is a blight on the series and only good in that it makes me laugh every time I see people bitch about FF13 being a hallway simulator and then go on later to praise this game when it’s a thousand times fucking worse.
Metal Gear Solid 3
This is really not much of a step up from 4 – I fucking hate MGS3. Actually, I probably hate it more than 4 but this game is less fucking retarded so I didn’t put it as last, it’s also got more gameplay and some elements I really loved (but nobody else did for some reason). First, I hated the setting, I also hated the cast aside Para-medic. Big Boss is showcased to kind of be a bitch of a man for an ugly old hag and while I do understand the intentions behind the whole story and his obsession with her, it just doesn’t work – it comes off as corny, forced, and really fucking stupid especially with the turn it takes in the end to make Big Boss end up the villain of the whole series. It’s fucking stupid – but it IS important to all the other fucking stupid shit – and it’s at least very easy to follow this time around.
Speaking of The Boss – pure shit. She is a completely vapid ‘strong womyn’ character who has nothing worth mentioning about her beyond that and no personality at all. She is just a plot device without even a slight bit more than that to her, making her even bad at just being that. With her as the focus the whole game suffers drastically, and the whole big deal about “America betraying her” isn’t even actually true yet people miss the fact her mission is described in detail 300 times including the “snake will kill you at the end” part.
The bosses here were creative and the over-the-top stupid you want out of a metal gear game – an electric russian, BEEEEES, and several others including an old man you can just let die from waiting a week after saving.
As for the “elements I really loved”, I’m mostly referring to the medical system and camo system. I don’t get the hate for these, I thought they were fantastically implemented and really added to the game. Meticulous, sure, but unique in a good way that added enjoyment for me at least. I liked all the menus and finding the best camo and picking bullets out of my leg, it felt cool, unlike “stand still and it magically changes your camo/heals your HP” that MGS4 has.
Not a total pile of shit, but not much better than one either.
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes
I wasn’t sure if I should include this as a “game” on the list, but whatever. I found this one took me a lot longer to get used to playing, but once I got comfortable it was actually really fun and even addicting. A seemingly 2 hour demo became something more like 12 hours of trying to do things perfectly, exploring around this area, and just trying various methods to do the same (or one of the other several available) mission. It’s really cool that there are so many genuine options available to the player and it makes it feel far from repetitive. The reason this is so low isn’t due to the game being bad, but simply because it really is just a demo of what to expect the gameplay to be like in V while giving you some very important story information to lead you into the full real game.
I also really enjoyed having Miller talking up a storm during this whole thing even on the side-ops, which seemed to have a lot of thought and work put into them. It’s also worth mentioning that Kiefer does a much better job than Hayter and I already really like him in this role, even if it ends up in V that he isn’t the same Big Boss he still was here so either way he’s played real big boss and he’s done a great job of it.
I do have a problem with them selling this though – even at the price they did, but I can’t complain about that as I got it free through PS+.
Metal Gear Solid 2
I actually liked 2 a lot even being Raiden and all, and actually after Revengeance he’s pretty fucking awesome so I don’t mind it at all nowadays. He’s a lot more interesting to play as compared to Solid Snake or Big Boss as well, primarily because Raiden has actual lines rather than repeating whats said to him as a question – it also helps that his voice actor is actually talented unlike David “I’ve done nothing in my life aside a few failed movies and one fucking voice role that anyone knows about and I put not effort into so I’ll obsess over it when I get fired” Hayter who would just grumble shit out. Raiden actually made this game incredibly likable, as did several great systems that are somehow missing even in newer titles. Most notably the ability to shoot radios so guards can’t call for backup and them having to call for it in the first place either way, which in most MGS games is just “if they see you everyone is alerted”.
Along with Raiden, the story itself was really interesting and took some crazy twists which at the time were some of the first huge ones in Metal Gear Solid’s story, as MGS1 is pretty straightforward. It also features my second favorite metal gear of all time – Ray, which is just adorable but also somehow really cool.
Metal Gear Solid
MGS is essentially a typical Hollywood action flick mixed with plenty of anime. It lacks all the insane bullshit that starts in 2 for the most part and is very easy to follow while still having depth to the story and characters. Solid Snake here was at his finest and Hayter’s poor line delivery just made him more charismatic as a character. Going into this game, most people had no clue what to expect – it was the vast majority of player’s first time playing a Metal Gear game at all and that also gave it a really great sense of mystery yet you could tell right from the start this would be so much bigger than you thought. Both at the time and now the game was and is fantastic. It’s simple but has plenty of depth, the gameplay is very straightforward aside the awful control scheme, the characters were wacky as all hell, and it just felt great and like a totally unlike-anything-else adventure to step into. It is easily the most memorable of the games for sure even with its flaws, and I think that’s something most fans of the series would agree on. Of course the game has Metal Gear Rex as well, another thing I think most fans would agree is easily the best of them all.
Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker
I’ve always, for some reason, felt Miller was the coolest character in the series ever since “his appearance” in MGS1, so his focus in this game admittedly makes me a bit biased. A lot of people say this game is shit but it seems like every complaint I’ve seen boils down to the game being handheld and structured differently from usual, along with the addition of mother base micromanagement and a lack of a billion hour long cutscenes. Basically, it sounds like people hate this for actually having long stretches of gameplay as if it’s an affront to the franchise somehow. I think the real issue is just that it’s too different from what most fans would expect from a title in the series, ESPECIALLY anyone who got the HD version on a console – as the game still has all the same limitations as it did on handheld without the context of being on a handheld to make it feel sensible.
As for the game, well the story itself is kind of dumb and widely irrelevant to the series aside some key points (such as MSF forming, for example), but what IS important are the characters and relationships between them all. This is where this game shines and probably what makes me love it above the rest as I’m huge on that type of thing. Instead of crazy spectacle in cutscenes and a billion dumb jokes in codecs, we actually get to know very personally Miller, Paz, and even Chico throughout the game, primarily in tapes – three extremely important characters. Learning about them and even some less relevant people like the French girl really gave this whole series more meat and believability than it ever had prior for the cast. Everything from big important shit like Miller working with Cipher in the past to a certain Paz tape describing a fight between Miller and Big Boss while they were naked in the showers and everything in between like Miller having a band that Paz would sing for or him being a huge womanizer – it all made these characters so much more real and likable than hearing a pretty much irrelevant Russian woman tell me “that’s a gun, it shoots bullets and could be useful” or having Rose ask me if I remembered what day it is. It displayed Kojima’s silly world and characters at their best.
Another great addition to the game was managing Mother Base, fultoning people and equipment back there, and of course sending them off on their own missions as well. It was a fantastic little management sim that really added to the game and was enjoyable to play around with. It also featured the best logo in the series and some fun co-op.
As a build up to V, and originally being V itself, it’s even more important now and more enjoyable looking back – as it’s the perfect lead in to the newest and final Kojima game.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
WHAT?! B-B-B-B-BUT THAT’S NOT EVEN A METAL GEAR SOLID GAME. Yeah well I already said I’m including this because I love it. It’s probably BECAUSE it’s not an MGS game that it’s so fucking fantastic. It carries all the same over-the-top awesomeness and hilarious bullshit that the series is known for while featuring Raiden as a mega-badass, Sunny now a little bit older and a thousand times cuter as a super genius prodigy now able to use that talent of hers for much bigger things, a fucking robot dog, a mega-senator, and of course Metal Gear Ray in whats probably one of my favorite first missions in any game ever. Can’t forget the incredible gameplay that makes it really one of the best action games ever from those I’ve played at least, which is odd given I don’t really like fucking anything else Platinum has ever made. It’s a wild and dumb-fun ride of chopping the shit out of things and breaking spines for health regeneration while intense music blares over everything. Is it what the series should be? No, but fuck if I don’t want a sequel.
We’ll have to wait and see how MGSV fairs, but from the looks of it it’ll be knocking everything down a spot and reigning at number 1. Though the fact they took out Miller’s Ray Ban Aviators for some cheap Japanese shit annoys me enough to mention it here apparently. I know a lot of people really love 3 and hate PW, so this list probably won’t be similar to your own.