So this is what I’ve been playing most of the time for the last near-two months. This is probably the most time I’ve ever spent on a single player game. Even in Elder Scrolls games I don’t usually clock in at much more over 100 hours (not including expansions), and I actually had to cut back on how much stuff I was doing because if I’d kept on going back and doing every single optional objective in main missions, like I’d been doing for the first 10 missions or so, I’d probably be going for another few weeks still.
This is a game that I’m still not sure how to feel about. Obviously it has some great gameplay and a ton of shit to do or I’d never have spent anywhere near as much time on it, but the further you get into it, the more it starts becoming clear that this is a depressingly incomplete game. I’ll get back to that in a minute though. First let me talk about what was good about it.
The good news is this game is huge and filled with things to do, places to see, items and people to get, and more ways than you will ever probably even try of getting things done. There are 50 main missions that play out in kind of an episodic format, each with their own set of optional objectives that you can go back and try to complete for bonuses, as well as 157 (mostly) optional side missions. These are all spread out across the huge open areas of Afghanistan and Africa.
Sneaking around stealth killing and kidnapping people to force into your army is ridiculously addictive and fun and it carries the game well enough for most of its time, but a lot of the optional stuff involves some really heavy repetition. Side missions will have you returning to the same locations you’ve already been through on the main missions, and many times. It can be a bit much.
There’s so much to do too, and so many ways to do it. Vehicles, support animals/buddies/robots, item development and customization, all the various functions of your helicopter, base building, staff management, collectibles, animals, cardboard box fast travel, and none of this is even touching the various online aspects of the game. There is so much going on here that I’m not even going to get into it all in detail. None of these things are what’s wrong with the game either.
The real problem here is that Konami and Hideo Kojima had their falling out right in the middle of development of this game and there comes a point in the game which you can tell is exactly when he left. Everything after “Chapter 1” (main missions 1-30) is so blatantly and sloppily pieced together from incomplete scraps, packed together by padding in the form of challenge missions, which are jammed in with the story missions and just involve you replaying a bunch of story missions on a higher difficulty.
The game literally has no ending either. There are a few out of place missions that are meant to be the end, but they are really sudden and out of context, and don’t really do anything to resolve the main plot, which never comes to a conclusion, just kind of trails off right in the middle. Sure there’s a mission out of nowhere that spells it out for you that SPOILER…
you’re not really Big Boss (shut up, if you didn’t figure out that twist while you were playing the PROLOGUE of the game, you have problems), but this falls very flat, as your secret identity is revealed to be…just a random soldier from Mother Base. That’s the big secret. You’re just a random guy that’s been put in Big Boss’ place to keep things going while he’s off doing, I don’t know, more important shit I guess. They never really explain what this accomplishes other than when a little timeline scrolls past almost too fast to be read, which kindly lets you know that fake Big Boss was actually the Big Boss you fought all the way back in Metal Gear 1 and you didn’t really fight the real Big Boss until Metal Gear 2, except he “died” there too and turned out to be alive again the whole time anyway so how is any of that an improvement? I don’t know. I suppose you could look at it as an interesting metaphor of the state of this game and the dysfunctional relationship of Kojima and Konami, but that doesn’t do much to help the dissatisfaction of the “ending”…
..because meanwhile, young Liquid Snake and Psycho Mantis steal your giant robot and all your child soldiers and sabotage your base and just run off, never to be heard from again because that part of the game literally wasn’t finished yet so Konami just said fuck it let’s slap the rest of this shit together and ship it anyway because we’ve got important fucking pachinko machines to make.
It’s just such a letdown in that second half, especially when you stop to think about how much was right about the game before that and that this could have easily been literally one of the greatest games of all time if it had actually been finished.
Sadder still is the knowledge that this is finally the end of Metal Gear and actually, probably the last real video game we will ever see from Konami. It’s nice to know that Hideo has plans to continue making games, but I can’t help but feel a little upset that Konami and all their iconic franchises like Metal Gear, Castlevania, Contra, and Silent Hill are basically dead now. Fuck.
Oh well. On to the next game!