xannoside: (games)
Ok, I'm not going to add to the millions of other reviews out there praising Metal Gear Solid 4. By this point, every good thing that has been mentioned has been mentioned, analyzed, and praised.

And it's all true. Every word of it. MGS4 is that good.

However, there is one particularly noticeable area which, for me, is a major quibble: its narrative pacing and structure.

Look, I have nothing against the episodic narrative model. Taking the time to flesh out sub-plots in their individual arcs can work very, very well when you have a lot of material to work in.

But when each episode does almost nothing to advance the plot, all the extra time spent on those episodes makes it harder and harder to sit through each successive one, even when individual plot moments are full of awesome.

Each chapter of MGS4 is basically the same: Snake looks for Liquid, shit gets in his way, there's a few long, long references to previous game plot-threads, Snake talks philosophy with someone, boss fight, Snake doesn't manage to stop Liquid yet. Rinse and repeat.

It's pretty much the like someone thought the narrative structure of MGS2 was awesome and decided it could only be more awesome by making it bigger and longer.

So much effort went into the gameplay and mechanics that it's a little jarring how little (relatively) went into making the plot fun to experience, especially for a series that prides itself on its atmosphere and philosophical pondering.

It's especially disappointing after MGS3. One reason why I loved MGS3 so much was because the plot pacing was perfect. Every single thing that happened moved the story along, subtly building into an amazing crescendo of action and emotion that contributed towards creating the best action-game experience I had ever played.

Unfortunately, it seems like Hideo Kojima just didn't realize just how much he had improved his formula with MGS3, and the fourth game, despite its overall magnificence, suffers from it.


xannoside: (Default)

February 2012

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