Metal Gear Solid 4-play

Isn’t that just such a clever blog headline? I should freakin’ write for Details or something.

Anyway. I wouldn’t be a true member of the gaming press if I weren’t party to large-scale “independent” projects that ultimately serve as reinforcement for some publisher’s marketing efforts, and to that end I have been placed in charge of our “four weeks of Metal Gear Solid 4” hub page. And, it turns out, the bulk of the content that goes with it. Today we start with a hands-on preview, which I tried to make as spoiler-free as possible as a courtesy to you — you won’t learn anything new about the story that you hadn’t seen in the early trailers for the game — and the coming weeks will have additional in-depth previews, a retrospective and even a smart-ass video feature from Sharkey. Because you demanded it.

Well, actually, you didn’t demand. But you’ll click, and I guess that’s what matters.

I hope this isn’t coming off as too cynical. If it is, you can blame all the behind-the-scenes nonsense surrounding this game like a suffocating miasma of stupidity. That LA trip I took last week was actually to go to Konami’s offices and review the game, and some of the fallout of that whole process seriously makes me want to warn people away from ever even thinking about getting sucked into a gaming press job. I’d explain, but I’m legally prevented from doing so. Ha! Ha! Ugh. Normally the gaming press operates on a series of gentlemen’s agreements to pretend we don’t know nothin’ about a game until such-and-such a date, but in this case it was less an agreement and more me being thrown to the ground with a bootheel on my throat and my arm twisted until it nearly snapped. Nevertheless, ever the obedient corporate lackey, I have written up a preview of the game’s first hour — which I (re) played last night at a press event — while pretending I have no idea what lies beyond these sections. Even better was the Metal Gear saga plot synopsis I wrote the other day for an upcoming feature in which I feigned ignorance of the upcoming title’s revelations (and in a few cases wrote things that will ultimately be dead wrong).

Seriously, guys, do something better with your life than write about video games. Let me be your living cautionary tale.

The thing is, I enjoy MGS4 and like writing about it. But the rest… well, it’s quite a downer to think that my 20-year relationship with a great series culminates on such a sour note, especially since my negativity has nothing whatsoever to do with the game itself. I imagine the closer you get to the inner workings of things you love, the more you learn about their sickly awful truths. I shudder to think what would happen if I ever actually worked on things like this. I’d probably set fire to an EB Games or something.

Oh well, at least nothing’s tainted my enjoyment of Castlevania… yet. I’ve gotta say that Order of Ecclesia looks a heck of a lot better than I expected. (The link is a preview! You can learn the game’s amazing truths there!) And I have even updated “” (such as it is) to reflect the new announcement. Hmm… there’s been a real dearth of this genre in the past year or two, eh? But yeah, it’s nice to be pleasantly surprised every once in a while. Yes, yes, the still capture image blown to several times its actual size looks poopy — in motion on a DS screen this will look very nice.

20 thoughts on “Metal Gear Solid 4-play

  1. Months of MGS4 hype have failed to inspire anything except apathy in me, but a shot of a pixelated pirate ship and a few vague story details about a new Metroidvania already have me breaking out in a big stupid grin. I’m obviously a man with his priorities straight.

  2. I’ve got another addition for your list that popped into my mind a few days ago, to go into the Windows/DOS section: Capitan Comic/Capitan Comic II. I suppose you could add the NES one, though I don’t know how it compares to the original release in DOS.

    It’s got all the good Metriodvania traits, exploring, gaining items that increase your exploration range, weapon powerups. And it all happened way back in 1988 for free!

  3. Come on now. It wasn’t that bad! Maybe if you were playing the NES version or something, but when you compare it to the crap that was released in the shareware world around it at the time (Crystal Caverns, Secret Agent and the like) it was the only thing that could stand up to Commander Keen.

    But as I said, just a suggestion, and it need not be added.

  4. You have a policy of not writing about games that suck? When did this happen?

    I think a substantial cynicism regarding this whole games ‘journalism’ process is very much called for. The more I hear about it the more appalling it sounds. I know this kind of thing is inevitable, given that we’re dealing with massive capital-producing entities, and I also know that, living in the society we’re living it, it’s impossible to entirely avoid becoming in some way implicated in all this. But still…there’s implicated and then there’s implicated.

  5. Dude, you did NOT just hate on crystal caverns and secret agent. Apogee games were hella fun back in the day.

  6. “You have a policy of not writing about games that suck? When did this happen?”

    Ah, GeoX — confusing the boundary between “clever” and “obnoxious” as always.

  7. Whoa whoa whoa, bad mouthing Secret Agent and Crystal Caverns? For the PC both those games were great for their day. I think they hold up better than poor old Captain Comic, as much as I did enjoy the games when I was younger. Of course, in general PC platforming games weren’t very good, but those two had their own charms.

    I can’t believe this is the thing that got me to make my first comment here.

  8. “As always?” I rarely post here, and when I do I think it’s mostly pretty inoffensive (of course, I don’t really understand how that last comment could be construed as “obnoxious,” so maybe that’s my problem). It’s not that I’m opposed necessarily, it’s just that I just don’t understand how it’s possible that I could have achieved ANY sort of reputation.

    But anyway, I apologize if I’ve offended anyone in anything other than accepted internet fashion.

  9. Speaking of the inner-workings of the industry, am I a bastard for seeing the new bare white walls of the 1up redesign and thinking, “I wonder how long it’ll be before that retail space is sporting McMuffin ads”?

  10. openedsource: I figured that was why there were blank. No campaign right now.

    I just love it when a website is brought to me by a commercial entity I’ve never heard of and will never hear of again. Especially when 1up seems quite capable of bringing itself to me.

  11. I’m far from a fan of advertising in general, but few large-scale free websites actually are capable of bringing themselves to you. Keeping the servers running and employees paid takes money, and that money comes from advertising. It’s a necessary evil, and the trick is deciding what your limits are.

  12. Yeah, actually, it turns out that our eloquent words don’t transmute directly into cash but instead require the ambitions of corporate entities who value things like “uniques” and “ad impressions.”

  13. You have the right to be bitter and cynical about things sometimes, even though you do have, in many peoples’ eyes including my own, the best job in the world. Even the best job in the world can suck if you get put in a crappy situation (sounds like this is the case).

    As for MGS4, I’m taking Shane’s advice and have gone into a complete media blackout of the game so I don’t spoil ANYTHING. Too much has been revealed to me as it is.

  14. … I suppose it doesn’t count if I go and read all of 1up’s MGS4 coverage about a week or so AFTER the game is released (i.e. after I’ve beaten it), does it? I didn’t think so. *sigh*

    Oh, and I wish you the best of luck in recovering your girlfriend’s data in time.

  15. I hear ya. What sucks is that most people don’t really get it– they hear “You get to write about video games?” (or, “You’re getting into an anime convention with a press badge?”) and then any grousing or complaining isn’t heard for what it is, but sounds to them like, “My crown fits me too tight”, which is, like, WAY TO MISS THE POINT.

  16. Are you going to add the newly re-skined version of Metroid 2 or the ridiculously fantastic looking Metroid psuedo-sequel by those (unknown to me at the moment) programmers?

  17. Have you thought about adding Lost Winds to your Metroidvania list? I don’t know if it conforms to all of your standards, but it does have a fairly sprawling map.

  18. I think someone confused Captain Comic with Commander Keen?

    Also, no Lost Winds is not a Metroidvania.

  19. I saw that you’ve yet to play La-Mulana, chief. You should rectify that. Based on the other stuff you like, I think you’d enjoy a difficult, deliberate action adventure game with music inspired by Konami’s best from the 80s. As to whether it’s a Metroidvania, well, you’ll have to decide for yourself. It’s not so neatly segmented by required abilities as a proper one, but it definitely has a number of the traits. Seriously, try it.

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