INEXCUSABLE #2: Things i hate about Metal Gear Solid
I've played through the Metal Gears on the NES, the MSX, the Playstation, even the Metal Gear Acid ones on the PSP, and as i'm going through MGS3 now there are just some choices that i have no idea why they haven't backed out on. I know they released MGS3 Subsistence now to mend certain things like the draconian camera, but as far as i know the control setup is, was, will always be the wildest bout of controller masturbation any developer ever put a joypad through. Kojima's credo it seems is If It's There Make A Jonesey Of It (i just made that expression up. It means to use it a lot).
The PS2 dual shock joypad has the following buttons:
2 Left buttons
2 Right buttons
8 directional joypad
4 analog face buttons
two analog sticks that depress for another 2 buttons
a select button
a start button
That gives the joypad 20 buttons (TWENTY) which may be utilized by developers.
In every single gameplay mode of MGS, every single button is being put to use. Sometimes the uses differ depending on the situation you're in, how long they're held down, how HARD they're pressed, how they're pressed in combination with others.
With all this in mind, recall that Solid Snake or any other snake progeny moves like a broken matchbox car compared to the more recent Sam Fisher of the Splinter Cell games. Splinter cell has context sensitive buttons. Metal Gear has a button for every context. It's been a while since i played Falcon 4, but if i'm not completely mistaken, it took less than 20 buttons to fly an F-16 fighter/bomber, and that's in real life.
What the fuck is up with a world where a game i've played for almost a decade still baffles me with its technicalities? This is a game where moving towards an enemy slowly and moving towards an enemy stealthily are two separate actions, and as such is mapped to two entirely separate input methods. It was confusing enough in MGS2, but at least that planted you in a somewhat rigid environment. MGS3 places you in an open, "free" area with myriads of tactical possibilities, and as awesome as that is, the moments where the game just flat out stumbles over its torturous button layout are so plentiful it makes me seriously question mr Kojima's prowess as a game designer. As a storyteller and systems engineer i have no doubt in my mind he's a class act through and through, but what makes Miyamoto such a god damn champ is that he can convey this level of perceived complexity through an action that flows through your fingers like a word off your tongue.
Some games revel in complexity. System Shock 2 had an interface that almost felt designed as a moodpiece rather than an actual interface (when else would you want details on what exactly a cup was). Deus Ex thrived on its same level of perceived complexity, where a point and click inventory system would allow users to handle multiple kinds of ammo and other categories of objects. Deus Ex 2 took more flak from die hard players than any other fora, and one of the major reason was a "dumbing down".
Making Solid Snake control like a game character and not some arcane device uncovered in an alien mineshaft wouldn't, in this gamer's eye, be dumbing the game down. If MGS4 controls anything like MGS3, salty tears will fall, because this idiocy is messing up a perfectly good game of storydriven stealth action.