Kept You Waiting, Huh? – Metal Gear Solid 5 (MGSV) And What Could Have Been

It has been awhile since NoobTubeTV has given the world a piece of its somewhat unique views in the gaming world.  I know you have missed my sardonic presence – and I have missed your views and comments.

The newest and (final?) iteration of the Metal Gear universe has been out for nearly a month and it has proven to be everything I had hoped for from the gameplay perspective shown in the MGS5 Prequel Ground Zeroes.  We will start with the positives and the gaming gods know there are tons of them.  This game handles as well as any third-person title I have ever played and the presentation that comes with it somehow makes it feel like I am taking an active role in a movie throughout.

Here's to you Solid Snake.  The real protagonist of Metal Gear.
Here’s to you Solid Snake. The real protagonist of Metal Gear.

There are a few instances when you might get frustrated with the handling – climbing over seemingly non-existent rocks/hills/rises around the open worlds of Afghanistan and Africa.  It makes you roll your eyes when Snake/Boss/You/Whoever can’t run over and through a small area but can climb cracks in walls with the ease of Spiderman.  Similarly, you might encounter a few times where aiming your weapons at a target doesn’t account for some sort of rigid tent pole or the like (again, an eye roll… nothing to break a controller over).

While playing through the first twenty missions or so I started to find myself hoping to meet all sorts of characters as the story unfolded.  Some of the characters and reveals you come across are enough to make you use your inner-Keanu Reeves and say ‘Whoa’.  Then you keep playing through the game and it is like you are experiencing the first part of Kojima’s master symphony.  Then just as the crescendo begins to build in volume and you start marking this game down mentally as the greatest gaming story/epic of our time – it starts to fade from a master symphony and into Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up.

We have been Rick Rolled in the worst of ways by a gaming master director and his estranged publisher (Konami).

I felt like Dr. Grant and the Jurassic Park crew when they go on their sitting tour of the laboratories and they resort to breaking the bar over the seats and going to the lab anyway.  I felt like that… except the bar was not going to move and Kojima and Co. were riding away in a black SUV and counting my money.

I am trying my best not to spoil anything for you if you haven’t played the game all the way through (whatever that means…).

Okay.  I won’t spoil any plot points for you, but you should know that this game is built in such a way from a story perspective that you will pick and choose missions as you go through and there will be cassettes unlocked as you beat each mission, etc.  These aren’t some sort of optional cassettes though.  For those of you that complained about the MGS4 pointless video sequences – this is how Kojima tried to make you happy… and I hate you for it.

I put far more time into MGS5 than I probably should have over the last month or so and I must say I wish I had about half of it back.  When I play a game that starts with Chapter 1 I don’t expect Chapter 2 to be the last chapter of the game.  Yes, I am serious – Chapter 2… is the final chapter of this game.  Even Shakespeare and basically every other play/movie has three acts.  Not only does this game leave a sour taste in my mouth, it locks me in a room with a lackluster online multiplayer and no toothbrush.

The end of this game is such that you will be left disappointed and pissed off like Mass Effect 3 left many die hard fans.  Unless you are a Kojima apologist (like the Mass Effect groupies) that think everything about this is perfect and is a fine way to end a great story.

The only problem with the apologist point of view is that you have effectively done nothing meaningful to the story of Metal Gear by the time you have finished the main farce story.  I wanted this game to keep on being what it seemed like it would be as I saw a couple key characters in much younger forms.  It was almost like playing through a prequel of the Harry Potter stories as Lord Voldemort and just as you are getting your army of deatheaters together and prepping to Avada Kedavra everyone – the story is scrapped and the credits run.

At least I can still finish The Witcher 3 and look forward to Fallout 4.  Metal Gear Solid 5 went from being the best game ever to being maybe a Top 5 game of 2015.

If you are a die hard Metal Gear fan like my brother and I you should still buy this game and play it.  Otherwise, just stick to playing MGS4 over and over again on your PS3 and enjoy what should have been the final chapter of MGS.

Kojima-san, I would have rather kept on waiting.

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WTF Is Gamergate? And Why You Should Care.

Having a difficult time understanding the ‘Gamergate’ situation?  So was I.

Apparently, I have been living under a rock (mostly being outside/not on the internet) – for which I will not apologize.

Now – ON!  TO GAMERGATE!

Drama

From what I have gathered, it all started when a female indie game developer and her boyfriend split up.  He then decided to write a blog that supposedly named names of the men she cheated on him with.  These supposed trysts included game reviewers and perhaps even her boss.  This was meant to point fingers at the fact that she (allegedly) did this in order to gain better reviews for her text-based (emo) game, Depression Quest (no, I’m not kidding).  Sorry, but any game that ends with a link to the Suicide Prevention Hotline is a strange emo version of entertainment and begs for attention at best.  Sadly, depression and suicide are quite common in a world so jacked up as this one (see above/below).

Ok.  At this point I can understand the supposed conflict of interests.  A person is using sexual advances in order to… advance.  Well, so does porn and we all know the internet was made for that (see joke here).  What is the real issue?  It is the fact that this apparent spark has ignited a powder keg of misogynistic outrage that is overflowing around the internet.

What started as some blip on the indie-game radar (that many of us never would have known about otherwise) has now started to increase into some sort of blob of misplaced chauvinistic rage.  These apparent ‘men/little boys’ have now resorted to threatening numerous women that are speaking out about the issues of women in gaming.  It has gotten rather ugly with threats and harassment following many of them – including Felicia Day.  Again, I must live under a rock (that doesn’t include watching TV more than 7 hours a week (Sunday football)… I had no idea who Felicia Day was until I saw a story about her getting harassed by internet scumbags.  She is on a show called Supernatural (of which I have heard of thanks to Netflix.)

This isn’t some issue that is going to go away at this point – nor should it.  It is supposedly about the ‘ethics’ of gaming journalism which in and of itself is hilarious (consider your current position on the internet, reading my views – it is all biased and willing to sell out in most cases).  In case you haven’t noticed, we are now living in a society that demands the TMZ ‘style’ of breaking news that we hope will pique our interest until the next Gangnam Style video surfaces.  (Oh, humanity… we’re screwed).

This is showing the ugly face of misogynistic gamers and game developers out there.  I will admit that when I was 13 I certainly tried to find a code for Tomb Raider… don’t play coy – you know what ‘code’ I’m talking about – and if you are 27-35 you probably did too!  The gaming industry has been dominated for decades by men and typically when those men decide to plaster hugely busty (and always almost naked) women into their games as selling points it isn’t hard to see the issue.

They are digital pimps and their artistic creations are their digital prostitutes.  This isn’t something new to the world of entertainment.  Whether it is movies or music it is always about selling sex for the most part.  It just so happens that right now in a multi-billion dollar industry they are selling it in droves.  It would be one thing if scantly clad characters (not just women) were included for obvious ‘situational’ reasons.  However, the fact that women are being portrayed nearly naked or with severely exaggerated features in situations that really don’t demand that is a bit insulting to females and gamers as a whole.  One example is a screenshot from the new Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (which I am admittedly excited for – because of the story, not the example below).

phantompainss
This doesn’t really speak to ‘battlefield’ functionality very much.

I think this speaks volumes about what feminists everywhere are trying to say.  Keep in mind that being a feminist doesn’t mean feminazi-women – it refers to men and women that want to see the world view of women shift from where it has been.  Women are active and valuable members of society and we should all do our part to make sure that we are the voices of reason in the midst of a vocal minority that is screaming out of fear of having their digital cleavage taken away.

What is the best part about Gamergate?  The fact that these noisy little hate-mongering misogynistic pukes are showing how small they really are.

What is the best thing to do in this situation?  Educate yourself, voice your views of reason to developers (believe it or not they do listen) and let the cry-babies cry themselves to sleep… in their basement, streaming internet porn – alone.

Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes – The Best ‘Cheap’ Game Since The Orange Box

Before we begin, yes –  Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes can be played through in a matter of minutes (I completed my first play-through in 63 minutes).

Metal-Gear-Solid-Ground-Zeroes-Snake
Snake is back.

That said, Ground Zeroes (GZ) is far more than just a ‘one mission preview’ of the coming Metal Gear Solid: The Phantom Pain.  It is a showcase of sorts for a franchise that has grown over the last few decades.  Not only is it graphically superior (even on PS3) to its predecessors, but it has also taken major steps in gameplay and control.

Metal Gear Solid has been a rather clunky handling game since its inception on PS1.  The side menus for sorting all of the items are gone.  Replaced by a relatively simple D-Pad navigation system for equipped weapons and items.  Other actions can be taken with the new ‘iDroid’ which is basically a quasi-3D PDA that Snake carries around for navigation, cassette and music functionality.  It is a less ‘high tech’ and attached (don’t forget you are supposed to be in the year 1975) Mk2 from MGS 4.

The real improvements to this game are noticed in the actual gameplay.  While MGS3: Subsistence and MGS4 both used the rotatable camera, they still had the clunky gunplay that most MGS fans (and haters) might recall.  For those that don’t know this reference – you basically had to play Twister with your fingers on the controller if you wanted to take out enemies quickly and precisely.  While it became more fluid as you played the game it usually fell short of expectations that games like Splinter Cell pushed for in handling (especially aiming and shooting firearms).

Ground Zeroes doesn’t have that problem anymore.  You now have the ability to handle weapons in a way that is closer to Splinter Cell than ever before.  For some of the MGS ‘purists’ I am sure they will try to raise hell over this new move, but really it is an improvement to the gameplay.  While it may seem to some to be a ‘dumbing down’ of the controls, it is far from that as the challenge is still there – just in a more organic fashion.

The aspect of the game I was most worried about going into this new MGS title was the new voice of Snake.  With the news that David Hayter was no longer the voice of our reluctant hero I became skeptical that anyone could take over the role with the same quality.  Then it was announced that Kiefer Sutherland would be the voice of Snake (aka – Big Boss).  Simply said – he does not disappoint.  At first when Snake says his typical “Kept you waiting, huh?” your reaction will probably feel like when you accidentally called the wrong number and a voice you don’t know says ‘Hello’.  Fear not.  By the time you get to the final part of the game you will see and hear why Sutherland is a welcome addition and change in Snake.

MGS: The Phantom Pain is now my most anticipated next-gen title.
MGS: The Phantom Pain is now my most anticipated next-gen title.

Not only does this game make improvements, but it is also full of other side-missions and other minutia that will keep you busy until The Phantom Pain comes out.  Also, the availability of this title on PS3/360 makes it a joy for those of us that have yet to buy into the next-Gen consoles as we bide our time for the better developed games and the inevitable hardware malfunctions/bugs to seep out and get fixed like last gen consoles (RROD/YLOD).

If you are a fan of the MGS franchise or trying to decide whether to jump into the series – this is worth a purchase.  Not only will you enjoy the additions, but chances are that it won’t leave your system until The Phantom Pain comes out.

Why Difficulty Isn’t The Same As Challenge

Dark Souls Meme

After years of playing games from all sorts of genres there is one aspect that determines whether or not a game is truly enjoyable.

Difficulty.

There are many different ways to look at a game (of any sort).  Whether you are playing a board game, video game or even a card game – it is always the first question asked.  “Is it hard?”

In the case of video games, this is something that is as subjective as any review that can be given.  Primarily because there are different settings for most games out there.  Sports games even have sliders that allow you to customize different aspects of the CPU/AI and even your own players to make the game more realistic, challenging or even simply more difficult.  Other games (like Dark Souls) are built to put the gamer into a submission hold of difficulty.  Often, these games are cast to the side as ‘not worth the trouble’.  In the case of Dark Souls I must agree.  I played the game for a few hours and couldn’t beat the first boss without wanting to shoot my LCD and throw my PC out the window.

I have experienced both sides of gaming when it comes to a game being nearly impossible or simply so easy it is laughable.  This is why it is necessary to make the distinction for those of you out there looking for solace.  Some games like Madden, NCAA Football and other sports titles have communities that will trash on someone for winning games 50-0 and taking home the championship every year.  These slider Nazis are often as bad as any other internet troll when it comes to raining on someone’s gaming parade.  This is also why it is necessary for us to understand that making a game more difficult doesn’t mean the same thing as increasing the challenge.

What makes sports games difficult for a noob/novice isn’t the intelligence of the opposing CPU team as much as it is learning the controls and maybe even the basic strategies.  Once the complex control schemes are learned the game can become relatively simple.  In some cases sports games become far too easy for most gamers.  This is where you must turn up the challenge in order to have a better experience.  Changing the sliders and even your play-style can make for a more challenging and enjoyable gaming experience.

Other games like Call of Duty have difficulty levels that really do nothing but increase the damage done to the player by enemies.  This isn’t so much difficulty as it is a minor change in how ‘challenging’ the game is.  What would truly make the game more difficult would be to make it less forgiving when a player dies.  Much like Dark Souls makes it almost infuriating to die (because you become weaker) and lose everything (unless you go pick it back up).  Call of Duty, Halo, Killzone and virtually every FPS let you save your progress at numerous checkpoints to prevent you from needing to play through the same long sections every time you die.

Some games are just not the preferred style of gamers.  Often you will see a rift between fans of Splinter Cell and Metal Gear Solid.  While neither of these games are necessarily more difficult than the other they have different functions and handle differently.  It is always going to start with style and preference but in the end a game comes down to complexity.  It is in that spirit that Metal Gear is a bit more difficult than Splinter Cell.  That isn’t to say that Splinter Cell isn’t challenging or possibly more ‘realistic’ but many gamers decide on these two games based on style rather than challenge.

This isn’t to say that I want my experiences in first person shooters like Call of Duty to be more difficult.  I often play those games for a break from my life that can be difficult enough.  Perhaps that is why we need to realize that there is a difference in how we should look at our gaming experience and even the experience of others.  While some games present us with almost impossible tasks and difficulty others will give us the ability to lay back, hang out and wreak digital carnage all over the place without breaking a sweat… or thinking too much.

Where do you stand?  Do you prefer a game to be downright difficult/complex or do you prefer something simply more challenging?

Q1 of 2013 Is Going To Make It Feel Like Christmas Again

One of the best parts about the holiday season is the release of new games.  From Halo to Call of Duty and through the gauntlet of other adventure games like Assassin’s Creed and Hitman we are usually spoiled with a treasure trove of games to sink our free time into.  Typically, you will see a dramatic slowdown in the summertime because most people are on vacation or outside getting in shape for the beach (PS – You should be starting that now).

The second best time of the year for gamers is March.  March is the typical month where you will find that games have been pushed to in order to avoid competing with big-money/big-name titles like the Call of Duties of the world.  This year we have quite a few games coming out that should prove to excite almost every genre of gamer from late January through March.

company-of-heroes-2_pc_coverThe first game we have to look forward to is Company of Heroes 2.  CoH2 is continuing the franchise that puts real-time strategy into World War 2.  Real-time strategy is a simple concept that can (and does) get rather involved as you get further into the
game.  The general way of looking at this is from the base understanding that you are a commander telling troops where to go and what to do rather than just pointing and shooting.  Company of Heroes is a great game for anyone that is a fan of WW2 history or simply a fan of RTS games.  This game is for the PC, so be sure that you take a look into the system requirements before jumping into this title. If you need a game that will give you the ability to play online against others or simply go against the CPU and try to work on your decision-making and strategic abilities you will get that and more with Company of Heroes 2.

The best part about strategic games is that they aren’t always some sort of battlefield commander genre.  One of the best franchises ever has a new direction coming this February in Metal Gear Solid Rising: Revengeance.  Revengeance is taking the Metal Gear franchise in a new direction with an old face for fans of the series.  Raiden made his presence known in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty.  The downfall to this was that many fans (especially American fans) of the series were let down that Solid Snake was only present for the first part of the game before making a cameo in Raiden’s portion of 250px-Metal_Gear_Rising_Revengeance_CoverMGS2.

Why was Raiden disliked by American gamers?  He was designed as a long-haired blonde twenty-something (already sounds a bit feminine, right?).  Not to mention the fact that he didn’t have much of a personality.  Even Solid Snake (the ultimate non-emotional ‘Mr. Mission’) had something more to him than Raiden’s almost whiny persona.

That all changed in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns 0f the Patriots where Raiden came back as a cyborg ninja that resembled Grey Fox from the first MGS game.  Raiden suddenly became a character that people wanted to utilize and get to know.  He developed some sword play in MGS 2 but MGS 4 took it to new heights and now that he is the featured protagonist in MGS Rising: Revengeance – you know more people will want to check this game out.

Now that we are getting closer to March at this point – why not focus on the most anticipated title of 2013 – Grand Theft Auto 5.

GTAV is going to blow the minds of gamers everywhere when it releases (or rather – if it still releases) in March should break almost every sales record.  This is going to continue the trend for free-roaming violence with a decent storyline for people itching to get out and enjoy the chaos brought on by warmer weather.  If this game is delayed yet again, you should expect it to release in May.  This would simply continue the same trend that other Rockstar games have created over the last few years – namely Red Dead Redemption and L.A. Noire.

E3 Updates – Is It Going To Be A Noob Friendly Year In Gaming?

Throughout the next few days we will be bringing you the latest information from E3.  There are many details expected by the gaming community and some rumors that might be validated or debunked.

Some of the rumors we hope to validate are –

Will they announce another name change?… This is turning into a gaming version of the Artist Formerly Known as Prince

Metal Gear Solid: Revengeance/Rising – A game that had many people talking about the joy of running around with a cyborg version of Raiden has the opportunity to get people excited again… until they finally cancel the project and make the gaming world cry.  Metal Gear games are notorious for being tough to learn but usually worth the time it takes to master them.  The problem is that it is now veering away from the storyline of Solid Snake and towards the character ‘Raiden’… he is highly preferred in Japan, but most American fans hated him in MGS2: Sons of Liberty.

When Medal of Honor came out a few years ago it was met with excitement and then disappointment after people found it was a half-cocked game with little value outside of camping small maps. Warfighter hopes to surprise a skeptical public.

Medal of Honor: Warfighter – Is most likely going to focus on the multiplayer aspect but they are doing this with the last development crew they used (Danger Close) rather than Battlefield’s DICE team.  Chances are good that this game will either gain a little bit of fanfare or completely flop at E3.  Don’t expect this game to be the big news, but the outcome of EA having another failed attempt at taking down Call of Duty might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back for EA having anything worth bragging about for this generation of consoles.  Sales talk in the gaming industry and EA hasn’t been able to talk for a long time.

Half-Life 3 is one of the games that might just sneak up and become the most talked about game of E3. Stay tuned.

Half-Life 3 – In terms of games that have had an amazing quality and storyline, Half-Life is a series that continues to amaze everyone that jumps into the foray.  Chances are good that this will once again be the best FPS out there but it will probably lose out in some circles because of the Call of Duty crowd.

Which games are you looking forward to seeing come out of E3?  Chances are good that some games (Warfighter) will flop hard while some other games (Half-Life 3) will make people want to go out and pre-order immediately.  Then you will have the previews for games like Metal Gear Solid: Revengeance that will make you want to hide in a cardboard box and wait for a game that will never be released while having people walk past you thinking “?”.