I Abandoned Metal Gear Solid 4 (for now)

MGS 4 Diary: Entry #1, Entry #2, Abandoned!
MGS4 Reviews: Metacritic |
Reference: GameFAQ Walkthrus | wikipedia12

As beautiful and cutting-edge as MGS4 is, after making it past the laughing Octopus stage in the second act, I abandoned the game, at least for now. This surprises even me. I have been waiting for years to play this game, but the lack of a decent checkpoint system and endless cut scenes turned me off.

Poorly Implemented Checkpoints

You cannot save the game when you want and it’s checkpoints are few and far between. Adult gamers do not have endless hours, nor the desire, to replay extremely long portions of even a great game over and over.

Solid Snake being Sneaky in MGS 4When I play stealth games I want to be stealthy and play it right. This means taking my time, exploring every nook and cranny. Being sneaky. But when I sneak around for 30 minutes, successfully execute difficult manoeuvres and then die, I do not want to play through the whole 30 minutes again. No game should ever force a gamer to replay more than 5 or so minutes. Period.

Yes, I could have cheated and run through sections with abandon, gunned down everyone until killed, thereby learning where all the baddies are and what their tricks are, to avoid them on the next play through. But I refuse to do that. That’s gaming the game and not playing the game. It takes all the fun out of it.

Stealth games, by definition, are designed to be played thoughtfully and slowly. The player should have a realistic chance of beating a level if they play that way. But, when they die, as they will, they shouldn’t be forced to replay the last thirty minutes or an hour to get back to where they were.

Ration Pack Frustration

Prior to the  point where I abandoned the game, I had gotten so angry at the game’s checkpoint system that I uncharacteristically gunned through a couple of difficult parts without concern for my ration pack inventory – thinking/hoping they’d be as abundant later as they had been to that point (they aren’t).

It was unfortunate that I survived. Because from that point on I had only one ration pack, and no way of replenishing them, I kept dying. This compounded my checkpoint frustration to the point where I had enough.

Riddle me this. How is it that I can order up rockets, grenades, and an endless arsenal of weapons at any time and they are instantly delivered, yet I can’t order a ration pack, or any health related materials at ANY time from any where?  Grrrr!

Of Cut Scenes & Blue-ray Abuse

I understand that Kojima is a cinematic master. But wholly cow, I have never seen anything like the length of these cut scenes. People are not joking when they say there are several feature films worth of cut scenes in this game. I had a love-hate relationship with the endless cut scenes.

They are beautiful – truly. They push envelops and raise the bar (to mix my metaphors). But I’m not a fan of the series. I don’t understand the back story. And, as I understand it, even fans of the series don’t really know what  is going on in this, or any other MGS, game. I don’t like skipping cut scenes because I want to understand the story. But I also don’t want a mini-movie for every cut scene. Kojima seems exceedingly self-indulgent in this excessive use of cutscenes.

MGS4 presents a good argument for why the expansive amount of storage space on blu-ray disks is a bad thing. Perhaps he could have created a system where shorter versions of the cut scenes are shown on the first time through with optional director’s cut versions for the second play through – or bundled with the game on a second disk. Net-net, they turned me off.

Back to the Rental Store

I rented MGS 4 and held it two days beyond my limit. I wasn’t eager to resume play anyway. Wimbledon will consume my free-time for the next two weeks anyway. So back it went.

Odds are less than 50/50 that I’ll rent it again. I may pick it up in the bargain bin one day. But I’d much prefer to take up GTA IV where I left off than go back to this one any time soon.


  1. // Reply

    Sounds like the game’s default difficulty setting was too hard for you. You should try the easier levels. If you were to make use of exploring, you would find many more rations, noodles, and regain. Have you tried holding people up or searching dead bodies?

    Also, did you know that just because you ‘zone’ from one area to another that does not mean you cannot return? Sounds like you played the game with guns blazing. Did you know that if you were to attack PMCs & Rebels, the game becomes that much harder? Ideally you would want to use stealth but if you help the Rebels by attacking PMCs only, they will not attack you and offer you items, such as RATIONS…

    Did you even read the manual?

    ****GTA4 is the perfect example of repeated same ‘ol same ‘ol. Nothing new or innovative to recapture my interest in the series. Controls are still dated… why do you have to hold a button to run or tap to sprint? It makes for lousy gun fights. How many times have you moved from cover to cover only to get up and walk while being shot at. The cover system is sloppy.

  2. // Reply

    Ninja, I gather you haven’t read the prior diaries linked into this post. Indeed, I did read the manual and I did do everything you suggested. And yes, I know I can go back.

    I acknowledged in the post that just before the laughing Octopus, I did go a guns-a-blazing because I got tired of replaying. I admit, I broke my own rule and that made it worse. Indeed, I got all my noodles and rations from scrupulous inspection of the environment. I had 8 rations to spare before the guns-a-blazing part.

    And, you bet, I shook down every dead body I could find (a lame mechanic). That’s where I got most of my noodles/rations etc.

    Immediately after the laughing Octopus you can backtrack about 20 feet and pick up noodles there. I only recall finding one health pack after that point as I was killed over and over again – for silly reasons. I don’t even know why I was suddenly being beseiged by guys from everywhere. It happened several times. I must have tripped something that I didn’t notice. But by that point I was more than frustrated with the check point issue I had pretty much given up trying to play properly and just wanted to advance.

    And, indeed, the rebels were always my friends.


  3. // Reply

    This is a reply to all your articles:
    -If you’re playing stealthy, and you need rations etc. you should try holding up someone. Go behind them and hold L1 at them. They will put their arms out. Now you can press triangle and Snake will pat them down. When a ! appears at the bottom of the screen, press triangle to take the item Snake is holding. It is pretty hard, but you get used to it and there is normally a ration or two.
    -You can lie to even stand still for a while, and Snake’s health will increase slowly (if his Phyche is high).
    -Since you haven’t played the first games, you wouldn’t know, but you say that “Any normal human could jump on”. Snake is a clone. His body is rapidly degenerating because his cells are old than he actually is. He has the body of a 70 year old, plus he has to carry kilos upon kilos of weapons and items. He is wearing a muscle suit though, so he probably could jump.
    -You can tell the difference between PMC and Militia after a while by looking at them, as you will eventually notice the differences. The best way is to equip the Solid Eye. The icon to the side means their emotions (rage, fear, and two others that I don’t remember). What group they are with is said up the top of the information. “Praying Mantis”, “Pieurve Armenant” “Raven”(I think) and “Werewolf” are the PMCs, and there will be “Militia”, “Rebel” and” Resistance” that can be your allies. The PMC’s names should always be red, as they are enemies. Militia will start off orange (neutral). If they are enemies, they will also be red. If they become your allies, the name will be blue. You should have the Solid Eye equipped a lot. You can find extra batteries in the Nomad with the MKII during the mission briefings.
    -The checkpoint distance gets smaller as you progress through the game, but that’s because:
    -there are longer cutscenes, more often. The first two acts are the longest. Then the others are significantly shorter.

  4. // Reply

    Thanks so much Jason! That was all very helpful.

    I never did figure out how to hold someone up. I tried a few times and it never worked. I even tried in the simulator but still couldn’t get it.

    If I try to play this again I’ll definitely try to acquire that skill if it yields rations.

    You mention getting batteries during briefings. I noticed in one briefing that I could move the camera around but I never knew you could acquire items during a briefing. How do you do that?

    I was, over time, able to identify PMCs from militia. I didn’t know that colours related to emotions. That will be helpful. Also, at the beginning the militia’s names were orange too. But maybe because they were not yet my friends. I noticed their names changed to blue and green sometimes. But then I also noticed PMCs having blue and green names but I was never their friends. But, as I said, I figured out how to tell them apart by zooming in with the Solid eye and I got to know their uniforms over time. So at least I solved that early issue.

    I’m starting to think I will rent it again once Wimbledon’s over. I would like to see how it turns out.

  5. // Reply

    You can do many different things during the briefings. First, and most obviously, you can just watch it. But, you can also move around using the Metal Gear MKII, or just look through a wall mounted camera (which is quite boring). During the briefing, usually there will one big screen to the left, a couple of smaller screens to the right, a scrolling bar a bit below the middle, and just blank below that. If you press select, icons will come up and tell you diffent things, but I’ll explain them, as it’s kind of hard to figure out.
    – Press L2 and the screen on the left hand side will become full screen, so the others will disappear. Press L2 while in full screen mode to go back to split screen.
    – Press triangle to switch between the little screen in the top right, and the big screen. (From there, you can go into full screen for that screen too.)
    – As I said, there is a camera, or the MKII in the top right screen. I think the camera is the default. Pressing square will swap between the MKII and the camera.
    To use the MKII (which lets you move around the plane and get items):
    – From the default split screen, press square, then triangle. The bigger screen should now have some picture (depending where it starts.) To be sure it’s the MKII, it should have a circle in the middle of the screen, and a vertical and horizontal line connecting to the circle, and a few bits of writing.
    Controls for the MKII:
    -Left stick: move
    -Right stick: look around
    -Up and down arrows: move the camera on the MKII up and down. (Therefore making you see things that are higher up)
    -R1: Whip something with your wire thing. (This will not hurt people)
    You can move around, and there will be plenty of items around. There is one battery in every briefing, so you can get a max of 6. (Including the one you start with)
    Some other interesting things you can do:
    -Go up stairs by running into the stairs for a bit. Sunny will be doing different things. Sometimes she plays the PSP for example.
    – Upstairs, there is a radio on the table. If you hit it (by pressing R1) it will turn on. There are about 5 different songs.
    – When Campbell is on the big screen TV, look on the table in front of it. There should be a remote. Press R1 to hit it, and the channel will change to a girl in a bikini. Hit R1 again to change it back.
    – You can get masks to wear in game by ramming into people. For example, run into Otacon to get a mask of him. To wear these, go into “Camouflage” from the start menu, go to “Face” and select the mask you want.
    – Sometimes, there is an important thing happening in the briefing. That important thing will go full screen, and you can’t control the MKII during it.
    – You can’t move around the MKII during mission briefing 5.

    And a tip i just thought of, totally unrelated to briefings; after you beat Laughing Octopus, go to “Camouflage” and “Face”. There will be a mask called “FaceCamo”. This works the same way as Octocame, but on your head. It helps a lot. If you’re lying still under shade, you can get 99% camo!

    If you have any other questions, just ask :)

  6. // Reply

    Thanks again. I’ll check these out if I play again … I remember getting the face mask after the laughing octapus but i thought it was too small or I had to get it fixed somehow before I could use it.

    I knew I was supposed to be able to move about the cabin in briefings but never figured it out. So thanks for that….

    I really liked the laughing Octopus part – very original – even though I didn’t know what to do for most of it other than wait for her to come back repeatedly and shoot her over and over until she was dead.

    Can you go back to watch old briefings and get stuff from them for where you are in the game now. Or can you only get them the first time you go through the briefing?

  7. // Reply

    Yeah, it says the mask is too small, but I think they just said that so that you can’t get 100% camo. Snake’s hair sticks out of the back of it, so you could probably see that.
    For Laughing Octopus, when she hides, you can find her by using the Solid Eye Night Vision. Just run around, and she will be a big white spot. There are quite clever places, like on a painting of a woman, or in the model of the human muscles.
    If you go into “Mission Briefing” from the main menu and watch them again, I’m pretty sure you can still collect stuff. It will ask you to load a saved game, and you can view any briefings you have already seen. At the end, it will ask if you want to save, so I’m pretty sure you can go back and get items.

  8. // Reply

    Cool … you really do know your stuff! I never would have thought of turning on night vision to find Octopus lady. Clever!

  9. // Reply

    Lots of reads.
    Non-lethal killing of bosses will unlock each of the bosses faces for FaceCamo. So get those tranqs and stun grenades out.

    You CAN get 100% camo if you unlock the stealth camo which is really just like MGS1, you’re pretty much invisible, but soldiers can still hear you, you can still bump into them, and Gekko’s will still take notice of you with their infrared beam.

    Good call on the night vision, I wasn’t really using it much earlier on in the game, I would just use the regular solid eye and wait for her to laugh and she would give away where she was on the map. Once you got a general idea where she was you could see her tentacles mixed in and just hit her.

    Anyway if you’re at all into unlocking things then you’ll keep at it, the best unlocks require extreme patience, and a lot of replaying. Oh one other thing, there is one part in the game that is a little bit different near the end of the game depending on if you have a DualShock in use or not.

  10. // Reply

    Spot on dude – only the unemployed have time to burn replaying long sections of a game over and over again. I hate games where you can't save progress after a difficult passage! Why do they even make games like this!?

  11. // Reply

    Spot on dude – only the unemployed have time to burn replaying long sections of a game over and over again. I hate games where you can’t save progress after a difficult passage! Why do they even make games like this!?

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