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Metal Gear needs better writing, not graphics

Metal Gear Solid Rising is promising better graphics than Metal Gear Solid 4. But is better graphics really what the Metal Gear series needs?

Metal Gear Solid Rising
Metal Gear Solid Rising doesn't need to be this pretty.

Metal Gear Solid Rising won't be using the Metal Gear Solid 4 game engine to help Kojima Productions save some cash. Instead, the game's developer plans to build the title "from scratch" to ensure that it's as beautiful as possible.

"We're redoing the engine from scratch, and it's going to look amazing," Sean Eyestone, the host of the Kojima Productions podcast, said in a recent episode. "It's going to be a big project like Metal Gear Solid 4. The entire team is serious about making it look as good as possible on every platform."

As a Metal Gear fan since the beginning, I really like the series. There's something enchanting about Solid Snake, Liquid Ocelot, Big Boss, and all the other characters that make up the story. But I'm deeply concerned by Kojima Productions' focus on the beauty of the Metal Gear series instead of the content of the games. For years now, the franchise's individual titles have been preachy and long-winded.

We don't need better graphics from Hideo Kojima and his team; we need better writing.

After playing through Metal Gear Solid 4, I was deeply disturbed by what it offered. Was it a good game? Sure. But after completing it, I won't consider playing through it again because of the convoluted storyline and the amount of cut scenes.

On far too many occasions, I sat through lengthy story sequences that provided me with information that, to be quite honest, only confused the storyline. Those sequences, as GameSpot pointed out in its review of the title, force gamers to "spend a good half of MGS4 watching cinematics."

I watched those scenes carefully to ensure that I had a solid grip on the action, only to be confused even more by the game's heavy-handed lines and obsession with eloquence. I know I could have skipped them. But what purpose would that have served? I wanted to get the full experience of the title.

The most noteworthy feature of all those cut scenes is that they are fully rendered in real time within the game. They look just as beautiful as the game does. It was a real graphical feat. But I would have taken graphics that were slightly worse, if I could get a title that had a better story and clearer writing.

But that's only half of my gripe. The content of the story was too preachy. I realize that there is the possibility of a "military-industrial complex" that could, I don't know, ruin the world. I also know that war is a real problem. But I don't need a video game to focus on that while painting a story. And I don't need it to do that over a 30-minute span for every 30 minutes of gameplay.

As a gamer, I expect a few things from a good game: a solid storyline, good graphics, and fun. Dating back to Metal Gear Solid 3, we've been getting confusing, long-winded storylines, outstanding graphics, and not enough chances to have fun.

And so as we wait for Metal Gear Solid Rising, my hope is that Hideo Kojima will realize that as much as we love graphical prowess, it pales in comparison to an outstanding story, complete with an understandable plot and compelling characters. He also needs to know that we want to play the game he created, not watch as it passes us by.

I don't think that's asking too much. Do you?

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