This swan song made my ears bleed.

Call me retarded (I am), but I have… practically a paranoia when it comes to buying games nowadays. 😛 I think it all began with Starbound, a game I decided to back because it looked amazing and the devs really looked like they knew what they were doing. It turned out to be a huge turd, flying wayyyyyyyy past its planned release date and still flying. “Stable” updates are released randomly (once every six months if you’re lucky), and the incompetent devs act like it’s no big deal, probably while rolling around in their money. I haven’t played it since the first patch which completely changed the damage system (the original system was so idiotic I couldn’t comprehend that someone actually thought of it). It’s especially embarrassing and frustrating because I got others to back it with me, so they got screwed as well. I also backed Carmageddon: Reincarnation, which looked really promising but turned out to be quite disappointing. It was funny, but idiotically easy even on hard, and it didn’t really introduce anything new. And then there was the optimization which… well, it sucked. Framerate starts out okay and slowly gets worse as you play. These games (mainly Starbound For The Recycle Bin) put me off Early Access so much that nowadays, I just say “Not Interested” to almost every single game in Early Access. One exception was Crypt of the Necrodancer, which was actually pretty good, but… they kinda ruined it in the last burst towards release. They added some random announcer voiceovers before boss battles and when unlocking characters, and they sounded completely idiotic. That, and the final area wasn’t really that interesting. It feels like they rushed it.

Sounds like I only hate Early Access, but it isn’t just that. There was Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, a game that just… didn’t really move me. The new oxygen mechanic was interesting and it was fun to jump around, boost and butt-stomp in low gravity, but the story made almost no sense, and it just threw so many horrendous jokes and references around. By the end of the game, it felt like they were so desperate to get laughs that it made me think the writers were total morons. 😛 The only reason I had fun with it is because I played it co-op, and although we finished it, we never really wanted to do the second playthrough. Also, there was Shadow Warrior, the new one. It was entertaining for a short while, but… it just completely lacked the charm of the original. That, and the map design was awful; sometimes I could barely figure out where I was supposed to go. Oh, and Bit Trip Runner 2. I picked that up again recently, but I can see why I stopped playing. I was expecting a rhythm game, but it’s not, it’s just… pfft. It’s like they only made it because they somehow got Charles Martinet (who most famously voices Mario and Luigi) to do some voicework for it. He sounds completely out of place, maybe even a bit bored. After hiring him, it feels like they didn’t have enough money left to make something interesting. 😛

But hey, on a positive note, Freedom Planet is the best platformer I’ve played in a hell of a long time. Probably the best platformer I’ve ever played, but that’s a pretty huge claim and I’d need to think long and hard before making it official. 😛

Anyway, now, the actual reason for the post! 😛 Metal Gear Solid V was released a few days ago and, predictably, pretty much everyone says it’s amazing. But thanks to my “paranoia”, I didn’t believe them for a second. I no longer listen to anyone’s opinion, because I’ve realised: there’s no point. Everyone contradicts each other and everyone forgives (or totally overlooks) different problems, usually without mentioning them. I read through the Steam reviews (the 5% of reviews that are actually reviews, not fucking anecdotes or unfunny jokes) and found one positive review said the AI was great. Two minutes later I find a negative review which completely nullifies both reviews’ validity by saying the AI is stupid. Didn’t take long for me to stop looking for other reviews. There’s hype, as well; people who get too excited for a game generally don’t notice how bad it is. I used to get affected like that. I mean, I was so excited for Spore way back, and when it came out, I said it was the greatest game I’d ever played. Lol? No it wasn’t. It was nowhere near. 😛 Most unique, yes, probably. Greatest? No, that crown is still held by Diablo II, and probably always will be.

Still, I’d always liked Metal Gear Solid (not Rising, Jesus Christ fuck no get the hell out). The original is legendary and MGS2 was really good, too. MGS3 wasn’t so great but the remastered version was seriously good, and it was all due to them fixing the biggest problem with the game: the friggin’ camera. 😛 I actually enjoyed Metal Gear Acid but I could understand why others wouldn’t. MGS Peace Walker was the best game on the PSP (just edging out Patapon 3), and I hate the fact I could never play MGS4 because it was on a console I think totally sucked. A pretty damn good history then, eh? Why not give them a shot and just go for it?

Hahahaha! What, you think I’m going to throw away £35 on a game I’ve never played? £35 on a game that offers no demo? No! Fuck that shit. Not these days. I don’t care how good the previous games have been or who developed the game in question, my trust in developers is totally shot nowadays. Take Metal Gear Rising. That hateful game was made by largely the same people that made God Hand, a totally awesome game of the same genre. 😛 I have to try a game before I buy it. Videos, reviews, whatever, nothing helps. The only way to know if I’ll enjoy something is by trying it.

Usually, my first port of call is the game demo. If there isn’t one, if possible, I torrent the game. If I enjoy it, I delete the pirated version and buy a legit copy right away. If I don’t enjoy it, I delete the pirated version and forget all about it. The only person that can possibly lose out is me, by wasting my time. 😛 Sadly, heh… Metal Gear Solid V is protected with an apparently very tricky anti-crack technology, meaning a crack will take quite a while to develop.

So, I’m out of options, right? Well… not really.

Steam now allows refunds within 14 days of purchase for any reason if you buy a game directly through Steam and play it for less than two hours. I was originally planning to avoid buying directly through Steam because for some retarded reason, this specific game costs £11 more. So, my plan was to buy the game through Steam, make absolutely sure I didn’t play it for more than two hours, and refund it immediately afterwards, regardless of whether I liked it or not. If I liked it, I would repurchase it from somewhere else for £11 less. 😛

So, the plan began. It hurt my common sense when I hit the purchase button but I shrugged it off knowing it wasn’t actually going to cost anything. 😛 As the game downloaded, I set up PlayClaw to overlay a timer on top of the game so I knew exactly how much time I had used, and also recorded the game footage with it. I’m going to talk through my experience with some screenshots from the video. 🙂

Note that this spoils pretty much most of the first two hours, so you’ll wanna skip it if you’re planning on buying the game and want to experience it yourself. HERE WE GO, YA SPANNER!

(First time using a WordPress gallery. It kinda sucks as expected, so here’s some instructions. 😛 Click on an image for the full gallery view. You can scroll through the gallery with the arrows. To exit the gallery click the tiny X button in the top-left corner. Why is it in the top left corner? Cuz WordPress sucks. 😛 )

And that’s that. A 65-minute-long cutscene with five instances of deus ex machina, followed by barely enough time to get used to anything. Ten minutes of the cutscene were interesting because they had a point and explained what had happened to Snake. The remaining 55 minutes consisted of Snake running away and repeatedly getting blown up by a firey man. And then, from what little gameplay I managed to experience, it felt watered down and dull. Looking back, it feels as if it was trying to make itself seem really complex when in fact it… wasn’t. I mean, I was going so slowly, trying to be stealthy when I could’ve just… popped them all in the head real quick. The overload of information just made it seem really difficult. But above all else, it didn’t feel like a Metal Gear game. At all. Hideo said that Metal Gear was a game about running away, hiding and avoiding conflict, but in this, I don’t feel like I need to, or even want to. There’s no life and no stamina. Camo Index is gone. You can get serious wounds like in MGS3 but healing them is way easier. All you do is get into cover… ah wait, heh, the cover system’s broken. 😛

Oh, there’s one other thing. It doesn’t really affect the game, but it’s still pretty major. Wanna take a guess at how many lines Snake, Big Boss, the main protagonist of Metal Gear said in those two hours? Three. Three. They were (vaguely) “What happened?”, “Who the hell are you?” and “Afghanistan?”. Not kidding. Oh, and he’s no longer voiced by David Hayter, the one who voiced Snake in every game previously and basically shares Solid Snake’s real name. He’s now voiced by… er… oh, I can’t friggin’ remember. I actually can’t. He’s supposed to be famous, I think. Maybe he’s so famous they couldn’t actually afford more than one line per 40 minutes. 😛

Soooo… would I recommend it? I’d say no, not right now… but… this is the annoying thing. I can’t possibly come to a definite conclusion. This is clearly a huge game, and I don’t think two hours was enough time to fully evaluate it, especially since most of it was a cutscene. Maybe it gets better. Maybe it doesn’t. I don’t know. I can tell you one thing, though: no way is it worth £46. Other games that cost a quarter of that managed to entertain me within the first 15 minutes, yet this failed after two hours. If it takes that long to get going, like hell is it worth £11 more than the standard PC game retail price. You can get it cheaper elsewhere, but keep in mind that if you do, you don’t get the ability to refund it on Steam.

For now, I’m going to forget about it, and just wait patiently for a crack. If one ever does appear, I’ll give it another try to see when, or if, the game hits its stride. And I’ll let you know. 🙂

Of course, you shouldn’t really listen to me. My opinion is probably different to yours. 😛

UPDATE!!

That anti-crack tech bought Konami about a week. MGSV has already been cracked. 😛 Thanks 3DMGAME. Now I can evaluate the game properly before what I consider a major purchase, cuz for some people, £40 is pretty expensive for a game, especially if it has a risk of being dog shit. 😛

I skipped the prologue because there’s currently a problem with the crack where the game simply hangs about 70% of the way through the prologue. Besides, I’ve played it already and it was shit. 😛 I continued from the start of the first chapter, and played through for 4 hours, completing a bunch of missions and a Side Op. So, what do I think now?

…eh. Just… eh.

So yes, it’s an improvement from “I think it’s a bit shit but I’m not sure”. But not really a big improvement. My main gripe is… that it just doesn’t feel like Metal Gear. It just… it doesn’t have that same feel. There’s some tension, but it’s not as strong. You feel powerful, and the only reason I didn’t just start shooting everything is because there’s a 10,000 point bonus if you don’t. And it’s super-serious almost all the time. The only time it isn’t is when you try to shoot Ocelot in the face with tranquilisers or punch your staff members. Oh, and the first time you use the Fulton Recovery device, but I was pretty much used to that because of Peace Walker. I mean, even Metal Gear Solid 3 started with a joke that trolled players who hated Raiden, and you soon started finding plastic frogs that you could shoot (which unlocked a game-breaking item if you shot them all). 😛 Even the characters sound… wrong. Apart from Kaz, he sounds fine, because his voice actor is the same guy. But Snake doesn’t sound anything like Snake, and Ocelot doesn’t sound anything like Ocelot. When they’ve had the same voice in every game I’ve played, and then they suddenly CHANGE… I dunno why, but it kinda breaks the experience a bit.

The open world setting ruins a lot, though. Enemies are sometimes around where you don’t expect them, and they end up seeing you before you can react. I’d gone through an entire mission without being seen, and made a stylish exit by nicking a car. Felt cool! I was just about to get out of the hotzone and complete the mission totally unseen when I passed by a guard post I barely noticed and got seen, which damaged my mission score and just pissed me off. That’s a problem as well, the rating system. In a game like Geometry Wars 3 where the aim is to get as many points as you can, it’s perfect. I didn’t actually mind it in Peace Walker, mainly because the missions were fairly short, so I never really paid attention to my rating. In MGSV, missions can last about half an hour, so… that’s a large amount of time required to fix a one second sort-of-mistake. Another one was similar: 26 minutes of perfect stealth ruined by a single second where a freak patrol sees me as I was running away on my horse. Bad luck = -11,000 points! Rank B! 26 minutes of wasted time! Too bad! Fuck off…

Escaping enemies is super-easy when it’s a free-roam world as well. Never feels like you’re being chased. And because missions have “mission areas” (and you lose if you move outside the area for too long), it clearly didn’t have to be free-roam. And the open world setting makes you wait for longer as well. Gotta wait for extraction, gotta get far away from the base to finish a mission, gotta wait for supply drops, gotta wait for the chopper to take off… all of this artificially extends the gameplay. There aren’t really any indoor areas, either. And the whole world is just… boring and samey.

I dunno. The whole thing just feels more like Call of Duty or Gears of War, or Battlefield, or some weird amalgamation of the three, not like Metal Gear. I mean, I’d say there’s a lot of gameplay in it. Some rough estimates suggest you’ll probably get about 40 hours out of the main missions, 80 hours if you go for all the mission goals and Side-Ops, and maybe even more if you go on a super-dull collection spree for 100% completion. But will you have enough fun to hit any of those three goals? Sheesh, I dunno. Maybe not. If the game kept up the way it was going, I’d probably end up just doing the main missions and about… half the Side-Ops? Maybe not even that. I mean, the core thing that was bugging me is that this feels like a generic war game with a bit of stealth, not Metal Gear. Hell… no. No, the main problem is that the game is just… average. It’s one of these friggin’ games that is so average that I’d probably have to play about half the game to make a decision. Ace Combat: Assault Horizon, Skate 3, Batman: Arkham Origins, Saints Row IV… all of these were the same deal. Couldn’t decide until the moment the game’s averageness started to bore me.

So, again… would I recommend it? £46, fuck no. £40, no. £35, sort of maybe, if you’re a fanboy? £30, eh, yeah, might be worth that if gameplay videos and stuff make you interested. £25, hmm, yeah, I’d probably pay that. £20, yes, even if it’s just a timekiller you don’t finish, it’s worth that. If it was less than that I’d probably buy it now. Yeah, go ahead, call me cheap, but the game hasn’t moved me yet. I don’t know how long it’ll take before it does. 😛

Oh, by the way, I forgot to mention this: I heard from several sources that the final mission was cut from the game, so the game has no ending. I feel that spending money on an unfinished-yet-released product is like backing an Early Access game, which is why I can’t bring myself to buy it until someone confirms this is a lie. 😛