they called this a classic?

I know that sometimes one can go back and play an old game that was really well-loved when it came out, and then one might think, “Wow. This game stinks.” All the while, though, it’s just that the game is old and dated and has been one-upped by a million clones.

I am /trying/ to believe that this is what’s happened with Metal Gear Solid 2. It isn’t working.

I picked up MGS2 – Substance, by the way – thinking that it was such a classic that I’d at least like it. It was nine dollars, and that seemed like a good price for almost any game. If nothing else, it would get me ready for Twin Snakes, which comes out any day now.

I brought it home and started it up, and everything looked good until I had to move around. The XBX controller still isn’t my favorite thing, but I’ve gotten to be fairly comfortable using it from all my time playing JSRF and Halo. MGS2 just doesn’t feel right. The controls are awkward; a lot of things that feel like they should happen automatically don’t, and a lot of keybindings feel really unnatural. I don’t like games that have me holding down a trigger to bring up an item menu, then navigate the menu with the D-pad. It just ain’t natural, I tells you!

The aiming system is really obnoxious. Snake doesn’t hold the gun in such a way that I can line up the sights, and there’s no reasonable crosshair. Instead, he has a laser sight, but it’s nearly impossible to use outside in the rain and fog. Sure, Snake is a super spy and can shoot the fleas off a dog without looking. The game should make me feel like Snake by making incredible feats of super spyness possible. It should not make it easy to miss a grown man at five paces.

All this is secondary to my real problem, though. The first level is very much a tutorial in sneaking. I creep past guards, hang from rails, shoot people with tranq darts, blow smoke on lasers and climb under alarms. After I’ve been shown how to sneak around – using controls geared to sneaking and not shooting – I’m given a full-on combat boss battle. What are they thinking? I feel like I’m trying to play the piano with a bow!

I’m willing to give this game more time, but I really don’t think the problem here is me. (It never is, after all, right?)

Written on March 1, 2004
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