Friday, July 4, 2008

Appreciating Older Games

I finally finished Metal Gear Solid. Pretty much all of my thoughts that I had on it here still hold true. I did end up restarting the game though. I found a guide and had a lot more fun because of it. I finally found a lot of the hidden items that made my life easier in the game. I also was able to take advantage of some shortcuts that were only available in the Twin Snakes remake of the game. Finding the tranquilizer sniper rifle made it so I didn't have to backtrack through the whole freakin game to find the regular sniper rifle. Also, using the hot and cold pipes in Metal Gear Rex's facility to change the key card speeded up the process of deactivating the nukes considerably. Of all the boss fights, the confrontation with Metal Gear Rex was the only one that felt like a true boss battle to me. The entire game has been building up Metal Gear to be this invincible walking battle mech, and now I finally was able to take it on. The only other boss fights I really enjoyed were the ones against Sniper Wolf.

As I've been replaying, Metal Gear Solid 4 has of course come out and the hype for it has been through the roof. There have been plenty of reviews about the game, all mentioning many of the same complaints I have about the first one. Another thing I've been reading lately are people's recollections of the original game. Many talk about how blown away they were by the fight with Psycho Mantis, where he reads your memory card, telling you the games you've played, and have to plug the controller into another port for so that he can't predict your attacks. I've also read people talking about how unbelievably epic it was to fight Sniper Wolf in the snow field, or to rapel down the communications tower while under attack from the Hind helicopter.

For me, the only epic moment I felt was fighting Metal Gear. Dodging the lasers, diving out of the way of missles, then quickly bringing up the Stinger to fire off a missle at the radome before running away was exciting. It makes me wonder if games as a medium are more difficult to appreciate when you try to go back and play older games. As technology moves inexorably forward, the things you can do in games increases and makes it tough to go back to something older. After playing Half Life 2, I was wishing older shooters had realistic physics. After playing FEAR, I was wishing Half Life 2 had melee combat.

The time in which we play these games certainly has a huge impact on how much we appreciate them later. As I've said before, I had no consoles between the Sega Genesis and the Xbox 360. Part of why I started playing Metal Gear Solid was to catch up on this famous franchise I had missed out on. It's very likely that had I played it when it originally came out, I would have been as blown away as anyone else. The context of the time in which a game is released is important. I'm convinced that the 2007-2008 timeframe will be looked on as an important time in games. Call of Duty 4, Portal, Bioshock, Metal Gear Solid 4, and GTA4 have all pushed storytelling in games forward to one degree or another. On the other hand, in 10 years a young player may decide to play Portal for the first time and wonder what the big deal is. I never played Chrono Trigger. It's apparently a classic RPG. It's coming out on the DS now. I'll probably pick it up. I have a feeling that I'll like it, but not be blown away. Then again, I played The Longest Journey long after it was originally released, and it's one of my favorite games of all time. So we'll see.

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