Obscured By The Clouds (pt. 2)

For your enjoyment, this article was updated as of May 1, 2011

The Puzzle Element

Taking Metal Gear Solid off of its grand pedestal and playing it from an analytical, critical point of view again, we can see past the coolness of the experience and see the real nuts and bolts: the design.

To me, the puzzle element is easily the most underestimated part of the old Metal Gear Solid for the PlayStation. It’s something that has been lost over the course of the series thanks to the rabid, pigeonholed nature of the conversation surrounding it. And what I mean by “puzzle element” is the way that you had to think in order to complete an area of the game smoothly. Remember the first level of the VR training? This is the most simple, pure representation of what Metal Gear gameplay is all about. A single guard patrols back and forth with precise timing, and the goal is just on the other side. If he sees you, it’s Game Over; if you reach the goal, you win.

Already, the puzzle is underway.

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SCARAB: The Hated Mascot

The Scarab is among the most poorly designed units in videogame history. It may not be as terrible as these things from Smash Bros. Brawl, or the Ongogg or whatever from the Halo series, but it’s sheer ugliness is an unsettling reminder of what can happen when designers run out of ideas and just don’t care anymore. In almost every action game since the early days of the arcade there have been basic enemy units who serve as little more than cannon fodder, and usually look stupid so that your murder instinct is activated automatically. If that was the purpose of the Scarab’s design it was a great success, but it still doesn’t make it any less crappy.

 

Komeko, the new mascot

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