Does Metal Gear Solid Need Better Writing?

mgs4-lolFor the last decade, Metal Gear Solid has been one of the staple franchises for the Playstation brand. It made its mark on home consoles with incredible action, awesome 3D gameplay, cinematic presentation and also, its twisty story. However, how has the writing held up over the years?

A recent CNET article blasted Kojima productions for saying that they’re going to be building a new graphical engine for the next MGS game. The author asserts that what is needed is better writing, rather than better graphics. While some Sony fanboys have jumped into the fracas, I can’t help but wonder if the author has a point. Sure, MGS has a pretty cool story. But writing and story are two different animals. You can tell a good story but still be an awful writer, and vice versa.

Personally, I found some of the writing in the latest MGS game to be ridiculously heavy handed, preachy and nonsensical at its worst. However, the story still stands among gaming’s greats, easily. So what do you guys think? Does MGS need better writing? Do video games need better writing in general?

Source- CNET

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I write about samurai girls and space marines. Writer for Smooth Few Films. Rooster Teeth Freelancer. Author of Red vs. Blue, The Ultimate Fan Guide, out NOW!

13 thoughts on “Does Metal Gear Solid Need Better Writing?”

  1. I think games definitely need better writing in general. Back when I bought Matt Hazard and played through it, I was disturbed by how terrible the story was..let alone the eventually lackluster gameplay. Now when it comes to Halo and Resistance, I think the writing is phenominal…let alone books that cover the cracks inbetween games and such. Fall of Reach is my favorite book.

  2. Well I have to say that I didn’t care for the first few lines. ‘Cause war? War never changes. But yeah, the small bit of the game I did see struck me as lackluster; I honestly don’t see the appeal. Maybe it’s because I didn’t play much MGS beforehand, though.

  3. If there’s one thing about MGS1’s story that I love, it’s hoe simple it was (Well, kind of anyway) Got convoluted at the whole patriot thing in MGS2, but I still enjoyed it. Although it’ll be interesting to see what the new story for the new one will be.

  4. They gotta make a new graphic engine ’cause the old one won’t work on the 360! Am i doin it rite?

    Anyways, I don’t think Metal Gear’s writing is bad, Kojima just needs an editor. As far as video game writing goes, Metal Gear definitely isn’t bad. As writing goes in general, it ain’t bad. I mean, did anyone watch Terminator: Salvation?

  5. I had heard so much about MGS’s amazing story, so when I played MGS 2, I was hit with the the thought that gamers are idiots with no taste.

    MGS’s story needs some heavy editing and better writing. I still need to play the first game to see what the big deal is about, but I am totally not impressed with it at all. And I am a Sony lover, but I think those games are unplayable due to all the cut scenes.

  6. To be honest, everything needs better writing (Except for EVE, it’s player-driven.) MGS 4 is a cool game but there definetly were moments where it was just like “moar Pew Pew an’ less bleh bleh!” So… I think we need to come up with something new or even drop major franchises and make NEW stories, NOT continuations.

  7. Just look at Portal.
    That is some great writing and good execution of a story without getting heavy handed.

  8. Well, burn me at the stake for this, but I’ve never actually played any Metal Gear. Not even 1. Not even Solid. I know, blasphemy. The issue was that by the time I actually got a PS2, the generation was about to reincarnate into our current gen, so I never got to play many games on the PS2 before the new gen overwhelmed me. Another reason why I didn’t get any MG games was perhaps I was too young and I doubted my parents would let me get it, I wasn’t used to such pulse-pounding games, or maybe I really don’t have an excuse. But maybe the main reason I didn’t get into MG was because I felt that the story was so vast and complex, I would have had to start from the first game to experience everything, and I wondered if my wallet could handle that.
    But now with the advent of MGS4, many people said the writing was so bad you could barely understand the story, the gameplay was mediocre and practically non-existant, and there was a certain amount of “fans-only”-ness to the whole atmosphere of the game.
    So speaking of writing, I think that many games have suffered from choppy and incoherent writing that’s left the gamer unsatisfied when it came to the story of the game. Sure, gameplay is important, but story is just as important if you want to create a game that makes itself on par with movies and books. I think a good example that I can relate to is Halo 3. For some reason, the writing style from Halo 2 had been thrown out the window and a new style took its place. Let me start with Halo 2. I liked Halo 2. Even though I didn’t have an Xbox of my own, whenever my dad brought us to work, they had an Xbox with Halo 2 that me, my brother, and the other workers would play. It was genuinely fun, and when the workers had to go off and work some more, I’d go to play the Campaign and the first thing that grabbed me was the writing. It was just so…good! The dialogue didn’t seem rushed; it flowed smoothly, realistically, and it didn’t make you feel like you were reading subtitles, it was like a movie. It felt engaging, like you could follow what the characters were saying and why. I guess that’s more of the definition of good writing in dialogue. Now with Halo 3, the dialogue was much different. Convos were choppy, with characters saying things, then other things happening, and then more dialogue sort of out-of-the-blue. Meanwhile, I would sit there and say, “Wait, what did he say? Why are they doing that?” I mean, it’s kind of difficult to explain, but it just wasn’t engaging. It felt like the characters were talking just to get through the dialogue, and there was just random tidbits of talking, while in Halo 2 each dialogue made sense and flowed nicely.
    Well, interpret my rant as you want, but what I’m trying to say is that writing is necessary if you want to keep your audience engaged in why you are playing the game. It adds more depth to the game as a whole, and it’s honestly overlooked.

  9. I absolutely agree, one of the great things about the half life series is the story telling. while aliens attacking earth is not an entirely original idea, the incredible story telling really makes it believable.

    Yeah I never played mgs either for the same reasons/excuses

  10. I’ll try to cast my zelous nature of the MGS series for the purposes of this. When it comes to MGS I think that the ridiculous plot and plot twist that make Lost pale in comparison are what makes the game. Seriously, I don’t think MGS would be the same without the ludicrous plot. But I do understand that this turns some people off the idea of playing. However, I hope Hideo will move onto something new. I’m just afraid he’ll be forced to milk the series. If he does move onto something new then I will want an understandable plot (but for God sake KEEP the long cutscenes!). Now, Eddy, I don’t know what you find confusing about 4. Was it the plot rap-up itself or the ‘philosophical’ insights by the characters? Drebin had a lot of confusing things to say. My head still hurts.

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