Tycho, at Penny Arcade, has apparently been taking umbrage at MSG4‘s cutscene-heavy composition as well. Having actually played the game, however, (I unfortunately don’t own a PS3,) his arguments against it have more weight than mine:
I actually like the story of Metal Gear, but it’s not told well. I don’t care if a cutscene is long provided that it’s well paced, but these cutscenes aren’t simply long, they’re eternal – and they feel even longer than they are because they’re pure overreach. The script is insipid, didactic, and its insights are trite. The humor doesn’t work, period, and it works even less against the backdrop of perpetual war. I’m the story guy around here. I make up a story if a game doesn’t have one. Here, I was so starved to express any kind of volition whatsoever during these interminable slideshows that eventually I discovered a way. I only started to enjoy Metal Gear Solid once I began skipping the cutscenes.
That tends to be what I’ve heard about the series. The story, at its core, is a good one. But it’s implementation is flawed. When a gamers’ enjoyment of the game is reliant upon skipping a solid half of your games content, (according to IGN, it really is that much,) then you’ve failed as a game designer. It makes it all the more grievous when you look at how few gamers actually watch cutscenes anyway. I can count the number of friends of mine who actually watch the mission intro cinematics in GTA4 on one hand.
That’s not to say Kojima doesn’t have talent. As IGN’s own Australian reviewer states, he’s simply in the wrong line of work. I think it’s clear at this point that what he really wants to do is direct computer-animated films. Which, seeing what he’s able to do with that medium, I say someone needs to give the man a film contract.