A very OK game, which is apparently the greatest sin for anything to ever commit. Where's the fire here? The gameplay and story are completely serviceable, even if they lack innovation and tend to feel a bit too familiar to other games, and is definitely fun to play and explore lore and combat scenarios with a friend. Sure, its got some performance issues or whatever, but at its core this game is completely fine. Fun can and will be had. Impossible for anything with a reference to The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya to be bad, few will understand this.

Total Hours: 1938 (1536 from Xbox One and 402 from PlayStation 4)
Average Skill Rating: 3226
Unfortunately, a game that I like quite a lot. From the time I started playing it to now when the game is being completely reworked and essentially deleted, I have seen this game in almost all of its possible permutations. Some were fun (I liked GOATS, pre-role queue had some sauce (sometimes), dive) some were not fun (Grav/Dragons, Brigitte pre-nerf, double-shield) but I think overall I did enjoy my experience with this game. It was fun to be able to apply mechanical skill to a video game and have it generally reward your progress, I climbed from mid-gold to high-diamond in the course of a few years, and this experience can be further applied to other games and experiences. This, along with Cuphead, was the main reason why I bought a console for the first time in nearly 8 years, and a next gen one at that with the Xbox One. I wasn't super interested in games around the latter half of my high school years, but after moving away for college it was nice to be able to hop on the console to play with some friends. This game has undoubtedly brought me closer to many of my friends, and while that could be said of any game anyone puts time into, this is the one I spent the most time with so it will always have a special place in my heart. Many of the hours I have spent with this game have been either goofing, slaying, or just chilling which is made much easier to do with the insane amount of custom lobbies and game modes. Some of my fondest memories revolve around coming home from college during Christmas break and playing a bunch of winter-themed maps or grinding legendary runs of Archives events and I am so glad such a quality game could bring me these moments.
...Even if at your best it is sometimes impossible to win a match, or people become understandably very frustrated with the game and smurf or throw constantly, or if people abuse overpowered techniques that Blizzard were slow to rework (remember scatter arrow?), where it's really about a 60/40 split to whether or not you can really truly change the course of the game by your own performance alone in a team-based shooter. This game certainly requires a huge amount of co-operation that I am not sure most people who play this game are entirely interested in, even in competitive game modes, and I don't think the game fosters a fanbase that generally is "with" the meta and the rewards it can bring. It kinda stinks being railroaded into using only the best characters, a fact which ironically eased up a whole lot after the game was left to dry to make the next one instead of constantly tweaking the meta. I think overall this game is highly selective in terms of the kind of people who will really love it, as it is not nearly as open-ended and full of choice as it would like to be, nor did it make ample enough attempts to cultivate a more experimental approach to engaging objective design.
It's certainly a shame this game won't be preserved in this exact state anymore as the much faster pace of the Overwatch 2 betas have shown me. I enjoyed the vast majority of my time with this game and I am glad that something as generally harmless and expertly functional as this could bring me the best (and sometimes worst) experiences of socializing in gaming that one can have. This game will always represent strengthening friendships and interests with my like-minded friends, and I will ways love it for that, frustrating and fundamental flaws and all.

I'm really glad this became a backwards compatible title recently so I finally get to play it after all these years. I remember feeling really betrayed when I was 8 years old and found out that my favorite game series had jumped over to Xbox, leaving me and my PlayStation in the dust. It was bad enough I didn't get a PSP to play Me & My Katamari so this was just putting salt in my wounds at this point. So after 15 years of waiting, how good is this game? Pretty good, I guess.
I think the most fair game to compare this one to is Katamari Forever, the apology I received for skipping the PlayStation 3 with this game. Katamari Forever is mostly a greatest hits package, a bundle of some of the more interesting game modes and levels from the previous games with updated mechanics and graphics. While this isn't Katamari Damacy 5 like most people were hoping it would be, it does have a lot of interesting levels due to the previous games having such tight and interesting level design.
Beautiful Katamari doesn't really have this going for it, as the amount of achievements and game modes dedicated to Xbox Live functionalities kinda hint that this game's priorities are not focused on refinement or evolution of gameplay but rather goofing off with other players. While this isn't necessarily a bad thing, I do think that the levels and objectives are often pretty uninspired and do not relate well to the haphazard "story" this game sets forth. Besides making Uranus, which is one of the better levels probably in the whole series, every other objective is pretty one-note in comparison save for the hot katamari which is one of my least favorite levels.
Playing this game also made me realize the amount of quality of life changes that Katamari Forever made with its presentation, which was undoubtedly the focus of this native 1080p game. Many of the objectives in Katamari Forever that have you collect as many of X as is listed gives you an exact number, price, weight, or even just size as you would have to beat the objective. Beautiful Katamari does not do this very often at all, with only 2 of its about 12 requests even having a number of what you are collecting on screen. This makes playing for points incredibly frustrating since I have no idea how I am doing until the end when I finish. Beautiful Katamari also does not give a whole lot of time to finish any objective and, while I didn't fail a single level, it felt like it was almost discouraging exploration and relaxation which many of the other games did much better. The music is also a bit weird for the series, as it doesn't seem to stick to any consistent style with the remixes of old songs being just awful. While it does combine with the visuals well, the music just wasn't as stand out as it should've been.
Seems like I didn't miss out on much as a kid considering the best levels were on Katamari Forever anyway with much better visuals, music, and controls. I think Beautiful Katamari could've been astonishing if it tried to do anything at all with its aesthetic instead of just push forward a new entry but this time featuring Xbox Live. Not a bad game cuz hey, its Katamari, but I definitely wont be coming back to this one as much as the others, probably only to finish the DLC when I have a few bucks to spare. Better than probably only Me & My Katamari due to the advantage of having two analog stick functionality.

For a guy like me, every game is Racing With Ryan (my name is Ryan)

For a game about aesthetics, I think it really nails it. The worlds are all super interestingly designed, the colors power ups are fun, the music is great as always in a Sonic game, and I actually had fun with the boss battles too. This is the first Sonic game I have ever collected all the Chaos Emeralds in as well as the first one I got 100% completion in which was pretty rewarding considering how wide of a skill set you need to have when navigating certain platforms or power ups. The ratio of 3D to 2D gameplay is skewed a bit too much towards the latter for my tastes, the drifting mechanic, while scarcely used, is clunky and stiff, and the dialogue marked a turn towards really obnoxious 4th-wall winking in the camera nonsense that I am really not a fan of at all, but I think overall this game lands on its feet and is very fun to play and experience.

I have been told many stories about how incessantly my mom played this game when it first came out, and she made sure that this was one of the first games I played on her inherited Genesis.
Well, she bought another Genesis at a garage sale to give to me because she didn't have her own anymore. Why you may wonder? In a time before saving was commonplace in gaming, any time she would get to Labyrinth Zone she would not turn the console off for days or even weeks at a time so when she had time to play the game again after work or whatever she could pick back up and not have to play through the first three stages of the game like usual. Apparently this was not good for the system and the cartridge actually melted inside of it, rendering both the game and console unusable. Because of this when I got my first console, the Playstation 2, she made sure to give me plenty of extra memory cards with it because she just thought they were phenomenal inventions.
I guess this sorta speaks to both of our desires for save states. I commend her for getting as far as she did, in terms of the soundtrack the only one she didn't recognize was the Scrap Brain Zone and Final Zone meaning she never beat the game and this was likely because of the all or nothing nature of the level design, but she crushed it back in the day in my opinion. Even with save states, I struggle to get more than one or two chaos emeralds due to the randomness of the Special Zones which is really a shame because I put in a ton of work and effort to beat this game only to be shown a "Try Again" screen that I will probably always see when I go back to beat this game again. Even with save states, this game just is not as fluid or water-tight as it really should be, despite its fantastic sprite-work and soundtrack.
I do quite enjoy this game though, even if it is just replaying the first few levels because I really do think they are that fun. Clearly my mom thinks so as well because when she saw me playing this game she smiled and said "I love Sonic". Beating the game is almost secondary to having fun with the aesthetics and level design, even when they are a bit uneven. This game has definitely made its mark on my family's life and I cannot bring down the hammer on its massively glaring flaws as hard as I probably should, but that's ok. I love Sonic.

Every time I play a Pokemon game as an adult I come in with a critical eye expecting none of it to ever be good, and every time I am luckily proven wrong.
Even though I would still probably consider this a lesser Pokemon game, there were a ton of things about this game and generation that I really liked. All of the new Pokemon I used were really cool and I had a fun time with, and the ones I couldn't fit onto my party for the majority of the game are ones that I will definitely use in the apparently lengthy post-game. The Wild Area is a fantastic addition to the map with many nooks, crannies, and Pokemon to explore. While it may be a minor addition, the implementation of a free-cam mapped to right stick and online capabilities (even if it did drop frames like crazy) in this area specifically added a lot to the wonder and freedom of the game's tone. The character customization was a fun touch and expansion of Sun's and the posable and collectible trainer cards were another neat form of personalization. I think the game in general was paced very well too with not too many annoyances of the big bad evil company or whatever until the end which was handled interestingly with the Gigantamax fight at the end.
I think this is worse than Sun/Moon in general though. For starters the safer Gym to Pokemon League route structure was back, and while it did add some much needed flare with the strange Gym activities, it still felt like a step back from the exploration and challenge that Gen 7 had. I really don't like the mandatory EXP share not only because it messes up my nerd EVs but because it levels up your team way too much. I went through and caught every new Pokemon in every route and by the time I was at the end of the game, I didn't need to do any grinding at all and was 5-7 levels over-leveled for the final fight which, admittedly, was still somewhat difficult. It's weird to say it but I do sorta miss the days of training in weird places for experience, rebattling trainers, and grinding for EVs which is something completely removed from this game. Of course I am not a fan of removing the National Dex and I am even less of a fan of placing certain Gen 8 specific content behind a DLC paywall. They already added this huge, expansive area for exploration and catching a ton of different Pokemon during different times of the day and weather, so I don't understand why this wasn't just in the base game.
Overall I think this game is a step forward from Sun/Moon's online and post-game but a sizeable step back in terms of exploration, challenge, and general creativity. Definitely not the worst Pokemon game but far from the best, meaning I still had a ton of fun with it. I definitely see myself coming back to the post-game after the Brilliant Diamond hype dies down a bit or me.

Hideo Kojima is my favorite video game director, this much was made evident to me before I even completed a single Metal Gear Solid game and all I had to go off was Death Stranding. I found myself in a bit of a slump when it came to games in my later high school and early college years, I simply do not remember playing or at the very least enjoying anything for about 4 or 5 years of my life so I never thought to upgrade my PS3 to the next generation. Even when Death Stranding came out in 2019, I wasn’t rushing to get a PS4 because of my pretty drab associations with games at the time. The covid lockdown happened a few months later and I found myself returning to several mediums that I had grown distant to because of school, and video games were one of them. After talking to several friends about what games they did or did not connect with, I was pretty dead set on playing the “boring walking simulator” game as soon as I could. I went out and bought a PS4 pro and a copy of Death Stranding as soon as I had the money to do so, and this combination of stellar hardware and a beautiful game almost single-handedly revitalized my interest in video gaming, especially ones that attempt to push the boundaries of what the medium can do artistically. No more were the days of lazy shooters, RPGs, or platformers as I ventured out to see what games truly had to offer.
I don’t think any game had spoken to me the same way that Death Stranding did, even before coming anywhere close to completing the game. I was immediately drawn into its incredibly unconventional control scheme and its ability to balance its earth-shatteringly large scale with such tender moments of genuine human emotion. Death Stranding was the first game I had ever played that felt truly important, and beyond that I just enjoyed playing it. Its slow-paced and very deliberate mission design as well as a multitude of menus and meters to constantly keep under wraps made the very simple act of walking in a video game feel significant, something I have never seen focus attributed to in even the best of platformers or Bennett Foddy games. Naturally, when my favorite video game director began hyping up an extended cut of my favorite game ever, I became excited to experience this truly unique work of art again on an even more powerful system.
Unfortunately, this game was not made with me in mind.
I will preface this by saying I did not actually complete the game again from a new save file, I got about a quarter of the way through the game before I understood it’s trajectory and ported my 100% completion save file to this updated version of the game. Something I noticed immediately is how much better the game looks and runs than its PS4 original. A higher stable framerate of 60fps made the game feel that much more fluid when exploring, the adaptive triggers gave resistance back to you when you were holding your straps and bearing a heavy load, and the intricately designed vibration allows you to feel which foot Sam is planting down and how sturdy of a place that is. These are all the biggest strengths of this Director’s Cut, the ability to raise the stakes of simply walking from A to B even further by stretching the console to its absolute limit. For the first 3 or 4 hours of the game, I was really enjoying being sent back to square one of this world that I had all but perfected, which made me have to consider my paths and my gear much more in-depth than I would if I was still in PS4 post-game. It was exciting to be vulnerable again, able to make mistakes due to a lack of gear, and able to forge my own paths again instead of following the one of least resistance. It really did feel like I was playing the game for the first time all over again, until I got one of the new missions. Die-Hardman handed me a gun and asked me to sneak into an enemy base and retrieve cargo. This did come after the first stealth section of the game where I needed to sneak into an enemy base and retrieve cargo, but the game treats these first few enemy encounters as microcosms of survival horror. You are woefully underprepared and must rely on pure stealth or melee if you get caught. No big deal right?
Along with this new mission where a non-lethal gun is put into your hands come an avalanche of things I really dislike a lot about this game. For starters, there is a new way of playing levels that rotate throughout the day. If you pick certain deliveries, there is an option to compete with other porters around the world and receive bonuses for things like perfect stealth or ammo conservation, and the winner gets a medal and bragging rights. I think this is a pretty terrible way of getting people in this game to all do the same thing as each other. The way structures, paths, and signs are laid out by other players are ALWAYS helpful and will point you in the right direction if you are feeling lost. Not only does this encourage Dark Souls-tier levels of trolling in a game about unity, but this tears away from the strand-type gameplay I have come to know and love. Beyond the fact that this makes absolutely no sense within the text of the game itself, its subtext urges players to complete deliveries and mission for the good of themselves and NOT the good of the delivery or the recipient, something I found to be powerful my first time through since your reward was almost always intangible “likes” that exist to make you feel good about what you have done. Perhaps a competitive medal could do the same for other players or would work better in other games, but it makes completing missions feel disingenuous to me.
I don’t have much to say on the reworked combat or stealth systems this game has to offer. I can count how many MULEs I knocked out with rubber bullets on one hand and after playing through the entire MGS series, I don’t have any problems with sneaking around to complete objectives. Kojima is obviously a master at directing this sort of action, so it really doesn’t make sense to harp on how it feels because it feels good, it functions as intended and there is a weight to how you knock out enemies. I do not like how this violence is encouraged and implemented so early on in the game. Like I mentioned before, these encounters with MULEs and terrorists have screeching scores and dangerous weapons attached to them which give off a very uneasy feeling that make you want to get through there as quick as you can. The base game does give you a lot of weapons to use at your disposal, but it severely punishes you for killing in the form of voidouts, so non-lethal is always the way to go...when you have to. Setting aside the powerful anti-violence subtext of this and all of Kojima’s games, sneaking is almost always more fun and rewarding because it greatly reduces the risk of damaging your BB or your cargo which is entirely how these few of many systems are meant to be micromanaged. The first two of the three missions could be completed entirely using stealth, but the very last mission has you neutralize all of the enemies in an area to advance. Putting such a high stakes, high violence mission so early on in the game not only sets players up for false expectations, but warps their perceptions of how Sam could and should act. I don’t think it's much of a stretch to say he would much prefer to deliver and be done with it, connecting people along the way, then he would to come into a camp blasting at everything that moves.
The reward for completing the VERY FIRST one of these very early extra missions rewards you with many things. The first and less notable one is the firing range located in any facility with a private room. These act as MGS VR missions and allow for Sam to show off his FoxHound skills against unsuspecting computers. I can understand the need to allow players to practice with weapons and stealth in this way, but I really do enjoy the way each mandatory boss or enemy encounter plays out. Even from the very first one with Higgs which comes in a strange place and time, it's clear that you need to think on your feet with your slow drip feed of anti-BT weapons. There is even a line poking fun at people who just wanted another epic big Kojima fight fest (as if MGS games were ever that to begin with...) when Higgs says “Aren’t you getting tired of the grind? Isn’t this what you’ve been waiting for this whole time? A game over?”, a multi-faceted line that challenges Sam and his purpose as much as it does the player’s. The very slow and deliberate structure of this game has come under a lot of criticism by impatient gamers, and it’s pretty clear that Kojima understands that and taunts players with a very one-sided boss encounter where you don’t quite understand the controls or weapons. I find this to be incredibly bold and challenging, but many may find this annoying so a firing range isn’t an inherently bad idea, it just robs the encounters of their true potential before the first one even happens.
Another reward for completing this early violent mission is a support skeleton. Now, these support skeletons do add another layer of strategy onto a game that is brimming with systems and mechanics, so I do love this addition...later in the game. You do not normally receive a skeleton until you meet the Engineer who builds them, and even then they are very limited in what they can do and often specialize in one stat like cargo capacity, speed, or climbing. The support skeleton has a decent sized battery that makes every single one of these stats better far too early on in the game. This completely robbed me of that feeling of progression and power that I was talking about earlier since the rest of the game (that I played up to) feels far too easy and uneventful now. Sure, you can still take tumbles and timefall is an always present danger, but giving players such a great piece of equipment out of sequence with the other equipment feels strange. These early sections of the game are a cakewalk, and once you get to the other skeletons (much faster than previously might I add), it feels as though you didn’t even earn them by befriending Junji Ito, it just feels like an unearned bonus to make the game feel even less like it already does.
Scattered in between missions and areas are also the three new structures that can be built with PCCs and a new support buddy. These are all unlocked much later in the story, but are still available in the story, and two of them change the game in ways that I dislike tremendously. The worst offender is easily the buddy bot. This thing can traverse nearly any terrain, carry mounds of equipment, and even carry you to your destination. Sure you might need to get off every once in a while for course correction, but the world is quite literally NOT in your hands anymore. An inhuman robot, one that is nearly infallible, can handle your deliveries for you, completely ruining any sense of importance and thematic relevance to Sam’s arc as a human being. Another terrible edition is the cargo cannon, wherein you can launch cargo to a predetermined spot far away on the map so you no longer need to carry it by hand. The entire point of this game is to bear the weight of deliveries and use every tool at your disposal to carry it throughout the map, whether is be a cart, car, or skeleton, but these two completely remove the human element and fun factor of each delivery. It is possible to complete deliveries WITHOUT using these elements of the game, but playing on Very Hard difficulty and going for the highest Premium Delivery orders all but requires the use of everything at your disposal. Attempting to perfect the several new deliveries and incredibly difficult new challenges Legend of Legends of Legends has to offer is possible without this equipment, but it also feels like it was made with it in mind, at least as a last resort. Unlocking such powerful abilities that allow gamers to bypass...the...game...seems to be a step too far for my taste, especially with how it clashes with the game’s own aesthetic and values. The bonus Half-Life and Cyberpunk missions are fine, nothing noteworthy at all but I thought I’d just throw them in here because I did spend time completing them for the new items that are almost entirely just for goofing around. The racing is also sub-par, if you can believe that.
None of what I just listed is necessarily a bad thing. Almost all of it is optional and, when it isn’t, it only serves to make the gameplay more conventional and satisfying for a wider audience of people. I have severe issues with how most of these reworked systems and new items are inherently compromising the game’s very core. Words like boring and drab get thrown around a lot when describing what you literally do in the game, but what makes Death Stranding a truly unique work of art is how it builds on top of that in such bold and beautiful ways. The asynchronous multiplayer aspect of this game makes you never truly feel alone on the journey and connect players together. This directly mirrors how Sam is laying down paths for both seen and unseen NPCs, ones that exist only to do the right thing. Adding in competitive time trials for missions turns the game into one about mechanics rather than one about meaning, and while the mechanics are still one of a kind and incredibly solid, it just doesn’t carry the same weight the game did before. Allowing players to circumvent difficult ways of travelling or even carrying cargo in the first place shouldn’t even need to be analyzed to determine how detrimental to the very core themes and gameplay loop of this work are. Giving in to player’s violent desires to see Kojima shine in directing stealth and action also negates a lot of what this game is trying to say about violence and people at large, something that comes to a head beautifully in every Higgs and BT boss fight in this game. Prompting players to destroy and hurt feels very contradictory to what this entire game is about, and is not a welcome change from me.
Which leads me to my ultimate verdict...this is not a bad game. Underneath all of these horrid modernized artless changes to such a tranquil and patient game is still a game that demands to be treated with care. Had this been an expansion on the post-game and not a fundamental reworking of the game at large then I would’ve been more on board with it, but this game is unfortunately not made to please me. Creating such a passionate, unchallenged, unique, and, for seemingly the first time in his career, streamlined and unaltered version of his vision only to have the most criticism piled onto him must’ve really bothered Kojima. Since he is such a passionate and caring man, it would make sense that he would want to please as many people as possible with his works, something he did seemingly effortlessly with MGS games. It is definitely not a bad thing that he wanted more people to play this game about the good humanity can achieve through unity, but it has to sting at least a little that this was by and large rejected and ridiculed for being something new and demanding in a completely foreign way than most games. The changes to make this game less strand-like and more conventional are felt far too often during the story mode, as these are inextricably woven into the very fabric of the game. This is not just a lazy port with DLC, this is a reworked game meant to bring more people together than before by appealing to their very short-sighted and impatient interests. However, Kojima himself put it best when he said that games are not artistic because they often try to appeal to everyone without any specific person in mind. I was that person for Death Stranding. I am not that person for Director’s Cut. This is the first and hopefully last time he disappoints me.

this is the funniest video game ever made


This is almost really good.
I was a bit worried about the story of this game taking place in between the first and second films since the gap between those two was easily the biggest stumble in the series' footing, but this game sticks to horror more than goofy, over the top action and it mostly works. I mean, it is absolutely ridiculous to believe that Jigsaw and Dr. Gordon alone set up this ENTIRE asylum with well over 50+ people in it, but since the atmosphere is so foreboding and the story itself takes place in the very horror-soaked beginnings of the series I can sorta look passed that. The story offers two endings that do not retcon or shake up the series at its core, and the way you save and interact with certain people add to their characters in Saw II.
Conceptually, this game absolutely shines. I find it pretty easy to separate myself from the happenings on screen of the film but adding a layer to actually PLAYING Jigsaw's game is a great premise in and of itself. Your character has a key sewn inside of them that the others trapped in this building want, so these people mercilessly attack you in order to gain their freedom in the same way you are. There's a constant reminder of urging the player to find a new perspective that is played with interestingly in many visual puzzles, and this theme is carried throughout each story-ending choice this game offers. The game does a good job making you care about your actions through attempting to reconcile trauma inflicted on innocent others through the destructive pursuit of Jigsaw with many audio logs, TV cutscenes, and generally frantic tone. Jigsaw is constantly watching you, so the way this game offers "tips" is through the sarcastic, know-it-all tone of the man himself (ex. "be careful to watch your footing, detective!" as the game hides a million shotgun traps around corners you need to be careful not to set off).
Mechanically is where this game falls apart though. I very much like the idea of a Saw game being mainly puzzles, but I don't very much like solving the same recycled puzzle 25+ times each in order to achieve my goal. I liked some of the final zones where you save people related to you with unique traps, but nothing was really thematic or entirely fresh the entire playthrough. Luckily these puzzles required a bit of thinking even after you've solved them so many times, but seeing the same circuit board and pipe puzzle over and over got a bit frustrating. I like the idea of using multiple different weapons and light sources to traverse my way through the crumbling asylum, but the starting lighter is by far the best light source in the game and absolutely nothing beats stun-locking enemies to death with the standard fist attacks, I even beat the final Pig boss in one grab cycle just like this. I don't mind the brevity of this game at all either, even if it would've felt much more impactful with an array of many puzzles instead of scaling about 3 unique ones over and over.
Overall, as a Saw fan, I do like this game and think it offers something unique to the series by simply existing and trying something novel. As a budding fan of third-person survival horror games, I can easily recognize how much it drops the ball with many underdeveloped, glitchy mechanics and a severe lack of variety when it comes to its gameplay. Even still, I had a fun time shuffling my way through several dozen traps and saving others through puzzle solving skills, always having a looming sense of danger around every corner due to some effective atmosphere that captured the spirit of the film's editing perfectly.
The lore papers didn't make much sense to me though. Jigsaw a victim of not only Reaganite politics that defunded healthcare but also of MKULTRA? This is super awesome and has late-stage Saw film energy but for essentially a Saw 1.5, what????

A great work of art forced into the mold of a decent game.
This is definitely the first of the four (three if you don't count Ground Zeroes) that feels as though it misses out on not reaching its intended potential. I think the story and gameplay are fantastic, but they struggle with their presentation through some pretty clear studio interference and time constraints. Peace Walker "ended" prematurely as well, so playing additional missions to become more comfortable as Venom Snake and uncovering the truth behind the many MANY plot secrets didn't feel too out of place or infuriating, but how we uncovered these secrets was not very thematically driven. After mission 31, you have a minimum of about 15 additional missions to complete in order to find out the truth about the man who sold the world. The thing is, only about 3 or 4 of the missions are unique gameplay. The rest have you replaying some selected missions you have already completed but with much harder difficulty. I think the intention here is to force players to make tough decisions about what they are doing to provide a new perspective on what they already did (something that is really only perfected in the final mission). Obviously anti-violence is a huge theme in these Metal Gear Solid games, so I personally always play as non-lethally as possible which makes the games more difficult but also more rewarding. You are punished when killing people through the change in appearance to Venom Snake, as he famously grows a horn and becomes covered in blood the eviler you are. These repeated missions can be infuriating just because you are repeating them, but also because they are that much more difficult. You are put into compromising situations where killing would be so much easier, forcing you to consider what you have done up to that point and why.
Most of these repeated missions don’t adhere to this thematic exploration though. Many of the repeated missions feel completely arbitrary, saving people you’ve already saved and killing people you’ve already killed. Do the Quiet fight again but she can one shot you this time? Beat this mission without any equipment after Mother Base is already nearly at its peak? Why? The reasons are unfortunately cynical, Konami wasn’t happy with how overbudget Kojima was going to be (despite this game breaking record for the company) so these missions are just… copy pasted. It doesn’t truly feel like what you do matters that much since they’re very clearly means to the end of the story.
Now, what saves this from being completely awful and unfun is that there are original story beats in between these lame missions, albeit seemingly random ones. These story scenes are incredibly revelatory and tie expertly into the thematic material of the game, primarily revenge. This game is at its absolute strength when it explores what it says it will upon the cover of the game – pain and the unbridled rage that comes within enacting revenge. Miller, Quiet, Snake, even Skull Face, are all suffering great misfortunes and bear a lot of weight on their shoulders, but all choose to suffer in silence until they physically can not take it anymore. These people are all painted with fine-tuned, empathetic strokes due to Kojima’s love of humanity, and he really knows how to set up situations wherein they almost need to act or else they will suffer more. The geo-political implications behind these highly personal squabbles is as powerful as always, and comes together very well in the end. Every single action in this game is driven by revenge. Every single one. Nobody acts out of empathy or kindness, and this completely destroys them both physically and mentally. When Snake is able to break this chain, it becomes overwhelmingly kind and interesting. Mission 43 is absolutely incredible, some of the most effective story-telling through gameplay I have ever experienced due to its legitimate emotional weight and willingness to subvert expectations of what a video game will punish or support you, the player, for.
By the ending (which I won’t spoil for my good friend Zac, one of the only people who will likely make it this far into the review [hey!]) it becomes apparent that Kojima’s true vision was to examine Big Boss as a figurehead and icon, and how he has influenced not only the landscapes of MGS, but the gaming world in general. How do people respond to Big Boss doing what he does? Why is violence so coveted in modern video games when you’re clearly purposefully and unnecessarily inflicting pain upon people? Is it truly worth it to suffer in silence without reaching out to a support system? Who really is Snake, what does he represent, and why does he continue to trudge on even in the face of a plethora of great pains and mistruths? A lot of this game personally made me consider how long Kojima has been working with this character specifically, how often he likely thinks of how he would like to treat him. By putting him through the absolute wringer, introducing a physical manifestation of pain that you will never ever be able to shake, we learn a lot about what Kojima and even Big Boss think about loyalty, violence, and pain. Even these heavy and emotional themes are somewhat fumbled even when the game is entirely original gameplay. You must build your base again like in Peace Walker, taking many jobs that relate to Cipher but often indirectly which means there isn’t a whole lot of integrated story telling. Sometimes it feels like a metronome ticking between “do a mission” and “watch a cutscene” in a very unnatural feeling way. This is also supplemented through cassette tapes like in Peace Walker, but this is not a super engaging way to tell a story due to a lack of visuals and impairment of ability on the battlefield when listening to them. The very beginning of the game is slow to start as there is a pretty big learning curve in understanding how the guards, weapons, and controls work in a truly open world setting for the first time. I struggled through the first few missions for sure but once I unlocked better equipment, I was able to play to my sneaky strengths in a satisfying way.
There’s a lot of emotion packed into this game, but it is far too messy for its own good, even by Metal Gear Solid standards. If this was a completely polished game, I could honestly see it standing just slightly below Snake Eater, but as of right now it’s about on par with Peace Walker which is a good game but also flawed in many unfortunate ways. It’s a give and a take though, since after this Kojima departed to make a game even better than any of his games before it, and who’s to say of this game was made differently his fate wouldn’t have been different? Either way, this is an emotional experience through and through, just not a very refined or whole experience at that, full of rage, pain, and empathy but not able to capitalize on it perfectly.

A bit too barebones to be considered more thoughtful or charming than it already is, but still very cute and fun.

I'm a bit disappointed the several quality of life changes from Katamari Forever didn't make it into this game like the rainbow text when you get a new object and the present status for each level, but this is still a very good remaster. Those unconventional controls and constantly morphing ball of progress really make this game special, and when combined with its off kilter sense of humor and palpable sense of progression this game is super difficult to put down.

I think what stings about this the most is that it could easily be turned into something I adore. Anime isn't much my thing besides a select few series such as The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (which does everything this game does but actually has a point), and video games as a whole often squander their potential to be truly astounding creations to interact with. Merging these two under the guise of postmodern deconstruction is tricky but not impossible. I think this is achieved in the most routine way possible but is severely lacking in thought and purpose. It's not often that interacting with something and NOT interacting with something yields the exact same results. I don't much mind the gameplay being little more than a visual novel and I even love the idea of interacting with the game in multiple ways to achieve the "good ending", but the actual message at the end ruins my ability to suspend disbelief any further. Salvato states that he enjoys games that do something different and challenge the status quo, even if they are imperfect. While not inherently mean-spirited, I find this approach to creating anything to be entirely misguided.
This game is undeniably different. Minimizing the window and viewing the folder I downloaded of the game's contents and seeing how it changes throughout was very interesting. The constant fourth-wall breaking, character asides, and cleverly subversive use of repetition through dialogue and save states is also novel. These aspects end up being incredibly hollow by the end of the game. Nothing was done in service of characters, emotions, or themes beyond itself. This video game acknowledges it is a video game. Then what? It becomes a surface level examination of itself, serving itself and only itself. Some of the stuff with Sayori and Monika towards the end made me think that there was some form of empathy and depth provided to further connect with these characters, but they end up being little more than strands of code which is EXACTLY what the game wants to be. Madoka Magica posting painted over everything The Witness stands for. I think that this has the makings of actual art, but since people are just now starting to realize that games can and SHOULD be artistically realized, this should serve as an influence for people to create much more meaningful and thoughtful works in a similar vein as this.
You have reminded me that I cannot interact with the game in any meaningful way. The game is different from just about everything I've ever played. You have successfully made suicide, loud and dark digital distortion, and self harm upsetting. Congratulations. Now what?