I just beat Portable Ops tonight and the whole experience has made me reflect muchly on the series as a whole and just how much it has sucked all along. By the end of it, it was painfully clear that I could have beaten the game, with nearly all sidequests done in about half the time if not a third if I wasn't constantly redoing things as a result of the controls. This sums up my experience with every metal gear game up till now.
Now I'm aware that Portable Ops had a fixed camera where you literally have to manhandle it for EVERY little thing. Most of the time I wasn't able to connect with blows or ran into people/walls while I was busy getting pwned and having guys run off on me all while fixing the camera *BEFORE* I could do anything. Even though Portable Ops was extra guilty in this area, it got me thinking "you know, it really wasn't different for the other games either". The actual gameplay for this entire series has actually sucked. We've all been brainwashed by the cutscenes and a few neat boss encounters.
My history with the series.
Metal Gear Solid - The whole cinematic thing was quite cool for its time, as well as the cutscenes being so neat that you *wanted* to play them back as a movie. Also the boss formula was quite new and interesting, and hadn't become formulaic yet so the long dialogues with the villains were actually interesting. Despite the whole thing looking like a blurry pixellated mess on the PS1, because action games were still more fantasy pew pew based than military based at the time, all the military terminology and situations derived from actual events gave it an air of authentic cool. Gameplay still sucked but you got used to it and it was new (same as NES but in 3D = new!).
Metal Gear Solid 2 - My first experience with crappy console to PC ports and a harbinger of things to come years later. I never finished this due to a bug in the PC version that always pointed the Nikita to the bottom left corner for me so I got stuck at one bit where I had to guide the missile through the pipe. Nevertheless the fiddlyness of the controls was starting to get to me on this one (along with Raiden) , even less points for keyboard controls. Thank god someone edited this into a movie.
Metal Gear Solid 3 - THANK GOD SOMEONE EDITED THIS INTO A MOVIE!! lol I never even played through this one. I tried to get into it but I kept thinking it was too slow paced , or something was just off about the game design. The jungle survival and hunting was getting in the way of the stealth action which is supposed to be the draw of the series . One thing that I now realise that was subconsciously annoying me at this point were the controls, their suckage really becoming apparent now compared to other games at its time. Especially the number of button presses involved to get anything done.
Portable Ops - In addition to the above, I now start noticing the formula is really getting stupid. Does Snake ever have any enemies that aren't really his admirers/wanting to be his bosom buddies best friend warrior's honor bla bla by the time they die? Another thing about this game is that nearly 90% of the items you get you never use due to the ridiculously small inventory. You can also never truly enjoy the weapons as the "auto aim" likes to either point in the wrong direction or only turn halfway towards the right direction 90% of the time and manual aiming is slow as hell. The button presses *STILL* suck.
So... Metal Gear Solid 4. I've heard they're fixing the controls. They better. At this point I'm considering that this is a diseased cow that needs to be put down. And made into a movie by New Line. Even Kojima's gotten tired of it.