Metal Gear Solid 2: Cutscenes

A comment to a previous post called MGS2 “mostly cutscene with the occasional gameplay”. Well, I’m in a fairly big piece of gameplay right now, searching all over the Big Shell (a facility in the ocean) for bombs to defuse. Someone very skilled at the game might find this scene fairly short, but for me, finding each bomb involves several iterations of the basic stealth-game cycle: venture forth, get spotted by an enemy, run away, find a hiding place, wait for the hue and cry to die down, venture forth once more. 1Or, alternately, don’t find a hiding place, get killed, and resume from the last save point. Sometimes I just jump into the ocean to speed the whole process up. This is the single largest uninterrupted (or at least not-significantly-interrupted) assignment I’ve had so far, and it’s hefty enough that I had to break off in the middle to sleep. So at this point, I’m thinking that “mostly cutscene” is an exaggeration.

I can see where it’s coming from, though. The cutscenes in this game have a quality about them that makes them seem interminable. I don’t think it’s mainly because they’re excessively long, though. It’s because of how they’re structured. There are several different purposes for cutscenes: assigning new objectives, explaining new equipment or UI features, explaining the backstory, introducing bosses that you’ll be fighting later, etc. Usually, when a game does a cutscene, it will have one purpose in mind. When MGS2 starts a cutscene, it often goes for several of these things sequentially. And when it finishes one, it may even change format (from scripted actions in the game’s main graphics engine to a conversation over the player character’s comm link, or to FMV), creating the sense that the cutscene is ending. So the player expects to immediately begin playing again, and that expectation is thwarted. Repeatedly.

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1. Or, alternately, don’t find a hiding place, get killed, and resume from the last save point. Sometimes I just jump into the ocean to speed the whole process up.

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