Welcome to The TPS Report, home to video game blogs, mix sets and even the odd piece o' 3D art.

Broke arse student, freelance games reviewer and rambling obsessive that I am, I currently seek work in mags and web sites throughout the world. If you're in a position to make that happen - and like what you see around here - let me know. I've published work with the likes of IGN and Gaming Steve.

-Matt/Diggler

Old Entries
First time visiting? Be sure to flip through the archives. I've been writing for friggin' ever, and you never know what you might have missed.

Score Breakdown
Just what those wee numbers mean exactly.

Visit the Forum
Multi-platform gaming chit chat, along with whatever interesting news and downloads I happen to stumble across amidst the interpipes.

TPS approved custom
built gaming PCs

Future Plans For the Site
28/7/2012 22:31

Preview Time! Games to Look Out For in 2011
8/1/2011 5:54

2010's Games of Shame
6/1/2011 22:47

My Fave Games of 2010!
6/1/2011 20:12

StarCraft II Review - Dig Loveth the RTS!?
7/11/2010 12:48

10 Must-Have iPhone Games
2/6/2010 18:09

A Little Hotlink to An Article I Stuck Up On GiantBomb
21/4/2010 15:01

Aliens Vs Predator is Here! Woo! Oh, Hang On...
6/3/2010 20:58

iPhone Games!
6/3/2010 20:40

WTF? Dig's Getting Hitched!
18/2/2010 23:39

More...

If interested in discussing writing opportunities for on or offline gaming publications - either UK based or abroad - please contact me via E-Mail. Sparkling CV available on request

 

 

Dig Continues His Foray into the World of Metal Gear Solid
Posted by Diggler - 29/6/2006 23:48

My next stop was The Twin Snakes, a remake of the original MGS game for the Gamecube. Did it live up to the standard MGS3 set for itself in my mind though?
So you might remember my distain for the Metal Gear universe did a rather humungous 180 last month when I sat down and actually played Metal Gear Solid 3 from start to finish (who'd have thought?). While I still had issues with the stealth mechanics and the aiming controls, the storyline and characters simply blew my frickin' socks off, with the cut-scenes in particular just some of the most flat-out insane shit I'd ever seen in a game. That entire motorbike chase sequence still rings throughout my ears as I type this.

With this new found appreciation for the series, I decided to catch up on the rest of the preceding games in preparation for Metal Gear Solid 4 next year. Unfortunately for me, the first Metal Gear Solid game appeared all the way back on the antiquated PSone in 1998, and in these here times of HD televisions and dual-SLI rigged PCs, I've somehow turned into a wee bit of a graphics whore I'm sad to say, one who certainly can't be dealing with no jaggy PSone craziness in this day and age.

Thus I opted to pick up the Gamecube remake of MGS from 2004, re-titled "The Twin Snakes". While essentially the same game underneath it all, I'd heard this version beefed up the visuals though, while also added a bunch of other additional niceties to spruce up the overall experience somewhat (namely first person aiming and much improved cut-scenes). Although overseen by Metal Gear grand daddy himself - Hideo Kojima - the remake job was also handled by Silicon Knights, them of Eternal Darkness fame. I'll admit, Eternal Darkness is yet another golden oldie I need to get around to playing beyond the first five minutes at some point too, but Silicon Knights upcoming Too Human looks simply awesome I must say, hence I was immediately excited to see their name plastered all over this project. So far, so good.

Episode 1

Now complete from beginning to end though, I'm sad to say Metal Gear Solid 1 disappointed me I'm afraid. Perhaps its modern day face-lift betrayed its aging '90s origins, but I just expected so much more from this game. By the end of the first 30 minutes alone though, it became depressingly clear that the exquisite sense of artistry and visual flare Kojima displayed so prominently in part three, hadn't truly blossomed yet. You see it ever so briefly in the odd shot here and there - the snow-tinged "funeral" scene amidst howling wolves springs to mind primarily - but for the most part, this game pales hugely in comparison on that side of things.

Characterisation is also a significant step back too; Snake plays out most of this game like an arse hole sex pest, while all the chicks act like horny nymphos or crazy psychopaths (often both). Worst of all, the bosses are just terrible cartoon characters that kind of embarrass to watch. Liquid in particular is absolutely groansome, with his third act reveal one of the most poorly hidden plot twists I've ever seen. Ever. Next to the likes of The Boss - who brought an incredible amount of heart and depth to MGS3 - this muppet is pure Binks.

The exception to this disappointing roster of toons is the Ninja. A super cool, crazy arse kicker from Snake's past, this guy kinda captivated me from beginning to end (and I have to wonder, is that the same suit Raiden dons in the mind-blowing MGS4 trailer?). Colour me interested either way. As Snake's sidekick, Meryl also had her moments, but personally the entire love angle falls completely flat for me, and their final riding off into the sunset together wreaks of camembert. Not buying any of it.

Not that I should, mind you - this is a video game, not a movie - but the problem is, with MGS3 I totally did. On an emotional level, that game had me hook, line and sinker. I guess I was just hoping for more of the same here, but it's starting to become worryingly clear that such well realised video game characters are pretty much exclusive to that single title. Not cool.

Ergh, Can I Take Off This Suit?

Looks like fun, no?
I wish it controlled so
Gameplay-wise, MGS kinda falls apart for me too. Now used to Subsistence's fully controllable third person camera, reverting to the "classic" camera of the old Metal Gear games is just flat out painful. I soon grew to detest the fact that when I run down a corridor, I can't see what's at the end of it thanks to that ruddy viewpoint. It's just beyond poorly conceived for a game that expects me to sneak and evade, resulting in me staring more at the 2D radar in the corner of the screen than the actual game world, as that's the only real way to visualise where nearby enemies are. That's just a waste, more than anything.

Thankfully this remake includes the first person view that MGS2 apparently introduced, but that's hardly ideal for regular use, due to gluing your feet in place whenever toggled on. That said, I can't imagine the pain of the poor sods who managed to complete the original game back in the day without it. I'm really starting to wonder, but are MGS fans just - gulp - humungous gluttons for punishment...?

With that camera thrown in with the terribly fiddly combat system and the poorly implemented stealth mechanics (which I whined about more than enough last time), this game just feels like all of MGS3's worst parts, minus that artistic integrity which drove the game forward. That's the primary trait which kept me glued to my screen throughout the good and the bad, and here, it's all sorta non-existent.

The absolute worst part of the entire experience for me though came about halfway through. Picture this; Meryl lays on the floor, bleeding from a distant sniper shot. As Snake, I'm pinned down behind cover, unable to reach her. I radio in to Colonel Campbell, asking what the shit to do...and the answer? Oh, quite simple, Snake. You just have to turn around and retrace your steps back through the entire fucking game, all the way to the armoury at the very beginning, pick up a sniper rifle, then head all the way back to save her. Holy fucking christ, is this guy winding me up?

Apparently the stealth mechanics were beefed up slightly for this remake. I dread to think how they were originally
The sad part is, if you can be arsed to do all that, you're subsequently taken prisoner - albeit via a rather splendid cut-scene - and dragged back to a prison cell in the very same building you just legged it all the way back from, only to then break out and fucking retrace your steps all the way back to where you just were for a third fucking time. How the hell does something like that 1) get through conception? 2) get through gameplay testing? And 3) end up in supposedly one of the "greatest games ever made"? Please, MGS fans...explain it to me. How is this good game design? Oh my god, I wanted to eat my own face by the end of it. I literally had to take a month's break here before I could slog on and finish off the rest of the game.

I was so immune to the whole experience at this point, that when I eventually returned and reached the end factory sequence, and had to essentially (and somewhat amusingly) do the same thing again - retracing my steps 3 times in a row to deactivate Metal Gear and save the world - I just had to laugh out loud. It was either that, or empty my wrists into a warm bath. I just don't get it, you guys.

As a side-gripe, I also have to mention; this is the worst game of all time when it comes to tearing down the fourth wall. What do I mean by that? I'm referring to the archaic trend of gaming toons breaking out of character to tell you game-specific instructions. For instance, there's no quicker way to pull you straight out of a tense, atmospheric showdown than to have the Colonel radio in and tell you to "press the A button" or "use the right analogue stick". This game does it all the damn time - it even tries to be cute by looking straight at the camera at one point. No no, old man Ocelot, don't do that.

I Bring You Love

Fair enough, it's not all doom and gloom. The early boss battle with Psychotmantis is just flat-out amazing. Completely inspired, it does cutting edge and truly innovative things with the hardware that I'd never, ever imagined in a game before. The bit where he "reads your mind" is absolutely hilarious. Scanning your memory stick and reeling off games and playing habits, it took me a good few seconds to realise just what the frack was going on. Yeah, it's failing in that whole suspension of disbelief thang I just touched upon, but in this instance I have to forgive, as it's just utterly friggin' brilliant. It's the ultimate way of beating him which blew my mind though (for those who don't remember, his ability to read minds and foresee your movements can only be overcome by physically unplugging the controller). Inventive and interesting stuff, more of this could have severely tickled my pickle.

Twin Snakes does offer up exceptional cut-scene work and some kick arse action sequences
For me though, Twin Snake's storyline is really its only saving grace beyond that. While the characters may be disappointingly one dimensional, and the gameplay mundane to excruciatingly annoying at times, at least Snake's ongoing battle against Metal Gear and its various differing incarnations proves a pretty damn compelling watch via the extensive cut-scenes. Enough at least, for me to see it through to the end. There are some absolutely choice fight sequences in particular that are undeniably enjoyable as hell.

Witnessing the Ninja tearing up shit in his final blaze of glory while sparks and blood fly everywhere is quite the site, as is Snake taking down that pompous nob gobbler Liquid onboard a pair of super fast moving jeeps. The problem is, I wanna play a game where I can do all that stuff myself. Cut-scenes are fine, but why not make the actual game that freakin' cool? I wanna play a fast-paced action take on the Metal Gear Solid series, one where Snake's riotous skills are actually under my control, not some pre-scripted cinematic which I could be watching at the movie theatre. One where niggly aiming and retarded AI are replaced with kick arse hand to hand takedowns and killer split-second headshots. When the cut-scenes end, that just ain't what we're left with here, and that's a damn shame if you ask me.

Will MGS4 breath some of this more high-octane, arse kicking action directly into the gameplay finally? Will it let us actually play Solid Snake as the crazy superhuman fountain of brutality that he is...instead of merely watch him? Or is it destined to be just a far prettier version of these same old dated antics of hiding in boxes from guards with a big "!" hovering above their heads? 'Cos I gotta say, at only two games in, it's already growing rather old for me.

Death to Diggz

It's worrying how close that Metal Gear Awesome spoof nailed it
All this negativity aside (I can hear the fanboys clawing at my window as we speak), I do appreciate that there is indeed a whopping great 8 year old game buried beneath this modernised exterior. I guess the sad fact is that it just doesn't really hold up too well these days from a gameplay perspective though, and it lacks that aforementioned artistic style and the exceptional character work which MGS3 (and one hopes MGS4) displayed so proudly. This is considerably more of a cheesy, one dimensional comic book outing next to MGS3's awe-inspiring film-like experience, and as someone late to the party...its place in the gaming hall of fame is a little confusing to me right now.

As a result, a chunk of that new found love I procured for this series from playing Subsistence took a wee bit of a hit after playing through The Twin Snakes. The question is, can MGS2 win it back? In Raiden, I must trust...

(Pictures courtesy of Silicon Knights & Konami)

Untitled Document

The Polynomial. Like playing a rave

Untitled Document

Game
Fallout 3

Enjoying a fully modded out re-visit. Wow

Film
The Road

Pretty much due to the above

Show
Breaking Bad

Already shaping up to be the best season yet

Tune
Explosions in the Sky

Easing the pain of living in a post-Friday Night Lights world

Untitled Document

Forums

The TPS Forum
Official boards for the site

RLLMUK Forum
The old Edge forums gone independent. The busiest and most interesting gaming board around, worthy of multiple visits a day

NTSC-UK Forum
Another exceptional gaming forum, featuring one of the friendliest communities on the net, and up to the minute news

NeoGAF
A more US-centric gaming board, with huge piles of traffic and even the odd famous face

Gaming Shows

The 1up Radio Network
1up.com's collection of weekly gaming podcasts, the pick of which would have to be ListenUP, full of juicy rumors and interesting banter week in, week out

Area 5
Formerly The 1up Show, since losing their jobs the old video editing team have continued doing what they do best, in an independent internet-based TV show, covering whatever upcoming games they can get their hands on, and various other bits and pieces

Fully Ramblomatic
A hysterical gaming blogger posting what he calls "zero punctuation" video reviews that have to be seen - and heard - to be believed

A Life Well Wasted
Freelance journalist Robert Ashley's internet radio show, with a far more interesting and professional demeanor than your typical podcast. Interviews, fast-paced editing and catchy tunes abound

On the Spot
The humongous gaming site known as Gamespot broadcasts a video show each week, in which upcoming games are demoed live on air, and viewers are invited to send in questions to find out more

The Hotspot
Gamespot's audio-based companion to On the Spot, in which site editors cover the week's news while simultaneously poking fun at all that is gaming

Gaming Steve
A more mature podcast, hosted by a long-time games industry professional armed with a ton of insider info and loads of interesting opinions. The Dig's been known to post articles and stories on here from time to time

Consolevania
Quick-fire internet-based TV show with console reviews and comedy sketches. Funny as hell

Major Nelson
An interesting "blogcast" hosted by a Microsoft employee, featuring stacks of exclusive behind the scenes news and interviews relating to all things Xbox 360

The Kojima Productions Report
Official podcast from the team of Hideo Kojima, creator of the much-loved Metal Gear franchise. Full of news and interviews relating to all things Metal Gear, it's probably one for die-hard fans only

Pure Pwnage
Mockumentary series on the life of a pro gamer. Episode five is possibly the funniest thing on the internet

Other Sites

Kotaku
What you could call gaming's homepage. Constantly updated news and links on the entire industry, from minute breaking headlines, to funny arse viral vids

Game Trailers
Easy to use multimedia-rich web site offering official trailers, video demos and sneak peaks at all the upcoming releases

Game Videos
Sister site to 1up.com, focusing on game trailers, video interviews and even the odd documentary

Gamespot
The Gamespot front-end, and the gaming equivalent of the Internet Movie Database. Includes detailed reviews and extensive video features on pretty much all systems and games ever made

Giant Bomb
Speaking of Gamespot, the controversial "letting go" of editor Jeff Gerstmann resulted in him starting up this new venture with fellow former writers of the site. Great podcast in particular

1up.com
Discounting the audio and video shows mentioned earlier, 1up's main site is also worth a visit in its own right. Not only bustling with quality gaming articles and extensive developers' blogs, it also doubles up as a massive friends network, ideal for meeting fellow gamers and joining like-minded communities

Live Marketplace Feed
The most up to date and reliable way to keep track of all the new Xbox Live Marketplace content, from new weapons and map packs, to movie trailers and game demos

Xbox Reloaded
360 backwards compatibility can be a minefield. This blog attempts to shed some light on the issue by playing original Xbox games for you and reporting back the results

GameFAQs
The ultimate resource for walkthroughs and cheats

Disposable Media
A wonderful (and free) E-zine, full of reviews and articles on gaming, movies, music and TV. Puts most high street mags to shame

X-Fire
A must-have for all PC gamers, X-Fire is a buddy list and communications tool that keeps constant tabs on what games both you and all your mates are playing, on or offline

Steam
A contender to the X-Fire throne that has pretty much overtaken it straight out of the gate. Valve's Steam client contains friends lists, downloadable games, Live-style achievements and plenty more to sink your teeth into

MyGamerCard.net
Convert your Xbox Live gamercard into an image, for use on forums and web sites for free. That's mine further down

Ain't it Cool News
The latest news, gossip and spy reports from the world of movies, TV and (occasionally) video games

Smodcast
Writer, director and actor Kevin Smith - he of Clerks fame - records a monthly podcast in which he and fellow pals discuss everything from trying to felate oneself, to the time his dog got covered in ejaculate. Riveting stuff

 

Matt Robinson, 2011

Please do not use anything on this site without credit
X-Fire Profile
Feel free to add me to X-Fire, Xbox Live or any of the other apps to the right
Xbox Live:
Diggler26
Wii Friend Code:
1224 7821 4721 8136
Playstation Network:
Diggler
Steam:
Diggler26
Twitter