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This week, Yahtzee reviews Metal Gear Survive.

Release Edit

Due to technical issues this episode was released on the Escapist website several hours late, so it premiered on the nominally post-ZP Twitch stream, which was also late.

Transcript Edit

Well, Konami certainly seem to be in the doghouse still, going by the reaction to Metal Gear Survive when it first came out: a sort of collective, "Ooh, look what the cat dragged in! You sure you can deign to hang out in Video Game Land a moment longer? You wouldn't rather be making a fucking pachinko machine based on a property people used to like? Oh, look over there, Konami! An attractive, single Silent Hill game standing at the bar! Why don't you swagger over there, put your best game face on, and fucking cancel it?!"

But it seems, despite the ejection of Hideo Kojima, Konami still hates making video games slightly less than they hate not making buckets of cash, so annoyingly, the initials "MGS" now stand for two different things. But perhaps we should put our universal seething hatred for Konami aside, and judge Metal Gear Survive by its own merits. After all, Konami could turn all this negative feeling around in an instant; all they have to do is make Silent Hill 2, 3, and 4 available on Steam. Seriously, guys, Silent Hill: Homecoming's on there, but not the good ones? That's like giving extra pocket money to your stunted, brain-damaged child who lives in the basement with a cat on their head. The point is, if that happens, then we'll all feel pretty silly about this knee-jerk Konami hatred when historians of the future look back at Metal Gear Survive and think, "Well, it's not that bad; it's a little boring and old-hat, but burning down the studio is still pretty disproportionate."

Most of the objection to Metal Gear Survive seems to come from the description of it before anyone actually played the thing, and admittedly, it's not the kind of elevator pitch that makes the CEO slap the emergency stop button and drop to his knees there and then for a worshipful gob-job. It's a Metal Gear game without Hideo Kojima, which, in itself, is a sticky point, because Hideo Kojima's is an utterly unique mind that no one has yet managed to convincingly channel. Ho yes, it takes more than insane conspiracies, diarrhea jokes, and horrendously-abused women in completely inappropriate clothing; it's all that, but genuinely taking yourself seriously, as well. So it's Metal Gear without Kojima, and also, they've stripped out the traditional stealth action and replaced it with zombies and bog-standard survival crafting mechanics with the usual AAA "live service" quantification bullshit that means it can be a fucking micropayment safari, but hey, put those Molotovs down, 'cos we're only going to charge you forty bucks for the privilege of wasting your life with it! Talk about a fucking soft sell.

The plot is, you were one of Big Boss' pet gophers who hung around on his party boat at the time of MGS V: Ground Zeroes, when it got blown up by bad guys jealous that they didn't get invited to the pizza party. But it turns out, after Big Boss fucked off, a giant wormhole to another dimension opened in the sky and started sucking up the survivors. See, you fucked it up already, Metal Gear Survive! Hideo Kojima would've built things up for at least 45 minutes before he pulled out the trans-dimensional wormhole shit, with lots of stock footage of people walking down crowded streets, having very serious thoughts about trans-dimensional wormholes.

Our custom protagonist - although, whatever appearance options you pick, there is no escaping from looking like Generic Grizzled Person #84, because Big Boss' hiring practices discriminated heavily against the non-grizzled - must now mount an expedition into the other dimension in order to plunder its resources or something, 'cos that's American foreign policy for you. But it soon becomes clear once you get there that the other Earth is a desolate and hostile place with not much to plunder, unless you're short on zombies, and I think I speak for the entire entertainment industry when I say we really fucking aren't!

God bless 'em, they do try to keep the spirit of Metal Gear alive; most of the exposition happens in prolonged back-and-forth dialogues, there's still stealth gameplay, and the first major female NPC you run into wears a sexy nurse outfit for the whole game for no particular reason. But it's just not the same; the sexy nurse doesn't have an even remotely horrifically traumatic past, the dialogue seems to never take longer than a few minutes and don't always reiterate the same point over and over again, and as for the stealth, while you can sneak up on enemies and stealth-kill them with a knife to the bonce, they're fucking zombies! They're not going to call HQ for fire support. You can outrun them by maintaining a brisk walk. You can stealth-kill them even if they're alert, which leads to this humiliating little barn dance as you try to get behind them again.

So anyone expecting a Metal Gear game from such trifling evidence as the words "metal" and "gear" appearing in the title is probably going to be disappointed, because it feels like they scooped out about one-fifth of Metal Gear Solid V and tried to stretch it out into a full game till its bones snapped and its tights had more ladders than the clearance sale at the fire department.

So now that all the Metal Gear fans have pissed off to put on their best Otacon face and cry at the loss of their true love for the umpteenth time, let's consider Metal Gear Survive by its own merits. The core gameplay is the Subnautica model: explore hostile environment, find stuff, craft upgrades with the stuff you find that expands your base and widens the area you can explore, plot unfolds as you go; it's all about unfolding and expanding and widening like an American tourist taking their shirt off at the beach. The main difference between it and Subnautica, of course, is that in Subnautica, there are lots of pretty things to look at, whereas Metal Gear Survive's sightseeing tour covers mostly blasted, deserted hellscapes, occasionally livened up with featureless gray screen because the entire world is shrouded in dust, except for in a few rigidly walled-off fresh air ghettos where the last remnants of life on the planet live carefree lives of gamboling about lush meadows in the sun, until you track them down and knife them all to death, 'cos you need the meat.

Yes, the "survive" part of Metal Gear Survive really isn't fucking about; as well as watching your limited air supply in a dust storm, you metabolize like a fucking deep-sea oil spill and have to be constantly finding food, and animals don't respawn nearly as often as I'd like, the selfish, delicious little bastards. Besides survival and exploration, the other main mechanic is tower defense; every now and again, you have to defend a point from a fucking conga line of zombies by setting up barricades and chokepoints so you can stand just behind it and swat them off with a stick, like it's Black Friday at the crystal meth shop. And I have to admit, after one of these where I had to defend the point for a whole fifteen minutes and so I was down to holding them off with handfuls of gravel and tactical farts, I was pretty invigorated by my victory, if not by the thought of the subsequent prolonged shopping trip to the wilderness to re-craft all my fucking ammo again.

So if you can disregard the motives with which the game was made, i.e., "All the kids in the AAA Club are making loads of money with their shitty Skinner box live service games; let's stitch one of our own together from about 500 generic ideas that other games have done better, slap on the name of a franchise we haven't quite milked all the goodwill from yet, set up the micropayments, and hook ourselves a couple of whales," then Metal Gear Survive reaches the dizzy heights of "occasionally not boring". Nice work, Konami; who needs Silent Hill when your business strategy can make me scared, miserable, and occasionally covered in bloodstained filth?

Addenda Edit

  • Driving to surviving: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
  • Well I was going to restart the game to double check the points I raised but sadly my loan got declined
  • More like Metal Gear: Contrived
Episodes
2007 - 2010
2007
Q3 The Darkness Demo · Fable: The Lost Chapters · Zero Punctuation (Episode) · Heavenly Sword and Other Stuff · Psychonauts · Console Rundown · BioShock · Tomb Raider: Anniversary · Manhunt · Peggle
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2008
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2009
Q1 Awards for 2008 · Tomb Raider: Underworld · Far Cry 2 · Gears of War 2 · LittleBigPlanet · Thief: The Dark Project · Skate 2 · F.E.A.R. 2 · Spider-Man: Web of Shadows · The House of the Dead: Overkill · 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand · Resident Evil 5
Q2 X-Blades/Halo Wars · Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars · MadWorld · Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X · Siren: Blood Curse · The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena · Valkyria Chronicles · Velvet Assassin · Duke Nukem Forever · Bionic Commando · InFamous · The Second Annual E3 Hype Massacre · Prototype
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Q4 Scribblenauts · Wet · Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story · Brutal Legend · Washington D.C. · Uncharted 2: Among Thieves · Dragon Age: Origins · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 · Assassin's Creed 2 · Left 4 Dead 2 & New Super Mario Bros. Wii · Demon's Souls · Holiday 2009 · The Saboteur
2010
Q1 Awards for 2009 · Torchlight · Darksiders · Bayonetta · Dark Void · Borderlands · Mass Effect 2 · Dante's Inferno · BioShock 2 · Aliens vs Predator · Heavy Rain · Battlefield: Bad Company 2 · Final Fantasy XIII
Q2 April Fools 2010 · God of War III · Red Steel 2 · Just Cause 2 · Silent Hill: Shattered Memories · Splinter Cell: Conviction · Nier · Dead to Rights: Retribution · Monster Hunter Tri · Alan Wake · Red Dead Redemption · Alpha Protocol · Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands · E3 2010
Q3 No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle · Super Mario Galaxy 2 · Singularity · Crackdown 2 · DeathSpank & Limbo · Shadow of the Colossus · Split Second: Velocity · Transformers: War for Cybertron · Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days · Mafia II · Metroid: Other M · Video Game Voters Network · Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Q4 Halo: Reach · Dead Rising 2 · Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow · Enslaved: Odyssey to the West · Fallout: New Vegas · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II · Call of Duty: Black Ops · IPhone Games · Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood · Splatterhouse · Epic Mickey · Holiday 2010
2011 - 2014
2011
Q1 Top 5 of 2010 · World of Warcraft: Cataclysm · Fable III · Minecraft · A Shadow's Tale · Dead Space 2 · DC Universe Online · MindJack · Two Worlds II · Bulletstorm · Killzone 3 · Kirby's Epic Yarn · Dragon Age II
Q2 Pokémon White · Yakuza 4 · Crysis 2 · Nintendo 3DS · Portal 2 · Castlevania: Symphony of the Night · Mortal Kombat · Brink · L.A. Noire · The Witcher 2 · Hunted: The Demon's Forge · Duke Nukem Forever (for real this time) · InFamous 2
Q3 Alice: Madness Returns · Shadows of the Damned · F.E.A.R. 3 · The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D · Call of Juarez: The Cartel · Bastion and From Dust · Catherine · Red Faction: Armageddon · Deus Ex · Deus Ex: Human Revolution · Driver: San Francisco · Dead Island · Resistance 3
Q4 Gears of War 3 · Hard Reset · Rage · Kinect · Batman: Arkham City · Battlefield 3 · Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 · The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim · Saints Row: The Third · Assassin's Creed: Revelations · The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
2012
Q1 Serious Sam 3: BFE · Top 5 of 2011 · Super Mario 3D Land & Rayman Origins · Sonic Generations · Star Wars: The Old Republic · Amy · Resident Evil: Revelations · Darkness 2 · Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning · NeverDead · Syndicate · Mass Effect 3 · Twisted Metal
Q2 Yakuza: Dead Souls · Ninja Gaiden 3 · Silent Hill: Downpour · Kid Icarus: Uprising · Fez and I Am Alive · Prototype 2 · Risen 2: Dark Waters · Sniper Elite V2 · Diablo 3 · Max Payne 3 · Dragon's Dogma · E3 2012 · Lollipop Chainsaw
Q3 Quantum Conundrum · Spec Ops: The Line · Walking Dead · Inversion · The Amazing Spider-Man · Half-Life · Wreckateer and Deadlight · Steam Roundup · Sleeping Dogs · Darksiders 2 · DayZ · Guild Wars 2
Q4 Borderlands 2 · FIFA 13 · Resident Evil 6 · Dishonored · XCOM: Enemy Unknown · Medal of Honor: Warfighter & Doom 3: BFG Edition · Assassin's Creed 3 · Halo 4 · Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 · Hitman: Absolution · Far Cry 3 · ZombiU
2013
Q1 Top 5 of 2012 · Paper Mario: Sticker Star · Black Knight Sword & Hotline Miami · Anarchy Reigns · DMC: Devil May Cry · The Cave · Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch · Dead Space 3 · Aliens: Colonial Marines · Crysis 3 · Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance · Tomb Raider · SimCity
Q2 The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct · BioShock Infinite · Lego City Undercover · Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon · Injustice: Gods Among Us · Star Trek · Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon · System Shock 2 · Metro: Last Light · Next Gen Buyer's Guide · Fuse · Remember Me · E3 2013
Q3 The Last of Us · Deadpool · Animal Crossing: New Leaf · Ride to Hell: Retribution · Dark · Mario & Luigi: Dream Team · Rise of the Triad · Papers, Please & Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons · Pikmin 3 · The Bureau: XCOM Declassified · Saints Row 4 · Killer is Dead · Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
Q4 Grand Theft Auto V · Lost Planet 3 · Beyond: Two Souls · The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD · Batman: Arkham Origins · Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag · Call of Duty: Ghosts · Exclusives Showdown · Ryse: Son of Rome · Dead Rising 3 · Super Mario 3D World
2014
Q1 Top 5 of 2013 · Knack · Killzone: Shadow Fall · Survival Special · Broken Age · Might & Magic X: Legacy · The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds · Dark Souls · Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII · Strider · Thief · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 · Dark Souls II
Q2 Titanfall · InFamous: Second Son · Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes · The Elder Scrolls Online · South Park: The Stick of Truth · FTL: Faster Than Light · Child of Day-Light · The Amazing Spider-Man 2 · Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure · Wolfenstein: The New Order · WATCH DOGS · E3 2014 · Murdered: Soul Suspect
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Q4 D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die · Hyrule Warriors · Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor · Alien Isolation · The Evil Within · Bayonetta 2 · Sunset Overdrive · Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare · Assassin's Creed: Unity · Far Cry 4 · Dragon Age: Inquisition · Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric · Top 5 Games of 2014
2015 - 2018
2015
Q1 The Talos Principle · Elite: Dangerous · Five Nights at Freddy's and This War of Mine · Lords of the Fallen · Saints Row: Gat out of Hell · Dying Light · Grim Fandango · Evolve · The Order: 1886 · The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D · Resident Evil Revelations 2 · Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number & Ori and the Blind Forest
Q2 Battlefield: Hardline · Bloodborne · Half-Life 2 Update · Axiom Verge & Stealth Inc 2 · Mortal Kombat X · Grand Theft Auto Online · Broken Age: Act 2 · Wolfenstein: The Old Blood · Cyberpunk Double · The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt · Splatoon · Hatred · E3 2015
Q3 Alone in the Dark: Illumination · Batman: Arkham Knight · Yoshi's Woolly World · Cave Story · Godzilla · Rocket League & Tembo the Badass Elephant · King's Quest: A Knight to Remember · Nom Nom Galaxy & Freedom Planet · Everybody's Gone To The Rapture · Volume · Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain · Mad Max · Gears of War Ultimate Edition · Until Dawn
Q4 Super Mario Maker · SOMA · Rock Band 4 · Assassin's Creed Syndicate · Halo 5: Guardians · Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 · Rise of the Tomb Raider · Fallout 4 · Star Wars: Battlefront · Just Cause 3 · Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water
2016
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2015 · Devil's Third · Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam · Assassin's Creed Chronicles · Xenoblade Chronicles X · The Witness & Bombshell · Gravity Rush · XCOM 2 · Firewatch & Layers of Fear · Far Cry Primal · Stardew Valley & SUPERHOT · The Division · Salt and Sanctuary
Q2 Republique · Shadow Warrior · Quantum Break · Dark Souls III · Ratchet & Clank · Star Fox Zero · Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door · Uncharted 4: A Thief's End · Doom · Homefront: The Revolution · Overwatch & Battleborn · Mirror's Edge: Catalyst · E3 2016
Q3 Mighty No. 9 · Inside & Shadow of the Beast · The Technomancer · Furi & Song of the Deep · I Am Setsuna · Headlander & Quadrilateral Cowboy · Quake · No Man's Sky · Grow Up · Deus Ex: Mankind Divided · Metroid Prime: Federation Force · The Curious Expedition & Mother Russia Bleeds · ReCore
Q4 Capcom Five · Clustertruck & Lichtspeer · Paper Mario: Color Splash · Mafia III · Gears of War 4 · PlayStation VR · Battlefield 1 · Titanfall 2 vs Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare · Dishonored 2 · WATCH DOGS 2 · Final Fantasy XV · The Last Guardian
2017
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2016 · Let It Die · Dead Rising 4 · Hitman · Gravity Rush 2 · Resident Evil 7 · Yakuza 0 · Nioh · For Honor · Nintendo Switch & Breath of the Wild · Horizon Zero Dawn · Nier Automata · Ghost Recon Wildlands
Q2 Mass Effect Andromeda · Yooka-Laylee · Persona 5 · Remastered Editions · Outlast 2 · Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 · Prey · Wilson's Heart · The Surge · Injustice 2 · Vanquish · E3 2017 · Strafe
Q3 Get Even · Hollow Knight / Dead Cells · Fifth Console Generation · The End is Nigh, and Yonder: Cloud Catcher Chronicles · Pyre · Splatoon 2 · Hellblade · Agents of Mayhem · Sonic Mania · Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle · Destiny 2 · Metroid: Samus Returns
Q4 Knack 2 and SteamWorld Dig 2 · Cuphead · Hob and A Hat in Time · Middle-earth: Shadow of War · The Evil Within 2 · Super Mario Odyssey · Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus · Assassin's Creed Origins · Sonic Forces · Star Wars Battlefront II · Hand of Fate 2 · South Park: The Fractured but Whole
2018
Q1 Top 5 of 2017 · Okami HD · PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds · Fortnite and Dusk · Doki Doki Literature Club! · The Inpatient and Doom VFR · Monster Hunter World · Subnautica · Kingdom Come: Deliverance · Metal Gear Survive · Hot Coffee · Hunt Down The Freeman · Ghost of a Tale
Q2 A Way Out · Far Cry 5 · Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom · Extinction and Attack on Titan 2 · God of War 4 · Yakuza 6: The Song of Life · Silent Hill 4: The Room · Conan Exiles · House Flipper and FAR: Lone Sails · Detroit Become Human · Agony · E3 2018 · Vampyr
Q3 Jurassic World Evolution · Resident Evil 4 · Totally Accurate Battlegrounds and Moonlighter · The Crew 2 · Octopath Traveler · Observer · Chasm and This Is the Police 2 · We Happy Few · Unavowed · Guacamelee! 2 and Not Tonight · Shenmue · Marvel's Spider-Man · Shadow of the Tomb Raider
Q4 Dragon Quest XI · Star Control: Origins · Star Control: Origins · Assassin's Creed Odyssey · Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 · Return of the Obra Dinn · The Missing: J.J. Macfield and the Island of Memories · Red Dead Redemption 2 · Call of Cthulhu · Fallout 76 · Hitman 2 and Killer7 · Darksiders III · Just Cause 4
2019
Q1 Top 5 of 2018 · Super Smash Bros. Ultimate · Gris and Ashen · Katamari Damacy Reroll · Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes · Resident Evil 2 · Kingdom Hearts III · Metro Exodus · Far Cry New Dawn · Anthem · Crackdown 3 · Left Alive · Devil May Cry 5
Q2 The Division 2 · Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice · Unheard and Outward · Yoshi's Crafted World · Mortal Kombat 11 · Katana Zero · Days Gone · Close to the Sun · Rage 2 · Observation · A Plague Tale: Innocence · E3 2019 · Blood: Fresh Supply
Q3 Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night · Judgment · The Sinking City · My Friend Pedro and Sea of Solitude · Acclaim Entertainment Hall of Shame · Wolfenstein: Youngblood · Horace · Rebel Galaxy Outlaw · Control · The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan · Remnant: From The Ashes · Blair Witch · Gears 5
Q4 Astral Chain · Contra: Rogue Corps · Ghost Recon Breakpoint · Indivisible · The Outer Worlds · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare · Luigi's Mansion 3 · Death Stranding · Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order · Shenmue III · 2019 Games I Haven't Reviewed Roundup
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