Death Schadenfreude-ing.

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notnert427

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#1  Edited By notnert427

Unsurprisingly, Kojima’s latest creation is polarizing. I count myself among those who are thoroughly unimpressed with it for a variety of reasons, which I’ll get into in a bit. To the point of this thread here, if I’m being honest, I’m somewhat enjoying the staff’s largely negative reaction to it. I’m not here to just parrot their reactions after-the-fact, as I expressed many similar concerns a few weeks ago in this thread. For the record, I didn’t approach Death Stranding from a mindset of wanting the game to be bad; in fact, quite the opposite. I would generally much rather a thing make a bunch of people happy than upset, and there was certainly a part of me rooting for post-Konami Kojima to prove he was every bit the genius he and his fanbase seem to think he is and win me over. However, the more the game was shown, the less likely that scenario appeared to be in the cards.

Yet, last week, reviews started dropping, and a significant portion of the initial reviews of Death Stranding heaped praise upon it, largely because it’s merely “different”. In an age of formulaic video games (especially AAA products), there is indeed something refreshing to this game literally being one dude's vision. That said, different <> good, and this is an important distinction that many seemingly failed to make. The 9/10 and 10/10 reviews of this are bewildering. Not that people aren’t allowed to like the game or think it’s amazing (they are), but even reviews scoring this as a perfect or near-perfect game are littered with major qualms with much of it and go out of their way to excuse obviously lacking elements. There’s just seemingly this massive gulf between what this game actually is and what some people want to pretend it is, and it’s evident in scores that don’t remotely jive with what you’d expect after reading even the “positive” reviews. I’ve never seen anything like it.

I don’t think the glowing reviews will age well at all. There’s an argument that they already aren’t. GB’s coverage of Death Stranding has been well-reasoned, whereas many other outlets failed to have their thoughts align with their conclusions. I’m certain there are folks willing to die on the hill in touting this game who will never admit it’s anything but incredible. I’m just personally struggling mightily to understand the rationale there. I’m admittedly not going to buy or play this because it’s super not for me, but it clearly does appeal to some, and that’s rad. I’d be legitimately interested to hear reasons why and am genuinely curious if I’m just missing something here. For those on the other side of this thing who may well be wondering why people aren’t into this, I’ll go through what I’m currently struggling with.

I expected a certain level of self-indulgence from Kojima. At this point, expecting different is a fool’s errand. However, it’s way more offputting here than usual. That “everyone cries here” shit from the TGS show was eye roll-inducing. Sam Porter works for Bridges, at the behest of Bridget America Strand. This shit is maddeningly overt. It straight-up disrespects the intelligence of the audience and unintentionally exemplifies how there is little to no depth here. Moreover, the video game annoyingly goes out of its way to make references to video games. I guess Kojima thinks this is all some brilliant meta shit? Kojima’s brand of “storytelling” is basically nonexistent. Having “characters” who are literally there to live up to their trait/descriptor of a name isn’t an arc. It’s “x is x”, which says nothing and means nothing. They might as well be cardboard cut-outs.

Worse yet, the characters in this are pretty much just his buddies, or more accurately, people Kojima wanted to hang out with. Most of the people in this game are at least actors, but del Toro, Refn, Keighly, Conan, etc. are just random cameos there for Kojima amusement. Having to dub over several of them should have maybe been a sign, but fuck it, Kojima don’t care as long as he can fancy himself among the Hollywood crowd. Ironically, he lampoons the need for likes within this game while very clearly basking in fame, and this game’s setting of “America” is hilariously off-base geographically, but Kojima is clearly too busy living his IRL American dream to notice. The auteur thing at this point isn’t helping; Kojima just seems like a guy who’s fairly out of touch and doesn’t really concern himself with anything beyond what he thinks/wants.

Further amusing is how the game initially seemed to be going for this loosely anti-capitalist bit, yet has brazen product placement of Monster Energy drinks and ads for RIDE with Norman Reedus on AMC. From what I can gather, the narrative does the Far Cry 5 thing of not really committing to being bold enough to say anything that would potentially alienate a portion of the target audience, and even that is arguably a bit of a failure to read the room. Let’s also acknowledge that the things being advertised can’t even really exist in the Death Stranding universe. I could enjoy Kojima’s attempt to explain the “strand” that ties back to a present-day AMC TV show or to feature the rogue Monster energy drink factory that survived the apocalypse. That’s the kind of dumb shit that actually might have helped this game, but it’s instead just kind of nonsensically there.

I’m trying to put my finger on why this game bothers me as much as it does, and I think it’s because this thing had some potential. I would have respected if it had totally played it straight and really committed to the walking sim bit. However, that requires some variance in visuals, music that goes beyond scripted moments, and immersion not being constantly broken by meter maintenance survival mechanics and off-screen characters interrupting you all the time to tell you shit you probably already know. This game never really gives itself a chance to achieve a No Man’s Sky-esque atmospheric thing due to its design. Nor is it wacky/dumb enough to pull off an MGS3 thing where it breaks up the seriousness with some moments of levity/absurdity. It seems that Kojima tried to mostly play it straight, but simply doesn’t have the chops to pull that off.

Ultimately, the product we got features an apparently aimless narrative and gameplay that it might be being kind to label tedious. After hearing a bunch of generally smug “this is art” crap from Kojima himself and some early reviews and then seeing what this game actually turned out to be along with the GB staff’s experiences with it, it is a little satisfying from a standpoint of helping me feel like I’m not the only crazy person who doesn’t see the appeal of this thing. Still, it’s worth noting that there are more positive than negative reviews of this game, so it would seem I’m in the minority here. Truthfully, I wish I felt differently about Death Stranding and I’m glad others like it, but I’m disappointed that unfettered Kojima isn’t better than I hoped he was, so I’m left to derive some small joy in hearing others express frustrations with it and call it out for what it is and isn’t in my mind.

All of that said, it has been more interesting to follow and discuss this game than just about anything in recent memory, so I don’t want to brush that aside as if that’s nothing. This will be talked about and remembered far beyond most video games, and that’s a credit to Kojima. I just can’t shake this feeling that the guy exists now in this Apple-esque space where people are so enraptured when he makes something that it doesn’t even really matter what it is or if it’s even good, and that’s fairly annoying. Based on everything I’ve seen, I don’t think Death Stranding in and of itself is a good game, by any metric. I firmly believe that if someone who isn’t Kojima put out this game, it would be near-universally panned for its myriad flaws. I’m honestly willing to listen to praise of this game that delves into territory beyond the trite, vague “it’s Kojima/it’s different/it’s art” lauding in most of the reviews, because right now I’m falling very much in line with the GB sentiments. Regardless, thanks for reading and thanks in advance for any comments.

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kmj2318

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I think this game really puts in to perspective how useless a review score is. How do you give a number to something you love despite having major flaws? I haven’t played the game yet, but I expect that I’ll like some things about. What if, let’s just say for example, the long arduous mundane journey speaks to me in a way no other game ever has. And because of that I love it. But then I think the writing is bad. It could be my favorite game of all time, and still have flaws.

Many of my favorite media has major flaws. Things I really love are never good all around, neither are the people I love. What score would you give your child out of five stars? Is that absurd to compare? I don’t think so. The rating system is basically school grades, where your grade tops out. In creative things, that’s not how it works. In school you can make a project that is above and beyond everything anyone else made, but you still can only get an A+, and you will be docked points for a spelling error. Scores don’t account for people enjoying some elements way beyond they dislike their flaws.

I think gamers think of scores too much like grades.

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wardcleaver

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@notnert427:

As always, a great read.

I think I had some hope that Kojima would have matured as a writer. He seems to have actually regressed.

Regarding some of the positive reviews not aging well, I am getting that succinct impression from Gamespot's coverage. After the review hit, they have had a couple of articles/videos that seem to be trying to justify the score. Maybe I am reading too much into it, but it seems like they lack confidence in the review.

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good read, but do you mind me asking have you played the game for yourself of is this just based of the coverage of the game?

Anyway like i said a great read and i understand your point of view.

I've played about 5 hours so far and i'm really liking the game so far. I've been listening to the beast/bombcast this past few weeks and i was worried a bit but wanted to give it it's fair shake and play it for myself. I get where the crew is coming from on this game for sure. (except for Dan, who just seems very upset Kojima made a game he doesn't like, but to fair i don't think Dan will ever like anything that Kojima makes if it isn't metal gear.)

The game is for sure a flawed thing, the cameo's are stupid as fuck imo, i don't mind using actors in a game and using their likeness, but someone using like Conan o'brian or fucking geoff keighly in this universe has no place imo. It reminds me alot of the time they put jessica chobot in ME3, it just doesn't work. Actors on the other hand just work better for me, cause it's what they do. The product placement is just as idiotic, i mean what the actual fuck is monster energy drink actually doing in this game. :')

The story so far (from what i've seen) is super weird but very straight forward in a weird way, you can see the twists coming a mile away (but i hope i'm wrong). And yeah they explain everything and Kojima doesn't seem to respect your intelligence as a player. But frankly i don't mind that much, i'm still engaged so far and want to see this trough. And yes, this landscape doesn't resemble America at all, but does it have to? I'm sure Kojima is wel aware that America doesn't look this way, for some reason this was his version of it for this game/universer however.

The thing is i'm really enjoying the gameplay for some weird reason, i mean i absolutely hate encumbrance mechanics, managing meters and walking simulator type gameplay. But god knows why i can't get enough of this. It does this weird thing when i just go in this zen state i guess, it calmes me down in a weird way. I just love plotting out a path through this landscape. It almost gives me the same feeling i got when i was trekking through Scotland's highlands or last summer when i was in Sweden and taking hikes in the mountains. It pushes those buttons hard, and i'm can't be more gratefull because of it. I like engaging with the cargo systems, and making sure i take the best route i can take, hoping to find usefull structures or put them down myself. I get this will be a very boring form of gameplay for a lot of people, but for some reason it all just clicks for me.

This game is proof that scored reviews are useless, i mean this game won't be for everyone that's for sure. But it isn't a bad game at all, sure the story may be kind of shitty in the long run but again, that doens't make it a bad game in my opinion. Aliens: colonial marines is a bad game, Duke Nukem Forever is a bad game, Fallout 76 is a bad game but Death Stranding is not a bad game.

I still don't know if Kojima unleashed is a good thing, but i am of the opinion that the triple A gaming space needs these kinds of people and it needs big publishers willing to take risks on batshit crazy ideas like Death Stranding. I mean i rather play this game and perhaps be dissapointed than play the next Call of Duty / Gears of war / Halo. Don't get me wrong there is nothing wrong with those games, but they play it safe and don't mix up the formula, i want to see new ideas in this industry and frankly i don't mind to be disspointed if those ideas don't end up working. Atleast someone is trying.

Sorry for this rant and english is not my native language so forgive any grammatical errors or weird sentences :)

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notnert427

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@kmj2318 said:

I think this game really puts in to perspective how useless a review score is. How do you give a number to something you love despite having major flaws? I haven’t played the game yet, but I expect that I’ll like some things about. What if, let’s just say for example, the long arduous mundane journey speaks to me in a way no other game ever has. And because of that I love it. But then I think the writing is bad. It could be my favorite game of all time, and still have flaws.

Many of my favorite media has major flaws. Things I really love are never good all around, neither are the people I love. What score would you give your child out of five stars? Is that absurd to compare? I don’t think so. The rating system is basically school grades, where your grade tops out. In creative things, that’s not how it works. In school you can make a project that is above and beyond everything anyone else made, but you still can only get an A+, and you will be docked points for a spelling error. Scores don’t account for people enjoying some elements way beyond they dislike their flaws.

I think gamers think of scores too much like grades.

You make a solid point here in regards to how to score things one loves in spite of their flaws. It's somewhat of a subjectivity vs. objectivity question. I, too, love a lot of flawed media, but I don't flat-out ignore the flaws because objectively those still exist, no matter how much I might have a subjective affinity for it overall.

With Death Stranding and its reviews, my issue is that if something is flawed, it simply shouldn't get perfect or near-perfect scores. While I personally wouldn't give Death Stranding anywhere near a 7/10 or 8/10 score, I don't have a problem with people who both recognize its flaws and like it anyway giving it that sort of score, because I feel like that reasonably accounts for both its imperfection and merits. 9/10 or 10/10, though? That's questionable as hell when the tone/content of the reviews don't suggest such a score at all.

Moreover, isn't the point of a review to recommend or not recommend something? Even the most effusive Death Stranding reviews seem understandably terrified to recommend it to gamers on the whole; most rather chose the "I liked it, but many won't" route. That's...kinda shitty. I get that there's an eye of the beholder element inherent to reviews, but the Death Stranding "masterpiece" reviews have leaned heavily towards subjective and not-overly-substantiated praise. Reviews of this mostly seem to be wildly unhelpful, perhaps intentionally so.

I'm wondering if a thing is only able to be enjoyed by a select few, is it actually that good? Gaming in general has certainly had its share of games designed for "mass appeal", often to their own detriment, and to its credit, Death Stranding surely is not that. Except I get the sense that many reviewers seem to be conflating their love for DS simply not being a "designed by a corporation for the masses" thing with their love of the actual game.

It's a hipster-y sort of thing where I think people feel like they're supposed to like it, or want to be perceived to like it. This game has been framed from the outset as art, and I think there's an underlying pressure with that for some to claim to "get it" in ways others can't or won't. It's similar to how many film critics tend to fawn over painfully slow foreign films, not because they actually enjoy them, but because they may feel like they need to keep up an appearance of being "cultured" or whatever.

I digress. You make a great point that translating a creative work into a rigid score isn't easily a 1:1 thing. However, while not always an entirely accurate measure, scores are how things are measured. "I'm not a good test taker" doesn't fly as an excuse in school, and the same goes for elements of much of DS that don't really hold up to much scrutiny. (I'd also question how creative DS actually is, but that would send me on another tangent entirely.) I think I can buy into a "better than the sum of its parts" endorsement of DS from those willing to make it, but few reviews have really even dared to delve into that because it necessitates highlighting significant issues that few seem willing to.

(As an aside, the concept of parents reviewing their children on a five-star scale is completely hilarious to me, but I understand the point that's being made there, and I very much appreciate the discussion.)

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kmj2318

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@notnert427:

“ However, while not always an entirely accurate measure, scores are how things are measured. "I'm not a good test taker" doesn't fly as an excuse in school, and the same goes for elements of much of DS that don't really hold up to much scrutiny. ”

My favorite album ever is an album with four 20 minute tracks. I love this album, but am incredibly cautious to recommend it to anyone. You can’t really listen to it in the car because the dynamic range is wide. You can’t put the tracks on your shuffle library. You can’t play it at a party or around other people. There’s nothing upbeat about it. It has no immediacy. It’s slow, many people would say it boring. But to me, it’s a 5 star album. That’s kind of the sense I’ve been getting from some of the high scores I’ve been listening to, but I haven’t really checked out any of the big reviewers. When people ask me about my favorite album, I’ll give them all the caveats so they won’t waste their time. It’s easier to recommend great things that also have obvious wide appeal, like a David Bowie album or God of War.

I wouldn’t use the “not a good test taker” excuse for this. Success can be defined in different ways for this. Ultimately it’s the profitability. But as for public opinion, some creators enjoy having a variety of opinions on their work, because the people who hate your work are just as relevant as the people who are meh about your work, and the people who love your work love it even more. I’d be very surprised if Kojima didn’t expect divisive reactions to this, I think creators have a very good feel about the variety of ways people will approach their work.

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MerxWorx01

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Or maybe there is a chance that people genuinely like it and it's difficult to discuss the travelling elements without the full knowledge that someone somewhere is rolling their eyes at walking and luggage mechanics. I think the core issue here is that high scores like 10/10 or 5/5 should not be taken as something that is a perfect thing devoid of flaws. I don't think Giant Bomb even claims that a 5/5 score means it's a completely perfect product. Are there people out there calling it that? I'm pretty sure there are a few. But ultimately scores are arbitrary and if you want to give any significance to them it's best to either decide that to the writer the articles has outlined pros that outweighs the negatives... or you can go the route that others commentators on this site have gone and deduce that those games writers on those sites are dishonest, paid shill.

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notnert427

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@notnert427:

As always, a great read.

I think I had some hope that Kojima would have matured as a writer. He seems to have actually regressed.

Regarding some of the positive reviews not aging well, I am getting that succinct impression from Gamespot's coverage. After the review hit, they have had a couple of articles/videos that seem to be trying to justify the score. Maybe I am reading too much into it, but it seems like they lack confidence in the review.

Thanks!

Kojima's writing has never been "good" in the traditional sense, and definitely not mature. Even at his best, his narratives have felt like a collection of cool-sounding ideas that bounced out of his dome and were scrawled down on a notepad, very loosely strung together by "nanomachines" or some other b.s., if at all. The guy is yet to achieve coherence.

As an idea man, though, he's top-notch. It's why he's great at making trailers, because there's typically enough of interest to make everyone wonder what's going on or where this could go. Unfortunately, when it comes down to fleshing out his ideas into something of substance, Kojima tends to massively whiff. It's consistently disappointing to discover that there's nothing really there.

People have long forgiven or ignored his glaring issues as a writer as if it were some necessary component of his eccentricity that allows for the other batshit stuff people enjoy, but it's sadly clear at this point that Kojima is never going to grow into a good writer or grow out of being a manchild with highly questionable views of women.

It's particularly evident in Death Stranding because there's no Konami there for his fans to blame and it seems clear that Sony actually let him do exactly what he wanted and gave him the time and resources to do it. Everyone was understandably excited to see what that would produce. Well, here it is. Obviously, opinions vary on this thing, but it looks to be pretty much what I'd feared it would be.

Death Stranding feels like it was written by a teenager in just about every respect. It's painfully insecure. It demands that you hear about the most recent random information it absorbed, appropriate of and relative to nothing, because it needs you to think it's smart. It features some offputting elements because it needs you to think it's edgy. It belabors any substance it may have had into oblivion, and in the end, it unintentionally demonstrates that it has nothing original or of real value to say.

@syndrom said:

good read, but do you mind me asking have you played the game for yourself of is this just based of the coverage of the game?

Anyway like i said a great read and i understand your point of view.

I've played about 5 hours so far and i'm really liking the game so far. I've been listening to the beast/bombcast this past few weeks and i was worried a bit but wanted to give it it's fair shake and play it for myself. I get where the crew is coming from on this game for sure. (except for Dan, who just seems very upset Kojima made a game he doesn't like, but to fair i don't think Dan will ever like anything that Kojima makes if it isn't metal gear.)

The game is for sure a flawed thing, the cameo's are stupid as fuck imo, i don't mind using actors in a game and using their likeness, but someone using like Conan o'brian or fucking geoff keighly in this universe has no place imo. It reminds me alot of the time they put jessica chobot in ME3, it just doesn't work. Actors on the other hand just work better for me, cause it's what they do. The product placement is just as idiotic, i mean what the actual fuck is monster energy drink actually doing in this game. :')

The story so far (from what i've seen) is super weird but very straight forward in a weird way, you can see the twists coming a mile away (but i hope i'm wrong). And yeah they explain everything and Kojima doesn't seem to respect your intelligence as a player. But frankly i don't mind that much, i'm still engaged so far and want to see this trough. And yes, this landscape doesn't resemble America at all, but does it have to? I'm sure Kojima is wel aware that America doesn't look this way, for some reason this was his version of it for this game/universer however.

The thing is i'm really enjoying the gameplay for some weird reason, i mean i absolutely hate encumbrance mechanics, managing meters and walking simulator type gameplay. But god knows why i can't get enough of this. It does this weird thing when i just go in this zen state i guess, it calmes me down in a weird way. I just love plotting out a path through this landscape. It almost gives me the same feeling i got when i was trekking through Scotland's highlands or last summer when i was in Sweden and taking hikes in the mountains. It pushes those buttons hard, and i'm can't be more gratefull because of it. I like engaging with the cargo systems, and making sure i take the best route i can take, hoping to find usefull structures or put them down myself. I get this will be a very boring form of gameplay for a lot of people, but for some reason it all just clicks for me.

This game is proof that scored reviews are useless, i mean this game won't be for everyone that's for sure. But it isn't a bad game at all, sure the story may be kind of shitty in the long run but again, that doens't make it a bad game in my opinion. Aliens: colonial marines is a bad game, Duke Nukem Forever is a bad game, Fallout 76 is a bad game but Death Stranding is not a bad game.

I still don't know if Kojima unleashed is a good thing, but i am of the opinion that the triple A gaming space needs these kinds of people and it needs big publishers willing to take risks on batshit crazy ideas like Death Stranding. I mean i rather play this game and perhaps be dissapointed than play the next Call of Duty / Gears of war / Halo. Don't get me wrong there is nothing wrong with those games, but they play it safe and don't mix up the formula, i want to see new ideas in this industry and frankly i don't mind to be disspointed if those ideas don't end up working. Atleast someone is trying.

Sorry for this rant and english is not my native language so forgive any grammatical errors or weird sentences :)

First off, your English is fine, so no need for apologies there. I have not played the game for myself, so that's worth acknowledging. I'm not typically big on pseudo-reviewing things I haven't played or questioning the opinions of others who have, but I've been following this thing closely enough to where I'm pretty sure I have a solid grasp on what DS is and isn't. I've watched hours upon hours of the gameplay of it, read countless positive and negative reviews of it, etc. If I felt like getting behind the controls of digiReedus for 60 hours would make a difference, I wouldn't be opening my mouth before doing exactly that.

I am taking some the GB crew's word on portions of the game. The staff happened to echo many of the concerns I had with it from before the game came out. I do think it might be a little reductive to say Dan doesn't like this because it's Kojima doing something that's not Metal Gear. The before/after video they put up very much shows how initially excited he was for it. If anything, he was probably the most predisposed of the crew to like it. My litmus test is Vinny, though, because Vinny activelytries to like everything and to not be too harsh on games even when they're bad, but when even he eventually couldn't help but go on a rant about it, that was tough to ignore.

Still, half the reason I made this thread is because I do want to hear what people like about it. It's good to hear that it evokes some zen from you. That wasthe part that looked the most appealing to me, as I enjoy exploring environments in games like No Man's Sky, Assassin's Creed, et al. However, I suspect I'd have the same issue with this that I had with RDR2 in that it wouldn't allow me to immerse myself in it due to video game-y depleting meter b.s., and as an American, it's a little insulting to have my country's geography depicted so wildly inaccurately. I like IRL hiking as well, but this game's environment is more evocative of countries like Scotland and Sweden as you mentioned.

I certainly agree that most reviews of this game have been weird and unhelpful. I'm not sure how anyone is supposed to derive anything from the "you may or may not like it; it has multiple issues,10/10" stance that most reviews have taken. It's why I'm glad to know the GB staff personalities well enough to have a good idea of who tends to share my perspectives and why, but I'm interested to hear from fellow duders as well to try and make sure I'm not missing something.

We also agree that it's good to see someone taking chances in a space that's becoming increasingly by -the-numbers. I just don't want to get too caught up in excitement over that to where I stop concerning myself with the product itself as many reviewers seemingly did. I'm glad Kojima is doing his thing, but I truly hoped it would produce something more appealing to me than it did. It is nice to hear that maybe I could find something there in the walking sim element, so thanks for reading this and sharing that.

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liquiddragon

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#9  Edited By liquiddragon  Online

"...to prove he was every bit the genius he and his fanbase seem to think he is..."

His detractors always seem to make this point but I rarely see his fans or ppl that like his games saying this. Like I greatly enjoy his games but I have never said this in my life. For every fan saying he's a genius, I can show you 1000 others suggesting this tired take. It's a straw man argument that constantly gets thrown around that's always puzzled me.

Also, there was a thread about watching vs. playing games recently and the takeaway was that it's simply not the same. You haven't played the game. Whatever you think you know, don't be so sure of yourself. Over and over, it's been repeated that this game is at the least very unique. You had your mind made up already, connected dots you wanted to connect, and somehow concluded that Death Stranding isn't good. To what end? Opinions aren't the end goal of this medium, just the byproduct. It's about the experience of playing. If you're not gonna do that, who gives a shit.

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Syndrom

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@notnert427: glad you respect where i'm coming from. I do hope you give the game a chance somewhere down the line, it's a special experience, good or bad.

And i see the comparison with RDR2 but there the systems put me off of the game real fast. They actively got in the way of me having fun, in Death Stranding the systems are the fun, for me anyway. How weird that may sound.

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#11  Edited By Seikenfreak

I will agree with @liquiddragon on the whole "Kojima is a genius" thing being kinda weird. The only person I think I have ever seen talk about Kojima's games that way is Dan. And, even prior to this game, I'm unsure if he genuinely believed that.

I thought all the MGS games were great. For reasons unique to each one and elements that span all the titles. MGS3 was great. MGS4 was great for different reasons. And then MGS5 was again totally different and also amazing. I like his unique approach to story telling and characters, and then completely isolated from that, I like the gameplay. The depth of mechanics. A stealth action game.

Now, do I think he is a genius? Of course not. He's just like.. another "David Cage" sort've developer. Somehow the person has become synonymous with their unique games. Of course Kojima has an entire team behind him. To what degree that does or does not shape the final product, we still don't know. But I think people just use Kojima's name as a short-hand. Like SWERY or Sid Meier.

Not sure why people get worked up about his games (not necessarily in this thread, but journalists and coverage in general.) Ever since Death Stranding was first announced I thought.. "Uhh okay.. whatever." All of the trailers and the resulting hype coverage was useless. We won't know what it is until it's released. That in itself, particularly in the modern internet age, is incredible and refreshing. No point in getting excited or cynical before you play it. I didn't put my order in until I read, saw, and listened to a bunch of discussion about it this past week. Even now (as I sit here, it's installing) I don't know if I'll like the whole thing in general, but there is only one proper way to find out. Play it myself.

[Sorry if this was a bit irrelevant. Didn't read the original post. Just the responses. Took just enough time to write this that it's done installing and I'm hungry. /thumbsup]

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Onemanarmyy

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#12  Edited By Onemanarmyy

Reviews are in this weird state the last decades. It's sort of 50% an recommendation for the public at large and 50% a documentation of the very personal experience of the reviewer. Back in the day, a game would get scored on all it's aspects and if one or two aspects straight up didn't work out well, that would not be a high scoring game. Nowadays, we have games with the most low budget graphics and soundwork still be able to get extremely high scores because the reviewers generally tend to stick to how they felt about their own journey through the game. Graphics are so upfront that it immediatly tells the player if they are on board for that or not, but other aspects of the game requires the reader to figure out what kind of reviewers are out there and who's experiences they find themselves agreeing to.

Like i just went through Inside, and while that game has a nice atmosphere to it, i'd struggle to call the music (or.. atmospheric sounds i guess) or graphics anything but serviceable. If reviewers still have to adhere to the idea that all parts of the game have to be very good to attain a very good score, it would harken back to that style of review that has mostly been left behind. Personally i feel like a holistic approach to reviews is preferential to analyzing all it's parts, and recognize that a game can be amazing even if it has some lackluster elements to it.

To be fair, with Death Stranding aspects that seems to fall within the focus of the game, the story, the characters, the gameplay & the UI, are among the parts that get complained about. This is not the case of a reviewer not liking a pixelart because he prefers AAA-graphics, these are key aspects of the game that are dissapointing to some. And stuff that Kojima used to be good at, like figuring out ways to make each boss encounter distinct and interesting, now have been reduced to throwing grenades over & over. Where MGS-games didn't feel like they were speaking down to the audience, the constant explanation of the most overt storybeats and character names sounds tiresome and insulting. There are plenty of grievances to find to realize why people would come away from the game with a 2/5 score like Alex did.

But if no other game puts a smile on your face like Death Stranding and it does something you always wanted from games, but no other game has done as well, who am i to say that a 10/10 score is not honest? If a bunch of flaws were mentioned in the text, i would assume that they're not trying to pull a fast one on the reader, and staying blissfully ignorant themselves by not acknowledging it. They are just making a case for the experience as a whole being among the best they ever had, despite those glaring faults. Luckily, we live in a time where we can easily get a ton of information about the game to figure out if we might be into it or not. For some the flaws will be dealbreakers, for others it's a small price to pay when they're being able to have one of the best game experiences of the generation.

Also, count me in as one of the people that loves MG1,2 MGS1,2,3,4,5 & Peace Walker, yet never calling Kojima as being among the great philosophical minds of our times. Granted, MGS2's ending raised questions about technology and society that i had never considered. But it's pretty obvious that he was not the first person to bring those ideas forwards. Just the first guy to do it in a videogame that was highly popular in front of an audience that mostly consisted out kids & young adults that probably didn't have their bookcases filled with philosophy books. I do however think he has made one of the most entertaining game series ever full of characters i want to have around in a series like that. Constantly coming up with new innovative ways to change the series, while writing a story that is thought provoking , well directed and intriguing all the way through. Even MGS5's tapes & cutscenes prompted me to write down notes on the side and really get into the nitty gritty with the story. But i'm not out here applauding his Sam Bridge , Bridget, Porter , Bridges , Diehardman, Heartman stuff because i'm all in on Kojima or something. I just like generally like his games and would've liked the story in this one to be entertaining as well.

Last thing i'll say it's just frustrating to see this back & forth between 'Kojima Zealots & The Ones That Have Always Seen Right Through The BS' when the Kojima Zealots hardly seem to exist around these parts. Like the Death Stranding video with Brad & Jeff had one dude show up that was telling Alex that he needed to read Kafka & Abe before being able to comprehend the genius of Death Stranding, and that made me giggle & shake my head. But naturally that was a metacritic warrior that's crazy enough to go around the internet making accounts to spread their silliness around. I bet you would find similar folk if the new Final Fantasy, Dark Souls or Nier got a bad review. I get that Kojima invites mockery by saying shit like 'You'll be ashamed of your words & deeds' and 'This part makes everyone cry'. But the narrative that he's this inscrutable genius philosopher (who also believes this himself), who finally gets exposed in front of everyone and that this is a good thing, just doesn't make much sense to me. The walls of his games are not adorned with Citizen Cage posters after all.

If you reached this point, thank you for reading and my apologies. It was late and i kinda just kept writing words down. :D

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After watching the 2 Tokyo Game Show Death Stranding Japanese voice cast meet up, I would not put up with Hideo Kojima’s out put anymore. Twice had he viewed the infamous vigana bomb scene from Groud Zeroes just as an intensely dramatic scene as intended rather than went too far. Seriously, fuck this guy.

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#15 zoofame  Online

I think the feeling you're describing is that Kojima can monopolize the entire industry's attention and praise for weeks on end and it seems undeserved. I don't mean that his games aren't fun. I loved the mechanics of MGSV even if I hated the story and characters, and I could see that happening in DS. It's the halo effect of his notoriety that makes people accept astonishment for all the wackiness in place of genuine artistic mastery.

Austin talks about this quite a bit with flawed games that come from developers who clearly went for it but whose reach exceeds their grasp. It feels like we're obligated to be satisfied with scraps when we're starving for so much more. And so to criticize someone who is put on a pedestal as the video game auteur feels like a betrayal of our own desire for more variety in the medium, but also a betrayal of the countless artists who are struggling to survive and get noticed.

That's why it's so frustrating that when given a unique opportunity to make whatever he wants, Kojima didn't rise to the occasion. Instead he's fucking off around the US partying with celebrities for stunt-casted cameos in his game and collecting obnoxious product placement deals for a project that seems like a case of senioritis.

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#16 Shindig  Online

There's a rockstar arrogance to Kojima that leads to complacency. Heck, the stunt he pulled with PT put his team on lockdown and cost MGSV budget and time. And yet he got out. Someone put down the offer and, in return, he delivers something not even full-blooded.

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@shindig: What are you even talking about? You mean the stunt where Konami cancelled the game for which he made a demo that was ubiquitously praised by everyone? What did this man do to you and your family?

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Shindig

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#18 Shindig  Online

You don't find the idea of Kojima working something under a pseudonym suspicious? Something that showed up on a Sony stage rather than Konami's booth? Something that used Konami's tech?

There's been theories to suggest Konami weren't in on it. At all.

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#19  Edited By PananaBeel

Interesting read @notnert427. The ad for the Norman Reedus show is only ever displayed when you're taking a shit, and even then you can avoid seeing it by skipping the cut scene as he enters the toilet.

The Monster energy placement was a bit strange, I'll admit. But I chalk it up to Coca-Cola's massive economic moat and being able to sustain itself post-apocalypse. There might even be Coke folks wrapped up with Bridges and/or Fragile gearing up for their post-Death Standing marketing campaign for all we know. But you're right, I wish they would have at least developed it further in-game instead of dropping it in like that.

All of that said, it has been more interesting to follow and discuss this game than just about anything in recent memory

You're right about that! It's immensely satisfying reading all the different opinions of this game because as someone who loves it, I'm perplexed by some of the criticisms. Many make sense, and basically there are so many things that make it unappealing to some gamers that it makes me further appreciate it. It's like what another user said about obscure bands, books, or films that simply aren't for everyone and can easily be blasted for its perceived flaws when that really just means somebody who doesn't like it is basically articulating the subjective Why.

Death Stranding feels like it was written by a teenager in just about every respect. It's painfully insecure. It demands that you hear about the most recent random information it absorbed, appropriate of and relative to nothing, because it needs you to think it's smart. It features some offputting elements because it needs you to think it's edgy. It belabors any substance it may have had into oblivion, and in the end, it unintentionally demonstrates that it has nothing original or of real value to say.

I've actually thought about this quite a bit. You get a fair amount of mail messages in the game and I read them all. Some of them left me thinking: "Why did you even send me this? Are you that bored?" My partner suggested it was sent out of loneliness, perhaps. Messages expressing gratitude, excitement, success and mild sadness. I understand where your criticisms are coming from, but they're unfair. I sense the community within DS is extremely traumatized in several ways. It becomes more and more obvious the more you play and deliveries you make based on how the terminal workers talk to Sam. There's nothing edgy about them wanting to unite and revive the country, really. I do agree with the insecurity element, which makes perfect sense given the circumstances. I'm interested in your ideas of "real value" as Death Stranding has plenty of elements of real value to me. I can understand that the writing leaves a lot to be desired (flaw). However, the objectives and mechanics of the game illuminate a measure of value not as poetically conveyed in the game's dialogues/written text.

@onemanarmyyIt just sounds like your expectations formed from the MG series fell short when applied to Death Stranding. I can understand how people who have played MG and know Kojima's work better would be disappointed based purely on what I've read, which is frequent comparisons to his earlier work. However, being a Kojima-virgin, DS plays perfectly fine. It has annoyances, I'm not sure I'd call them flaws. Like what you mentioned about chucking grenades at bosses. I'm completely fine with that because Sam is not a warrior, he's a porter. And I am uninterested in being a warrior. The game also seems to encourage being a porter with the ability to defend or evade attack. Criticisms leveraged against these mechanics also seem to be based on earlier expectations from the MG games. But when you consider who Sam is by trade, it makes sense that he'll be limited in his combat abilities.

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@notnert427 said:

As an idea man, though, he's top-notch. It's why he's great at making trailers, because there's typically enough of interest to make everyone wonder what's going on or where this could go. Unfortunately, when it comes down to fleshing out his ideas into something of substance, Kojima tends to massively whiff. It's consistently disappointing to discover that there's nothing really there.

This is exactly how I feel. When the Game Awards 2017 trailer came out, I was really excited to see what the game would be. The opening sequence specifically really stuck out to me. It had so many interesting elements. There was so much mystery behind it and even though I had no idea how it would ever be a game, I was excited to watch it (I'm not into playing horror games, which this clearly seemed to be at the time). That exact sequence is in the game, it's in one of the two videos Giant Bomb did of the game. However, immediately before it, the guy who stabs himself spends way too long telling you everything you never wanted to learn from an NPC about why the world is how it is.

I haven't played this and I probably never will. The delivery aspect is interesting to me, but every other system they shove on top of that is a turn off. I don't want to hold down two trigger buttons the entire game so I can walk straight. Not to mention I am disgusted by Kojima's treatment of women and asexuality in his storytelling. I really shouldn't be surprised, but I guess it just hit too close to home.

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Whatever the quality of the game in actual play, I think I'm just glad we have someone like Kojima who can command a triple A budget to make something that's way outside the traditional "What are the genre combinations that get triple A profits" A lot of our industry can feel very much the same on the high end. 3rd person action/military shooter/fantasy RPG. This thing feels different, and especially different for the budget it seems to have. If a chef told me he made a new fireball whisky escargot combination. I might not say it's good, but it's certainly interesting.

That being said, between the building of infrastructure and physically moving large amounts of collected resources... is this game most related to a survival game like Subnautica?

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@shingro: It pulls aspects of gameplay from all over really...its a weird mixture(which I absolutely am enjoying) Its related to Sub. but I would not say its *most* related. All I can give you is a shrug if I were to pin down what kind of game it is most related to. What it feels like to me...MGS Survive was made from initial ideas floated by Kojima and/or his team, those ideas have since morphed and coalesced into what Death Stranding has become.

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@wardcleaver said:

@notnert427:

As always, a great read.

I think I had some hope that Kojima would have matured as a writer. He seems to have actually regressed.

Regarding some of the positive reviews not aging well, I am getting that succinct impression from Gamespot's coverage. After the review hit, they have had a couple of articles/videos that seem to be trying to justify the score. Maybe I am reading too much into it, but it seems like they lack confidence in the review.

Thanks!

Kojima's writing has never been "good" in the traditional sense, and definitely not mature. Even at his best, his narratives have felt like a collection of cool-sounding ideas that bounced out of his dome and were scrawled down on a notepad, very loosely strung together by "nanomachines" or some other b.s., if at all. The guy is yet to achieve coherence.

As an idea man, though, he's top-notch. It's why he's great at making trailers, because there's typically enough of interest to make everyone wonder what's going on or where this could go. Unfortunately, when it comes down to fleshing out his ideas into something of substance, Kojima tends to massively whiff. It's consistently disappointing to discover that there's nothing really there.

People have long forgiven or ignored his glaring issues as a writer as if it were some necessary component of his eccentricity that allows for the other batshit stuff people enjoy, but it's sadly clear at this point that Kojima is never going to grow into a good writer or grow out of being a manchild with highly questionable views of women.

It's particularly evident in Death Stranding because there's no Konami there for his fans to blame and it seems clear that Sony actually let him do exactly what he wanted and gave him the time and resources to do it. Everyone was understandably excited to see what that would produce. Well, here it is. Obviously, opinions vary on this thing, but it looks to be pretty much what I'd feared it would be.

Death Stranding feels like it was written by a teenager in just about every respect. It's painfully insecure. It demands that you hear about the most recent random information it absorbed, appropriate of and relative to nothing, because it needs you to think it's smart. It features some offputting elements because it needs you to think it's edgy. It belabors any substance it may have had into oblivion, and in the end, it unintentionally demonstrates that it has nothing original or of real value to say.

Don't get me wrong; I would have never called Kojima's previous writing "mature". He reminds of George Lucas. I am a huge Star Wars fan, however I would never claim the original trilogy had anything close to Oscar caliber writing. Similar to Kojima, his later writing (see the Star Wars prequels) is consider less mature than his previous work. Also, like Kojima, I think George Lucas is great at ideas. I would say they both need to let someone else handle the work of putting those ideas into a coherent story.

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north6

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#24  Edited By north6

@notnert427: I'm super confused, why are you writing this much about a game you haven't played yourself? You seem to be taking enjoyment in the staff being down on it.

My opinion is its very good so far, about 40-50% in. It's got groundbreaking social features, enjoyable backtracking because you constantly feel like you're setting your future self up for success by using climbing ropes, ladders, bridges, etc. Participating in public works is rewarding. The story is debatable, but as someone who has sometimes struggled with occasional worries of social isolation myself, I'm sympathetic to the effort, if nothing else.

Maybe just put the pen down and give it a shot.

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@raleighen: Ok I'll bite, in what way is Kojima treating women or asexual people poorly in Death Stranding? I haven't gotten the impression of any of this, and I'm halfway through the game.

Mostly there's just a ... lack of people, asexual or otherwise. That's my primary complaint, the world feels more dead than I think he intended. The people you do meet are mostly via codec.

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Or maybe there is a chance that people genuinely like it and it's difficult to discuss the travelling elements without the full knowledge that someone somewhere is rolling their eyes at walking and luggage mechanics. I think the core issue here is that high scores like 10/10 or 5/5 should not be taken as something that is a perfect thing devoid of flaws. I don't think Giant Bomb even claims that a 5/5 score means it's a completely perfect product. Are there people out there calling it that? I'm pretty sure there are a few. But ultimately scores are arbitrary and if you want to give any significance to them it's best to either decide that to the writer the articles has outlined pros that outweighs the negatives... or you can go the route that others commentators on this site have gone and deduce that those games writers on those sites are dishonest, paid shill.

I'm honestly not opposed to the walking sim aspect of this game. For me, that's actually what sounded the most appealing of anything in this game, so I actually would have appreciated some reviews going into greater detail there than they did. Ultimately, only GB's vids really showed and described that stuff, which I appreciated. For me personally, the survival mechanic crap kinda spoils the whole atmospheric potential. (FWIW, I had the same issue with RDR2, and I realize that's kind of a personal preference thing.) I do believe that a game needs to be perfect or near-perfect to get 5/5 or 10/10 scores. Death Stranding seems far from perfect in multiple ways. I believe many reviewers highly overrated DS based on the concept of it and the source of it, and I get why. It's a different thing in a staid medium, and I think lots of folks need a Kojima to exist out there so games don't all follow, say, an Ubisoft route where five franchises become the same game. My issue, though, is those who took exceptions with major components of DS like "the gameplay is dull", "the story is bad" and then awarded a "perfect" score anyway. It's just confusing to see that.

"...to prove he was every bit the genius he and his fanbase seem to think he is..."

His detractors always seem to make this point but I rarely see his fans or ppl that like his games saying this. Like I greatly enjoy his games but I have never said this in my life. For every fan saying he's a genius, I can show you 1000 others suggesting this tired take. It's a straw man argument that constantly gets thrown around that's always puzzled me.

Also, there was a thread about watching vs. playing games recently and the takeaway was that it's simply not the same. You haven't played the game. Whatever you think you know, don't be so sure of yourself. Over and over, it's been repeated that this game is at the least very unique. You had your mind made up already, connected dots you wanted to connect, and somehow concluded that Death Stranding isn't good. To what end? Opinions aren't the end goal of this medium, just the byproduct. It's about the experience of playing. If you're not gonna do that, who gives a shit.

It's not a straw man. There were multiple fanboys taking selfies in the TGS crowd for merely being vaguely in the presence of Kojima. The comments sections on the GB coverage have kept the mods working overtime zapping first-time posters who showed up saying all kinds of awful shit because GB dared not to like DS. People were going after Alex on social media. Etc., etc. There are plenty of folks who think of Kojima as a genius, including Kojima himself. I get that it's somewhat a part of the auteur thing, but it's not like I just made this up. The often offputting pretentiousness surrounding all things Kojima is well-earned.

I'm not as close-minded as you're assuming, either. I don't have any real investment in this either way; I've just been watching this game out of curiosity, because to its credit, it has been very interesting to follow. I get that my thoughts on it as someone who hasn't played it don't carry as much weight as someone who has and outright admitted as much, but I'm happy to listen to people describe what they do enjoy of the game beyond what I'm gleaning on a surface level of this thing. It's half the reason I made this thread. The other half is because DS is simply fun to discuss and I think merits discussion because it's something we simply don't get from the gaming world that often, for better and worse.

@syndrom said:

@notnert427: glad you respect where i'm coming from. I do hope you give the game a chance somewhere down the line, it's a special experience, good or bad.

And i see the comparison with RDR2 but there the systems put me off of the game real fast. They actively got in the way of me having fun, in Death Stranding the systems are the fun, for me anyway. How weird that may sound.

That's really good to hear that the survival stuff managed to not be as obtrusive here for you. Perhaps it could strike a chord similarly with me one day. However, I'm wary of dropping $60 and 60 hours as of right now to find out. I'm not ruling out beholding DS for myself sometime down the road, though. Thanks for sharing your insights here, duder!

I will agree with @liquiddragon on the whole "Kojima is a genius" thing being kinda weird. The only person I think I have ever seen talk about Kojima's games that way is Dan. And, even prior to this game, I'm unsure if he genuinely believed that.

I thought all the MGS games were great. For reasons unique to each one and elements that span all the titles. MGS3 was great. MGS4 was great for different reasons. And then MGS5 was again totally different and also amazing. I like his unique approach to story telling and characters, and then completely isolated from that, I like the gameplay. The depth of mechanics. A stealth action game.

Now, do I think he is a genius? Of course not. He's just like.. another "David Cage" sort've developer. Somehow the person has become synonymous with their unique games. Of course Kojima has an entire team behind him. To what degree that does or does not shape the final product, we still don't know. But I think people just use Kojima's name as a short-hand. Like SWERY or Sid Meier.

Not sure why people get worked up about his games (not necessarily in this thread, but journalists and coverage in general.) Ever since Death Stranding was first announced I thought.. "Uhh okay.. whatever." All of the trailers and the resulting hype coverage was useless. We won't know what it is until it's released. That in itself, particularly in the modern internet age, is incredible and refreshing. No point in getting excited or cynical before you play it. I didn't put my order in until I read, saw, and listened to a bunch of discussion about it this past week. Even now (as I sit here, it's installing) I don't know if I'll like the whole thing in general, but there is only one proper way to find out. Play it myself.

[Sorry if this was a bit irrelevant. Didn't read the original post. Just the responses. Took just enough time to write this that it's done installing and I'm hungry. /thumbsup]

The David Cage comparison is fair. Honestly, Kojima is a bit of a victim of his own hype, and I'm guilty of holding him perhaps too harshly to that. I mentioned this earlier, but the man can make a damn intriguing trailer. There's some alternate universe where Kojima is the world's foremost short-film director and I'm his biggest fan. In this reality, he's making games instead of movies and often struggles mightily to arrange his cutscenes into a coherent narrative over the course of a game and to translate some neat features into an gaming experience that can be fully enjoyed by others.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on DS now that you've gotten your hands on it.

Reviews are in this weird state the last decades. It's sort of 50% an recommendation for the public at large and 50% a documentation of the very personal experience of the reviewer. Back in the day, a game would get scored on all it's aspects and if one or two aspects straight up didn't work out well, that would not be a high scoring game. Nowadays, we have games with the most low budget graphics and soundwork still be able to get extremely high scores because the reviewers generally tend to stick to how they felt about their own journey through the game. Graphics are so upfront that it immediatly tells the player if they are on board for that or not, but other aspects of the game requires the reader to figure out what kind of reviewers are out there and who's experiences they find themselves agreeing to.

Like i just went through Inside, and while that game has a nice atmosphere to it, i'd struggle to call the music (or.. atmospheric sounds i guess) or graphics anything but serviceable. If reviewers still have to adhere to the idea that all parts of the game have to be very good to attain a very good score, it would harken back to that style of review that has mostly been left behind. Personally i feel like a holistic approach to reviews is preferential to analyzing all it's parts, and recognize that a game can be amazing even if it has some lackluster elements to it.

To be fair, with Death Stranding aspects that seems to fall within the focus of the game, the story, the characters, the gameplay & the UI, are among the parts that get complained about. This is not the case of a reviewer not liking a pixelart because he prefers AAA-graphics, these are key aspects of the game that are dissapointing to some. And stuff that Kojima used to be good at, like figuring out ways to make each boss encounter distinct and interesting, now have been reduced to throwing grenades over & over. Where MGS-games didn't feel like they were speaking down to the audience, the constant explanation of the most overt storybeats and character names sounds tiresome and insulting. There are plenty of grievances to find to realize why people would come away from the game with a 2/5 score like Alex did.

But if no other game puts a smile on your face like Death Stranding and it does something you always wanted from games, but no other game has done as well, who am i to say that a 10/10 score is not honest? If a bunch of flaws were mentioned in the text, i would assume that they're not trying to pull a fast one on the reader, and staying blissfully ignorant themselves by not acknowledging it. They are just making a case for the experience as a whole being among the best they ever had, despite those glaring faults. Luckily, we live in a time where we can easily get a ton of information about the game to figure out if we might be into it or not. For some the flaws will be dealbreakers, for others it's a small price to pay when they're being able to have one of the best game experiences of the generation.

Also, count me in as one of the people that loves MG1,2 MGS1,2,3,4,5 & Peace Walker, yet never calling Kojima as being among the great philosophical minds of our times. Granted, MGS2's ending raised questions about technology and society that i had never considered. But it's pretty obvious that he was not the first person to bring those ideas forwards. Just the first guy to do it in a videogame that was highly popular in front of an audience that mostly consisted out kids & young adults that probably didn't have their bookcases filled with philosophy books. I do however think he has made one of the most entertaining game series ever full of characters i want to have around in a series like that. Constantly coming up with new innovative ways to change the series, while writing a story that is thought provoking , well directed and intriguing all the way through. Even MGS5's tapes & cutscenes prompted me to write down notes on the side and really get into the nitty gritty with the story. But i'm not out here applauding his Sam Bridge , Bridget, Porter , Bridges , Diehardman, Heartman stuff because i'm all in on Kojima or something. I just like generally like his games and would've liked the story in this one to be entertaining as well.

Last thing i'll say it's just frustrating to see this back & forth between 'Kojima Zealots & The Ones That Have Always Seen Right Through The BS' when the Kojima Zealots hardly seem to exist around these parts. Like the Death Stranding video with Brad & Jeff had one dude show up that was telling Alex that he needed to read Kafka & Abe before being able to comprehend the genius of Death Stranding, and that made me giggle & shake my head. But naturally that was a metacritic warrior that's crazy enough to go around the internet making accounts to spread their silliness around. I bet you would find similar folk if the new Final Fantasy, Dark Souls or Nier got a bad review. I get that Kojima invites mockery by saying shit like 'You'll be ashamed of your words & deeds' and 'This part makes everyone cry'. But the narrative that he's this inscrutable genius philosopher (who also believes this himself), who finally gets exposed in front of everyone and that this is a good thing, just doesn't make much sense to me. The walls of his games are not adorned with Citizen Cage posters after all.

If you reached this point, thank you for reading and my apologies. It was late and i kinda just kept writing words down. :D

Thanks for the comments: I enjoyed reading them. Your description of the holistic review approach was excellent, and I may be stealing that phrase. I don't think I prefer that approach in general, though, because it somewhat requires the reader to know the reviewer well. I find it far more helpful personally to see a breakdown of "here's what's good and bad about this" than to see that a guy I'm not that familiar with thought it was good overall. With GB, I feel like I actually do know the staff well enough to where I could get a fair bit out of simply knowing which staffers did/didn't like it, but what I really appreciated about the coverage and review here relative to much of what I've seen elsewhere is that they delved into specifics as to why they didn't like aspects of it.

I will concede that this was a harder game to review than most. From everything I can tell, it's highs are high and lows are low, and I can totally buy this as a "better than the sum of its parts" thing where the things people like about it aren't all that tangible in the traditional sense. That translating to 10/10 scores is hard for me to buy into, though. I'm not claiming those scores are necessarily "dishonest", as I'm sure some people legitimately had a 10/10 time with it themselves, but the majority of even those people seem to have a qualifier of liking it in spite of some serious flaws that may well spoil the entire experience for others. Obviously a review is going to deal in opinions and can't apply to every reader, but the overall coverage of DS has leaned heavily towards subjective, which hasn't been overly helpful and is maybe a case of reviewers finding ways to avoid putting more scrutiny on the game than they might want to. However, that also means there's something to DS in the minds of many, and that shouldn't be ignored.

After watching the 2 Tokyo Game Show Death Stranding Japanese voice cast meet up, I would not put up with Hideo Kojima’s out put anymore. Twice had he viewed the infamous vigana bomb scene from Groud Zeroes just as an intensely dramatic scene as intended rather than went too far. Seriously, fuck this guy.

Much of that TGS show was rough, especially Sam's Private Room. Toilet humor of that whole thing aside, Kojima zooming in on digiReedus' junk and talking repeatedly about how you can't actually see his junk in the game or other people bathing was creepy as hell. It was like he wanted people to congratulate him for not making DS completely pervy, yet in the process, fully illuminated his pervy mindset in some really offputting ways, and it was all just so damn unnecessary to highlight. The whole thing just felt gross, and it makes it to where it's hard to view Kojima as much more than a horny teenager zooming in on Lara Croft naughty bits instead of playing the game. I don't even want to know what he's done on his own time with the B&B Corps mo-cap session footage. That stuff does cheapen Kojima's status for me a fair bit.

@zoofame said:

I think the feeling you're describing is that Kojima can monopolize the entire industry's attention and praise for weeks on end and it seems undeserved. I don't mean that his games aren't fun. I loved the mechanics of MGSV even if I hated the story and characters, and I could see that happening in DS. It's the halo effect of his notoriety that makes people accept astonishment for all the wackiness in place of genuine artistic mastery.

Austin talks about this quite a bit with flawed games that come from developers who clearly went for it but whose reach exceeds their grasp. It feels like we're obligated to be satisfied with scraps when we're starving for so much more. And so to criticize someone who is put on a pedestal as the video game auteur feels like a betrayal of our own desire for more variety in the medium, but also a betrayal of the countless artists who are struggling to survive and get noticed.

That's why it's so frustrating that when given a unique opportunity to make whatever he wants, Kojima didn't rise to the occasion. Instead he's fucking off around the US partying with celebrities for stunt-casted cameos in his game and collecting obnoxious product placement deals for a project that seems like a case of senioritis.

Yes and no? I think this game absolutely warrants discussion, and I honestly wasn't fatigued by the overall coverage of it. This is straight-up the most interesting thing that's happened in video games in a long-ass time, so I'm not really prepared to make a case that the hype for DS was undeserved. The substance and reception of the product itself is where it gets murky for me. I was definitely a bit confused by some of the scores relative to their reviews, and I can't shake the feeling that several 10/10s were issued based on simply that this Kojima game was made, not what it is.

You articulated my frustrations very well with your last two paragraphs. Kojima is carrying the auteur torch in a lot of ways, and there's probably some visionary out there somewhere who can actually write and doesn't have Kojima's creepy juvenile tendencies, but Kojima is the one we get. I lament what DS could have been. People (myself included) were understandably thrilled to see what unrestrained Kojima would create, but it just kinda feels like he was too busy basking in his stardom to knock it out of the park here and make something really special. It just kinda bums me out that he had every opportunity here and didn't fully capitalize on it.

@shindig said:

There's a rockstar arrogance to Kojima that leads to complacency. Heck, the stunt he pulled with PT put his team on lockdown and cost MGSV budget and time. And yet he got out. Someone put down the offer and, in return, he delivers something not even full-blooded.

I don't know what all went down at Konami and I'm not really going to speculate too much, but there is plenty out there to suggest that Kojima is likely a nightmare to work with. As you said, he's fairly arrogant at this point, and I can't imagine employing the guy in any way other than Sony's hands-off "here's money; do your thing" works. I will say that I find it a bit amusing that Kojima's fanbase trashed the shit out of Metal Gear Survive as proof Konami is the worst, and now that game, uh....doesn't seem that far off of Kojima's "vision" anymore.

Interesting read @notnert427. The ad for the Norman Reedus show is only ever displayed when you're taking a shit, and even then you can avoid seeing it by skipping the cut scene as he enters the toilet.

The Monster energy placement was a bit strange, I'll admit. But I chalk it up to Coca-Cola's massive economic moat and being able to sustain itself post-apocalypse. There might even be Coke folks wrapped up with Bridges and/or Fragile gearing up for their post-Death Standing marketing campaign for all we know. But you're right, I wish they would have at least developed it further in-game instead of dropping it in like that.

All of that said, it has been more interesting to follow and discuss this game than just about anything in recent memory

You're right about that! It's immensely satisfying reading all the different opinions of this game because as someone who loves it, I'm perplexed by some of the criticisms. Many make sense, and basically there are so many things that make it unappealing to some gamers that it makes me further appreciate it. It's like what another user said about obscure bands, books, or films that simply aren't for everyone and can easily be blasted for its perceived flaws when that really just means somebody who doesn't like it is basically articulating the subjective Why.

Death Stranding feels like it was written by a teenager in just about every respect. It's painfully insecure. It demands that you hear about the most recent random information it absorbed, appropriate of and relative to nothing, because it needs you to think it's smart. It features some offputting elements because it needs you to think it's edgy. It belabors any substance it may have had into oblivion, and in the end, it unintentionally demonstrates that it has nothing original or of real value to say.

I've actually thought about this quite a bit. You get a fair amount of mail messages in the game and I read them all. Some of them left me thinking: "Why did you even send me this? Are you that bored?" My partner suggested it was sent out of loneliness, perhaps. Messages expressing gratitude, excitement, success and mild sadness. I understand where your criticisms are coming from, but they're unfair. I sense the community within DS is extremely traumatized in several ways. It becomes more and more obvious the more you play and deliveries you make based on how the terminal workers talk to Sam. There's nothing edgy about them wanting to unite and revive the country, really. I do agree with the insecurity element, which makes perfect sense given the circumstances. I'm interested in your ideas of "real value" as Death Stranding has plenty of elements of real value to me. I can understand that the writing leaves a lot to be desired (flaw). However, the objectives and mechanics of the game illuminate a measure of value not as poetically conveyed in the game's dialogues/written text.

Regardless of how often the Monster Energy drinks and AMC TV show ads appear, there's zero in-narrative reason for them to exist. In fact, neither can exist in the Death Stranding universe. Except fuck it, they're there anyway because kojimagetpaid.biz. It wouldn't bother me as much if the tone of this thing wasn't generally anti-US/anti-capitalism. That's fine in and of itself and I don't really have a problem with it, but Kojima going full Hollywood IRL and shoving ads in everyone's face given the rest of the narrative is hypocritical as fuck. As an American, this type of shit gets tiresome to me. Like, I wholly agree that we have done and do a ton of awful shit and the current regime is a special kind of terrible, but it's pretty goddamn annoying when people criticize all things America while drinking a Coke and listening to Maroon 5 on their iPhone before watching NCIS, which is basically what Kojima is doing here. Not to go too far down that rabbit hole, but just wanted to briefly vent on why the ads annoy me here.

From what I've heard of the late-game story, the characters within DS basically just info dump their backstory directly to you, and those backstories are pretty much exactly as one-note and thin as you fear their names outright suggest they will be. It seems fairly clear that Kojima just created characters explicitly designed around embodying traits he wanted to explore. This is the laziest form of writing possible, because the characters don't develop or have any sort of arc, they're just there until Kojima decides to "reveal" their raison d'etre, which seems to be an infuriatingly meaningless "exposition". This character is traumatized because (insert past trauma) occurred. This character is evil because (demonstrate over-the-top evil behavior). Fuck that. Fuck that so much. If DS' narrative says more than that, please by all means share it with spoiler tags, but this has historically been the limit of Kojima's depth as a writer and it bugs me to no end. That's the value I'm looking for and usually struggle to find in his work.

@shingro said:

Whatever the quality of the game in actual play, I think I'm just glad we have someone like Kojima who can command a triple A budget to make something that's way outside the traditional "What are the genre combinations that get triple A profits" A lot of our industry can feel very much the same on the high end. 3rd person action/military shooter/fantasy RPG. This thing feels different, and especially different for the budget it seems to have. If a chef told me he made a new fireball whisky escargot combination. I might not say it's good, but it's certainly interesting.

That being said, between the building of infrastructure and physically moving large amounts of collected resources... is this game most related to a survival game like Subnautica?

I am as well, to a point. You hit on what I'm getting at with the fireball escargot analogy. Is that a new idea? Yep. Do I want to eat it? Negative. However, if I'm reading a review of said dish written as if it were many of the DS reviews, it would be something along the lines of "This fireball escargot is a stunning creation that could only have come from the brilliant vision of this chef, who is creating a new category in the food world. In an age where few dare to venture outside the confines of pork belly, it is refreshing to see this chef challenge our traditional food trappings with this immensely creative dish. It is worth noting that Fireball is a trash-tier whiskey that will destroy you with a hangover, and the escargot I had here was burnt to a crisp and it made me vomit a little. It's certainly not for everyone, but it's incredible that it exists. 10/10."

@notnert427 said:
@wardcleaver said:

@notnert427:

As always, a great read.

I think I had some hope that Kojima would have matured as a writer. He seems to have actually regressed.

Regarding some of the positive reviews not aging well, I am getting that succinct impression from Gamespot's coverage. After the review hit, they have had a couple of articles/videos that seem to be trying to justify the score. Maybe I am reading too much into it, but it seems like they lack confidence in the review.

Thanks!

Kojima's writing has never been "good" in the traditional sense, and definitely not mature. Even at his best, his narratives have felt like a collection of cool-sounding ideas that bounced out of his dome and were scrawled down on a notepad, very loosely strung together by "nanomachines" or some other b.s., if at all. The guy is yet to achieve coherence.

As an idea man, though, he's top-notch. It's why he's great at making trailers, because there's typically enough of interest to make everyone wonder what's going on or where this could go. Unfortunately, when it comes down to fleshing out his ideas into something of substance, Kojima tends to massively whiff. It's consistently disappointing to discover that there's nothing really there.

People have long forgiven or ignored his glaring issues as a writer as if it were some necessary component of his eccentricity that allows for the other batshit stuff people enjoy, but it's sadly clear at this point that Kojima is never going to grow into a good writer or grow out of being a manchild with highly questionable views of women.

It's particularly evident in Death Stranding because there's no Konami there for his fans to blame and it seems clear that Sony actually let him do exactly what he wanted and gave him the time and resources to do it. Everyone was understandably excited to see what that would produce. Well, here it is. Obviously, opinions vary on this thing, but it looks to be pretty much what I'd feared it would be.

Death Stranding feels like it was written by a teenager in just about every respect. It's painfully insecure. It demands that you hear about the most recent random information it absorbed, appropriate of and relative to nothing, because it needs you to think it's smart. It features some offputting elements because it needs you to think it's edgy. It belabors any substance it may have had into oblivion, and in the end, it unintentionally demonstrates that it has nothing original or of real value to say.

Don't get me wrong; I would have never called Kojima's previous writing "mature". He reminds of George Lucas. I am a huge Star Wars fan, however I would never claim the original trilogy had anything close to Oscar caliber writing. Similar to Kojima, his later writing (see the Star Wars prequels) is consider less mature than his previous work. Also, like Kojima, I think George Lucas is great at ideas. I would say they both need to let someone else handle the work of putting those ideas into a coherent story.

The Lucas point is spot-on. God, I remember the excitement for the prequels. It was similarly a case of "holy shit, George Lucas has had time and a massive budget; this is going to be incredible." Then we get a trade dispute, an amazingly terrible "romance", and some bafflingly racist caricatures no one asked for. It might be unfairly cruel to compare DS to The Phantom Menace, but it's not that far off in terms of hope vs. reality for me.

@north6 said:

@notnert427: I'm super confused, why are you writing this much about a game you haven't played yourself? You seem to be taking enjoyment in the staff being down on it.

My opinion is its very good so far, about 40-50% in. It's got groundbreaking social features, enjoyable backtracking because you constantly feel like you're setting your future self up for success by using climbing ropes, ladders, bridges, etc. Participating in public works is rewarding. The story is debatable, but as someone who has sometimes struggled with occasional worries of social isolation myself, I'm sympathetic to the effort, if nothing else.

Maybe just put the pen down and give it a shot.

It's fun to talk about games, and I generally enjoy writing. The schadenfreude I'm getting out of the staff's dislike of DS is based on three things: 1) There were many other reviews that scored the game far higher than the content of said reviews would suggest. 2) Kojima's TGS demo in particular was brutally self-indulgent, creepy, and weird to where it positioned DS as something that needed to be pretty goddamn incredible to justify itself. 3) I genuinely wanted Kojima unleashed to produce an awesome result. So, yeah, I enjoyed seeing coverage and a review that aligned with itself. As I see it, GB called Kojima on his bullshit and reviewed this game for what it is, while others were largely lining up to praise the savior auteur and ignore myriad issues with what DS actually turned out to be as a product.

I'm honestly glad to hear that you like it, and thank you for describing specifically why. That's more than a lot of the 10/10 reviews did. I think I could like the social/public works elements of DS, but it being so ephemeral makes it less appealing. I get why it is so the game world isn't littered with everyone's shit (or your own); but it's also a shortcoming inherent to the feature that makes it not be some game-changer for me when your efforts ultimately just create another meter to maintain or have it go to waste. DS' narrative seems to deal more in melodrama than anything, and I don't find the "we need to reconnect" theme to be meaningful or original in the slightest. It's rad if you were able to personally derive something from that, but that seems like a thing entirely dependent upon the player to be more introspective than Kojima will ever be.

I may well give this a shot someday, though; if out of nothing but sheer curiosity.

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liquiddragon

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#27 liquiddragon  Online

@notnert427:

“There were multiple fanboys taking selfies in the TGS crowd for merely being vaguely in the presence of Kojima.”

Sorry, what is this supposed to prove? You mean some ppl that would go to a video game convention wanted a selfie with one of the most prominent public figures in the industry? You want me to believe you’re not some closed minded person when you’re bringing up some petty BS like some ppl wanting a selfie w/ a celebrity?

“The comments sections on the GB coverage have kept the mods working overtime zapping first-time posters who showed up saying all kinds of awful shit because GB dared not to like DS.”

Ok, where are you getting this? Couple of the mods had a charity stream this weekend and I literally asked about this. I said “maybe I don’t go to the comment section enough but have they been extra toxic w/ Death Stranding”

No ifs, ands, or buts, they straight up said “no, you don’t go to the comment sections enough.”

“People were going after Alex on social media.”

Is this another assumption you’re making or did someone credible mention he was getting it worse than usual? I actually checked some of his tweets when he posted his review and the replies to them were more civilized than at GB. But let’s say ppl were going after him, does that really represent his fanbase or are they the few bad apples.

“There are plenty of folks who think of Kojima as a genius, including Kojima himself.”

What is plenty to you? Is it more than ppl like you who’s just shitting on him and haven’t play the game? Cuz I’ve been coming across ppl like you a lot more than ppl you’ve described. And are those ppl really that different than you? Seems to me you’re the same person, just on the opposite end.

You already have a few ppl here in the thread saying we like his games, never said he was genius. No one yet coming out to call him a genius. Also, did he ever actually say he was genius? Seriously, it’d be a hilarious to hear someone say that about themself and I’d love to find it but I haven’t been able to.

“I'm not as close-minded as you're assuming, either. I don't have any real investment in this either way”

You start this thread with an overly long post declaring a game you have played a disappointment. No real investment huh? Have you played any of his games? Reading your post, it just doesn't sound like you have. Maybe I'm wrong on that.

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#28 Shindig  Online

I do hate when 10/10's or positive reviews can't explain fully why they're into something. "I haven't been able to put it down." doesn't quite cut it. I did have a moment like that when I was reviewing DRIVECLUB and saw Playstation Universe gave it a 9.5. To the guy's credit, he owns his opinion fully and seems to like the feel of the driving. But I still can't fathom why this got such a push.

Maybe the shock of the new carries some extra weight. Death Stranding might review well with some outlets but, would they go back to it with hindsight?

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