I can't tell if the hype for Death Stranding is ironic

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#1 Posted by Sweep (10600 posts) -

Alright I've had some drinks (It's a tuesday, leave me alone) but this is something I've wanted to talk about for a while. I tried a few weeks ago, to write a blog, but after an hour of writing, deleting, re-writing, then just getting frustrated and what I knew would be the inevitable responses; I shelved it for another day. Which turned out to be today, apparently? Cool.

With the recent Death Stranding shit being released I once again can't help but feel like Kojima is not just painfully pretentious, but commands the loyalty of a mouth-frothing band of internet loyalists who strike down any form of dissent. I played all those metal gear solid games and while One and Two could conceivably be called genius, three was fan-servicey, and four was a convoluted quick time event. Yeah, I'm being dismissive and flippant, but am I wrong, though?

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I think what bugs me the most is that Kojima comes across as a pseudo-intellectual rather than an actual fuckin' intellectual. There seems to be three tiers to his games; The first is a hyper-aware hyper-meta social commentary that's painstakingly defended by longwinded forum posts from die-hard fans. The second is a series of groundbreaking gameplay systems he introduces that run parallel to some weird mechanic where you look at skeezy magazines while hiding in a bin. And the third is just that he's making all this shit up as he goes along and people engage with his work the same way people engage with the Fast & Furious franchise; with loyalty and enjoyment, but also an understanding that this shit is completely insane without any pretense of it being high art. And despite reading plenty of blisteringly articulate reasoning as to why Quiet is one of the best female characters because of her weaponized sexuality, as though Kojima were some modern-day Edouard Manet, I can't help but feel like Kojima didn't intend any of that shit and is just going along with it because it sounds smart in hindsight; The writing of his games seems to walk a fine line between being extremely problematic and extremely self-aware. The problem is the reasoning behind that writing often does not give much confidence as to which side of the line the game was designed to fall. As such I can't help but feel like Kojima, in an effort to be progressive, merely normalizes some truly warped attitudes and perspectives.

So I guess my question is, do people really value this? When that Death Stranding trailer was released was the hype from people who are intellectually excited to see what Kojima has got planned for us next, or was it more a Hobbs And Shaw level of "Oh this is going to be so fucking dumb but I'm super into it" kind of hype?

Because honestly I can't tell any more.

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#2 Edited by Humanity (18858 posts) -

I am genuinely excited because it looks to be, if nothing else, very different from most games out there. Kojima is very inventive with his gameplay mechanics and while sometimes it’s for better and sometimes for worse, they typically are really unique and that’s something that I appreciate. I know exactly what I’m getting with another Gears of War or another Call of Duty. I’ll still have fun playing those games, but it’s not as exciting going into them because I know exactly what I’m going to get. Death Stranding excites me because I don’t know..well anything. It’s all so refreshingly weird and enigmatic and knowing Kojima it’s a game that will defy most gaming conventions. Phantom Pain played great but that control scheme was not what I would call normalized.

As for the intellectual part - I’m more surprised by people always getting so far in that conversation. I don’t know what Kojima is thinking and I don’t hail him as a genius, but I would say he is a visionary in his own particular field. I would also say that he is responsible for some really great character writing along with some real goofy stuff. The Boss I would argue is one of the best written strong, female characters in all of gaming of all time. Thing is I just laugh at all the goofy stuff like Johnny always going to the bathroom or whatnot. That “humor” is funny to me because it’s inserted in the middle of a typically super serious narrative. I know it’s specifically those moments that really annoy a lot of people and I’m not really sure why.

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#3 Edited by BoOzak (2617 posts) -

I love Metal Gear but I would say it's more the latter. I dont think Kojima is a genius. He does present things well and defy most peoples expectations, which in the AAA space isnt done very often.

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#4 Posted by Gazoinks (109 posts) -

@humanity: This basically sums it up. The thing that I appreciate about Kojima and will always sell me on his games is that he's always trying to do *something*. His work is often problematic, clunky, and deeply flawed, but it's always an attempt at saying something important and doing something interesting within the medium beyond just entertainment. I appreciate that ambition, as weird as it can be.

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#5 Edited by soulcake (2811 posts) -

Where I think David Lynch is a genius, I would put kojima at a level of a try hard genius. A lot of his metaforse feel forced. I also think death stranding is Kojimas take on metal gear survive.

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#6 Posted by Cerberus3Dog (1029 posts) -

I think the backpack running, ladder extending exploration looks really cool and it's the thing about Death Stranding I'm most excited about. I'm less certain about the narrative elements we've seen so far, that stuff seems so crazy but MGS was the same way and I really liked those games' stories.

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#7 Posted by acharlie1377 (133 posts) -

@sweep: I pretty much completely agree with you; every word ever spoken or written by Kojima has read to me as incredibly pretentious at best, and downright sexist at worst. Hearing Dan gush that he thinks MGS is the greatest story ever told, and that he can justify every single thing Kojima has put in the story, only to immediately follow that up by saying he didn't know it was a political story, infuriates me to no end. The stories for his games read like forgotten pulp novels from the 1940s, and as a writer/story creator I think he's worse than someone like David Cage, who gets plenty of hate from the entire Giant Bomb crew.

That said, with the exception of Dan, most of the crew seems excited about the gameplay, rather than the story. When most people talk about MGSV being the best game of all time, or even the best game of 2015, they talk almost entirely about the mechanics. It's a similar thing to Breath of the Wild, where the story is unimportant compared to the intricacy of the mechanics. The difference is that BotW has pretty much no story, while MGSV has a poorly written and nonsensical story, with enough heavy-handed symbolism to convince people they're experiencing something deep and artistic. That's actually what angers me the most about the cult status around Kojima; though Metal Gear undoubtedly wouldn't exist without him, I don't think the good parts of Metal Gear would exist without the people who actually create the game, and they are basically given no credit relative to Kojima's auteur status. If Kojima wrote the story for something like Heavy Rain or Detroit: Become Human, and no-one knew it was him, I think it would rightfully be torn to shreds.

I could go on about this, but going back to Death Stranding, the idea of having to traverse this barren world and physically reconnect areas to each other sounds novel and interesting. I don't think it's as novel or interesting as people make it seem, but Kojima does have a track record of making mechanically fantastic games, so I understand why people would be excited for that. As for the story, I haven't seen anyone except the rabid Kojima fans treat it as anything other than trite nonsense.

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#8 Posted by lead_dispencer (541 posts) -

I understand the point you are trying to make with Kojima. And to keep things similar to your statements I am a fan of the F&F franchise. I tell people all the time they are the modern day 80s action movie with big set pieces stereotypical villains and they keep cranking up the hysterics with every sequel. I haven't seen hobbs and shaw so I won't speak to that. Everything that Kojima is, boring is not one of them. In an industry full of trends and studios/developers who try to coast by to cash in, he has never done that.

Now that he has his own independent studio, anything and everything could happen. He has no one to report to! So i guess my answer to your question is a cringy centralist one. I am excited because i think he is a genius or pseudogenius but also because death stranding looks bat shit crazy that it will leave me hooked.

(God I hope this rant ages well in 7 months)

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#9 Posted by tds418 (490 posts) -

I haven't seen hobbs and shaw so I won't speak to that.

It would be pretty awesome if you had seen it considering it doesn't come out until August xD

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#10 Posted by lead_dispencer (541 posts) -

@tds418: Hey man my sister's boyfriend's uncle works for hollywood he could totally get me an early screening! haha honestly that's a good point. I thought it already came out. I've been spending alot of time with my 5 year old nephew so the only movie on my radar was Toy Story 4. *shrugs*

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#11 Posted by FrodoBaggins (2086 posts) -

Kojima is great. Metal Gear Solid is great. Death Stranding might well be great. No mouth frothing loyalist. It just is what it is.

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#12 Posted by ArbitraryWater (15726 posts) -

There's definitely a bit of irony behind my anticipation for Death Stranding, but only in the sense that I'm well aware of Kojima's quirks as a writer by this point. I say this, even as someone who found MGS 4's endless self-wankery infuriating (I cannot believe that people were satisfied by some of the ridiculous bullshit explanations that game throws out to try and tie up every single loose thread) but found Phantom Pain's story not bullshit enough.

I think even at his worst and most excessive, the guy at least manages to do something interesting or unique. I might groan constantly at his portrayal of women, or the frequent 20 minute lectures about "Why nukes are bad" or the bizarre comedic interludes, but he's always distinctive and always swinging for the fences. That's where the Quantic Dream comparison falls flat for me, because even when the stories in those games are being told coherently (and that's a big when,) they're only told in the most basic cinematic cliches delivered with the earnestness of someone who thinks you're seeing them for the first time.

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#13 Posted by liquiddragon (3460 posts) -

This does sound like a drunk post.

Does he have to be a complete genius or a total fraud? Is it possible he is somewhere in the middle or a bit of both? I don't think any level headed fan would defend everything he has done or put in his game. The guy who defends Quiet doesn't represent the majority of his fans. That's clearly a very vocal minority. But who in the AAA gaming space takes swings like him or is anywhere as interesting, whether you think he is pretentious or not? Ppl go on and on about how boring and safe big games are and as soon as someone tries, it's just pretentious? That line of thinking really irks me cuz imo, it comes from ppl that has never done or even try to do anything creative in their life. It takes balls to put yourself out there and let the world judge you.

What I like about Kojima is what became the joke of every MGS game, that it was gonna be the last one. While that wasn't true (until MGSV of course), that's the spirit he makes all his games with. He literally puts everything he has into the game he's making like it's the last one he'll ever make. No one lays it all out like him and like anime, his fans know to take the good with the bad.

Even if you don't like him, MGS has sold somewhere in between 60-50 million units, which makes the series, as weird and out there as it is, among the best selling franchises of all time so that alone makes Death Stranding hype worthy.

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#14 Posted by Mike (17998 posts) -

@sweep: Hearing Dan gush that he thinks MGS is the greatest story ever told...

He also thought an egg white omelette was made with the shells, so...you know.

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#15 Posted by notnert427 (2268 posts) -

I'm glad Kojima is making games (or at least these fucking bonkers game trailers), because as several have mentioned, his shit is interesting in a medium that often isn't. That said, Kojima isn't half the intellectual he seems to think he is, he's a pervy, immature manchild, and he couldn't write a coherent narrative if his life depended on it. Feeble attempts to defend his very obvious failings consistently in these areas have always induced eye-rolls from me.

I'm admittedly not among Kojima's fanbase (which often borders on a cult following), but I generally appreciate the guy's ambition, and there's a level of authenticity to his insanity that I respect. Dude has no qualms putting whatever batshit thought that bounces from his dome out there in the world, and it's typically fascinating at the very least. When you buy a Kojima product, you get a Kojima product. He's the video game equivalent of some maniacal film director yelling about his "vision" that's incomprehensible to everyone else, which can produce amazing results.

I suppose my interest in Kojima products is a bit ironic, as it's basically "well, let's see what the fuck this nonsense is". However, I get genuinely excited when a Death Stranding trailer drops. I have zero interest in actually playing that game, but the trailers are a goddamn event every time, and deservedly so. I will gleefully watch a playthrough of that game, whatever it ends up being. There's a very good chance that the "story" will be hilariously and ineptly pretentious, tonally incongruous, and utterly absurd. Even in the likely event that it doesn't land in ways Kojima wants it to, I fully expect to be entertained by the spectacle.

I suppose Kojima deserves some credit for making me hyped in that way.

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#16 Posted by ltcolumbo (170 posts) -

@sweep: sounds to me like Kojima has got you exactly where he wants you.

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#17 Posted by cikame (2859 posts) -

I don't know, to me it sounds like you don't really enjoy entertainment anymore.

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#18 Posted by Efesell (4541 posts) -

I've never liked anything ironically, it's dumb.

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#19 Edited by nutter (2195 posts) -

I don’t watch a ton of preview stuff, but I can come at it from a Metal Gear perspective.

Metal Gear is not high art. Metal Gear is as fucking cool as it is fucking dumb, and it’s oodles of both. It’s serious action, La-Le-Li-Lo-Lu (or whatever), stealth, vampires, cyborgs, triple agent soviet cowboys.

Metal Gear is a hot fucking mess, but it seems to be a hot fucking mess made with earnest passion. It does some pretty miraculous things, and is also ass backwards. Once they finally got a game that could play like a game of the generation, they ditched their lead since the late 90s, replaced him with a celebrity, gave him no lines, and ruined the story, the focus of previous games. Meanwhile, MGSV was still one of the best games to come out in its year of release.

Even all the deceptive trailers, the insane(ly stupid?) Moby Dick Studios thing, rumors that Kojima leaving Konami was performance art...everything about those games, development, release, reception, and in retrospect, is fucking nuts in the best/worst possible way. The retcons that get tossed in to so many of the games, they’re so dumb, but Kojima is so committed to them that they word, spitting in the face of logic and storytelling.

Also, Dan Metal-Gear-Super-Fan Ryckert didn’t think Metal Gear was political.

Everything is amazing, everything is stupid, it’s not nearly the greatest story ever told, but it tries to be so damned hard that I just can’t help but love it.

That’s why, without really looking into Death Stranding much at all, I’ll give it a chance.

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#20 Posted by NTM (11850 posts) -

I really like MGS (definitely one of my favorite series of games) but you won't see me defending his work necessarily because there is some irrefutably awkward (not-so-great) stuff in it. Plus, I know he makes games that are unique, but it feels like some people put him on a high pedestal where other developers can't touch as if he's a god or something. It's goofy/cringe-worthy. I also dislike that he seemingly always strives to get Hollywood actors over his previous cast, as you can tell by him getting Kiefer in MGS5 and from what I understand, not contacting Stefanie Joosten back about playing Fragile as he got Seydoux for the role instead when she was led to believe she'd be in it.

I will say, however, I do like that no matter how badly executed or weirdly presented it can be, Kojima does try to say something and make you think. When I say badly executed, what I mean is that his stuff is like bashing me over the head with a bat about what he's trying to say. You can basically take out all the dialogue in many of the cutscenes and simply have someone say 'WAR IS BAD' 'THE WORLD MUST DENUCLEARIZE!" again and again throughout the entire series. At times that portion of it is like 'yeah, we get it'. As for Death Stranding, I am really excited about it. I want to know what the story is about, what it's trying to convey and how everything comes together in terms of gameplay and its environments. I hope the writing is good so the actors have something to work with rather than them acting it well but it being cringe-inducing the whole time.

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#21 Posted by tds418 (490 posts) -

@efesell said:

I've never liked anything ironically

That seems...hard to believe.

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#22 Posted by lead_dispencer (541 posts) -

@tds418: would you say it's ironic? bad dum tss

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#23 Posted by yourbrain (45 posts) -

I have a bit of a different perspective - I've never played an MGS game (well, I started MGS V, but only played about 20 minutes...), though I did watch a handful Metal Gear Scanlon eps (the ones with the bee guy?). But I've really enjoyed the Death Stranding trailers so far, and might give the game a try, though it's a bit outside my normal.

The trailer give me the same feel as indie sci-fi movie trailers - the whole "what the...? How... Ooooooo..." feel. A bit of mystery with a pile of weird. I like it, and I'm looking forward to at least watching the game even if I don't play it myself. So I guess I'm low level, non-ironic, hype without any real reason or context. :]

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#24 Posted by FacelessVixen (2638 posts) -

Not to come off as a smartass (well, at least not to an extreme), but it is that hard to believe that Hideo Kojima stans are super hyped for the next Hideo Kojima game?

They've been edging since day one.

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#25 Posted by Efesell (4541 posts) -

@tds418 said:

@efesell said:

I've never liked anything ironically

That seems...hard to believe.

I like the things that I like.

The fallback excuse to avoid being embarrassed about it when called out on it isn't needed.

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#26 Edited by tds418 (490 posts) -

@efesell said:

@tds418 said:

@efesell said:

I've never liked anything ironically

That seems...hard to believe.

I like the things that I like.

The fallback excuse to avoid being embarrassed about it when called out on it isn't needed.

If I say I like something ironically I'm not saying that because I'm embarrassed I like it. I'll tell anyone that asks that I love Tokyo Drift, or the cutscenes in the original Need for Speed Most Wanted. It just means that I like them in spite of what they're trying to do, not because of what they're trying to do. I don't like the cutscenes with Razor Callahan because they tell a compelling, gritty story of street racing, but because they are unintentionally over-the-top garbage. But I feel no shame in loving them.

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#27 Posted by jeremyf (396 posts) -

I respect the technological and gameplay advances that have come from Kojima's games. Some of his characters are dicey and nonsensical, but most are at least memorable. It's fun to fuck around doing impressions of them with your friends. Personally, I remember crazy moments and setpieces more than the story itself. The endless layers of bullshit disguise that, like others in the thread said, these games don't have a terribly complex message. But I could say the same for a lot of stories, especially in video games. Honestly, I think a lot of the auteur status was projected onto the guy by the Dans of the world, and maybe it went too far.

As for Death Stranding... I have not really felt anything from the trailers. Not because the game looks bad, but because they feel made for Kojima superfans who have already decided to buy the game. I'll need the Quick Look or streams to know if it's worth my time.

So yeah, basically genius Kojumbo can do no wrong, I have built a Norman Reedus shrine in my backyard and I am pickling babies.

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#28 Edited by Onemanarmyy (4443 posts) -

Totally. Kojima is one of the few lead directors in AAA gaming that can get a high value production off the ground that truly has novel ideas and his distinct fingerprint on it. Seeing him make something completely detached from MGS is exciting as fuck to me. Don't get me wrong, some of the MGS games are my fav games ever, but that story is done and it's time for new stuff. I also enjoy the crazy batshit stuff juxtaposed with the very real and human messages. A game that manages to entertain on multiple levels, just like a good movie or book is able to make you laugh & cry sometimes instead of capturing one consistant tone and going for one emotion throughout. I feel that the only series out there that sort of manages to capture that style is Yakuza.

I get that it might get exhausting to see a lot of people heap praise on a dude you might not care for at all, but hey different strokes for different folks. I rather praise the Kojima's, the Yoko Taro's, the Suda's , the Swery's , the Miyamoto's & even the David Cage's instead of cutting down the devs that raise their head above the field for being a bit too popular or not 'good enough'. Especially when the alternative is design by committees continueing to deliver cardboard characters to tell their serious dry realistic geopolitical stories with. I bet the bad guy is some leader of a militia in the middle east that has no quirks apart from being a bad guy. I bet there's a druglord at some point. Maybe a brawny russian yawn. I straight up can't recall a character from The Clanceosphere that's not Sam Fischer. As AAA more and more shifts to multiplayer coop games, most of which treat storytelling as a nuisance, the more dire it looks for memorable storytelling paired with an adequate budget. It's nice to see the indiescene jump in to provide that, but sometimes you just want a game to be able to do a lot of different things adequately instead of focusing on 1 aspect entirely. And that costs money.

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#29 Posted by Brackstone (925 posts) -

I think a lot of people are legitimately excited and are completely oblivious to all the ways an unfettered Kojima could be a complete disaster. I don't think the man is a good writer at all, but he makes games that look good and generally play well, so most people don't care just how bad his writing can be.

It strikes me as some people wanting a video game auteur to latch on to in order to legitimize the medium rather than actually evaluating his work with a critical eye. In general I think the idea of an auteur is a silly one, so a lot of the discussion around him aggravates me a lot. There's a whole team of people just as responsible for his games as he is, and his writing is often a blemish on their otherwise excellent work.

I'm interested, and I'm probably getting the game at release, but I have huge reservations about it all. I love the visual design of it all, and the gameplay systems and world all seem quite interesting, but I have very, very low expectations regarding the narrative, and the recent trailer only made me more doubtful in that regard.

If I could draw a comparison, look at how badly Nicolas Winging Refn's new show, Too Old to Die Young turned out. He was given a huge budget and complete freedom, and he crashed and burned. It's as stylish and pretty as ever, but not well written or paced, full of the problems people have criticized his past works for. I worry Death Stranding will be a similar situation for similar reasons. By the way, Kojima has a cameo in that show, and of course Refn is in Death Stranding.

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#30 Posted by Sweep (10600 posts) -

Reading through these replies it's honestly something of a relief to know that so many others are taking all this Kojima stuff with a pinch of salt. I'll agree that a lot of the actual gameplay designed by Kojima has been innovative and interesting, but it's his writing that is cause for concern and while he may have good intentions, mostly just comes across as someone trying to punch far above their own weight. This is why it's so troublesome to me when I hear people calling him a genius or claiming that Metal Gear Solid is, unironically, the greatest story ever told.

Especially when everyone knows that Mean Girls is the greatest story ever told.

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#31 Edited by ThePanzini (740 posts) -

Never played Metal Gear Solid the franchise hasn't done anything for me, but I'm all in on Death Stranding.

I'm expecting a typical stealth third person action game intercut with bonkers 15-20min cutscenes, and I can't goddam wait. I hope it goes straight to eleven in five minutes jumps the shark and is total nonsense all the way.

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#32 Edited by FLStyle (6676 posts) -

MGS is genius, Death Stranding will be genius, I don't see what the problem is.

@cikame said:

I don't know, to me it sounds like you don't really enjoy entertainment anymore.

I'll second that.

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#33 Edited by notnert427 (2268 posts) -

I think a lot of people are legitimately excited and are completely oblivious to all the ways an unfettered Kojima could be a complete disaster. I don't think the man is a good writer at all, but he makes games that look good and generally play well, so most people don't care just how bad his writing can be.

It strikes me as some people wanting a video game auteur to latch on to in order to legitimize the medium rather than actually evaluating his work with a critical eye. In general I think the idea of an auteur is a silly one, so a lot of the discussion around him aggravates me a lot. There's a whole team of people just as responsible for his games as he is, and his writing is often a blemish on their otherwise excellent work.

I'm interested, and I'm probably getting the game at release, but I have huge reservations about it all. I love the visual design of it all, and the gameplay systems and world all seem quite interesting, but I have very, very low expectations regarding the narrative, and the recent trailer only made me more doubtful in that regard.

If I could draw a comparison, look at how badly Nicolas Winging Refn's new show, Too Old to Die Young turned out. He was given a huge budget and complete freedom, and he crashed and burned. It's as stylish and pretty as ever, but not well written or paced, full of the problems people have criticized his past works for. I worry Death Stranding will be a similar situation for similar reasons. By the way, Kojima has a cameo in that show, and of course Refn is in Death Stranding.

Christ, I laughed so hard when Refn showed up in the Death Stranding trailer. It's so goddamn perfect. Has he even acted in anything before? Who cares! Kojima thinks he's cool, so he's in! Hell, throw in Guillermo del Toro for funsies, too. At least del Toro has made some good movies, I guess. Seriously, this is all fucking bananas and I love it. I genuinely adore the concept of someone just picking random people they like to have them do shit they have little to no experience with.

"You make a fine taco, sir. You're my new accountant. Please coordinate with my receptionist I hired from the Victoria's Secret catalog. Welcome to the team! Now, if you'll excuse me, I'll be fleshing out this tube babies on the moon fever dream I had and trying to figure out where I can work in some poop jokes. Wait, see that brunette over there? See if she wants to be in a video game. I need her for, uh...I'll figure it out. Just get her."

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#34 Posted by Humanity (18858 posts) -

@notnert427: I mean Kojima is in Refns new TV show - a very minor role but still - the loop is complete.

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#35 Edited by nutter (2195 posts) -

@notnert427: Veering off-topic...I find most of Refn’s stuff interesting and beautifully shot, though it feels like he sometimes has a disregard for his audiance.

I think Drive is one of the best films of the last 25 years, though. I could watch that movie every week.

EDIT: I like them in the same way I like David Lynch films. They’re well shot, have moments of horror and beauty, and can be absolutely confounding. They’re fun to watch, re-watch, and interpret. As I write this, I guess I have Only God Forgives on the brain...

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#36 Posted by hippie_genocide (2443 posts) -

@sweep said:

So I guess my question is, do people really value this? When that Death Stranding trailer was released was the hype from people who are intellectually excited to see what Kojima has got planned for us next, or was it more a Hobbs And Shaw level of "Oh this is going to be so fucking dumb but I'm super into it" kind of hype?

Because honestly I can't tell any more.

For me, it's definitely the latter. Kojima's games are his own unique brand of weirdo bullshit but they're wrapped in a game that is actually fun to play, so I can't hate on the guy too hard. Searching for deeper meaning in his games though? Nah, don't do that. You can analyze the crayon scribbles of a small child to find the meaning of life or our place in the universe, but it doesn't necessarily make it so.

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#37 Posted by acharlie1377 (133 posts) -

I ended up re-watching the Best of Giant Bomb for the Quiet Man stuff, and that game's story is dumb and ridiculous enough that it makes me think it could've been written by Kojima; the only thing that gives it away is there's no military element to it. It makes me wonder what kind of reception that game would've received if the story was the same, but the gameplay itself was MGS quality.

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#38 Posted by notnert427 (2268 posts) -

@nutter said:

@notnert427: Veering off-topic...I find most of Refn’s stuff interesting and beautifully shot, though it feels like he sometimes has a disregard for his audiance.

I think Drive is one of the best films of the last 25 years, though. I could watch that movie every week.

EDIT: I like them in the same way I like David Lynch films. They’re well shot, have moments of horror and beauty, and can be absolutely confounding. They’re fun to watch, re-watch, and interpret. As I write this, I guess I have Only God Forgives on the brain...

Man, I have some thoughts about Drive. That is a movie that was not made for me. I suppose I get why people like it, because to its credit, it has styyyyle, but that's really about all that it has going for it. Frankly, even its stylish elements don't make any sense at all. Why is there an 80s theme to it when the movie clearly isn't set in the 80s? Who the fuck wears a ridiculous jacket like that? Why is the main character unnamed and borderline mute with scintillating dialogue like "I drive"? What is with the goddamn toothpick?

All of it is so insanely pretentious as it begs the viewer to bow to how artsy it is. Worse yet, critics did exactly that. Nevermind that there is virtually no substance to the film at all. Everything potentially good about it was done far better in other movies. Want a good revenge tale? Watch Man on Fire. Love hyperviolent shock value? Watch A History of Violence. Into 80s nostalgia? Watch some John Hughes or Cameron Crowe stuff. Drive attempts to randomly and incongruently be all of these things and succeeds at none of them.

Gosling is painfully one-note in the movie. It's not even his fault, the guy can be a decent actor, but here he's supposed to be this "man of few words" super-cool guy, and it does not fucking work. It feels so goddamn forced, like Refn wanted Gosling to do his best impression of Clint Eastwood's old movies, except with a toothpick in place of the cigar. Which leaves us with basically a character ripped out of the 1960s, in a movie set in the 2000s, with a tacked-on 1980s aesthetic. Hooray for anachronism; it's so brilliant and visionary.

I'm almost tempted to rewatch it purely to behold how bafflingly garish and vapid the whole thing is again, or to try watching Only God Forgives since I've heard it's somehow even more up its own ass. To bring this back on topic, though, I totally get why Kojima and Refn are BFFs. It seems like Kojima aspires to a Refn level of gratuitous pomposity, except Kojima is an arguably even worse writer. I think even Kojima might know that deep down, and therefore loves the idea of flashing a shiny object of overwrought batshit nonsense to get too much credit for his "creativity" and not enough criticism for his immaturity, perviness, and incoherence.

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#39 Posted by BladeOfCreation (1373 posts) -

For me, the interesting thing about MGS is that politically speaking, I probably align quite a bit with Kojima (imperialism is bad and nukes don't make a stable world). I enjoy stealth games, to be sure. That clip I've seen about the internet/information from MGS 2 seems oddly prescient now.

That said, everything I've read about Kojima himself makes me reluctant to try his games. His whole viral marketing thing with The Phantom Pain (that everyone apparently figured out immediately)--and the way that marketing campaign was aided by Geoff Keighley, who runs THE video game awards show--made me wonder how anyone could take Kojima or Keighley seriously ever again.

Death Stranding having a weird/confusing/tells-you-nothing teaser trailer is whatever. That's kind of what teaser trailers are. The thing is, he just kept putting out confusing trailers. I don't think that's interesting or clever in any way. It feels like he's trying too hard. I mean, Sam Porter Bridges is the main character's name. Porter, as in someone who transports? Bridges, as in he's building bridges? How do people say Kojima is a great writer? Those are Harry Potter level naming conventions right there.

Kojima's whole thing with Quiet was pretty gross, too. Yes, he's written other women who are strong, independent characters. That does not mean he's immune to criticism about Quiet.

All of this means nothing to the fans, of course. People who love Kojima's bullshit LOOOOOVE his bullshit. They're into the weird trailers with clues about the game. I hope the people who buy this game enjoy it. But that's how I see Kojima and his games. Just trying too damn hard.

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#40 Posted by Brackstone (925 posts) -
Kojima's whole thing with Quiet was pretty gross, too. Yes, he's written other women who are strong, independent characters. That does not mean he's immune to criticism about Quiet.

Problem is even his other supposedly well written female characters don't get out completely clean either. He's got a weird obsession with women having their shirts/suits/whatever they've got on their torso unbuttoned or unzipped. Pretty much every female character has to show off their boobs as some point. He has yet to write a female character well, if you ask me. At best they're well written for the franchise, but that's really not saying much when the standards are so low.

The latest trailer for Death Stranding is certainly not off to a great start in that regard either. I'm reserving judgment for the final release of course, but the warning signs are there.

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#41 Posted by nutter (2195 posts) -

@notnert427: I agree that Drive is style over substance. A lot of what it does is for the camera more than to fit a logical purpose. Shots in that movie are intricately framed. The whole thing just has a weird dreamy feeling of gloss over a really dirty underbelly.

Underneath the style is a simple and sweet story of selflessness, love, kindness, and how fleeting it can be, in a grotesque world. I find the simple nature of the story and the eerily comfortable lack of dialog endearing.

I get that plenty of people have serious issues with that movie. Call me the target demographic, I guess...

And yeah, Only God Forgives feels like it was made for the folks who managed to enjoy Drive, as if Refn needed to make sure to infuriate anyone he already missed. I still enjoyed both films quite a bit, but Only God Forgives is substantially more difficult to watch.

Anyhow, to veer back on topic, I guess in the same way Refn creates, seemingly for himself, and throws it out there to be received however it’s received, I appreciate the seemingly singular authorship of Kojima Productions games. I’m sometimes all-in, sometimes laughing with him, sometimes laughing at him, but I’m happy that he’s doing his thing.

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#42 Posted by dudeglove (13764 posts) -

Kojima and whoever else is involved are in dire need of an editor at times but frankly I prefer the fact that he's "weird" (for lack of a better term). I can't really point to any other big budget titles that are bananas. I guess "refreshing" is the word though that's not to say his ideas are original (but that's another argument). Kojima watches an enormous amount of films and other media, and cribs references from all sorts of things. I wouldn't call it genius at all. I instead see Kojima as someone who has carefully crafted a quasi elite influencer persona.

That said, he's not the only game developer at this sort of thing. Plenty of other talented younger people out there are doing all sorts of wild shit in games you don't really hear about because they're not Kojima. I wonder if that's the issue here - that you're sick of Kojima after uhh... *checks calendar* thirty years? That's a long time to be in anything.

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#43 Posted by Rahf (514 posts) -

Why am I looking forward to Death Stranding? Because of the reasons listed in this thread.

I remember thouroughly enjoying MGS and MGS 2 as a teenager. You know, that age group where subtlety and ironic appreciation haven't come into their own quite yet. So, I gobbled up all the whacked out dialogue, didn't mind the sexism, thought Vulcan Raven was bad-ass and Psycho Mantis scary as hell. Solid Snake was a tough-as-nails raw dog that smoked cigarettes to calm down, duder; the corridor that led to Gray Fox/Cyborg Ninja was terrifying; I beat up Liquid Snake on top of a goddamn mech; the list goes on.

Now in my 30s, I have a completely different appreciation for Kojima. I adore the sheer Japanesy-ness of what he's done and is seemingly doing--everything is two steps left of Western culture's center. Everything is either painfully melodramatic, hokey, and obvious, or obfuscated by five layers of nonsense and bewildering as a result. But that's also what makes a lot of Japanese fiction and entertainment interesting to a Western mind. It's not unlike how the Matrix trilogy ended up: the first film was mysterious and tantalizing, and so incredibly interesting both technically and philosophically; the second film completely pulled the veil back and undid all speculation, hypotheses, and theories; the third film was the third act of any standalone action movie.

I love that Kojima takes his fiction seriously. What he and many other Japanese writers think is cool and edgy, I can see as infantilized and almost embarrassing. But, it-is-never-boring.

I sincerely hope Death's Stranding is a good game and does well. The world needs Kojima.

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#44 Posted by DarkeyeHails (596 posts) -

@notnert427: Kojima as the Neil Breen of video games is a comparison I can really get behind.

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#45 Posted by mems1224 (2508 posts) -

I liked the Metal Gear games but could got care less about all the stuff leading up to his games. All of the death stranding stuff has been nonsensical bullshit and I just wanna see what the full game is. I care more about the gameplay in his games than the stupid story thats just up its own ass.

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#46 Posted by Junkerman (536 posts) -

@mems1224 said:

I liked the Metal Gear games but could care less about all the stuff leading up to his games. All of the death stranding stuff has been nonsensical bullshit and I just wanna see what the full game is. I care more about the gameplay in his games than the stupid story thats just up its own ass.

I suspect this gentleman has the right of it!

That being said I'd prefer my gameplay to be interspersed with a little more stupid story then say.. the phantom pain did.

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#47 Edited by frytup (1327 posts) -

Nothing in this world makes more sense than Kojima and Refn being pals. You couldn't pay me to sit through another intellectually bereft Refn slog, yet... I have Death Stranding pre-ordered.

No matter how big and cinematic video games get, I'll probably always engage with them mechanically before intellect kicks in. Yes, any given game might have the storytelling weight of a 4th grader's book report, but if making my little dude run around and do stuff is fun, it doesn't really matter.

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#48 Posted by notnert427 (2268 posts) -

@nutter said:

@notnert427: I agree that Drive is style over substance. A lot of what it does is for the camera more than to fit a logical purpose. Shots in that movie are intricately framed. The whole thing just has a weird dreamy feeling of gloss over a really dirty underbelly.

Underneath the style is a simple and sweet story of selflessness, love, kindness, and how fleeting it can be, in a grotesque world. I find the simple nature of the story and the eerily comfortable lack of dialog endearing.

I get that plenty of people have serious issues with that movie. Call me the target demographic, I guess...

And yeah, Only God Forgives feels like it was made for the folks who managed to enjoy Drive, as if Refn needed to make sure to infuriate anyone he already missed. I still enjoyed both films quite a bit, but Only God Forgives is substantially more difficult to watch.

Anyhow, to veer back on topic, I guess in the same way Refn creates, seemingly for himself, and throws it out there to be received however it’s received, I appreciate the seemingly singular authorship of Kojima Productions games. I’m sometimes all-in, sometimes laughing with him, sometimes laughing at him, but I’m happy that he’s doing his thing.

Great post. I should probably give Drive another shot, because while I viscerally disliked it the first time, maybe a second viewing would allow for me to appreciate some of its highlights, now that I know what to expect. I'm also weirdly intrigued by Only God Forgives for seeming like the polar opposite of what I want from a movie, to the point that I kinda want to just put myself and that movie in a room and see what the fuck happens. Interestingly enough, Refn's stuff isn't all bad in my book. I thought Bronson was somewhere between decent and good. Then again, I like Tom Hardy quite a bit, and he's about twice the actor Gosling is, IMO, so maybe that helped it.

Even though I don't consider myself a fan of Refn, I'm still glad he's out there doing his thing, and I'd say the same of Kojima. The world needs borderline insane auteur types who take themselves way too seriously to keep things interesting. Refn at least doesn't seem to delve much into the immature perv stuff that Kojima does, but he definitely doubles down on the pretentiousness. Both can be pretty offputting in their own way. Kojima's B&B Corps stuff (and Quiet, to a lesser extent) is some real creeper shit that I found legitimately unsettling, and watching Drive was 100 minutes of me bouncing from being utterly nonplussed to wanting to yell OH FUCK OFF at the screen. I imagine watching me watch Drive is hilarious.

(As an aside, I love this community because I can super not like a thing that someone else likes and that's totally okay with both of us. On most of the rest of the internet, this would have rapidly devolved into a "you're wrong" situation because we have differing opinions on a thing. Cheers to you for being a cool duder.)

@notnert427: Kojima as the Neil Breen of video games is a comparison I can really get behind.

I was not aware of Neil Breen before this moment. After watching the trailer for one of his movies, I think I now have to know everything about Neil Breen.

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#49 Posted by nutter (2195 posts) -

@notnert427: I do view Drive as a very sweet film set against flash and filth. Maybe that perspective helps...maybe not! ;)

Only God Forgives....while I like it, I didn’t enjoy watching it, and I couldn’t think of a single soul I’d recommend it to. It’s definitely a repeat viewing film, but I haven’t been able to bring myself to watch it a second time. Lynch’s Mulholland Drive, by comparison, I maybe watched 3 times the weekend I first saw it (and wound up taking notes by the third viewing).

And yeah, discussing shit instead of being right is a nice part about this place

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#50 Edited by Rahf (514 posts) -

I saw Drive while being entrenched in the educational side of LA's entertainment industry, so my eyes were a bit glittery even before starting it. Had seen Valhalla Rising and found it abhorring, while simultaneously loving Bronson for Hardy's dynamic performance.

I found Drive more tolerable than the viking film--not as impenetrable on a first viewing. Stylistically, Winding Refn is second-to-none, but holy shit does his films make little sense at times. My biggest take-away at the time was Albert Brooks (Marlin, the dad clown fish in Finding Nemo). I had him pinned as a jovial comic, but this turn as a gnarly mobster was eye-opening. The last scene between him and Bryan Cranston is one of the best I saw that year.

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