Lesson from today’s comic: I need to learn how to draw sulking people better, but I’m pleased with those flames. I’m really happy with where things go from here, and I think you’ll like Monday’s one too.

This week I discovered something quite amazing: Hideo Kojima is occasionally capable of doing a pretty good story. I eventually got around to finishing Metal Gear Solid 3 on the PS2, and I was surprised to find that it had a very decent ending to the plot, it was even a bit emotional!

I’ve usually found the Metal Gear Solid games to be frustrating: on one hand they have excellent design values, with attention to detail that many designers just can’t be bothered with, but on the other they suffer massively from war-story bloat. I thought I would take the controller and force it into my eardrums rather than sit through yet another tedious half-hour monologue about how ‘the battlefield was my mother, all my life I’ve fought, guns were my family, I’m a killer, my uncle was a hunting knife, look at me, I’m so emo’. MGS3 did do that a little bit, but for the most part the characters were entertaining. The cut-scenes could still stretch on for half an hour, which is just unnecessary, but they were written with a degree of skill above that of the previous games so they didn’t so commonly fall into the tropes that the previous two episodes had established to the point of cliché.

I did find the three minute alert level frustrating, and would usually just restart rather than hide my character somewhere and wait it out. Yes, it’s more realistic to have guards be more paranoid and take longer to search for you, but it doesn’t necessarily make for a very good game device. Still, overall the game had a level of design and polish that is rarely seen. The actors were well suited to their voice work, the animation in the cut scenes was generally excellent, and even the camera-work in the game and cut-scenes was of a high standard. Like I say, I’ve not been a huge fan of the MGS games, but I think that finally might be convinced by this one that Kojima is finding the right balance.

The trouble is, I’ve taken so long to get around to buying and completing this one that a ‘director’s cut’ version is now out. It’s got loads of extra features, some of which sound quite entertaining (UK link US link) and I’m vaguely interested in getting it… Although, in classic global economy style, the UK version costs £29.99 (around US$60) and the American version costs $29.99 (around £15). Yep, the Americans get it earlier than Europeans and at half the price.

On a related topic: European gamers are going to have to wait until March next year to get their hands on a PS3, four months after Japan and America get it. The reason? The manufacture of the blue diodes for the blu-ray disk technology. Is this something that we desperately needed? Is it worth waiting an extra four months for? Will there be region encoding making it worth waiting, or would we be better off importing (and probably getting it cheaper that way anyway)? I don’t know. I’m not very impressed with this, but it does at least give me a chance to try and save up some Amazon vouchers to make the huge price a bit more palatable, so if you or your friends shop on Amazon (school books, Christmas presents, etc.) please use the Amazon search boxes or one of my links to start shopping! Thanks!

Look at me; I’m so organised that this is going online at 8:15 in the morning! Woohoo!

Have a great weekend everyone, see you on Monday!