Dedicated To Metal Gear Solid

For the last week I’ve been doing a play through of the Metal Gear Solid series (all the ones that were released on the Playstation platforms anyway, I’m not including the original Metal Gears and the PSP stuff). This is a series that I am an unashamed fanboy of. It has many flaws, but for the most part I can ignore them because there’s something in these games which just resonates with me, something I can’t quite articulate that blinds me to the flaws of the franchise and just leaves me lapping up every self indulgent moment of them. So this post is dedicated to the Metal Gear Solid series, to Solid, Liquid and Solidus Snake, Big Boss and their supporting cast. Grudgingly, it’s also dedicated to Raiden.

For the uninitiated, Metal Gear Solid is a series that spun out of the Metal Games on the NES and MSX2. The Solid suffix refers to all the games that were released after these two, all of them exclusive on Sony platforms. For the sake of simplicity though, I’m going to be referring to the Metal Gear Solid series as Metal Gear from here on out, just to avoid confusion. The first was simply titled ‘Metal Gear Solid: Tactical Espionage Action’, and was released on the PS1 many years ago in 1998. It’s a scary thought to think that I was still in primary school when this game came out. I lapped up every moment of it back then, and I drove my parents up the wall because I never shut up about it (More on that later).

To be fair though, it was unlike anything I’d played before. The degree of freedom and interactive gameplay was astounding, I used to spend ages on the codec, listening to what everyone had to say about anything and everything. I was absorbed into the game’s world, plot and characters and along with Command and Conquer: Red Alert and Tiberian Sun, it’s easily one of the games that defined my childhood, as well as my love of videogames in general.

Every Metal Gear game has had that effect on me, and while (as we will get to soon enough) they are far from perfect, there’s a passion and flare to them that I don’t think I’ve ever seen in any other videogame. It’s that previously mentioned intangible something that just hits keys I didn’t know I had.

The plot of the series is hopelessly complicated. Explaining it is, to say the least, time consuming- so I’m not going to do it here. Besides it’s got such a weaving narrative that any explanation invariably ends up needing spoilers, as the series references, retcons and rebuilds on itself so much as it progresses it’s almost unreal. Characters are usually working with at least two sides, and one character in particular (Revolver Ocelot) is probably best described as a quadruple agent.

The themes of the series though are far more direct- often the point of being rammed down your throat with all the subtlety of Bill Clinton’s dick- it’s anti war, anti nuclear weapons, and (sort of) anti genetic engineering. There’s also a healthy dose of cynicism in there with regard to nationalism, especially in the later games. When I say it’s anti war, I don’t mean it’s got a couple of people going “OMFG WAR IS BAD!” at the end, there’s some real emotional weight to the messages it conveys, and the ideas run deep in the characters and narrative.

The ending of Metal Gear Solid 3 in particular has me almost in tears each time I watch it- without giving away too much in the way of spoilers, one of the characters is basically abused, stitched up, stabbed in the back and in the front, and hung out to dry with their memory forever tainted as a traitor and murderer, all for things this character was essentially ordered to do, and all in the name of a political pro quo. The worst part? The character knew what was going on, but did it anyway out of loyalty. It’s that personal touch which makes the game so emotive. Themes of loyalty and betrayal, and specifically the abuse of loyalty are very personal to me, and so this scene and this character’s fate, always chime with me.

If Metal Gear is infamous for one thing, it’s the cutscenes. Hideo Kojima (the daddy and developer of the series) loves his cut scenes. They go on FOREVER. A friend of mine once suggested that no one will ever make a movie out of Metal Gear because they’d need to make a video game first. He has a point- some of these cut scenes last for over half an hour. You can watch a complete episode of the Simpsons in the time it takes you to sit through some of these. The worst part is though that the editing on them is just horrible. And this brings me to my first criticism of Metal Gear- the writing is often horrible. It’s common for characters to repeat the same thing several times in a conversation, and frequently, Snake and Raiden’s reply to a statement by another character is to repeat a word or two back at them, requesting clarification. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s a perfectly natural way to speak, but it happens ALL. THE. TIME. It really irks me, especially when the cut scenes can start to get annoying after a while and you just want to get back into the game. Yes! I know how the guns work! You’ve told me twice already! I know how they work! Let me go and use them on someone!

The Metal Gear series also brought about revolutions in gameplay. The original NES and MSX2 games pioneered the idea of stealth gameplay (Even if by all accounts MG1 on the NES did it very, VERY badly), and Metal Gear Solid One enshrined it, setting up many of the principles and mechanics that created the stealth genre. The idea was a simple one- rather than trying to kill everything between you and the goal, try sneaking past undetected. A simple notion that resulted in an (at the time) unique gameplay experience. Oh there had been stealth segments in other games, but they were typically simple things like ‘walk past the palace guard when he’s facing the other way’- little mini segments. Metal Gear of course carries this idea at its core, but in order to make a whole game out of it new elements and ideas were added, such as the noise you make while moving, dealing with security cameras, distracting guards and using the terrain to your advantage. Later games expanded on the idea even further, introducing concepts such as camouflage, and enemies who worked in groups. Throw in some action set pieces, and a big collection of guns to fight your way out of trouble if you’re spotted, and it’s a powerful, unique mixture that rewards intelligent gameplay more than twitch reflexes or brute force practise. Games like Splinter Cell and Tenchu owe a huge amount gratitude to the Metal Gear series- without it they may never have existed.

I’d like to round off this little love letter with a look at the four core games now that I’ve just played them all in turn. I’m going to talk about them in release order, as it’s interesting to see how the games evolved and changed over time, even though I played them in cannon chronological order. If I post all of these at once though, this post will be huge, so the other four will be uploaded over the next few days.

Metal Gear Solid: Tactical Espionage Action (Playstation one):
Ten years is a long time. It had been ten, long years since I played this game. I finished secondary school, I joined university, dropped out, got a job, re joined and lost my job in that time. I moved out of my parent’s house. I’ve lived in four different places since I last played this game. Popping this toy into my PS3 was like revisiting my childhood all over again. Three hours (and four bottles of booze) in, I was sitting on my beanbag, back in my folk’s house on a Saturday morning, ploughing my way through the game so I could talk about it with my friends on Monday.

Halfway through my playthough, I met my folks for lunch (I still live in the area), and mentioned I was playing through it again, the game having particular importance in my memory as I begged my mother to buy it for me after seeing a demo in the videogame shop (even that short piece, and at that age resonated with me). Sure enough, she remembered my begging, and remembered hearing about nothing from me but Metal Gear for six months. She even remembered the name of the game (a feat I don’t think she has ever accomplished with another title).

Why share this story? Because for one thing it shows the power that videogames, and the media in general have. Some people revisit their childhood by watching old cartoons. Some walk around the place they grew up. For me, Metal Gear is a game I shall always treasure as that sort of link to a simpler time in my past, and why I shall always defend it, despite its flaws.

Plus, it carries less chance of getting arrested than hanging around my old schools.

But even I have to admit that Metal Gear Solid One is showing its age. Badly. The graphics look like utter shit, but to be fair, for the PSOne they were stellar- full 3D environments, and cut scenes made using the in game engine- the first game I played to do so in a realistic way. The gameplay is still pretty solid, but compared with stealth games today, it’s insultingly basic. The genome army can’t see more than about twelve feet in front of their faces, their VR training means that they get confused and wonder off if you rush past and throw them, and their aim? Well, it’s got a lot in common with some other faceless grunts with a penchant for white.

If I had to pick a real problem with Metal Gear Solid though, it would be the fact that the hardware was not yet good enough to meet Kojima’s vision. Again, at the time, the cinematic techniques, the various shots he used and so forth were impressive, but these days a dramatic close up of man’s deformed, scarred face just looks like a set of lines on a spheroid of flesh coloured pixels- not really that different from any other character in the game. However, I fondly remember recoiling at the sight of psycho mantis’ ugly mug as the camera dramatically panned towards it.

You can grab Metal Gear Solid One on the PSN Store (although at the time of writing I can’t recommend giving them your credit card information), and if you want to be a part of this special series, then I strongly recommend you start here.

For its time, Metal Gear Solid One was a fantastic title in every respect, and the only element that really fails today are the graphics. The sound, plot and to be fair to it, even the gameplay still holds up well. Like I said, it’s showing its age, but it’s still in the competition. Take that with a pinch of salt though, after all these are the words of a Fanboy ;)

*Spoiler Free* Thoughts On Portal 2, And Some Of The Poorer Criticisms Of The Game.

I’ve just finished Portal 2 and looking around the interwebs, there seem to be a considerable amount of bullshit flying around about it. I’d like to take this chance to talk briefly about my feelings on the game, and to clear up some of the bollocks people are saying about it.

First off, it’s a good game, lacks the impact of the first (to be expected, as we will discuss below), but it’s still fun. I'd happily give it 8 out of 10, marks lost only for being very short. That said, what was present was of high quality, and I’d rather a short excellent game than a long bad one. This brings us neatly to the first allegation, that Portal 2 is only 4 hours long. This is, quite simply- wrong. It took me 6 hours on my first run through, and from what I've heard that's fairly fast. I’d imagine you might be able to trim it down to 5 if you really powered your way through and didn’t need to think, but no less than that. And that isn’t including the co op levels. I’d be lying if I said I was happy with the length, but it certainly isn’t criminal.

People are complaining about the day one DLC. Why they’re doing this eludes me. It's a purely cosmetic difference; there are no new levels, no extra content or anything like that, just some stupid gubbins for your co op character. That is not worth complaining about- if you want an example of day one DLC that is taking the piss, look at DA2. If Valve expected you to pay for new levels and so on, I’d be right there with you fanning the flames, but when it’s just a hat for your robot (that anyone with a half a brain wouldn’t shell out for anyway), is this really that big of an issue?

Allegations of porting. Even if Portal 2 is a port, the control is excellent, the graphics are strong and if it wasn't for that one message when you save, I doubt anyone would ever have known. There is nothing wrong with ports. There has never been anything wrong with ports. When something is BADLY ported, then you have something to complain about as a bad port can fuck a game up entirely. Portal 2 on PC plays fine. It’s a good port.

'Living up to expectations'- Portal 1 was a groundbreaking proof of concept game that was unlike anything that had come before (well almost. If I don’t mention Narbacular Drop, Styg will kill me). Portal 2 was never going to have that same impact as it's not entirely new. There are certainly new elements to the game, but if you're expecting to be as amazed as you were before, then you're an idiot. Go and find a new game to play, and you can be amazed all over again. There are plenty of indie titles pushing the boundaries and offering new ideas.

The ARG- Valve announced the release date of Portal 2 as April 19th. Yes, they could have released the game earlier, but instead they went with the ARG, and I for one had a blast with it. Being part of a large group working towards a common goal was a great experience, watching people piece together different pieces of the puzzle was interesting, and overall I think the entire idea was very well executed. It also accompanied a sale of games. And for those of you who didn't want to be in the ARG, as I said, you DIDN'T LOSE ANYTHING. It was announced for April 19th and it released on April 19th. The ARG was certainly a way to make money first and foremost, but it offered a potential bonus for playing, as opposed to taking something off you for not playing.

And really, if we’re talking about Portal 2 itself, should the ARG really enter into it? I suppose there’s an argument for it on both sides, but personally I feel it’s not fair to condemn a game just because you disagreed with the advertising surrounding it.

So there we go, initial thoughts on Portal 2 and the foul air that has begun to surround it. A video review will be on the way.


Evis T.

So True.

I just found this little nugget of truth while bimbling around online. If anyone knows where it came from, please let me know so I can credit accordingly.


Computer games are corrupting our kids. They are, without a doubt, the greatest threat and menace to our youth since Ozzy Osborne. Their vile, insidious tendrils have reached into the minds of millions of children the world over, molesting and twisting them with a dazzling array of dangerous precedents and ideas. Make no mistake, videogames will result in the downfall of our society by corrupting the next generation, and when the time comes for them to take their roles as a part of a society, that vile influence will spill out beyond the confines of lounges and junk food stained bedrooms. I therefore dedicate this piece to exploring some of the more dangerous and deadly aspects of video gaming, and the horrible insanity it can, and will visit upon you, your children, and our culture as a whole.

1. Violence.
All videogames, and I mean every single one of them, are violent, blood soaked gore fests. They show violence in a sickening, three dimensional, pixel perfect, 100% anatomically accurate way. As if the presence of these images corrupting our children was not bad enough, every videogame also encourages violent thought, rewarding your child for their feats of murder and carnage. Even fantasy games like ‘Deus Ex’ have a cast of characters constantly exhorting your child to greater and greater acts of violence, with no thought to innocent life or the role of the character they are controlling.

Games like ‘Bulletstorm’ accurately depict the horrors and brutality of warfare with complete, total accuracy, and yet unlike hundreds of films and movies which treat people getting injured and maimed with respect, like the critically acclaimed Die Hard movies, Bulletstorm trivialises human suffering by awarding the player points for gruesome kills. Many games also use snappy one liners, adding humour to what should be a very serious example of pain and suffering.

Unlike in films, our children are not taught that this violence is unacceptable, they are taught it is a source of entertainment. If this is not the most all pervasive example of the trivialization and glorification of human suffering that has ever been shown on a TV screen, well, then gosh by darn, I am not a patriotic Antractican.

2. Dangerous ideology.
I know you are still reeling from the shock and horror that your little progeny is being actively encouraged to kill and steal, but believe me when I say that the violence inherent in videogames is the least of your worries. The true danger, the threat to society comes from a secretive cabal of videogames, a little known genre known by the seemingly innocuous name of RPGs.

Of course, it is no coincidence that ‘Role Playing Game’ shares an acronym with ‘Rocket Propelled Grenade’- as these deadly weapons- which have never been depicted inaccurately before, can be found in every single video game, reinforcing the idea that your child can use them to create a huge amount of damage.

But the insidious nature of these ‘Role Playing Games’ is far less obvious than that blatant attempt to instil the idea of explosives in our children.

RPGs have their roots in the now infamous ‘Pen and Paper Role Playing Games’, a hobby which has never been outlawed owing to the corrupt, wet handed politics of the liberal agenda. Research has shown conclusively that these games cause great mental distress and pain to those who play them*, and break down a person’s ability to comprehend reality and fantasy far more thoroughly than any drug, even including that dreaded, silent killer, bane of inner city slums and tenements the world over- the most dangerous drug in the world- Cannabis. This concept was fully explored in the cinematic master piece, ‘Mazes and Monsters’, which was sadly based on a true story.

*It’s true. Just ask any GM who ever tried to plan a session in detail.

Thousands of people lost their lives to ‘Pen and Paper RPGs’, and thousands more died as innocent victims- murdered by frenzied young men and women who thought they were Gnomish Barbarians.

The spirit of these games has now reached the all encompassing medium of the videogame, and their ability to distort and destroy a person’s perceptions of reality remain as strong as ever- stronger even thanks to hyper realistic, perfectly executed graphics that show your children women’s cleavage in absolute, perfect anatomical detail. These games are porn for your children.

But without a doubt, the most dangerous part of these RPGs lays in the ‘story’ and ‘moral’. As callous as it may make me sound, a murderer can only harm so many people. RPGs will result in the break down and destruction of our society as many of them, such as the horrifically titled ‘Dragon Age: Origins’ (The dragon eluding at the same time to children’s fairy tales as well as scenes of violence and gore, corrupting the wholesome, Christian bed time stories you read them), depict a society with elements drawn from our own. This would be merely insulting, where it not for the fact that the game then proceeds to give your child the option to disregard our norms and values, and pursue their own moral code, making decisions and challenging the way that the society thinks. And as we know, anything that children see in a videogame, they are 100% certain to copy in real life, meaning that your child may start to question why they should obey certain laws and norms, and undermine the authority of our leaders by challenging their decisions and demanding they justify them.

Your child may even answer you back.

What happens when such a mindset inevitably acquires a position of power? It will make all the liberals in the world pale in comparison as they demand change, as they act on their own interpretation of situations instead of following the rules and instructions which keep us in an ordered society. There will be anarchy, chaos and destruction the world over.

We should be fighting all the way to ban this terrible menace to our society, before the culture we know and love becomes a phantom.

3. Videogames make your child stupid and introvert.

As a good, productive member of society, you know that the most handsome, popular and intelligent people all play sports for recreation. Research has shown conclusively that people who play sports are 100% more likely to get better jobs, earn more money and be more successful in life than people who play with computers. Sports heroes built our great culture and everything in it- no one who enjoys videogames and computers ever achieved anything worthy of note in our society.

This is because videogames make your child stupid.

Game series like Battlefield, Gears of War and Team Fortress are often said to improve a person’s ability to work in a team, as players who work together are far more effective. But as a good, well informed citizen, you know that simply clicking a mouse and jabbing a keyboard, or playing with one of those little game pad thingies (which encourages masturbation), simply doesn’t create a team. You are not working together unless you can see the person and interact with them directly. Science has proven this. If the team activity doesn’t involve balls (real balls mind you, not ‘digital’ balls or ‘virtual’ balls), then it is not conducive to working in a team. These games have no balls.

And then, even worse there are some ‘gamers’ (not the pronunciation of this is gay-mers, thus encouraging your child to make the choice to be homosexual and turn their back on God’s great teachings), who claim that ‘single player’ games (playing with yourself, again eluding to masturbation) can also be good for the mind! They hold up games like ‘Portal’ and ‘The Ball’, and claim that their puzzle orientated nature encourages three dimensional thinking and problem solving, providing intellectual stimulation and reward. Of course, these puzzles are tackled maybe once every hour in between your child murdering whole families of innocents. Portal 2 for example, has your child playing as a mercenary, killing people in Africa (most of who are black, clearly encouraging racist behaviour which is not acceptable when so overt).

This is of course, complete tosh. We all know that the only way to improve your mental agility is to read books, spend thousands on your education and to do the cross word in the Daily Mail. Science has proven 100% that these things improve brain power, so if 100% of brain power comes from them, how can anything else make you smarter? Videogames will make your child more stupider as they waste time that could be spent learning on pointless videogames.

4. These games are aimed at your child.

In our great, perfect, flawless culture, the paragon of virtue that has never started an unjust war, never encouraged or abided persecution, or venerated hypocrisy, we occasionally create media that is unsuitable for children. The reasons for this vary, they may deal with adult themes, such as wooing a prospective lover, courting them, getting married and then hint at the possibility of strictly missionary, purely reproductive sex, or contain subtext that would drive a child mad with its complexity (such as Tommy Wiseau’s operatic masterpiece, ‘The Room’).

Understand that we have a rating system which ensures that children do not experience these things which look at reality. And now be aware that no such system exists for the evils of Videogames. Oh your child may be stopped from buying the latest Hellraiser on Blu-Ray, but there is nothing to stop your child from purchasing a copy of the gore drenched game ‘Mortal Kombat’ (Note the use of the K instead of the C, an example of gamers subverting language to their own ends, just like in the novel ‘1984’).

There can be no greater testament to the sick people who create these videogames that they would make a media form that allows children to skin their victims, or saw them up with a chainsaw. I have never Saw such violence anywhere else.

And remember- Videogames are for children, only children play them. An age certification shouldn’t be needed for them, and we should look at the Australian model as a shining example of how Videogames should be managed. 100% of all videogames in Australia are totally free of gore and violence, meaning they are suitable for their audience (or at least as suitable as this menace can be), and thus no controls over who can buy them are required.

5. Conclusions.
So, thank you for staying with me through this piece, I can appreciate that it was very long, but now you are far better educated about this dangerous threat, thanks to me- someone who knows more about this than you. I’ve never played a videogame in my life, so I’m free of their corruption, and thus able to look at them completely objectively, making me the only reliable source you have. Remember, keep your child safe from this menace- destroy all videogames today!

I'd intended to post this on April 1st, but sadly I've been too ill. I hope you enjoyed it anyway.
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