The lights are on
Veteran Member - Level 11
I have to
admit, sometimes I feel like a hack. No, it's not because I will compare Beyond
Good & Evil to the wars in the Middle East. I love talking about video games, and if it
goes into territory of interpretation of political messages- I'm game. I feel
like a hack sometimes because of the huge amount of important games I've never
played. I simply haven't been around the block enough times to play all the
games I should. Slowly, through the miracles of the Internet, I'm cutting down
on my backlog. This feeling of ineptitude and self-doubt prompted me to finally
play Hideo Kojima's Playstation One classic Metal Gear Solid.
Have you ever... loved someone?
Solid Snake: That's what you came to ask?
Otacon: No, I was wondering if even soldiers fall in love.
Solid Snake: What are you trying to say?
Otacon: I want to ask you. Do you think love can bloom even on a battlefield?
Solid Snake: Yeah. I do. I think at any time, any place, people can fall in
love with each other. But if you love someone, you have to be able to protect them."
Solid's story is a Westernized, military-spy-thriller romp fit for
popcorn consumption and emphatic bro-high-fives. It's the sort of affair that,
in any other medium, would be best enjoyed with friends and drinks (alcoholic
and otherwise.) The game is both a campy adventure with a roster of characters
that are referred to only by ***-sounding code names (Solid Snake, Psycho
Mantis, Revolver Ocelot) and a somewhat long-winded indictment of America's military actions and
Ocelot: We live in a sad age. Imperialism, totalitarianism, perestroika... 20th
century Russia had its share of
problems, but at least they had an ideology. Russia today has
Humans are social creatures. Generally
speaking, we don't do well without each other. Metal Gear Solid recognizes this fact and plays on it to
emotionally attach you in ways that you wouldn't expect- if you let it.
The main method of communication you have with the outside
world on your one-man-Alaskan mission is a device called a Codec. This Codec
(tuned to the frequency of your eardrum) is a source of communication between
yourself and your allies. From a mechanical standpoint, the Codec is
handy in that it opens up windows that otherwise wouldn't be open (for example,
you can get information you might not know about your mission). However, it is
not a purely mechanical part of the game.
You see, the people on the other end of
the Codec aren't cold and heartless military bastards with crewcuts and cigars
constantly being crunched.. They aren't as shallow as you might expect from talking heads in a video game. For example the tech
girl, Mei Ling, makes a habit of
inundating you with information ranging from Chinese proverbs to Shakespearean
quotations when you call her. She explains to you in one scene her dreams of
being a pilot; dreams that were crushed by a hesitance to kill and poor
eyesight. Your commander, Campbell, provides necessary information and support
when things get hairy. In a game defined by long-windedness, the brief
characterizations of your accomplices are refreshingly concise.
Gear Solid makes you
want to care about fulfilling your mission. Your compadres on the other end of the Codec constantly
remind you of your importance, your indispensability. You are able to learn
more about your allies, if you want to. They aren't just talking heads- they
are people, people who care about what happens to you.
Metal Gear Solid was a revolutionary game both from a
gameplay and storytelling perspective. However, I have the unique (and not
entirely pristine) perspective of playing MGS after it revolutionized
storytelling in polygonal games. What really stands out to me is the focus the
game puts on interpersonal relationships with coadjutors, and the fact that
unlike every other focus the game seems to have, it doesn't beat you
over the head with it's existence. I wish more games focused on side
character's actual character, not just their gameplay functions.
(This article was originally posted on http://thearmchairnerd.blogspot.com/
You can follow the blog there, and I'd be really happy if you did.)