We look at what it did right
©2011 Nicholas Laborde
It’s been over two and a half years since we experienced the end of Solid Snake‘s tale and what would become the true “end” of the series to the dedicated global fanbase.
Snake gave his final salute at the end of Metal Gear Solid 4, and to longtime fans of the series (including the MSX versions) it was one of the most powerful and perhaps emotional moments this generation of gaming.
Here we have a hero that not only came to define the PlayStation platform as we know it, but also ushered in the mainstream version of the stealth genre; unfortunately now he’s out of our lives forever.
While there will obviously be more entries in the Metal Gear Series, they ultimately will not matter as much as the original series. Kojima-san has (after nearly a dozen years) officially moved on to greener pastures, but the Konami Team is still intact.
Raiden… is a subject of his own. While MGS2 was only extremely okay because of his presence, he did however somewhat redeem himself in MGS4. In my opinion, Rising isn’t even MGS-material. But we’ll tackle that later on.
What I’d like to do is pose a question to you: what exactly did Metal Gear Solid [as a series] do that was just so captivating for you?
A Case of
The original title is most definitely one of the last hits of the late 90′s that it so successfully came to define the decade it started and ended in.
What started out as a simple reconnaissance mission quickly transformed into saving the world from an all-out nuclear conflict. Not only were the odds against Snake from the start, but some of the biggest freaks of nature stood in his way..
These crazies came to be one of the most talked-about aspects of the title, apart from the excellent score and story of course. These weren’t your traditional boss encounters either.
How many times have you had to switch your controller to the second port in order to defeat a boss? Unique confrontations like that of Psycho Mantis came to be a staple feature of the franchise, and in doing so, set a new standard for how the boss fight of the future should be handled. (We sure could use more of Kojima-san’s creativity flair these days…)
Variety is The Spice of Life
The end appeared to simply be the end, and no more games would be made (even though the credits teased otherwise). Kojima himself said it would be his last game.
… and then Metal Gear Solid 2 was announced.
Here, we begin to see the fundamental reason why I believe the Metal Gear Solid series is the essence of perfection: every single game was made as if it was going to be the last.
Typically, when you are designing the final iteration of ANYTHING, you’re going to give it your all and completely blow people away. And that’s precisely what Hideo Kojima and his team did, four different times.
It started off yet again with a mysterious opening of our famed hero Solid Snake, this time infiltrating a tanker. After a short opening sequence, though, Snake “dies” after Revolver Ocelot (now under the control of Liquid via his new arm) sinks the tanker.
We then see that the sequence was a flashback, and we don a new protagonist: Raiden. This exact point is where nearly everyone cried foul; Solid Snake MADE the original title, and now we’re playing as someone completely different?!
And not only that, but he just seems like a highly unlikeable fellow as well.
Before I start to rant on about Raiden, I will not deny that Metal Gear Solid 2 was a brilliant title. The story, antagonists, boss fights, gameplay, cinematics, voice acting and score all succeeded the original in every way.
But the major flaw was Raiden. He simply wasn’t that likable of a character, at least to me. What primarily made me annoyed with him was his apparent incompetence. He never knew what he was doing or how to do it, and nearly every time he got a new order he asks for it to be repeated.
And of course, he lacked the amazing vocal talent of Mr. David Hayter. That alone makes the game seemingly strive for a standard lower than the one set by the original.
If you get past Raiden (like we all had to do eventually), the title presented yet another confounded story from Kojima that really got you thinking.
• Metal Gear Slideshow
The themes of political conspiracies and artificial intelligence often spawned much discussion; but this wasn’t just a result of Kojima abusing some type of substance during writing.
Each title in the series was influenced by what Kojima thought were issues soon to be existent, or even happening when the game was being made. The 90s were the post-Cold War era, so the ideas of unknown nuclear devices were perfectly fitting for the first title.
Third Time’s A Charm
Once again, the game was announced to be the final title of the series…
On November 17, 2004, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater hit North American shelves to much acclaim, although the predecessor holds overall higher scores.
Gone were the days of stealthily infiltrating and traversing foreign facilities. Presented to the players was a large jungle set during the Cold War.
We didn’t get Snake like we wanted, but we got something just as good: Big Boss, or Naked Snake. Considering they technically are the same exact person (I won’t go into that ridiculous story aspect), fans were extremely overjoyed that we got another “true title.”
Big Boss was on a simple mission to recover a scientist, Sokolov.
But, as with any overarching story that involves ridiculous amounts of political conspiracies and nuclear warheads, it went wrong.
Boss’s mentor, The Boss, intercepted him and injured him greatly. A week later, he was reinserted into the jungle with the same objective.
What played out was my favorite title of the last generation, and definitely one of my favorite games of all time.
Originally planned as a title for the PlayStation 3, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater pushed the limits of what the PlayStation 2 was capable of. The jungle was huge and vastly detailed.
Trees swayed in the wind. Grass moved as you moved through it. Water was extremely reactive. Facial animations were extremely detailed.
The title was simply beautiful, and still holds up to this day (as I am doing my first playthrough since 2004, it still holds up).
Metal Gear Solid 3 was the absolute peak of the series, and it showed that through its evolutions in storytelling. You may recall the fact that a forty-five minute cinematic exists within the game.
What they didn’t understand, though, is that the series contains some of the best writing we’ll ever see in a video game. That forty-five minute cinematic was the epitome of storytelling, and no other segment of a game can compare.
Metal Gear Solid 3 told a tale that Hollywood wished it could produce.
The final part of Metal Gear Solid 3 still remains as my favorite moment in interactive entertainment.
You’re Pretty Good!
Metal Gear Solid 3 had to be the end. It was the third game Kojima said would be the final one, and we all know in the game industry, everything works in threes.
Except for Hideo Kojima.
The game is set in 2014, five years after the events of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. The game was essentially a statement on war and the economy that revolves around it.
Liquid Ocelot is preparing to hijack the system that controls the nanomachines inside of all these soldiers (the Sons of the Patriots system), and Solid Snake (now known as Old Snake due to the repercussions of FoxDie) accepts an order from the Colonel to terminate Liquid once and for all.
The story is one of the best around. What many people do not grasp about this title in the series, though, is that its main purpose was to tie up loose ends, and nothing more. This was THE final Metal Gear title by Kojima, and he was going to make sure his story made sense (although he has admitted to not understanding it).
MGS4 has several instances of cinematics that run well over an hour, and the entire ending sequence is roughly three. It’s truly an interactive movie in every sense.
While not quite tapping the emotions like that of MGS3, MGS4 managed to tie up the tale of a soldier that devoted his entire life to his country.
A soldier that saved the world, and people will never know.
A soldier that was more of a soldier than anyone else.
While not EVERY end was tied up in Metal Gear Solid 4, it did a god job of officially putting Snake to his long-needed rest
The Future Comes One Day At A Time
The focus of this article was of the main iterations of the Metal Gear Solid franchise. Although other games were made (such as Peace Walker) that were continuations or side stories, these titles discussed today were of the main series.
What separated Metal Gear from other titles was the fact that it dared to be different. The original MSX Metal Gear shipped with the subtitle “Stealth is important too!” The series also took a gamble by introducing an extremely deep and complex storyline that would enthrall gamers of all ages.
Combine that with some of the best music in the industry and one of the best voice actors available, and you’ve got quite a recipe for success.
The entire main series contains some of the most memorable events in gaming, and they will likely remain that way for as long as video games exist.
The next title by Kojima Productions (not directed by Kojima himself) is Metal Gear Solid: Rising, featuring the return of Raiden as the protagonist. It takes place between the events of MGS3 and 4 and will be much more of an action-centered game, as the title is selling itself based upon the intensely realistic cutting physics.
The only other hint of Kojima working on another Metal Gear title was during the NGP press reveal, where he demonstrated Metal Gear Solid 4 and the possibility of playing it on your PS3 then moving it onto your NGP to continue where you left off.
I extend my salute to Hideo Kojima for breaking the boundaries of innovation and setting the standard of interactive entertainment.
If there were ever an equivalent of Homer for the gaming industry, Kojima would be darn well close.
©2011 Nicholas Laborde
Filed under: Console gaming, Editorial, Game Impressions, GameBanter, Xbox 360 Tagged: | Boss's mentor, Hideo Kojima, Hideo Kojima san, Kojima, Kojima Productions, Kojima san, Konami, List of characters in the Metal Gear series, Metal Gear, Metal Gear Solid, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Metal Gear Solid 3, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, Metal Gear Solid franchise, MGS3, MGS4, MSX, Naked Snake, Raiden, Sokolov, Solid Snake, Sons of the Patriots