Increasingly all through the years, video video games have been rising as a stronger and extra environment friendly medium of storytelling, and whereas there are a number of video games that may be credited for making necessary strides in that respect, the one identify that involves thoughts greater than most is Metallic Gear Strong. Within the final decade or so, franchises comparable to Mass Impact, Uncharted, The Final of Us, and The Witcher have all made vital contributions to video video games as a storytelling medium, however Metallic Gear Strong is, for the shortage of a greater time period, their massive boss.
Even when nobody cared about tales of their video games, even when the requirements for a very good narrative on this business have been ridiculously low, the Metallic Gear video games have been doing issues with their cinematic cutscenes and their elaborate narratives that only a few different video games have been. For many years, now, Metallic Gear Strong has been one of many pillars that this business’s would-be storytellers have stood on, and for that, the collection, and the individuals behind it, merely can’t be lauded sufficient.
This text accommodates spoilers for the Metallic Gear Strong collection.
“For many years, now, Metallic Gear Strong has been one of many pillars that this business’s would-be storytellers have stood on, and for that, the collection, and the individuals behind it, merely can’t be lauded sufficient.”
Like all issues, although, Metallic Gear Strong isn’t perfect- removed from it. We at GamingBolt completely love this collection – and we’ve clearly made no makes an attempt to cover that – however there are some issues that it has executed through the years that hassle me immensely. And positive, whereas we will level to single, remoted examples whereas talking of this matter – such because the unfinished nature of The Phantom Ache, for example – the one factor that bothers me greater than most is the sudden and large shift we noticed within the franchise’s story and storytelling after Metallic Gear Strong three: Snake Eater.
And it really is an enormous shift- in additional methods than only one. It’s a shift in fashion, a shift in tone, a shift in themes, a shift in focus, and most significantly, a shift in high quality. As any fan of the collection would inform you, the road between every little thing earlier than Metallic Gear Strong three and all the things after it’s ridiculously plain to see- it’s virtually like somebody flipped a change. That’s to not say, in fact, that the collection completely went downhill after Snake Eater- truthfully, there have been elements of Peace Walker, Weapons of the Patriots, and even The Phantom Ache that have been simply unimaginable, and rank among the many greatest moments in your complete collection. However regardless of these extremely excessive highs, there’s one factor concerning the Metallic Gear Strong collection’ narrative and storytelling that can’t be disputed- that there’s earlier than Snake Eater, and there’s after Snake Eater.
One thing that illustrates that time completely is how after Metallic Gear Strong three, the collection started to virtually journey over itself to clarify stuff that, truthfully, didn’t actually need explaining. I imply, it wanted explaining in that it was unexplained, however it wasn’t just like the story simply couldn’t work with out these explanations. Metallic Gear Strong 1, 2, and three have been filled with quirky, bizarre stuff at each flip, supernatural story parts that lent an unimaginable sense of character to the story, each within the minute particulars and from a bigger perspective. The supernatural talents of the Cobra Unit, the immortality of Vamp, the unearthly powers of Fortune, the telekinesis of Psycho Mantis- these have been all issues that have been past the realm of risk, however these weren’t issues that anybody felt completely wanted to be defined. Nobody ever checked out them and went- “you know what? This doesn’t work. They really need to explain this.”
“There’s one factor concerning the Metallic Gear Strong collection’ narrative and storytelling that can’t be disputed- that there’s earlier than Snake Eater, and there’s after Snake Eater.”
Why? Nicely, as a result of up till a sure time limit, Metallic Gear Strong was a collection that was characterised by these fantastical, supernatural characters and story parts. These have been issues we simply anticipated and had grown accustomed to, and as such, didn’t actually need explanations for. After Metallic Gear Strong three, although, that changed- with Metallic Gear Strong four got here got here a newfound concentrate on authenticity, a want of being comparatively extra grounded in actuality, and to realize that, the collection would are likely to over-explain itself, typically even retroactively. An admirable notion, to make certain, however the outcomes have been far much less so. As a result of, in fact, this led to the delivery of the last word deus ex machina, the one everyone knows as “nanomachines”, a plot system so laughably ridiculous that it shortly grew right into a meme that even the franchise itself would go on to make enjoyable of in Metallic Gear Rising.
As a result of that strategy, in any case, simply wasn’t what Metallic Gear Strong wanted, and even needed. We didn’t have to understand how the loopy vampire might survive being shot within the head a number of occasions, or how the tragic lady might deflect bullets. And even when we did – I’m positive tens of millions might have been interested by why these issues occurred (I used to be too) – the collection merely wanted to do a a lot better job. Merely explaining every part away with “nanomachines, duh” simply didn’t work. Admittedly, although, we do should commend the collection’ want to tie up any and all lose ends as its story reached its conclusion- it’s uncommon, in any case, for a franchise in any medium, a lot much less in video video games, to care that a lot and that deeply about its story. However significantly, that’s all that may be stated about these efforts, as a result of what they led to, sadly, was simply less than expectations.
Within the aftermath of Metallic Gear Strong four additionally got here inconsistencies, huge and small. In video games like Peace Walker and The Phantom Ache, as an example, you possibly can see know-how that merely doesn’t exist in earlier video games, that are set years after these two. How does it make sense that folks within the 1970s and 1980s are making use of supremely superior know-how, that by some means doesn’t exist within the 21st century? It doesn’t, in fact. And positive, some may argue that that may be a main nitpick fairly than an precise inconsistency in storytelling- this medium is understood for its ludonarrative dissonance, and to single out simply Metallic Gear Strong might sound just a little unfair, even when the collection does declare to have larger requirements for storytelling than most different video games.
“With Metallic Gear Strong four got here got here a newfound give attention to authenticity, a want of being comparatively extra grounded in actuality, and to realize that, the collection tried to elucidate issues, typically even retroactively, by way of science. An admirable notion, to make certain, however the outcomes have been far much less so.”
The one factor that merely can’t be defended or defined away, although, is the mom of all retcons. You all know what I’m speaking about- the notorious twist on the finish of The Phantom Ache. The reveal that the man we spent the complete recreation enjoying as – Venom Snake – was not the actual Huge Boss. He was only a physique double- actually simply “some guy”. And I’ll be trustworthy right here, I’m one of many few individuals who can, on some degree, perceive what Kojima was making an attempt to perform with the ending. The message that Huge Boss’ fall from grace was not some horrific act of terrorism, however somewhat a repulsive betrayal of a few of his most trusted advisors, is sweet drama- nevertheless it’s solely good drama whether it is executed correctly.
The ultimate twist of The Phantom Ache is one that may be made to sound extraordinarily cool, prefer it makes good sense inside the context of the series- and once I wrote GamingBolt’s Story So Far collection for the Metallic Gear video games, that’s precisely what I did. However whereas on paper it does sound cool, there are simply so many causes that ending doesn’t work. Even when we put aside the truth that the sport did not correctly present us how this character become the warmongering terrorist that later video games within the chronology would painting him as, the twist on the finish nonetheless disappoints on so many different ranges.
For one, it destroys the legend and character of Massive Boss. Kind of all of the stuff that we used to attribute to the legendary Massive Boss – which is principally the whole lot after Snake Eater and every part earlier than the unique Metallic Gear – was truly completed by simply “some guy”. Aside from Bare Snake’s exploits in Snake Eater and him establishing MSF and preventing off Scorching Coldman in Peace Walker, the whole lot else of worth ever executed by Massive Boss was truly executed by Venom Snake- aside from Zanzibar Land, I assume. And such a betrayal of what’s the franchise’s most essential character feels inconsistent. It feels sudden, it feels unearned.
“The message that Huge Boss’ fall from grace was not some horrific act of terrorism, however somewhat a repulsive betrayal of a few of his most trusted advisors, is sweet drama- nevertheless it’s solely good drama whether it is executed correctly.”
In Metallic Gear Strong 2, the truth that you spent nearly all of the sport enjoying as Raiden as an alternative of Strong Snake labored. Positive, individuals cried foul about it again within the day, however if you actually get right down to it, it was executed rather well. As a result of Raiden was an precise character, an individual together with his personal story, his personal arc, his personal strengths and weaknesses. Even for those who felt he was too annoying or too whiny, you continue to felt one thing about him. Whether or not your emotions towards him have been constructive or unfavorable didn’t matter, as a result of a method or one other, you nonetheless cared at the least just a little bit. Why? As a result of he was his personal person- this, by the way, was additionally a serious theme within the recreation, and this very theme was additionally used fairly closely in The Phantom Ache as nicely. Within the Operation Intrude tape that Massive Boss sends to Venom Snake, he claims that he’s his personal individual, simply how Strong Snake stated that to Raiden on the finish of Sons of Liberty.
However in contrast to Strong Snake’s proclamation, Huge Boss’ message simply doesn’t work. It doesn’t resonate with the participant, as a result of whereas the sport claims that Venom Snake is his personal individual, he actually isn’t. His very level was that he was an avatar for the player- he had no character, he was an empty husk, we as gamers had no funding in him as an individual in any way. Whereas each Metallic Gear Strong 2 and 5 made the identical claims to validate the existence of their unconventional protagonists, the previous, in contrast to the latter, was truly capable of again that up by being true to these claims, all the best way from begin to end.
There was additionally the truth that for the whole thing of Sons of Liberty, Strong Snake might not have been a playable character, however he was nonetheless proper there with you, as an integral a part of the story, and as an precise, outstanding presence. The truth that you would view him from the surface as this legendary hero truly helped you agree into the position of Raiden, an individual who was simply as enamoured with Strong Snake as we, the gamers have been. If nothing else, we might relate to him at the very least on that elementary level- in easy phrases, that was simply good writing.
“Whereas each Metallic Gear Strong 2 and 5 made the identical claims to validate the existence of their unconventional protagonists, the previous, in contrast to the latter, was truly capable of again that up by being true to these claims, all the best way from begin to end.”
So the query now, in fact, is this- what modified? What modified after Metallic Gear Strong three? What the hell occurred to mark such a sudden and noticeable shift within the type and high quality of writing and storytelling for the collection? Properly, the best way I (and lots of different Metallic Gear followers) see it, there are primarily two main causes for this drop in high quality. The primary cause, and probably the extra pertinent one, has to do with a person named Tomokazu Fukushima. Followers of the Metallic Gear collection are in all probability conversant in this identify already, however simply in case you don’t know who he’s, Fukushima was, together with Hideo Kojima, the co-writer of a number of video games within the collection. He was integral to constructing the story of Metallic Gear, and lots of really feel that, after Kojima himself, Fukushima has in all probability made the most important and most essential contributions to your complete collection. Properly, perhaps alongside David Hayter (the voice of Snake up till Metallic Gear Strong V), however that’s one other dialogue solely.
Fukushima was the co-writer of each Metallic Gear Strong recreation up till Metallic Gear Strong three, and halfway by means of Weapons of the Patriots, he left Kojima Productions. Primarily, Weapons of the Patriots, Peace Walker, and The Phantom Ache are lacking the Fukushima affect that’s so obvious of their predecessors. That’s no coincidence. As a result of Fukushima was, in some ways, virtually as very important to the collection as Kojima himself. Okay, perhaps not as very important, however his presence was definitely of utmost significance.
As a result of whereas Kojima is the nexus of the whole lot within the collection, it’s Fukushima who almost definitely used to provide all of it form. Kojima got here up with all these loopy ideas, and Fukushima probably gave them definition, form, and type. Kojima is a genius, there isn’t any doubting that a lot, however like each genius, Kojima additionally wants somebody or one thing to carry him again from delving too deeply into crazyland. Fukushima was, in some ways, maybe the one who tethered Kojima to writing and storytelling that made sense. He was maybe the person who made sense out of Kojima’s craziness, the person who took his formidable concepts and made them work. That a lot is clear in how the identical concepts simply didn’t appear to work as nicely after Snake Eater. Metallic Gear Strong 1, 2, and three confirmed the type of restraint that solely a very good editor like Fukushima might instil, and it’s obvious from the precise reverse lack of restraint within the video games that adopted simply how a lot of an impression Fukushima’s efforts to maintain Kojima’s ingenious craziness on the straight and slender had on the collection.
“Metallic Gear Strong 1, 2, and three confirmed the sort of restraint that solely a superb editor like Fukushima might instil, and it’s obvious from the precise reverse lack of restraint within the video games that adopted simply how a lot of an impression Fukushima’s efforts to maintain Kojima’s ingenious craziness on the straight and slender had on the collection.”
And then there’s the second purpose, which, maybe, was much more detrimental to the collection than Fukushima’s departure might have been- the truth that after Metallic Gear Strong three, Kojima simply didn’t need to make any extra Metallic Gear video games. He was fatigued, he was drained, he needed to check out new issues, however for some purpose or the opposite, he one way or the other discovered himself being pressured to repeatedly come again, many times, to make but one other Metallic Gear sequel. Metallic Gear Strong three was imagined to be the final recreation within the franchise, and although Metallic Gear Strong 2 left many mysteries unsolved and lots of questions unanswered, in Kojima’s unique imaginative and prescient, that was precisely what he had meant. He had no intention of answering these questions, or fixing these mysteries.
And but, he was pressured into coming again for Metallic Gear Strong four to complete up Strong Snake’s story, after which to return again for Peace Walker, after which The Phantom Ache. Every recreation was, for him, primarily one thing he had to do, not one thing he needed to do, and one thing like that’s sure to have a unfavorable influence on any artistic course of. Perhaps the one means he might attempt new issues was to place them into Metallic Gear, and finally, perhaps he ended up doing simply that on a number of events even when it didn’t make sense for that franchise. And actually, after a sure level, can we actually blame him for that? Regardless of all his efforts, Metallic Gear Strong was, for the longest time, his solely artistic outlet. If he needed to check out new issues and experiment with stuff, he had no selection however to do it with Metallic Gear, whether or not it was a match for the collection or not. As a author and a storyteller, followers of the collection anticipated him to watch out about that degree of consistency, however from some perspective, it’s arduous to not sympathize with him. He did, in truth, on a number of events even obtain demise threats from individuals when at occasions it seemed like he might not make a brand new recreation within the collection. Creating a recreation underneath such a unfavorable cloud has to have an opposed have an effect on on your complete course of. The truth that Kojima and his workforce have been nonetheless capable of make such wonderful video games regardless of all that is, to be frank, slightly shocking.
None of that is to say that every little thing after Metallic Gear Strong three was pure trash, in fact. I strongly really feel that Peace Walker’s story is among the many greatest within the collection, and nobody would argue that most of the franchise’s most memorable moments come from video games after Snake Eater– the RAY vs REX battle; the return to Shadow Moses; the story of Paz, one of the fascinating characters within the collection; the destiny of Huey Emmerich, a person as despicable as his son was loveable. Clearly, even after Metallic Gear Strong three, the collection didn’t lose its penchant for the spectacular. It simply turned wildly inconsistent. Was it due to Fukushima’s departure? Maybe. Was it due to Kojima’s unwillingness to work on the video games in query? In all probability.
“Kojima was fatigued, he was drained, he needed to check out new issues, however for some cause or the opposite, he one way or the other discovered himself being pressured to repeatedly come again, many times, to make but one other Metallic Gear sequel.”
However in fact, that’s not the case. Hideo Kojima has damaged freed from the chains that sure him to Metallic Gear. It might have been on account of acrimonious circumstances (to say the least), however Kojima is not at Konami, and his artistic genius is now unshackled. He’s now, for the primary time in additional than a decade, making a recreation that he needs to make, not one which he has to, and the truth that a thoughts as sensible as his is engaged on one thing that it really cares about, and is captivated with, is extremely thrilling, to say the least. With Demise Stranding, Kojima is ranging from scratch, and he can actually take it wherever he needs to, do with it no matter he pleases, and that type of artistic freedom for a person as completed and succesful as Hideo Kojima is a strong weapon certainly.
Ought to we be apprehensive that with out an editor as expert as Fukushima, Kojima may fall into the identical traps that he did with MGS4, Peace Walker, and The Phantom Ache? Properly, to be utterly trustworthy, it’s solely attainable. Hideo Kojima has, in any case, been recognized to exert slightly too a lot artistic management over his tasks, and typically the person simply doesn’t know what’s good for the story and what’s dangerous. To say that Kojima can, at occasions, take issues a bit too far can be an enormous understatement. However then once more, that is in all probability one thing Kojima has been eager to do for an extended, very long time, and we’re positive that this story has been sitting in his mind for years- stewing, and rising, and altering.
There’s trigger for concern, sure, however there’s trigger for concern with actually each single upcoming online game. If something, Kojima’s wonderful monitor report during the last 20 years (or extra) must be a reassurance. A reassurance that even when, with Dying Stranding, he doesn’t ship an excellent story (which he very properly may, thoughts you), he’ll at the least ship a superb recreation. If nothing else, that’s one thing to look ahead to.
Notice: The views expressed on this article are these of the writer and don’t essentially characterize the views of, and shouldn’t be attributed to, GamingBolt as a corporation.
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