Tag Archives: Metal Gear Solid

A Thinker’s Guide to Metal Gear Part 8: Ground Zeroes

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Have you ever heard of the Geneva Conventions? According to the Peace Pledge Union Project website, the conventions are rules and guidelines governing medical and humane treatment of soldiers during battle. Looking specifically at the third convention, relating to how prisoners of war should be treated, one would think that war could be painted with a decent color. But think about it: if you’re in a war, and you capture someone ripe with information and value, would you really treat them decently to get what you need? Do those laws, made by men a long time ago and far away, really matter in the face of what you feel needs to be done? A player can answer that question for themselves after playing Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes. Hideo Kojima takes a dark turn down the road of the non-fighting side of war in his prologue to the next great tale of Big Boss. (Don’t read any further if you want to avoid spoilers, please.)

In Ground Zeroes, the player picks up where we last left Big Boss, dealing with the repercussions of starting his own militarized state and having a spy within his midst. After receiving intel that this spy, Paz, has turned up alive in an American-owned top secret site in Cuba, Big Boss goes in to retrieve her, with the hope of gaining knowledge on the doings of the mysterious Cipher, who MGS fans know to be a familiar character. What Big Boss finds in this camp is the harsh mistreatment, torture and emotional damage of prisoners both known and unknown, and the game serves as a fitting prologue to what could be Kojima’s best work yet.

prisonersTaking a walk through the camp, the player finds all sorts of disturbing things. First, the whole base is not officially owned by Cuba nor America, so the soldiers only follow orders from whoever is talking in the camp, so it seems. The view of the prisoners are much worse. Men in cages like dogs, sitting in the pouring rain with black bags over their heads. A boy lies in the mud, steel bolts driven through his Achilles heels to prevent him from walking. Prisoners crying, begging to be taken away or killed. That’s just what we see. Audio tapes picked up during the campaign tell even worse stories of rape and torture, rare territory that few games step foot in. In such a small map, so many dishonorable things happen that can disturb a tenured soul.

When it comes to prisoner camps in the real world, one of the well-known locations is the now ceased Guantanamo Bay. President Obama shut down the camp within his first term, and the news storm was strong and thorough. Many people wanted answers for how prisoners of the Iraq War were treated in the camp. One of the main concerns people had was that if prisoners were treated bad on American soil, how were they treated across the ocean, away from committees and prying eyes. Honestly, it’s pretty hard to know exactly what goes on during a gitmowar, and we may never want to truly know. I think that the public can only take so much truth before it becomes too foggy to bear.

Kojima uses this game to set us up for what is proving to be a disturbing new chapter for Big Boss. His upcoming game, The Phantom Pain, is slated to show players about the losses war causes and the reconciliations and revenge soldiers face after battle. With Ground Zeroes, players see the action itself. It’s pretty gruesome, and makes one wonder what goes on behind the fences of camps around the world. It’s up to each person to decide on their own whether or not they need, or want, to know what’s really going on. Some people feel the public needs to know. Others feel like it’s not necessary for us to know everything. Think about what you want to know. Decide what’s best.

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A Thinker’s Guide to Metal Gear: Part 5-Snake Eater

by Marcus Brown

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Have you ever noticed how your beliefs and views possibly change as you grow older or go into a new environment? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. That’s how the world can be. People’s views change with the times. Just look at our modern issues: advocation of gay and lesbian marriages, attempted legalization of marijuana use and our new proposed healthcare system are just a few of those issues. The problem of time is the proposed theme of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. In Snake Eater, Kojima uses the theme of the scene of times to show how an era such as the Cold War creates a whole new type of perception on what exactly is right or wrong. Continue reading A Thinker’s Guide to Metal Gear: Part 5-Snake Eater

A Thinker’s Guide to Metal Gear: Part 4-Metal Gear Solid 2

by Marcus Brown

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Sometimes, the hardest thing one has to think about is what exactly is important enough to pass on to the children of tomorrow. After all, everyone has different morals and values depending on how they were raised, what they’ve learned from life experiences, and so forth. How much is too much? Many would hope that this is their decision to make, and Kojima makes this perfectly clear in his title Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. Continue reading A Thinker’s Guide to Metal Gear: Part 4-Metal Gear Solid 2

A Thinker’s Guide to Metal Gear: Part 3-Metal Gear Solid

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Is humanity destined to act and be a certain way? Some believe that their fate is decided based off of their heritage and who their ancestors were, while others would create their own destiny based off of choice. Is one’s genetic code a layout for how their life will be? Hideo Kojima brings this discussion, and others, to light in the first iteration of the most well-known saga in gaming, Metal Gear Solid.

MGS was created in 1998 by Kojima and his team at Konami. With the recent creation of the Playstation console by Sony, Kojima saw an opportunity to put his famed protagonist, Solid Snake, in 3D, thereby allowing for more interaction with the character and the stronger development of a story. Improvements were made to the radar system, now that the game screens were free flowing instead of a grid-like system, and also the alert system and enemy AI. Weapon and item switching became much easier. One of the most important innovations was the addition of better music and voice acting, with David Hayter becoming the voice of Snake for the next 12 years. image

Metal Gear Solid became the name of innovative gaming on the Playstation console for many years.

MGS takes place in 2005. FOXHOUND, the former commando unit of previous games, has taken over a nuclear weapons disposal site within Alaska’s islands and has threatened to launch a nuke somewhere if their demands are not met. Solid Snake is sent in to rescue hostages and determine the nature of this threat. Many familiar elements of the previous games can be seen in this game, both to the benefit of veteran players and newcomers alike. Read up on the full synopsis here.

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With MGS, Kojima begins a trend of including a major theme within each of his games. This theme encompasses many of the main plot points and drives the story to an inevitable discussion of the world the players live in. However, this one theme is not the only thought Kojima creates for the players, as there are many supplemental discussions that can be taken from the series. These all will be brought up in each iteration of this essay. For now, one can focus on the main theme of MGS, which is Gene.

This game focuses on the genetic disposition of society. To explain it another way, this title discusses the nature side of the Nature vs. Nurture discussion, in that it asks whether or not one’s fate is tied to their genetic composition. One of the characters in the game, Naomi Hunter, explains that she studies genetics in order to discover who she really is. She later goes on to try and type other characters based off of what is in their genetic makeup, though she is not always correct. Another main character, Liquid Snake, believes it is his genetic destiny to start conflicts around the world and to give soldiers a place in that conflict. The question here is, are we products of our heritage or our decisions?

Background of this genetic discussion comes from real world data. The Human Genome project, completed in 2003, successfully mapped mankind’s genomic structure, thereby allowing scientists to study and understand DNA much better. This project identified certain genetic markers and traits that exist within humans. image

This project is constantly referenced within the game, giving base to the plot of using a process called gene therapy to change one’s DNA structure to better a person or eliminate weaknesses. The intended results, in the context of MGS, is to create the perfect soldier, one who doesn’t need years of training to hone his or her skills.

This raises ethical questions. If one has the ability, should they alter themselves genetically for the sake of improvement, much as people alter their physical appearance nowadays? Is tampering with the human genome legal or right? Answers can vary depending on who you ask. In any case, this research would be revolutionary, despite the ramifications of making a right or wrong decision.                                                                                                                                            image

So, if one knows how their DNA is aligned, does that determine who they are and what they will accomplish? If this is the case, then a plumber’s son would most likely be a plumber, and the daughter of a clothing designer would be predisposed toward fashion. We know though that this does not always happen. Therefore, genes cannot tell us completely who we are, but rather tell us where our heritage has been. Perhaps knowing how one’s genome is mapped could help us know what mistakes to avoid in the future.

Though the genes are the hot topic for this game, Kojima brings another discussion to light: the mass number of nuclear weapons on the planet and their misuse, storage and continued existence.image

Kojima’s numbers as of 1998 state that there are around 20,000-25,000 nuclear weapons on the planet. Nuclear reduction treaties, including START, were created in order to reduce the nuclear stockpiles of Russia and the US by many as 17,000. However, many characters within the game bring nuclear proliferation to light, stating that black markets of nuclear materials exist and that the race to maintain nuclear superiority still exists. This is also backed by real world information. According to the Arms Control Association, America alone has over 5,000 nuclear warheads, with over 1,600 ready to launch. The only other country that matches America is Russia, with a total of over 3,000 weapons. So many were created during the Cold War, and the dissolving of this conflict has   left the world a giant warehouse of nuclear materials.                                                                                                                             image

A staple character, Hal Emmerich, finds himself and his love for science being used to make a Metal Gear, though he wanted to create it for defensive purposes only. Emmerich, later titled as Otacon for his love of Japanese anime, was a gaming representation of a nuclear tool, one that is used for the better of America’s power. In fact, later plot sequences show that the whole creation of Metal Gear and testing of nuclear weapon strike capability was an act created by those who felt so strongly towards American power in the world that they would risk global scrutiny in order to keep America at the top of the food chain. Kojima uses all this to show just how far humans are willing to go in order to maintain power. 

In MGS, Kojima brings the topics of genetic disposition and nuclear power to the gamers. Metal Gear Solid is a forerunner of espionage action games that bring innovative gameplay with meaningful characters and story. If a gamer has not played a single one of these titles, Metal Gear Solid is the place to start. And with its 15th anniversary arriving very soon, now is as good a time as any to meet Solid Snake.

Articles used:

http://metalgear.wikia.com/wiki/Metal_Gear_Solid

http://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/Nuclearweaponswhohaswhat

http://www.genome.gov/12011238