Tag Archives: Metal Gear

What Now?

The next step
The next step

You did it. You spent many hours, and probably a few curse words, getting to the end of the journey. But what now? I’ve found that I ask myself that a lot at the end of some of the best games I’ve played. One gets so involved in the universe of a title that being removed at the end feels like that first move away from home. Therefore, the idea of replayability is an alluring trip back into what you already know. Months ago, I wrote an article about aspects I consider important in a game, with the ability to be rewarded by playing again a strong element. I think that if a developer offers incentives for returning to a game, then that doubles the value of that game.

The most prominent kind of replayable element is downloadable content, or DLC. Players play their favorite games, then they get to see a new chapter, a continuation of the story, or something new altogether a few months after release. From a business perspective, DLC is a smart idea. Announcing DLC for a title before that title is even released ensures added value into the game. Also, the developer ensures additional income for a product already sold. Some consider this greedy, but I believe in the basic principle of business: maximize income while minimizing cost. If I can build something, sell it, then make more money after the  initial transaction, I certainly will, and I think that’s what many developers are realizing is a good idea. Another perk is that DLC gives developers time to create more ideas or add more wiggle room for their current ideas. Finally, it builds a sort of anticipation after the credits roll. If you know something is coming after the end, there is a possibility you’ll want to see it like a sequel to a blockbuster movie. DLC is the obvious choice for replayability these days.

However, the basic issue still remains: Should gamers have to pay for more to the game? Why don’t the developers include everything in one

The things Snake can do in two hours
The things Snake can do in two hours

big bundle? Well, that’s an interesting discussion. I’ve already laid out the business perks of doing DLC. But I can also admit that having that immediate gratification of instantly being able to start over for more rewards is enticing as well. Take Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, for instance. Beating the main game unlocks side missions that add just enough diversity in the gameplay to make them just as interesting as the main story. Personally, I think that this was a very smart move on director Hideo Kojima’s part, considering that the main mission is two hours long on a slow playthrough. Adding more for the player to do helps distract the gamer from remembering that they just paid $30 for a two hour test game. Good business sense and focus on the players.

Other games do this same thing. One of the popular things to do, especially with games that use a leveling up mechanic, is to start the story over with what you’ve earned the previous time. Batman: Arkham City was a good example of this. The developer, Rocksteady, allows the player to start the game over, in a harder setting but with all the tools that Batman earned the previous time. This lets a gamer try new ideas and prove to themselves that they are Batman.

Be the Batman.
Be the Batman.

One of the last things to mention about replayability reasons is actually one of the most simplest ones: the experience. Some games are just so good that you have to play them again. And again. And again. This is exhibited by my third playthrough of the whole Mass Effect series. In my experience, if it touches you in your emotions, you should pick up the controller again. The action of playing a game again is the cheapest satisfaction of replayability available. It certainly is something I’ve done plenty of times.

With the economy still somewhat on the mend, gamers need strong, convincing reasons why they should buy, and keep, a game. This has been my course of action for a while: a short game with a short shelf life deserves nothing more than a Redbox rental. I do my research and figure out the most cost-efficient way to play it. I see replayability as important, even more so than other elements of a game. If you feel the same, let me know what kind of games were your favorite to play again.

A Thinker’s Guide to Metal Gear: Part 7-Peace by Force

by Marcus Brown

Title screen
Title screen

Theodore Roosevelt coined the phrase “Walk softly, carry a big stick.” A small phrase with large implications. In a way, this is a statement about deterrence. In a more modern sense, deterrence against warfare is paired with nuclear weapons. Mutually assured destruction was one of the main forms of keeping the world from destroying each other. Hideo Kojima uses this theme of peace by force in his most recent iteration of the Metal Gear series, Peace Walker.

Peace Walker was released in 2010 on the Playstation Portable and later on the PS3 for the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection. While matching some aspects of the previous PSP title Portable Ops, this game added a whole new element to the mix. The game was no longer about straight espionage and accomplishing missions single-handedly, but rather about

Gameplay
Gameplay

creating the Outer Heaven that Big Boss is destined to run. Players can recruit enemy soldiers and volunteers to grow their teams and base. The bigger the base, the more weapons and items the players is capable of making, as well as a strong base for sending soldiers out. This game has a strong RPG element to it which makes for an interesting play. Read up on the story of the game here.

This game focuses heavily on two major plot points: what some people believe it takes to create true peace in the world, and Naked Snake’s continued journey to understand the motives of his mentor, the Boss.

First, the climate and setting of Peace Walker set the perfect stage for the discussion of peace. The Cold War is trailing to an end, but enemy forces in the game are still trying to drag it on longer. In order to create a worldwide peace, the antagonists in this game are trying to create the biggest stick to fight with. What’s worse is that the deterrent, a prototype form of Metal Gear, is supposed to be a defense that’s completely run by an artificial intelligence, thereby taking out the human decision in deciding whether or not to retaliate. The idea of MAD, or mutually assured destruction, relies on the idea that fear of being destroyed by a retaliatory strike is what keeps the world from creating a nuclear winter. However, an unmanned nuclear tank that will automatically strike back at any oppressor does two things: it removes the possibility of someone going back on their word of striking back, and it completely solidifies MAD even more. Peace through incredible fear and strength is a certain type of peace; one that may not necessarily be the best.

Besides having to deal with potential nuclear destruction, Big Boss has to try and sort out why someone he knew almost all his life would betray him and everything she used to believe in. Big Boss struggles deep down with trying to figure out the Boss would defect to the Soviet Union and do a mission that requires her death. It isn’t until the very end that he begins to learn a whole new side to the Boss. In this, the player finally sees the transformation from Snake to Big Boss, though the perspective of the player concerning Big Boss’ choices may have changed since first fighting him in Metal Gear.

Peace Walker is a whole different type of game compared to the other titles in the saga. Though the game is on a portable device, a fact that sometimes make other portable titles unimportant to console gamers, it is still a very important game to play, especially with the next numbered title, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, is coming within a year. Make sure you check out this game on the Metal Gear Solid Legacy Collection and the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection.

Source used:
http://metalgear.wikia.com/wiki/Metal_Gear_Solid:_Peace_Walker

 

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

by Marcus Brown                                                                                     

                                image

War is a terrible machine, and Hideo Kojima wants you to know it. His sequel to the breakthough hit Metal Gear gives players a view of the damaging consequences of battle and what it takes to keep going on in the face of adversity. Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake once again takes players on a mission of espionage that they won’t forget.

Three years after the revolutionary title Metal Gear, fans and co-workers of Hideo Kojima were clamoring for a sequel. Players could not get enough of the espionage action that came with the story of Solid Snake. Many wondered what Kojima’s next Metal Gear project would be. 

Surprisingly, Kojima never intended to make another game. However, Konami decided the world was ready for the sequel and had one created for release on the Nintendo Entertainment System in the West. This title, Snake’s Revenge, was not well received by fans of the series, citing that it strayed too far from the original character and that it didn’t feel like a Metal Gear game.

image              image

In fact, one of the members of the Snake’s Revenge team ran into Kojima on a train in Tokyo and practically begged him to make a true sequel. Thus, Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake was created. This game would not see Western consoles until 16 years after its creation, being released with its prequel on Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence

Metal Gear 2 was released in 1990 on the MSX2. The player once again took control of Solid Snake, working for the special unit FOXHOUND. This time, Snake is to infiltrate Zanzibar Land, an independent military nation bordering China, Russia and India, in order to rescue a Czech scientist that holds the key to the world’s oil futures. Snake once again encounters Metal Gear and other familiar characters. This was the true sequel fans were waiting for. Read up on the full story here.

Additions to the gameplay were created to give the players more freedom. Snake could now crawl under tanks and tables to hide from the enemy, who would now continue to search for Snake across multiple screens. Here was the implementation of two other elements: the 9-grid screen radar that allowed the players to see what the enemy was doing across multiple areas, and the alert system that forced players to hide when caught, rather than fight until the alarm silenced. Enemies also had better lines of sight and could spot Snake more easily. Again, Kojima created an environment of the sneaking mission.image                                                                                                    image

 

 

 

 

 

With better visuals and gameplay also came a more serious tone to the characters. Here, Kojima uses the nation of mercenaries to tell a darker story of war and its consequences. One of the main motivations of the enemy that is discovered is the cycle of war and its participants. The player sees how war displaces people and ruins their home. These orphans and citizens are then forced to survive by the only way they know how: participating in the next war. Finally, they create more war orphans to fuel the armies around the world. 

The cycle is not so far-fetched. According to Orphan Hope International, a site dedicated to the aid of war orphans around the world, every day gives birth to almost 6000 new orphans. The site also details that in Colombia alone, the site of a 40-year civil war, there exists an estimated 577,000 orphans. Many of these orphans end up trafficked for other uses. So, a player can understand how the war cycle is perpetuated here in this fictitious place. 

A couple of other themes come together in this game, namely the idea of finding purpose and the betrayal that sometimes comes from this. Snake finds two characters in this game that existed as allies in the previous game but are now his foes. Both give reasons for this switch of sides, citing that they experienced their own betrayals at the hands of NATO and other military organizations. Therefore, their need for revenge and to set things right puts them on the opposite side of the fence, so to speak. 

One more interesting thing to note here is the subject of this game’s title: Solid Snake. Here, the player gets a more in-depth look at Snake, who speaks a lot more and often holds conversations containing his thoughts and outlook on life. It’s almost as if this game is as much about Snake as it is about the mission. The player begins to learn what really makes him tick. 

All of these elements come together to give a very cinematic feel to an already amazing franchise. With this game, Hideo Kojima cements his name in video game history. Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake sets the bar for other game franchises as well as its own name, taking players into a world of intrigue, emotion and action that would carry them 25 years later. 

Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake can be found in both the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection and Metal Gear Solid Legacy Collection.

Sources Used:

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

http://www.orphanhopeintl.org/facts-statistics/