Hideo Kojima is known for a multitude of things: his wit, humor, depth of storytelling, and state-of-the-art imagery. All of which exemplify his most critically acclaimed franchise, Metal Gear. His blend of authentic historical events and “what if” scenarios are interwoven so intricately that they made me even question the stories told in the history books.
The Metal Gear series is undoubtedly one of my favorites and for good reason. It tells a cross-generational story that movies couldn’t hope to replicate. The characters range from supernatural to surreal, all interconnected through the genius of Kojima and Konami. A Gatling gun toting giant, a cyborg ninja, and a photosynthetic sniper are only a few of the creative characters to emerge in the Metal Gear universe.
Their personal stories make them relate-able, and their reasons for fighting grant them an unconventional essence that draws us in. But the aspect that every fan will emphasize with are the boss battles. Have you ever had a computer read your mind? How about having to unplug your controller and switch it into a different gameport in order to counteract this process? If you haven’t played Metal Gear, then you have no idea what I’m talking about and how could you since Kojima is the only one to have incorporated this type creativity into the gaming realm.
In this same fashion the protagonist was born. He isn’t your typical nameless veteran from a Call of Duty game or your overly testosterone charged Gears of War soldier. Solid Snake is a character who has changed game-to-game, adapting to his experiences, becoming more cynical with age. He undergoes the transformation from super soldier to man, war-torn veteran to human being. His words in MGS4 reflect it all:
“War has changed. It’s no longer about nations, ideologies or ethnicity. It’s an endless series of proxy battles, fought by mercenaries and machines. War, and its consumption of life, has become a well-oiled machine. War has changed. ID tagged soldiers carry ID tagged weapons, use ID tagged gear. Nanomachines inside their bodies enhance and regulate their abilities. Genetic control. Information control. Emotion control. Battlefield control. Everything is monitored, and kept under control. War has changed. The age of deterrence has become the age of control. All in the name of averting catastrophe from weapons of mass destruction. And he who controls the battlefield, controls history. War has changed. When the battlefield is under total control, war… becomes routine.”
Kojima developed not only a set of games, but a unique genre. Never before had stealth been so successfully combined with action, cut scenes, and even comedy. Playboy magazines to distract “rowdy” guards is just the tip of the iceberg in Kojima’s repertoire of seemingly useless items turned battlefield necessities. Metal Gear’s iconic cardboard box never becomes completely outdated and can often succeed in helping Snake out of a close bind, and giving myself a chuckle in the progress.
And one of the most gratifying aspects of this entire franchise is the development of a story that becomes so profound and at times confusing that it invites and necessitates discussion amongst fans for a feel of true understanding. You may think you know Metal Gear, but I promise you there are subtle nuances and hidden connections that you never picked up upon or suspected. Not to mention this is the only franchise I’ve played with actual information packs you can buy filled with backstory backstory and a bounty of hidden backstory. Plus game versions filled with extra content ranging from VR missions to battling giant Godzilla soldiers. (The Document of Metal Gear Solid 2, Metal Gear Solid 4 Database)
Metal Gear is movie meets video game, action meets stealth, and all around amazing experience. I can say without a shadow of a doubt that playing Kojima’s masterpiece has not only entertained me indefinitely but opened my eyes to the possibilities of gaming. If I had never played Metal Gear, I would not be the same gamer, nerd, or person I am today.