Sep17

Metal Gear Solid Changed My Life

Metal Gear V: Phantom Pain released on September 2nd 2015. I wasn’t originally planning to do a blog post about this game until I watched Hideo Kojima’s farewell video.

For those of you who don’t know what the heck is going on or who Hideo Kojima is, I offer you a brief recap. Hideo Kojima is a video game designer and the creator of the Metal Gear video game series. If you don’t know what Metal Gear is, basically it’s a game where you play as a commando infiltrating a military base.

It is one of the first games on the nintendo where your objective was to sneak around rather than shoot everything in sight. Getting detected meant more bad guys would show up until they overwhelmed and killed you.

Metal Gear was basically the first video game version of hide and seek.

From these humble beginnings Metal Gear evolved into something much more. For 28 years, yes you read that right, 28 years. Metal Gear has transformed from a simple hide and seek game to an epic video game movie saga. Flat, 2d sprites matured into complex and detailed 3d characters who move, act, and look like real people..

Metal Gear

Metal Gear

Metal Gear

Metal Gear

Metal Gear

MGS5

What a difference 28 years of technology can make, huh?

Unfortunately, 28 years is also where it ends. As of this writing Hideo Kojima, the brainchild behind the series is no longer working at Konami who currently owns the Metal Gear IP. Will there be more Metal Gear games? Yes, but they won’t be helmed by the man who single-handedly ushered the era of cinematic video games.

This is the same man whose work, innovation and creativity inspired me to write The Silver Ninja. Kind of a big deal.

I know I’ve covered how much of an inspiration Metal Gear was to me so I’ll try not to repeat the same things over and over. When I first played Metal Gear Solid on the playstation one, I was over at my cousin’s house looking for a game to rent from the now defunct Hollywood video. At the time, we had dial up modems and little access to gamer magazines so we had no recommendations on what games to rent.

Instead we would go to the store, look at the box cover art, and if we thought it was cool we’d rent it. So there was Metal Gear Solid with red lettering over a stark white background in a fat case meant to hold two CDs. We looked at the back, thought it was interesting and gave it a rent. Here’s the intro video we were greeted with:

That was the first time in my experience that I played a game which didn’t use a pre-rendered cutscene for their introduction or subsequent cutscenes. Everything was done in-game, with its crappy textures and low poly models. Compare that to the intro of Tomb Raider.

Man, it’s crazy how I used to think these graphics were state of the art. It’d be child’s play for a modern PC or console to render these graphics nowadays and in most cases can even make them look better. Anyway, once I started playing Metal Gear Solid on the playstation one I couldn’t stop. From the comical “Huh, what was that noise?” to the sudden thrill and horror of being detected, to watching the over the top cutscenes. Metal Gear Solid blew my mind.

Not only was the gameplay solid (no pun intended) but the story was extremely complex for a video game (some would say too complex). There were deep, questioning concepts of nuclear deterrence, the cost of genetic modification, and even sibling rivalry. And when things got a little too serious, Kojima would throw in an end level boss that could read your memory card and tell you what games you’ve played and even move your controller with his mind.

Kojima broke the fourth wall and made what could have been an admittedly corny concept into a memorable moment that will be referenced by gamers for years to come. This was also the game that introduced me to Gray Fox and planted the seed for The Silver Ninja. It wasn’t until I played Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty that I actively thought to myself, They should have just made Raiden into a female with how girly he looks. Hmm, a female commando, kind of like Gray Fox? That could be an interesting idea . . .

The rest is as they say, history.

Now I’m playing Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain and for as much fun I’m having exploring the open world of Afghanistan and Africa I’m also sad. You could feel how much work Kojima puts into his games, always trying to challenge the norms and to deliver a fresh new experience on an old concept.

Metal Gear Solid on the playstation introduced crazy bosses, cutscenes, and cinema quality to video games.

Metal Gear Solid 2 on the playstation 2 added enhanced graphics, motion capture, and pulled the wool over your eyes by making you play as a character that wasn’t Snake.

Metal Gear Solid 3 (also on the playstation 2) introduced hunting for food and eating as a means of survival. Using camouflage to blend in with your surroundings, and close quarters combat for a more in-depth hand-to-hand combat system.

Metal Gear Solid 4 on the playstation 3 introduced octo camouflage which changed color depending on your environment. The concept of Snake feeling sick if he kills too many soldiers, and an epic finale that no game has come close to matching.

Metal Gear Solid 5 goes fully open world and allows you to choose what missions you want to play and when without being forced down a linear path.

These are the kind of concepts Kojima brought to the gaming world and though I was satisfied with the series ending at Metal Gear Solid 4. I’m really glad he was inspired enough to do the fifth and final game in his legacy.

In closing, since I know this blog has gone on for far too long. Hideo Kojima and the Metal Gear series truly changed my life. Sure Power Rangers. She-Ra, 90’s cartoons and superheroes had a huge impact in who I am today, but I can say with absolute certainty that I never would have written The Silver Ninja if it wasn’t for Hideo Kojima.

I needed Gray Fox, I needed that tactical espionage action, that gameplay, to trigger the explosive birth of a new character. It was the catalyst that instilled in me the desire to create a franchise. To force a brand new female character to a sorely under represented demographic.

*Sigh* Good times, good memories. This is one gamer that will certainly miss experiencing the out of the box concepts that Kojima brought to the gaming industry. I wish him continued success in whatever he decides to pursue next.

Wilmar Luna

Couldn't be a superhero in real life so he decided to write his own. When he's not creating empowered female characters he can be found watching films, reading books, and playing lots of video games.
Buy his books here: https://www.thesilverninja.com/purchase/
Wilmar Luna
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