Part VI (MGS2: A Complete Breakdown)

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Deconstruction

 

The Document of Metal Gear Solid 2 is a fascinating “making of” disc which lays bare the 3D character models, programming system information, written script, and more.  It also includes a few VR missions to get people ready for Substance, which was released later on.

When we watch the opening intro to the Document above, one word stands out above all the rest:

“DISTANCE”

This is the key word, the reason for producing a “making of” disc in the first place.  To create distance between players and the fictional universe was important to Kojima.  This is the opposite of most authors who do everything they can to try to lure people deeper and deeper into nerdy fandom.  Distance is what allows critical thinking.

In order to create this sense of distance, Kojima breaks down the components of the game individually, showing how the magic happens.  For example, music a huge part of creating tension while playing Metal Gear, but it’s mostly a subconscious thing.  It’s literally the soundtrack to our spy fantasies, so we don’t want to be consciously made aware of it, but the Document breaks it down in a scientific manner:

 

 

Perhaps the next time you play MGS2 you won’t be so immersed when you hear these songs, because you’ll realize that they’re just sound files being played in a certain order.

There’s a quote from Kojima inside the manual:

“For true fans of MGS2,
For game creators,
For budding game creators…”

Distance is required to envision a game, just like how a story writer can only get so immersed in his own world and characters.  Awareness of the systems and subsystems that create an illusion (especially one you can sell) is the first prerequisite to becoming a designer.  But with this particular game, one suspects there’s another level of consideration behind it all.  How many game companies are confident enough to believe it could sell a “making of” disc and be profitable?  MGS2 was a game like no other, and when we remember the huge marketing deception leading up to its release and the themes of the game itself, the Document could be seen as the finishing blow, designed to shatter the illusion once and for all, even though it had only become a mainstream phenomenon a few years prior.

Within the “System” section of the making of we find details about the “Kernel” and “EE”, the latter of which Kojima has admitted was no coincidence…

 

Lest we forget that this game was created by a bunch of Japanese people in an office building, the human side of things is also shown, with footage of key moments such as the official completion of game development:

 

 

The Document of Metal Gear Solid 2, like everything else surrounding MGS2, displays a level of self-awareness and bravado that underpins the “memetic” power of the game.  To me, the behind-the-scenes disc is as much part of the game’s story as Vamp or Otacon.  It’s all telling the same story, driving home the same point: you are playing a game, nothing more.

 

NEXT PART COMING SOON

(Part VII will be a proper review of the game.)

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