Kojima and the Soviet Union

The following guest article was written by a friend and author, Alexander Sylazhov, who you ought to remember fondly from his Big Boss as Che Guevara article; I titled that article in order to highlight one of my favorite aspects of it, but it certainly went well beyond that.  I’m deeply honored to be able to present his new article, which is the kind of analysis I would love to be able to do myself.  With the upcoming release of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain less than a month away, this in-depth exploration of ideology, politics, and pop culture in the Metal Gear series is a fascinating must-read from a talented writer from a different side of the world.

Expect to see more from him soon, and please check out his science fiction novel series if you want to see more from him and support his work.


 

Kojima and the Soviet Union

An analysis of the political overtones of the MGS series and Hideo Kojima’s ideology

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The hidden meaning behind the “Bomb Shelter Buffet” (MGS4)

Our friend Threedogg has written some interesting thoughts on one of the “commercials” from MGS4.  By deconstructing what is said in the cooking show and paying attention to the details, we find that it shows a high level of self-awareness and self-commentary, once again pointing to how ironically MGS4 was produced.  I’ve added my own thoughts too.

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“MGS4: Sold Out” Part 13: Meryl’s Not Interested

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After an extremely long hiatus, I present the 13th installment of MGS4: Sold Out!  This one deals with the changed dynamic between Solid Snake and Meryl Silverburgh.

UPDATE:  This is actually the 13th installment!  I forgot to update the classic site’s index page and totally forgot about Part 12: Resistance Gamer Kids!!

MGSV: Tablets, user-generated content, episodic, multiplayer, and more! (updated)

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is going to do everything, according to this interview Hideo Kojima did with computerandvideogames.com.

  • Players will be able to create new missions for each other using tablets
  • A “vast” multiplayer mode is being developed in L.A. Kojima Productions
  • The game will be released explored episodically, with all of the missions in the game divided into “episodes” that can be explored at your leisure
  • Ground Zeroes (which will very likely be released on its own) will not feature a day/night cycle or weather patterns because it’s suppoed to help old players adjust to an open world Metal Gear
  • The engine is being designed to handle everything, because it’s going to be used for all sorts of Konami brands
  • The game will be released episodically, “like a TV show” (source) which means David Hayter could come back to voice Young Solid Snake down the road.  Or hell, it could mean a million things.

Update: The following picture-painting was under the impression that The Phantom Pain would be released episodically, which it won’t apparently.  The game is simply episodic in how you explore the different missions it offers.

This might be hard to wrap your head around, so let me paint a picture for you.

Afghanistan is huge, and the trailer only shows a relatively small part of the whole area.  Within the area there are a series of clues, “side quests”, and objectives that further the story but also just provide interesting benefits, but initially your goal is to rescue Kaz and escape with him on your back.  You get back to Mother Base (or its equivalent) and plan your next move.  You’re free to go back to Afghanistan and do other things, like kidnap people, steal technology and weapons, destroy enemy outposts, and so on.

Several areas are available with the initial release, including Cuba, and each of them can be revisited for strategic purposes, much like Peace Walker.  There may even be a tug-of-war style fight for territorial control.

Meanwhile, “Those Who Don’t Exist” are hunting Big Boss across the world, phantoms in his own mind, who essentially serve as boss fights in situations where there shouldn’t logically be any.  From a game design point of view it’s a perfect excuse to add new random challenges and extreme situations (flaming unicorn chase) anywhere.

One thing I bet we can count on is travelling the world to recruit new members, such as Emmerich, Quiet, Eli, and Code Talker.  Each of them is probably going to be on a different continent, and have their own aspect of the game to contribute.

Maybe it’s just me, but this sounds like a dream come true.  How the hell will this all work on the current platforms?  I don’t know.  Will multiplayer ever be cooperative?  Will tablets factor into that?  Could be.  We know that Ground Zeroes itself will be solo, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be added later to the main game, now that we know MGSV itself is going to have an online mode.

If Kojima can pull off even half of this stuff, it will be a truly monumental sequel.

Achievements! Glorious achievements!

ACHIEVEMENTS ARE THE ONLY WAY I KNOW WHETHER I’M HAVING FUN.  THEY LET ME KNOW WHETHER I’M DOING SOMETHING I ENJOY OR WASTING MY TIME.  PLUS HOW CAN I BRAG ABOUT DOING SOMETHING IF IT’S NOT OFFICIALLY VALIDATED AS AN ACHIEVEMENT THAT I UNLOCK?

Behold!  The achievements (or are they called trophies? I don’t know) for Metal Gear Solid 4 are almost nigh, and some of them are already listed around the Internet!  I wonder what impressive feats these permanent, shiny awards will commemorate?  What will I look back on and remember with pride?

Overhead View, Just Like Old Times… – Used overhead view on Shadow Moses Island.

Oh.  I’ll just… put that one on the lowest trophy shelf, I guess.  Right next to that trophy I got for accidentally inhaling atmosphere one time.

Achievement unlocked: “Too Little, Too Late”

After four years of refusing to stroke your delicate little ego for shooting guys in the crotch, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots will finally include achievements, this August.

I couldn’t care less about achievements, actually, especially if they’re as boring and straightforward as the ones included in the HD Collection which came out recently.  Instead of providing replay value or unique challenges, they simply acknowledge the completion of normal game missions.  Hopefully, after four years of waiting, these achievements will be more rewarding.

Much more importantly, this comic will no longer make sense to future generations, because the game will no longer torture players whenever they load a game from a new Act!  This laughable feature has infuriated me ever since I first realized the Act installs weren’t permanent and needed to be repeated whenever I tried to replay a previous area.  As you can imagine, writing articles and trying to figure out the game’s story by backtracking to specific parts became a nightmare for me.

Andriasang reports:

Select to give the game a full install, and you won’t have to wait between chapters for data to be cached to your system’s hard disc. This lengthy caching, which was accompanied by an image of Solid Snake smoking, was a major complaint by players.

I don’t know when Kojima Productions learned that the “full install” feature was possible for the game, but it doesn’t matter — nothing excuses such terrible, backwards game design in the first place, and this is too little, too late.  MGS games have always been leaders of pushing console tech, making use of every feature the system has to offer.  To sink to the lowest depths of shoddy workmanship with some half-assed endless re-installation scheme, was really underwhelming no matter which way you sliced it.

F2P: TF2 money spike

At this year’s very boring GDC, Valve employee Joe Ludwig discussed something a little interesting: how going “Free to Play” with Team Fortress 2 exploded their company’s income.

That’s the graph, showing how revenue quadrupled thanks to the “Mannconomy” in which players craft, trade, and purchase individual items introduced by Valve and/or the community itself.  It was so profitable, he says that Team Fortress 2 would always have been free, if Valve had known how successful the business model would have been. (via IGN)

I’ve done some comparisons between Metal Gear Online and Team Fortress 2 before the “Mannconomy”, and I find it interesting how things have changed since then.  MGO is shutting down its servers in June, while Team Fortress 2 is raking in money by becoming free.  This is how it should be, of course.