(This article has been updated on May 31, 2011 for your enjoyment)
PART 2: War is Routine
Old Snake: 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.
When the first game trailers were being shown, it was a shock for many to see that the setting of Metal Gear Solid 4 was the Middle East, and more shocking yet to hear the commentary of Snake about war being “routine”. What could such a thing mean? It wasn’t the same stylish, “cool” Metal Gear world we had seen before: it was desolation and massacre for no good reason. For literally the first time ever, there was no enemy stronghold to infiltrate, no big scary dude with a Metal Gear threatening the world. Indeed, we were sneaking into an actual battlefield, a neutral agent passing through somebody else’s pointless war. Why would Kojima break his successful formula for something as bleak and complex as that?
This article has been updated on June 7, 2011 for your enjoyment.
In the previous articles, The Long, Dark Path to Metal Gear Solid 4, and Kojima VS MGS4, we looked at how Kojima’s relationship with the Metal Gear series became dysfunctional leading up to the development of Guns of the Patriots by things such as stubborn fan expectations, lack of appreciation, and outright hostility. We also studied the pre-release indicators that Kojima did not like MGS4. In this article we will look for in-game evidence that Hideo Kojima not only decided to undermine the series with the game, but communicate his own plight in its subtext.
The Scarab is among the most poorly designed units in videogame history. It may not be as terrible as these things from Smash Bros. Brawl, or the Ongogg or whatever from the Halo series, but it’s sheer ugliness is an unsettling reminder of what can happen when designers run out of ideas and just don’t care anymore. In almost every action game since the early days of the arcade there have been basic enemy units who serve as little more than cannon fodder, and usually look stupid so that your murder instinct is activated automatically. If that was the purpose of the Scarab’s design it was a great success, but it still doesn’t make it any less crappy.