The Phantom Pain’s Phantom Appeal

It’s what you DON’T see that makes it fascinating.  Negative space.  The words “METAL GEAR SOLID V” literally cut out of the title, instead of being shown front and center.  It’s brilliant, intriguing, and (hopefully) reflects a deeper theme within the game — of letting our imaginations go wild, for better or worse.

Is The Phantom Pain really Metal Gear Solid 5?  Or is that what we’re supposed to trick ourselves into thinking?

The Phantom Pain

Remember when Kojima talked about a “taboo” project that could potentially force him to leave the industry — the project which was eventually revealed to be the “devil” project?

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Part V (MGS2: A Complete Breakdown)

PART IPART IIPART IIIPART IV PART VPART VI – PART VII

[Updated Nov 1/2012: GameTrailers today declared that Metal Gear Solid 2‘s ending was the third worst in game history!  A special note has been added to the end of the article.]

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The -/+ Rating System Explained

If you’ve seen my recent review of XCOM: Enemy Unknown, you’ve seen this rating system already.  This is an explanation for how it was designed, split into right (positive) and left (negative) sides.  The decision to account for “outside factors” is very important to me for rather philosophical reasons:

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Metal Gear Solid 5 leaked image confirms rumors apparently

I happened to notice “Metal Gear Solid 5” in the Twitter trends this morning, and soon found myself reading very vague, and very possibly fake rumors.  Here’s the news piece.

The unverified picture prominantly [sic] displays a logo for Metal Gear Solid 5 along with the phrase ‘Open Ground Reconnaissance Endeavors (OGRE)’ which could be a replacement for the ‘Tactical Espionage Action’ tagline the series has carried thus far.

Kojima wanted to have an open-world environment ever since Snake Eater, which was supposed to be “seamless” initially, with weather patterns and a day/night cycle; players were supposed to get lost in the jungle and need to use landmarks for navigation; hunting and sneaking would be more important than ever.  The trailer even made reference to Grand Theft Auto, suggesting that the games would be comparable.  Basically, compared to Kojima’s original ambitions we got a can of sardines.  This would be the full feast.

This may be Kojima’s opportunity to make his old dream a reality.  If “OGRE” does stand for “Open Ground Reconnaissance Endeavors” — which for the record I hope it does not, because nothing sounds lamer than the word “endeavors” when describing a game — then it could be Metal Gear Solid 5 after all.  How on earth this ties into raising a family?  Well, Big Boss did have some hand in raising Solid and Liquid Snake, at least…

Do I believe the leaked rumor?  Actually, I sort of do.  It would even fit with his old statement about how it could end up as career suicide if it went wrong, which I surmised involved retconning the Metal Gear series.  Or maybe I’m dumb!

EDIT:  Okay, so I’m way behind in the times here.  So there are a couple of fuzzy screenshots, not just one, and there is a lot more news about MGS5 being said already.  I am dumb!

1up talks VR Theory and Allegory

As part of a major Metal Gear 25th Anniversary celebration, 1up.com has posted an article regarding popular “fan theories”.  As you would hope, they directly refer to my own VR Theory, and the Allegory Theory, which I’ve been leading the way on for so many years, both on this website and prior, on “The Unofficial Site”.

This marks the first time a major publication has acknowledged these theories in full force from what I can tell, and it’s long overdue.  You can be sure their overview of the VR Theory is taken from my own analysis, especially when you read this:

He questions the reality of Rose’s involvement, the mission, and his commanding officers. He points out that his VR training was impeccably realistic. References to Big Shell, Raiden’s real name (Jack), and the PS2’s Emotion Engine were all said to be subtle clues. Proponents of the theory convinced themselves that absolutely everything was an extremely complex system of indicators, all pointing toward one unmistakable reality: Raiden was just some random guy hooked up to a training simulation. And crazy as it might sound, the case seemed fairly solid.

No other fan theory includes an interpretation of the choice of names, such as the Big Shell, Jack, and E.E. — those points are exclusively mine.  Although he doesn’t give credit where credit is due (using generic “many fans believe” instead of tracing things to the actual source) I’m happy that freelance writer Steve Watts doesn’t butcher the theories while summarizing them.  His description of the Allegory Theory is a little watered down for my liking, considering that Kojima has officially admitted he put his own experiences in the games (making it no longer a “theory” at all), which means that this article could afford to look a lot deeper at the personal commentary found in, say, Metal Gear Solid 4.

Big thanks to JMG9519 for pointing the 1up article out to me.

Part IV (MGS2: A Complete Breakdown)

PART IPART IIPART IIIPART IV PART VPART VI – PART VII 

The VR Theory

In order to encourage, challenge and even trick players into thinking about the deeper meaning of his games, Kojima designed the whole plot to collapse on itself.  Would players still miss the point?  (Of course they would.)

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Part III (MGS2: A Complete Breakdown)

PART IPART IIPART III PART IVPART VPART VI – PART VII

{NOTE: Clips are best watched in Full Screen mode.}

Part three is a careful study of Metal Gear’s creator, Hideo Kojima.  More specifically, it’s a study of his motivations for betraying player expectations with Metal Gear Solid 2.  As confusing as it may seem, there is a logical explanation for it all.  (Here’s Part 1 and Part 2)

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Big Boss, 70s, Africa and more: MGS5 speculation from CVG

CVG, reporting on the upcoming PSM3 issue, is predicting that Metal Gear Solid 5 will follow Big Boss in Africa during the 1970’s, and that Solid Snake will be seen as a baby.  That’s not hard to believe, considering the Fox Engine screenshots of jungle environments, the artwork of Big Boss with the “Diamond Dogs” arm patch, and the way Peace Walker ended.  Here’s an excerpt of their analysis:

The Kojima Productions site itself ‘hides’ another image of Big Boss with a ‘Diamond Dogs’ logo on his shoulder, which Dawkins claims is a reference to both the 1974 David Bowie album Diamond Dogs (Kojima being a confirmed Bowie fan), but, more importantly, the diamond mines of Angola, against which some of the action could be set.

It adds up.  There’s still plenty of material left to explore in the career of Big Boss, and we know that there will be a real Metal Gear Solid 5.  Solid Snake’s saga is finished and Raiden has his own wacky spinoff, which leaves only Big Boss left.

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