Metal Gear - Punching Walls Since 1987

Already a seasoned veteran of the newer Metal Gear Solid titles, Nick goes back to his roots in this reflective piece for fans of the stealth action series.
Radio KNK reveals the Metal Gear staff...

As the pixelated credits roll, chip-tune theme song blaring into my ears, seeing the name ‘Hideo Kojima’ among the credits for 1987’s “Metal Gear” inspires flashbacks of my life as a gamer. The year is 199X and my mother is taking away my just-opened copy of Metal Gear Solid for the PlayStation after seeing the opening level- a bit of good parenting that my less-than-ten-year-old self found utterly heart-wrenching. 2002 sees my brother and I playing Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty’s ‘tanker stage’ about a hundred times before finally investing in a PS2 memory card, and finding out that the rest of the game was nothing like what we’d seen. It’s 2004 and I’m sitting with what I call the “strategy tome” for Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, trying tirelessly to figure out the best possible camouflage techniques and wildlife to “procure on sight.” Outside the Times Square Virgin Megastore late one night in 2008, I stand among a crowd of hundreds waiting to grab their soon-to-be-released copies of Hideo Kojima’s magnum opus. The Metal Gear saga, in all its backwards, convoluted glory, has been a staple of my gaming life. Hell, I still play almost exclusively as Snake in Super Smash Brothers Brawl to this day. So when I picked up the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection a little while ago, I decided I’d get the Metal Gear foundation I never had by playing, well, "Metal Gear," and moving forward from there.

The last I ever saw of Metal Gear Solid. Still never played that PS1 version...

I’m not sure what I was expecting from this game, but when I reached the end I scratched my head, thinking about how this seemingly insignificant, paper-thin story arc was the seed that grew into the labyrinthine monstrosity the series is known for today. Whether there was some kind of plan for the story way back when this game was being developed is irrelevant to me. What’s incredible is not only the daunting task Kojima Productions has faced time and again trying to build on this tale of espionage without stepping on the toes of previous titles, but the alarming degree of consistency Kojima’s seminal stealth-action series has kept throughout its lifespan.

Snake looks an awful lot like Kyle Reese from "Terminator"...

It’s comforting to find that many of the techniques I’d honed in later Metal Gear titles served me well in this one. The key cards, binoculars, cigarettes, !’s over guards’ heads… all the standard fare made an appearance. At the beginning of the game, when I came up to the first set of two trucks I instantly knew that I’d find a handgun inside. Grabbing a remote controlled missile to shut down a computer on the other end of a maze-like room was no surprise to me either, and hiding in a cardboard box was actually refreshingly effective this time around. With the guards and cameras lacking the intelligence to question its presence, a part of me began wishing all the MGS games could be this simple. Having played this game for the first time in 2012, I felt like a time-traveler sent back from the future (Kyle Reese, perhaps?) who knew all the answers to modern day problems because he’s experienced them countless times already.

This wouldn't be the first time the intel guy went totally nuts.

It’s nice to see story beats that have echoed and mutated in future Metal Gear titles as well. The initial scene for example, shows up later in the openings of Metal Gear Solid and Raiden’s part of MGS2, as our heroes emerge from the water to infiltrate an enemy facility. Of course, Big Boss is a huge player in future episodes, as his presence (or more often, his absence) is the driving force for each game’s story. When he started feeding me false information near the end of the game that would send me back to the beginning each time, I couldn’t contain my excitement- I knew what would be coming. The random radio calls about turning off my console and aborting the mission explained a lot more about “I need scissors. 61” than I ever realized.

If this guy can punch through a solid wall, imagine how this guard feels...

If there’s one thing I’ve learned by playing "Metal Gear," more than any other game in the series, it’s this: SOLID SNAKE IS A BADASS. Yes, in future games he’d go on to destroy an army tank armed only with hand grenades, out-gun master snipers, down countless HIND-D helicopters, and single-handedly turn the tide of cybernetic global warfare, but that’s nothing compared to his antics in this game. Ambushed and captured, Snake finds himself locked in a lonely prison cell. All his equipment confiscated and no ketchup bottle or squeamish guards in sight, there is truly no way out… or is there?!? With a little advice from Big Boss, the rookie infiltrator Snake PUNCHES straight through a BRICK WALL in order to escape. WITH HIS FIST. I’m not even sure there are words fit to describe the momentous milestone in badassery that this represents, but as it was happening I could only respond with a gaping jaw.

Sporting a killer soundtrack of galloping, exciting action tunes juxtaposed with the cautious themes of stealth and a bunch of awesomely stupid boss names (which we’ve also come to expect in Metal Gear) like “Bloody Brad” and “Dirty Duck,” Kojima’s original "Metal Gear" still packs a solid punch after all these years. Pun intended.

Nick Hawryluk is the senior producer, director and editor of Press Play the Webseries. He also runs and contributes articles to the Press Play website. Check out more of Press Play's content at www.PressPlayTV.com

6 Comments
7 Comments
Posted by SpikeDelight
Already a seasoned veteran of the newer Metal Gear Solid titles, Nick goes back to his roots in this reflective piece for fans of the stealth action series.
Radio KNK reveals the Metal Gear staff...

As the pixelated credits roll, chip-tune theme song blaring into my ears, seeing the name ‘Hideo Kojima’ among the credits for 1987’s “Metal Gear” inspires flashbacks of my life as a gamer. The year is 199X and my mother is taking away my just-opened copy of Metal Gear Solid for the PlayStation after seeing the opening level- a bit of good parenting that my less-than-ten-year-old self found utterly heart-wrenching. 2002 sees my brother and I playing Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty’s ‘tanker stage’ about a hundred times before finally investing in a PS2 memory card, and finding out that the rest of the game was nothing like what we’d seen. It’s 2004 and I’m sitting with what I call the “strategy tome” for Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, trying tirelessly to figure out the best possible camouflage techniques and wildlife to “procure on sight.” Outside the Times Square Virgin Megastore late one night in 2008, I stand among a crowd of hundreds waiting to grab their soon-to-be-released copies of Hideo Kojima’s magnum opus. The Metal Gear saga, in all its backwards, convoluted glory, has been a staple of my gaming life. Hell, I still play almost exclusively as Snake in Super Smash Brothers Brawl to this day. So when I picked up the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection a little while ago, I decided I’d get the Metal Gear foundation I never had by playing, well, "Metal Gear," and moving forward from there.

The last I ever saw of Metal Gear Solid. Still never played that PS1 version...

I’m not sure what I was expecting from this game, but when I reached the end I scratched my head, thinking about how this seemingly insignificant, paper-thin story arc was the seed that grew into the labyrinthine monstrosity the series is known for today. Whether there was some kind of plan for the story way back when this game was being developed is irrelevant to me. What’s incredible is not only the daunting task Kojima Productions has faced time and again trying to build on this tale of espionage without stepping on the toes of previous titles, but the alarming degree of consistency Kojima’s seminal stealth-action series has kept throughout its lifespan.

Snake looks an awful lot like Kyle Reese from "Terminator"...

It’s comforting to find that many of the techniques I’d honed in later Metal Gear titles served me well in this one. The key cards, binoculars, cigarettes, !’s over guards’ heads… all the standard fare made an appearance. At the beginning of the game, when I came up to the first set of two trucks I instantly knew that I’d find a handgun inside. Grabbing a remote controlled missile to shut down a computer on the other end of a maze-like room was no surprise to me either, and hiding in a cardboard box was actually refreshingly effective this time around. With the guards and cameras lacking the intelligence to question its presence, a part of me began wishing all the MGS games could be this simple. Having played this game for the first time in 2012, I felt like a time-traveler sent back from the future (Kyle Reese, perhaps?) who knew all the answers to modern day problems because he’s experienced them countless times already.

This wouldn't be the first time the intel guy went totally nuts.

It’s nice to see story beats that have echoed and mutated in future Metal Gear titles as well. The initial scene for example, shows up later in the openings of Metal Gear Solid and Raiden’s part of MGS2, as our heroes emerge from the water to infiltrate an enemy facility. Of course, Big Boss is a huge player in future episodes, as his presence (or more often, his absence) is the driving force for each game’s story. When he started feeding me false information near the end of the game that would send me back to the beginning each time, I couldn’t contain my excitement- I knew what would be coming. The random radio calls about turning off my console and aborting the mission explained a lot more about “I need scissors. 61” than I ever realized.

If this guy can punch through a solid wall, imagine how this guard feels...

If there’s one thing I’ve learned by playing "Metal Gear," more than any other game in the series, it’s this: SOLID SNAKE IS A BADASS. Yes, in future games he’d go on to destroy an army tank armed only with hand grenades, out-gun master snipers, down countless HIND-D helicopters, and single-handedly turn the tide of cybernetic global warfare, but that’s nothing compared to his antics in this game. Ambushed and captured, Snake finds himself locked in a lonely prison cell. All his equipment confiscated and no ketchup bottle or squeamish guards in sight, there is truly no way out… or is there?!? With a little advice from Big Boss, the rookie infiltrator Snake PUNCHES straight through a BRICK WALL in order to escape. WITH HIS FIST. I’m not even sure there are words fit to describe the momentous milestone in badassery that this represents, but as it was happening I could only respond with a gaping jaw.

Sporting a killer soundtrack of galloping, exciting action tunes juxtaposed with the cautious themes of stealth and a bunch of awesomely stupid boss names (which we’ve also come to expect in Metal Gear) like “Bloody Brad” and “Dirty Duck,” Kojima’s original "Metal Gear" still packs a solid punch after all these years. Pun intended.

Nick Hawryluk is the senior producer, director and editor of Press Play the Webseries. He also runs and contributes articles to the Press Play website. Check out more of Press Play's content at www.PressPlayTV.com

Posted by TheHBK

Well gotta say, it was pretty obvious the story was not fleshed out. Probably each part was thought of as Kojima went along. I just felt betrayed a lot, investing in liking the characters and then hating others. The links to the first two games in MGS was awesome with Gray Fox and Naomi. But then you get silly things and what was once a badass experience with good feeling of life and death, becomes pretty silly. And it all just goes through my head. Yes, this game with a walking nuclear battle tank would be silly, but the Japanese-ness of it all just shines too bright and you get crazy super hero/anime type characters with plot twists that make the world seem smaller. But you can do it just not make it part of the plot, like the guy always needing to take a shit. That is cool.

  • Otacon is a bitch. He cries in three fucking games. Come on
  • Philanthropy, a generic ass name
  • The US is controlled by computers? (MGS2)
  • Some chick has telekinesis and cries about dying... (MGS2)
  • A fat guy... on rollerskates... (MGS2)
  • Arms control people (MGS2)
  • A gay Vampire that can run on water (MGS2)
  • You fight ghosts (MGS3)
  • A guy is made of bees (MGS3)
  • Some woman is the greatest soldier ever and she had a kid while fighting a war... what kind of person is she? (MGS3)
  • Ocelot can't decide what team he is on. Russia or US.
  • The Patriots happen to be everyone you met before (MGS4)
  • Big Boss is alive, because Frankenstein tech works (MGS4)
  • Nano machines can cure a bullet to the brain but can't cure cancer (MGS4)

Why do I point these out? Because I gave a lot of love to this series, and it just burned me. The part about the Patriots, that is just unforgivable. I have never seen lazier story telling in a big franchise like what I saw at the end of MGS4.

Posted by SpaceRunaway
@TheHBK:
 I kind of had the opposite reaction, loving the series for how it was able to come together, despite each installment being supposedly made with no real thought given to the next. 
 I can't really argue with a lot of your points, as it's really just down to personal opinion (although faulting a Metal Gear game for having crazy bosses? Really?), but I did want to at least mention that

  • Big Boss is alive, because Frankenstein tech works (MGS4)
Big Boss was already revived from the dead in Metal Gear 2, so it's not a completely illogical step in that universe.
Posted by DocHaus

@TheHBK:Technically, Hideo Kojima wanted to end it at MGS1 and work on something else (ZOE, maybe?), but the series was just too damned popular for its own good, and Konami kept throwing money at him to make more. So Kojima has had to slap together plots for sequel after sequel and the storyline got more convoluted as he made the decision to link all of his games that had a Snake in them. I'm tempted to say that MGS2 was his secret attempt to make people just stop bugging him, until it backfired and fans considered it so fucking "meta" that they loved it anyways. The part I'm pissed off at is: What was the fucking point of escorting Emma that whole way through water and bugs and scary noises and saving her from Vamp if she's just going to die anyway? AAAAAAAAH!

  • Ocelot can't decide what team he is on. Russia or US.

Technically, Ocelot plays for his own team, which included Big Boss and Major Zero/Cipher until he just decided to take control of the Patriots himself (or was that Liquid's arm talking? I don't know).

As for everything else in the timeline (after Peace Walker) the answer is usually "Nanomachines Did It, now shut up." Except for the butterflies in the AI Pod of Peace Walker. Or the guy covered in bees. Or...

Y'know what? I forgot where I was going with this. Just refer back to my opening statement and forget I wrote anything else here.

Posted by TheWholeDamnShow

Siphon Filter > Metal Gear

Posted by SpikeDelight
@TheHBK You make some valid points if that's how you feel about the game's story twists. For me though, I feel it is quite a rewarding series, because for all the implausible, supernatural stuff that happens you can really only get out what you put in. I could talk for hours (and have) about how I prefer active storytelling like this over the passive styles of most half-movie-half-games like Uncharted (still a great game but in a different way), but that could be because the first one I played was MGS2, so I was expecting for it to be that way.

And you can't really knock the bosses in MGS after you've fought the guys from Metal Gear and MG2... :P
Posted by FLStyle

@DocHaus said:

@TheHBK:

  • Ocelot can't decide what team he is on. Russia or US.

Technically, Ocelot plays for his own team, which included Big Boss and Major Zero/Cipher until he just decided to take control of the Patriots himself (or was that Liquid's arm talking? I don't know).

Allow me to clarify.

Ocelot's Allegiance

Ocelot was 100% USA, that alliance then became more worldly with the concept of The Patriots, making the world whole again as envisioned by The Boss (although it was never brought up in the games, I assume at the point of the creation of The Patriots, Ocelot finds out that he is the son of The Boss and The Sorrow). Zero and BB disagreed over what that world was (equally as wrong as each other) and The Patriots split in half with Ocelot secretly siding with BB and EVA.

Metal Gear 1 and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake happened, Zero captured BB's body and forced him to live a brain dead (locked away by nanomachines) cripple (the same thing that would await Solidus Snake in MGS4).

Ocelot and EVA hatched a two-part plan:

  1. Free Big Boss
  2. End The Patriots

As you saw at the end of MGS4, their plan worked

Liquid's arm

Liquid Snake did indeed take control of Ocelot at points during MGS2 when Solid Snake was near by ("You're the only one that can free me after all!"). This is the latent talking to the dead abilities of The Sorrow which Ocelot inherited but was never shown to use, realised were there or trained in. At some point between MGS2 and MGS4, with Solid Snake nowhere in sight, Ocelot had the arm removed and replaced with a cybernetic-prosthetic, stopping Liquid Snake there and then.

Every time you saw Liquid Ocelot in MGS4 was simply Ocelot pretending to be Liquid (nano-machines, hypnotherapy and auto-suggestion). The whole taking over and recreating The Patriots thing in MGS4 was part of the act. The two-part plan mentioned above never changed, if only slightly expanded upon because now Ocelot and EVA had the Patriots A.I. network to deal with as well.

Did Ocelot still have The Boss's world in mind at the end of the game? Maybe (again it's never officially stated that he knew about his parents even after all those years), it sure seems like her ideal world came to life with FOXALIVE. As for Ocelot, as soon as he completly dropped the act and became himself again the new "kill the living members of The Patriots" FOXDIE activated and killed him.