Metal…Gear? Yes, the titanic, critically acclaimed franchise created by Hideo Kojima. Metal Gear is one of gaming’s most iconic series. It has existed seemingly on almost every generation of console with the first game in the series being released on July 7, 1987 on the Nintendo Entertainment System. With all the buzz recently surrounding the latest installment of the adventures of Snake (in this case Big Boss/Naked Snake), we should demystify what it is about these games that have kept us fascinated throughout the years.
First and foremost Metal Gear is a stealth game. Most consider Metal Gear Solid to be the game that pioneered the stealth genre, inspiring games like the different, but similar Splinter Cell, Thief and others. It is the stealth game. It is to stealth as Resident Evil is to survival horror. Each game in the series is tight and fun to play, with a lot of interesting mechanics and approaches to gameplay. However, it is much more than a genre defining game series. Most aspects of it in general are sort of mind blowing when you think about it.
The story of the Metal Gear universe spans decades, ranging from flashbacks to World War II to the not-so-distant Future. The plot of the series has been developed and related in the form of ten different games, plus various spinoffs. The scale of the story alone is impressive and that is not even mentioning the depth and ludicrous complexity of it. The game is about war and various aspects therein, but any attempts to convery these things to anyone who isn’t a veteran of the series may prove complicated and challenging, since to them you are basically saying gibberish.
Think about it. If I said the following (which I suppose is a spoiler for Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns Of The Patriots),
“Revolver Ocelot grafts the severed arm of Liquid Snake onto him and hypnotizes himself into thinking that he is Liquid Snake.”
That sounds ridiculous, yet in the game it makes perfect sense. That’s part of the fun of it. When you meet someone else who is a fan of the series, you can just ramble on and on about the complex story and things. You get to talk about those little weird things.
In fact, many aspects of the games are little things that don’t make a whole lot of sense in any other series. The little easter eggs and some of the nuance of the games would feel wholly out of place anywhere else. A great example is the Tangashima musket from MGS 4. It dispatches foes with tornadoes, which sounds like something straight out of the Call of Duty zombies mode.Yet, in the game it almost fits in. Beyond that, despite the serious nature of Metal Gear’s themes, all the games are a little bit whimsical. They have little hints of humor and fun written all over. A lot of things are just a little dumb (looking at you Fatman).
On a technical level, Metal Gear is just impressive. Almost every time a Metal Gear game has come out, there are always claims about how it pushes things to the current limit. The games are always on the bleeding edge of graphical technology and mechanics. It still kind of blows my mind that Metal Gear Solid 3 looked as good as it did on the Playstation 2. With this latest iterations, Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes and The Phantom Pain, they may not be Crisis 3, but the levels of details and graphical advancement are just insane. The scale of that game is outrageous. People can only really speculate on how big the map is, while it is supposed to be utterly massive, many times the size of other open-world games. On top of that the apparent amount of stuff you can do in this game is ridiculous as well. (#1 on that list for me is abducting livestock with Fultons) Kojima even said that he was worried about people not being able to finish The Phantom Pain.
However what impresses me most about Metal Gear is the silly amount of detail put into things that truly don’t matter. In Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, you can shoot ice bucket in the beginning of the game on the tanker. You don’t have to, nor would most people even do it. What is cool about it is that ice inside actually melts. Why even do something like that? And also interestingly, in the cave section in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater it is very dark and as you spend more time in the cave, the screen gradually gets brighter to simulate Snake’s eyes adjusting to the darkness. If that attention to detail isn’t outrageous, I don’t know what is.
A friend of mine says that the Metal Gear series are the best worst games he’s played. Metal Gear is one of the most influencial series in gaming. It is engrossing, mechanically deep, graphically impressive and more, but in a lot of ways it’s weird and confusing too. That is sort of part of the charm in this epic saga, and I for one can’t wait to see what comes out of the newest one. What do you guys think about Metal Gear? Are you excited for the new one? Are you burned out? Are you new to the series? Let me know in the comments below and for all your gaming-related news keep it locked at FGE.