Game Eaters

Friday, September 16, 2005

Guns of the Patriots.

After 9/11 I would have thought no one would have the balls to make a political military game. But, just two months later, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty stunned me, like a slap in the face. I knew Kojima had devised his Orwellian nightmare vision of America before 9/11, but that's what made it so creepy. I wasn't expecting any real critique of America for a long time, until it was politically "safe" to do so... like all those Vietnam movies that weren't able to come out until the 80's. But MGS2 was like Dr. Strangelove. It just came out of nowhere and left you gasping "How did that even get out?"

For years I've been wondering what Kojima would do when he finally got around to finishing the Metal Gear saga. MGS3 was a sly jab at the black & white politics of Hollywood, but cloaked behind its retro, Cold War theme it wasn't overtly political. My theory was that Kojima was biding his time, wondering how the hell he was going to finish the series while the War on Terror was still going on.

And now we have it. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. The Patriots, as we know from MGS2, are the corrupt body that controls American politics, the puppet masters who keep elections a meaningless charade. We can only guess from MGS4's title that the plot involves The Patriots, and their war mongering, as a central theme.

And what else do we have? What appears to be a war-torn Middle Eastern city? Robots based on DARPA's design for Metal Gear roaming the streets? An old, grizzled Snake hiding from this superior military force in the ruins? And somehow The Patriots are behind it all?

Um... can we say Dark Knight Returns meets The Bush Administration?

Okay okay. Maybe I'm reading too much into it. Clearly, the Metal Gear game I want to see is one where Snake and Co. take down a corrupt U.S. government. But who knows what the final plot will be. I will say though... so far it certainly looks like it could be a dangerously political game. Given Metal Gear's previous politics, Guns of the Patriots promises to avoid the gutless, morally-neutral mush you find in all other military-themed games.


  • I swore I would never play an MGS game after I gave up on MGS2, but I think I would have to give any game that could remotely be described as "Dark Knight Returns meets the Bush Administration" a chance.

    By Blogger Darius Kazemi, at 7:29 PM  

  • Dark Knight Returns was basically Batman meets the Reagan Administration, anyway. :)

    I think Matt doesn't quite give other military games out there their due. It's not like they don't have themes, it's just that their themes are pretty old hat. "The US military keeps chaos at bay through carefully selected missions" or "war is hell, the best you can hope is to survive it" or even "combat can be a carefully played chess game with minimal loss of life, if you're smart enough." I do think most military games out there are faithful to their themes...they're just not terribly interesting themes by now.

    As a series, MGS clearly isn't afraid of throwing its players a curveball, to see if they're up to the challenge. Be it in theme, gameplay mechanics or even which character you control, Kojima & Co. seem to revel in delivering something you aren't quite expecting. For this reason, I think Matt may be getting his hopes up for no good reason; there's no evidence that the final game will have a story similar to the trailer, and there's plenty of evidence from previous games that it'll just be something off-the-wall different.

    Which in no way means "bad." I, for one, love the series primarily for its curveballs. It's just that some folks keep expecting MGS4 to be "just like MGS1/2/3, only better," and they're clearly setting themselves up for disappointment.

    By Blogger Philip, at 8:51 PM  

  • Darius:

    It's a shame you gave up on MGS2... since it could be described as the same.


    I love Kojima's curveballs as well. I'm sure he has more in store, and I don't think I've figured MGS4 out nor would I want to.

    I have no idea what the plot's going to be, and it will surely involve much more than what's implied in the trailer. I'm just excited that Kojima might follow the thematic logic of MGS2 to its conclusion. It's true that Kojima loves surprising the audience, but there is an overall thematic trajectory to the series. I dunno what you think I think it's going to be, but when I say "Dark Knight Returns meets The Bush Administration" all I mean is it looks like it's going to at least *address* the themes established in MGS2 (totalitarianism) and MGS3 (government-imposed vs personally-imposed moral views). All I'm expecting is for MGS4 to involve those issues and expand on them somehow... whatever story it ends up having.

    I think you are assuming a bit much with Kojima's curveballs. MGS2 surprised everyone, but MGS3 was more or less what I expected. The only curveball there was it being set in the 60's, which we all knew 2 years before it was released. I don't expect Kojima to shoot straight all the time, but I don't see any reason to believe the trailer we saw of MGS4 is some elaborate trick. Even if it's not the main game, I'm sure it represents some portion of the game.

    Also, my problem with other military games is their general lack of *moral* curiosity. It's not that they don't explore war and conflict in interesting ways... just not the way that my hippie brain is interested in. :P

    By Blogger Matt, at 10:14 AM  

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