The Metal Gear Mondays Podcast is coming very soon, ladies and gentlemen! Sam Wright, myself, and newcomers to the franchise and the site, Cameron Hill and Isaac Lim, will be going through the series in book-club / bonfireside chat knock-off format starting with… METAL GEAR SOLID 1! Weird choice, I know, but it’s a logical jumping on point for Isaac and Cameron. We’ll get to Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, bear with us.
Keep posted for new info and hopefully the show will be approved and on iTunes before next Monday!
Quick post for this week, but a fun post for sure! I’m happy to announce that due to some interested friends and a nice little rallying cry, Metal Gear Mondays is going to become a podcast! Sam and I will be joined by two of my oldest friends, Cameron Hill and Isaac Lim, on a podcast series where we discuss Metal Gear from beginning to end! Our first episodes will focus on Metal Gear Solid for the PlayStation 1, with Cameron and Isaac representing the first time player and Sam and I taking our spots as series vets. We’ll be tackling this thing book-club style and break the game into roughly 3 episodes and 1 extrasode for a nice month of content every Monday.
We’ll be deciding on a recording date soon and I’ll keep everyone posted as to when that’s going to be released! This will be a separate iTunes entry, so check out Metal Gear Monday on iTunes once it’s up. Part of the GeekTime Podcast family!
The day is finally nearly upon us! Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain releases in one week of writing. I’m pretty excited, to say the least. For this week, I figured it may benefit readers for me to just make a big post of links related to the game’s release. So, enjoy, and let’s all talk about the game once it releases!
Metal Gear Monday is a series that I’m reviving from the old coffers of Geek Time passed, where I pick something about the Metal Gear series of games and either draft an article, record some audio, do a video, or generally just analyze on a Monday. It helps get the week started off nicely for me, and hopefully it will contain some tidbits about the franchise that you enjoy reading. And, just as an FYI — THIS SERIES IS FAIR GAME FOR SPOILER TERRITORY.
Like all of my content for Geek Time, I really like to hear back from readers and fans, so if you want to dive into the conversation, point out any errors that I’ve made, or want to present your interpretation on a topic, we’d love to hear from you! Be sure to let us know what you think via Facebook, Twitter, or via email, and if you want to contact me directly feel free to do so via Twitter, or send me an email as well.
This week I’m talking about how Hideo Kojima may’ve finally made THE Metal Gear game. The mechanics and technology may’ve finally caught up to Kojima’s original vision over two decades in the making.
The day that all of the haters, skeptical fans, and Bayonetta fans have been waiting for is here, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is here! But is Revengeance the sharpest tool in the drawer? Come on, I’ll feed you, baby birds!
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360)
Plays Like: Devil May Cry and this cutscene from Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots had a baby.
Difficulty: Mid, with a well paced learning curve.
Since the original announcement of Rising‘s existence as a spin-off series, I’ve been eagerly anticipating more Metal Gear, knowing well that the spin-off would be a twist on the traditional MG gameplay made me all the more excited. I’ve never been a huge fan of Cyborg Raiden Mk. II of MGS4 fame (preferring his weak and “normal” version from MGS2 personally), but I love me some Japanese hack-n-slash action games, especially from the boys over at Platinum Games.
For those of you that saw my gameplay time with the demo, you probably remember my fears about the combat system getting tiresome over time, or the lack of other weapons hampering the main title, well, all those fears were for naught! Rising is kick-ass, fast-paced, and a hell of a lot of fun! Crank up some cheese metal and let’s get to dissecting this game!
Revengeance starts off with a brief cutscene and then that’s it, the game starts and never really slows down. One second you’re fighting a gigantic Metal Gear RAY, much larger than any other RAY in a Metal Gear game, then you’re on a train fighting Jetstream Sam, Raiden’s rival and Antonio Bandaras impersonator. The game feels like Zone of the Enders, in the way that you swim around the game world drifting in and out of battles, except with loads more gore and a much more over-the-top mentality. It’s like every idea that was thrown out by the writing and conceptual team just stuck, regardless of how ridiculous it was, and it just works so well.
Honestly, I wasn’t sure if the game just was less ridiculous than I expected or if the game just presents the player with its view of “normal” so quickly that it just all feels right, but the game never really felt as corny as it really should have. I mean, the characters are all ridiculous and super stereotypes, and the plot seems to bend reality and the possible at every step of the way to make room for Raiden’s quest to be the best bad-ass to ever fight for justice and peace, but it’s never to such an absurd level that it makes you feel weird about it as a player. The world sets expectations and follows them, but not in a mundane way. It’s odd… like Adam West’s depiction of Batman, it all just feels… right. Really right.
And the gameplay fits just the same. It’s all just super fluid, fleshed out, simple yet complex, and so addicting, even if it doesn’t seem like it would be at first. Revengeance is the first game this year that I’ve stopped playing and craved playing it more while I was away. It just all makes sense. Platinum Games really pulled a number with this title, from the gameplay and performance to the pacing of the boss fights and reward system, all in a little over two years. Which brings me to my next point: this game is tough as nails as you progress into New Game+/higher difficulty territory. The tutorial level, in a sense, acts as a gut-check for all players, even in New Game+ modes, striping you of your power-ups and add-ons and forcing you to rely on your instincts and fighting mechanic expertise every time you start a new game. The game hits you with uneven odds sometimes, but every fight, besides the final boss fight, is fair. Nothing beats the feeling that you get after you’ve overcome a giant group of enemies, ranging from bigger bads to smaller foot soldiers, by parrying tons of attacks and chaining together blade-mode kills. Oh… sweet, sweet blade mode. Mmmmmmmmmmmm.
Overall, if you’re not into purely action based titles, or don’t like gore and massive amounts of violence in your video games, this one isn’t for you. However, if you miss a simpler time in video games, when the mechanics of a title were fairly easy to learn, but the mastering of the mechanics took hours and hours of practice and culminated in a triumphant endorphin release of glory as you destroyed the game’s big bads, then strap yourself in. This game is a blast! It’s a combination of the giant number of unlockables, VR missions, extra difficulty settings, enjoyable pacing, fast and addictive gameplay, and promise for actually interesting sounding DLC (involving playing as Jetstream Sam, some missions as Bladewolf, Raiden’s canine robo companion, and having a talking Solid Snake wooden sword) that make this game such a treat. Some folks may shy away from the $60 price-tag, but I definitely think that where the six hour or so campaign leaves you hanging as far as time x dollar spent, the number of extras and replay value more than make up for it.
– A new Metal Gear game, and hopefully the start to a nice spin-off series or series of spin-offs.
– Goofy, over-the-top, storyline and music actually make this whole experience coalesce in a way that I didn’t think was possible.
– Super fluid, thought requiring, minimalist combat that is also extremely addicting
– Unlockables in a modern video game?! YES!
– It ends.
– PS3 exclusive DLC
– Gray Fox Skin and Fox Blade only available through Gamestop pre-order
With Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance coming out in less than 24 hours, let’s finish our overview of Metal Gear Solid 2 by looking at the “Director’s Cut” version: Substance.
Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance
Xbox, PS2, PC | PS3, Vita, 360 [HD Edition]
November 5, 2002
Substance is a re-released version of Metal Gear Solid 2 that originally saw the light of day on the original Xbox a year after the release of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty for the PS2. Carrying on the tradition of Metal Gear Solid: Integral, Substance adds 300+ VR Missions, the ability to play as Solid Snake during the portions of the game where you originally could not, a fun Casting Theater feature where you can change out the characters in each of the game’s cutscenes, and a few other extras.
The PS2 version of Substance saw a delay, and as compensation for such a delay, it was released with free copies of The Document of Metal Gear Solid 2 for a limited time. The PS2 version of Substance in Japan replaced the original Japanese v.o. with the English dubs.
Some Metal Gear fans see the release of Substance, especially due to its subtitle, as commentary from Kojima on how gamers perceived the original release. Metal Gear Solid 2 definitely received a fair amount of criticisms from journalists and fans for its hard to follow narrative and lack of any actual “substance”, so it is quite common among some Metal Gear social circles to believe that the subtitle was a direct response to these criticisms. This is made somewhat more believable at the ludicrous amount of content made available in the title’s PS2 iteration (i.e. the skateboard mode based on a system from Konami’s own failed skateboarding game: Evolution Skateboarding). There’s an interesting article that argues about why the “Director’s Cut” was more or less a push from Konami and fans for Kojima to stop messing around and put out more MGS related content available at MetaGearSolid.org entitled “Substance Abuse” that I’m a huge fan of, so please, check it out.
Another common belief is that Substance first came out for the Xbox as a way for Konami to try and pull more of the “hardcore” gamers into the Metal Gear series and that the release was chock full of content as a way to appease these “hardcore” gamers who needed tons of content to dominate, especially content with leaderboards and such.
It’s just interesting to think of how much of a pacifist Kojima is and how anti-war Metal Gear normally is when looking at Substance, which literally makes a game out of killing, more so than the core game. In a way, it’s this gun fetishism and obsession with competitive blood sport and the coveted “number 1” spot that fuels some of Kojima’s creative decisions going into Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater.
I fall into the former camp of Metal Gear fans, sincerely thinking that this version of MGS2 is more of a disservice to the original narrative, but one that a lot of people wanted. It’s really nice having a massive amount of MGS2 content to play with, espeically since it is my favorite Metal Gear title, but it feels bitter sweet playing this edition knowing that a majority of the content wasn’t originally intended to exist. But, guilt aside, I enjoy Substance for what it is, but I definitely consider the narrative as a standalone experience, which finds itself soiled and mostly ruined by the inclusion of the “Snake Tales”.
Everyone have a happy Metal Gear Rising day tomorrow! Catch you next week for my review of Rising, or my first article looking at MGS3, depending on how much of Rising I can finish in a week.
Time to end this thing. I’ve been loosely talking about Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty for nigh on a month and a half now and I think that this train has run its course. I wanted to end this section of Metal Gear history by taking some questions from the readers just so that I could flesh out any ground that may have come off as obscured or muddy during my articles. There is a lot to cover when discussing Metal Gear Solid 2, so if I don’t get a chance to cover it all, and if you’re more interested in the “actual” events that occur within the game, instead of an analytic overview, I strongly recommend downloading the Metal Gear Solid 4 Database for the Playstation 3. It’s a very useful tool for any Metal Gear fan!
1. “Fortune, what’s up with that?”
In my opinion, Fortune is just another tell, or another way that the game tries to demonstrate its nature to the player. Sure, at the onset of her appearance we are made to believe that she can deflect bullets with her mind, or some sort of luck, but later when it is revealed to be some form of technology that is assisting her (playing into the techno-babel themes that the game touches on) the player starts questioning. Again the player’s thoughts and outlook is tested whenever Fortune is, in fact, able to dodge/deflect bullets even after the tech assisting her is destroyed. This back and fourth with her ability is used to demonstrate Kojima’s point about information and “truth”. It’s all about perspective and slant.
2. “If Kojima wanted Metal Gear Solid 2 to be the end of the series, why wasn’t it?”
Apparently the fans weren’t happy with the news, and neither was Konami. Honestly, it’s a tricky question, because I’m not in the inside of the situation. Hideo Kojima, at this point, probably has enough connections and capital to fund his own small nation, but then again that’s probably subjective. He is a very influential director and writer, especially in the video game industry, but that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t feel A. some form of responsibility for the series (knowing that Konami may twist it or do something with the IP that Kojima doesn’t want, even if he isn’t directly involved) and B. feel some sort of responsibility to his fan-base. I mean, it’s easy to say “Kojima is misunderstood and his fans’ interpretations, as a whole, of MGS2 disappointed him and shattered his romantic view of gamer culture”, but then again it’s just as easy to say, “Kojima could tell all of his fans to screw off and do whatever the hell he wants for the rest of his life”. I’m not entirely sure what the right answer is.
3. “What is the best version of MGS2 to play?”
Personally? I think that the original PS2 release is the way that the game was meant to be played initially and stands the test of time very well. As a poor Metal Gear fan I have since parted ways with a majority of my original copies of the games, what with many moves, lending to friends, and dire financial situations, so the HD Collection on the PS3 is how I currently have replayed the game, but the PS2 original is a dream. The frame-rate stutters a bit here and there on the PS3 and Vita, with the 360 version running smoothly, due to some of the trailing effects and smoke/fire particle effects, but all versions are definitely playable. The original Xbox version, Substance, runs really well, but I hate the non-pressure sensitive buttons and controller layout for MGS, so I say nay.
4. “How many times have you beaten MGS2 and are you morally opposed to Substance?”
To date, I have completed Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty and Substance at least fifteen times a piece. I collected every single dog tag on all difficulties on the original PS2 release of SoL back when, primarily due to a rumor that it would unlock Gray Fox as a playable character, and then I beat the game on Extreme and European Extreme when Substance came out, as well as countless other times with the HD versions and what not.
In short, I’ve beaten the game many times… many times. And I’ll talk more about my feelings pertaining to Substance next week.
5. “Is the Tanker portion made up too?”
Honestly, one could make the chase that the level of absurdity in the game is perfectly justifiable and that none of the game is “made up”. That’s what makes the title so amazing and layered is that it makes sense on a series of levels and for all audiences, and I honestly think that that’s Kojima’s real success. I personally feel that if you buy into the theory that the whole game is one big simulation, we could just as easily be playing as Raiden playing as Snake when we’re on the Tanker, or you could believe that the Tanker portion (originally MGS2) is a separate section from the Plant (originally MGS3) and that Solid Snake really does die during the events leading up to the Metal Gear RAY hijacking. It’s all up to you, the interpreter. I’m not trying to set any rules or tell you how the game is “really” meant to be enjoyed. I’m just sharing with you guys what I got out of it. I could very easily be buying into an eccentric philosophy just to rekindle some of the magic from when I first played the game. Who knows?
6. “Do the Zone of the Enders games tie into the Metal Gear universe in any way?”
The titles aren’t specifically set in the same universe, but Kojima Productions and Hideo Kojima like to reference their other works within each other. MGS2 definitely shares a lot of design principles and aesthetic with Zone of the Enders and the 2nd Runner, but other than references and cameos for fan-service, I don’t think there is a definite connection. Snatcher and Metal Gear, on the other hand, seem to occur within the same universe.
Alright kids, that’s it. Next week we’ll discuss Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance and then we’re on to Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. We may be interrupted part of the way through by the release of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, which I’ll have to review for obvious reasons! See you guys at the same Metal Gear time at the same Metal Gear place. Next canonical article is out tomorrow. Deal with it.