Monday, December 15, 2008

Rehash: The Saga Continues (part 2)

Here am I back with part two of my analysis of the original Metal Gear Solid. Since our last outing with our hero Solid Snake, Snake has infiltrated a warehouse full of nukes. He was told by the now-dead weapons company exec that he needs to find Dr. Hal Emmerich, creator of the Metal Gear project. After facing off against a ninja-cyborg (who seems to know Snake from somewhere else), our hero finds Dr. Emmerich. The Doctor, who prefers to be called Otacon, explains just what the titular Metal Gear is. The project is to create a giant bipedal walking battle tank fully armed with nuclear warheads, able to fire its nukes from anywhere on the planet. Unfortunately Otacon thought the Metal Gear would be used only for defensive purposes (really?!), only now realizing that his project will probably be used for something more nefarious. Kojima creates parallels here with the guilt of those who took part in the Manhattan Project. Not fully realizing the implications of nuclear technology, some of those scientists felt regret the rest of their lives. It's actually layed on pretty thick here, with Otacon revealing that his grandfather had been involved in the Manhattan Project and that his dad also just happened to be born the same day as the bombing of Hiroshima.

Kojima seems to enjoy laying things on thick. As we saw with the eight minute long speech against nuclear weapons in our previous outing, Kojima really likes to drive the point home, if not even overshooting it. It's like he wants us, the player, to know that he is specifically addressing us. This goes against the writer's adage of "show, don't tell". Sometimes it seems that Kojima would just rather tell us. It can definitely pull you out of the game.

And it would seem that Kojima likes to pull the player out of the game. Continuing on, Snake meets up with Meryl (pictured above), the Colonel's daughter (it's a long story but the Colonel who's giving Snake orders has a niece who joined Fox-Hound before they went renegade). What's interesting here is Kojima's use of "self-reflexive awareness of the game as a game" (I stole this from the Brainy Gamer, excuse me). After meeting up with Meryl you exit out into a hallway. Meryl calls attention to the fact that guards are no longer patrolling the hallways, which she finds odd. Then Snake replies, "What happened to the music?" It's then that you realize as the player that the game is talking to you, because, in fact, the music in the game really has stopped playing. The tense spy-action background music, something the player probably never paid much attention to before, has ceased playing. I had trouble finding a good clip of this. For now go all the way to the very end of this one to watch this scene.

Imagine in a film if during a particularly quiet scene one of the characters mentioned that there was no music. How odd would that be? After this strange little scene plays out you enter a new part of the building where the music starts back up again. When you get a call on your radio, one of the characters working with the Colonel specifically asks you if you've heard any strange music lately, and Snake responds with something along the lines of "Yeah, when I entered this part of the building I started hearing a little tune". Kojima seems to enjoy playing with you, the player of the game, not just the characters involved in it.

That's it for now, I'll be back with my final analysis of the original Metal Gear Solid next time.


yoggoth said...

I also liked that little bit of meta-commentary thrown into the game.

One thing I've noticed about the Metal Gear series and the Final Fantasy series is that the writers will throw in interesting, complex ideas without feeling the need to explain them. It's like they think to themselves, "Hey wouldn't that be neat, but how would it fit and why would I add it to this particular game?" And then they go ahead and just throw it in anyway.

Herr Zrbo said...

"Interesting, complex ideas without the need to explain them." Oh, you mean like the end of Metal Gear Solid 2?? I had to go consult a friend who's played all four games to make sure I understood everything that happened at the end, but I'll get to that in my analysis I suppose.