MGS V: Our Story

There are going to be MASSIVE spoilers in this blog. If you have not finished Metal Gear Solid V or are only part way through it, come back when you beat it. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

Lots of discussion has been going on since the release of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. People seem to be pretty upset with the ending. An entire Kotaku article was written about how disappointing the whole affair was. (Then again, it is Kotaku)

I think people have the entire plot wrong. It may not be well written (in fact, I’d go so far as to say it’s outright bad), but it has a bigger symbolic meaning then we realize. For the first time in any games plotline, you (the player) are the most important figure in it.

The big twist at the end of MGS V is that you were never actually playing as Big Boss. At the end of Ground Zeroes and leading up to the opening of Phantom Pain, Zero and Ocelot concoct a plan to fool the world and keep Big Boss’ enemies off him.

This leads to you getting a face lift and becoming “Big Boss”. In actuality, you are Punished “Venom” Snake, who was once a field medic and the best soldier of MSF. He had such a dedication to Big Boss’ philosophy that, when in the coma, his mind was easy to trick in believing he was Big Boss.

Thus kicks off a game where, without the twist, nothing big really happens. You get revenge on the man who destroyed Mother Base and the plotline just kind of peters out of existence. The credits roll, you lose a buddy and that’s really it.

It’s when you consider the twist that things start to get interesting. I won’t defend it’s place in the Metal Gear canon (as I think it makes no damn sense), but as a standalone game, Phantom Pain’s plot is pretty emotional.

For starters, it’s basically a gigantic thank you to every Kojima fan. Without us, he would never be the superstar developer he is today. By making us Big Boss, he is saying that no Metal Gear would be possible without our love of the series.

Or without *sob* David Hayter!

The shift in gameplay to an open-world also echoes this. Since we are now the most pivotal character in the plot, our choices are what Venom Snake goes with. There are multiple ways to accomplish any task, so the story is dependent on the player.

There are obviously some bits from Ground Zeroes thrown in to make some kind of connecting thread, but you could skip that game and not miss much. The ending might make less sense, but you wouldn’t initially feel shocked at how you were deceived.

In the aforementioned Kotaku article, the writer goes on about how Mission 43 becomes mess gripping once you learn you aren’t Big Boss. I actually think the opposite effect occurs; once you learn you’re not actually Big Boss, you begin to realize that you are the one making all the shots.

You walked into the quarantine zone on Mother Base and shot the soldiers that you extracted. Everything was done by you and has to be undone by you. If your character were Big Boss, it would be an emotional moment for him. Since it’s actually you, the impact becomes two-fold.

I probably would have cried more than strike a dramatic pose.

The Phantom Pain works wonders when it comes to player involvement. I do wish the narrative were stronger (or that Konami didn’t cut out the damn real ending), but I can’t think of how else to really get a player invested in an open-world style game.

A lot of sandbox adventures suffer from unfocused plotlines. Grand Theft Auto IV and V have really bad stories. Each one starts with an intriguing premise before falling into rote execution and repetition. In both of those games, the actions done are by your characters, first, and then you.

Assassin’s Creed III is another perfect example. The whole game is built around the growth and struggles of Connor, not you. Not only do I not care to see his story unfold, but the game takes so damn long to even do so that the gameplay simply acts as a distraction more then anything.

With the Phantom Pain, every bit of gameplay is story. Regardless of what you’re doing, those moments are a part of Venom Snake’s history. You decided to make it happen and it will be your own personal conclusion to Metal Gear’s legacy.

The previous entries in the Metal Gear series were all about how much of a bad ass Solid Snake was. Even with Metal Gear Solid 3, it was less you and more Naked Snake doing things. He was the one who got the glory and who had to put that final bullet into The Boss.

I just can’t help but think people missed that with the Phantom Pain. We were so used to games giving us a clear narrative and actual purpose that we were left disappointed. That’s not to say that every story beat is good (because that isn’t even close to true), but the whole of the Phantom Pain is bigger then it’s individual pieces.

Kojima has stated that the amount of player freedom in Grand Theft Auto V had made him depressed. He was positive that the Phantom Pain couldn’t reach the same heights as Rockstars latest blockbuster.

In all honesty, I feel that MGS V has the most freedom of any game I’ve played this year. It’s also more open ended then a lot of sandbox games claim to be. You’re given tools, a general location and then told to get at it. If anything, it echoes more of Far Cry 2 then it does Grand Theft Auto.

I truly think that Kojima was inspired by what FromSoftware have done with the Souls games. While those are a bit more linear then the Phantom Pain, they don’t beat the player over the head with exposition or cutscenes. You enter a world and rarely (if ever) lose control.

But I can’t control this! WHY?! WHHHOOOOOO?!

The cassette tapes were a decent idea with MGS V, just the execution of them didn’t truly work out. We may never know how much Konami’s decision to drop Kojima may have effected the game, but I do get the feeling that the story could have been grander if Konami just believed in their output.

Still, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is deeper then we all think. It probably won’t go down in history as a classic or even the best of the series, but it certainly deserves to be called a masterpiece. If nothing else, I believe we have a best new character of 2015; us.

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The End of an Era

As the curtains closed on “Assassin’s Creed: Revelations” for me, one thing struck me; I really love Ezio. The stories of his games have gotten progressively more convoluted and incomprehensible, but he is such a shining example of a great character.

The man is flawed, but intelligent. He is willing to admit mistakes and learn from them. He was brash in his youth, but we’ve seen him grow to being wise and powerful. He is a masterful leader and excellent assassin. It’s touching to see his life close out.

The same goes for Altair, despite how annoying and underdeveloped he was in the first “Assassin’s Creed” game. Seeing the later parts of his life and coming to terms with knowing that he is gone was actually kind of difficult for me.

It’s shocking to deal with death. I’ve had to do it in the past for two family members and they’ve stirred me to my very core. Seeing them one day and then knowing they have faded forever is terrible. Not knowing the reason why or contemplating how just makes it worse.

I obviously knew Altair died, otherwise Ezio couldn’t exist. Ezio had to have passed at one point, too, as Desmond is the modern day equivalent of him. Still, just witnessing their final moments and knowing their ambitions make those scenes very poignant.

When Altair speaks with his family before finally saying goodbye, I just think of how my grandmother or aunt might have taken my final words to them. While Altair knew he was heading for death and his son probably could have guessed it, I never knew when my family was going to pass.

Soon at work, one of my co-workers will be leaving. I’ve only known her for the better part of a year, but just as I was getting friendlier, she is leaving. I’m not blaming her (as the matter is far more complex than just quitting), but I do wish I could hold onto the atmosphere we’ve cultivated.

Still, I’m hopeful for her future. My current job isn’t what you’d call a beacon of dreams. The company is mainly where people go to die, or distract themselves over the summer between classes. That I am there and toiling away just makes me remorseful of my past.

The two might not even be closely related in terms of severity or gravity, but losing anyone is just hard. As sad as it might seem, I really didn’t want to lose Ezio. Seeing a new Assassin’s Creed title with him might have been groan inducing, but it always left me hopeful for his charming demeanor.

The end of Altair and Ezio, though, gives me reason to believe in the future of Assassin’s Creed. I’m truly hoping Ubisoft is listening to the fans, because I do not want to see Desmond in any first-person style crap again.

What I feel is that we are moving on to something new and fresh. The few previews for “Assassin’s Creed III” show that combat is getting revamped and exploration seems to be in a massive open world. That’s about all I’ve read.

Still, life moves on. We can’t always hold onto the past, other than our memories. While I try to avoid being nostalgic and always attempt to look at things for what they are, maybe it’s time for me to employ some sympathy to my memories.

I’ve dwelled long enough on the passing of my grandmother and aunt. Reliving those moments I learned of their deaths hasn’t done me favors for the past two years. I know all the lessons associated with those events and it’s high time I applied them to my life.

Ezio’s final words echo within me. “When I was a young man, I had liberty, but I did not see it. I had time, but I did not know it. And I had love, but I did not feel it.” My life is essentially this.

So instead of repeating the mistakes of Ezio, I believe I shall change, It may not be soon or very noticeable, but it will occur. This is the end of era, both for me and for Assassin’s Creed. Here’s to the future!

Damn You, Nook!

Gaming is one of the most ultimate forms of relaxtion. Putting a game on helps you forget about your problems and the world around you. You’re transported into different worlds and take the role of heroes or villains and get to do whatever tickles your fancy.

For me, though, my personal favorite game to relax with is “Animal Crossing: Wild World.” While I may prefer Zelda or have a huge fondness for Metal Gear, neither franchise can compare with the tranquility and solitude that Animal Crossing provides.

The game gives you small tasks, but nothing that you can ever truly complete. You pay off loans on your house, help neighbors with fetch quests and collect fossils and bugs. It all sounds rather mundane, but that’s actually the whole glory of it.

It’s so damn amusing to travel through town and meet the different animal inhabitants. My personal favorite has to be Portia, the Dalmatian. Her perky attitude always kept me coming back for more.

When you spoke with your neighbors enough, sometimes they’d ask for nicknames or catchphrases. I constantly put in ridiculous words just to hear the animal gibberish language garble it up.

Anyone who’s played Animal Crossing will know of how dastardly Tom Nook is. That bastard hits you up for rent money all the time. The tasks you need to perform to pay him back often require you dig into your own pockets first, making the whole cycle of debt even more dramatic.


Damn you, Nook!

While previous entries existed, Wild World is what really drew me in. I used to love talking to my friend about how my town was blooming, but actually having him able to jump in with me and mess around was unparalleled. Not only that, but the DS version supported Online Play, something the Gamecube could never do.

Now I could finally come home from work, boot up my DS and grab my friend for a game. It was fantastic and it allowed me to take my town with anywhere and be connected at any time. It was so liberating to not have to be tied to a console.

My friend and I would often sit on AIM while playing just so we could chat. We’d make comments about how Nook was a bastard or plot how we could get every type of fruit in our village (something that requires more than 1 friend). It was a bonding experience that kept us friends for quite awhile.

What made it better, though, was my mother’s interest in the game. She saw me playing it one day and got herself a DS and a copy of the game to play with me. Her and I have traded fruits, fossils and items and played online numerous times while I was away at school.


Online MP is so sweet.

Our summers were punctuated with races to see who could snatch up a shark first. We even got my sister in on the action and found it hilarious when she was mauled by a scorpion. The three of us have never been closer and this game made it all happen.

Even without multiplayer or online, though, Animal Crossing is just so much damn fun. The idea shouldn’t be fun, but having a game world where I’m not required to do anything is great. I feel like I can just pop in the game and waste hours for no good reason, but still accomplish something.

Here’s hoping the 3DS version remains just as fun.