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11:28 AM on 10.19.2013

5 Things I Look For in a Game

The thing about the video game industry is that, like movies, there are many different types to choose from. With the industry being close to the $11 billion range*, many different companies have found their niche in in creating games of certain genres for players. Take EA Sports, the athletic division of EA Games. They have released a new sports game for football, soccer, basketball and other sports almost every year like clockwork. They have to; their consumer demands it. Another company, Ubisoft, has pooled many offices together to be able to release a new Assassin's Creed game every year. These companies know what their customer wants and continue to provide.

However, every gamer is different, and I think that that makes for an interesting introspective into what exactly you like in a game. In movies, the director only has a couple of hours to fully tell a story with all of the details he or she wants to include in it. Books can offer a lot more time and space to tell it, but they require much more patience from the reader in order to experience it. (Which, in my personal opinion, is why many people hate reading these days.) Games give so many different things in a much broader sense of time and effort, and they allow for mistakes to be made. So, when I think of a good game, I try to list what elements create a sort of template that those good games fall into. I came up with five different qualities that I find make a game worth purchasing.

   Production Quality

Story: In a game, I have to be able to know what's going on. I admit that some games are about the gameplay, and the story sometimes suffers for it. I'll get into those in a bit. However, the games that stand out to me are the ones that get the player emotionally invested in the characters. RPGs, especially Japanese ones, are notorious for getting their stories on point and making the player become part of that world. Though the Final Fantasy series is an obvious example for me concerning this one, the most recent JRPG I played was Ni no Kuni. I was skeptical when I borrowed it from a friend, but he told me how amazing the whole game was. So I tried it and loved it. The characters were rich and original, and the plot was light-hearted and dynamic at the same time. Though I won't go into it more, since I already covered it in a previous post, The Last of Us is another prime pick in the story department for me. I can't even describe completely how this is so, because if you haven't played it yet, you certainly need to.

Gameplay: As I said, sometimes a game is allowed to suffer a bit in the story if the gameplay is an incredible experience. In fact, I think that the gameplay can sometimes be a story of its own; a way of guiding the player through experience rather than dialogue or plot. I think back a little to my PS2 days and remember playing the first Zone of the Enders. I barely remember the story part of it, though I don't think that it was that impactful. However, what I do remember is the powerful feeling of being in complete control of a mobile suit that moves very fast and attacks swiftly. The gameplay sent me further back to my elementary school years when I used to watch Gundam Wing on Cartoon Network. (Did anyone else watch Toonami in the afternoons after school?) That show was the epitome of mobile suit animation, and Zone of the Enders made me feel like I was a part of that genre. Other examples I can think of with strong gameplay are Vanquish, Devil May Cry (the original one) and One (this title is PS one title, in case you haven't heard of it.)

Replayability: Usually, one of the first questions that pop in my head has to do with the length and content of the game. If I think I can beat the game in five hours, I rarely buy it. That's what redbox is good for. If a game has enough content to last it a long time, I usually think about owning it. I mean, who wants to rent Grand Theft Auto V? If this same game gives me reasons to keep playing after I see the credits roll, then it gets a high mark in my mind. Games with replay value have a sort of Matrix trilogy level in my mind: every time I watch those movies I get something new out of it. I want my games to do that too. Going back to when I owned a PS One, I remember the concept Capcom used for Resident Evil 2. The idea, if you are unfamiliar with the original version of the game, was that you had to play it twice to see the real ending. The game was on two discs: one disc with the male lead, Leon, and the other with the female lead, Claire. You decide who you want to play as first and pop that disc in. Beat the game, and you get an ending. However, load your finished game on the other disc, and you play as the other person and experience what they went through while you played your first game, as opposed to the tactic back then of just selecting different characters that walked the same path. It was only by doing this that you got the true ending. That was really cool to me, and I'll never forget how that worked. Mass Effect is another solid replay choice due to its enormous choice system and how that relates to the story. I get lots of fun out of asking other players what choices they made and how it turned out for them.

Production Quality: I put this lower on the list because I think that the above-mentioned elements can make a game shine even if it doesn't quite look amazingly realistic. Granted, if a game is next-generation, it needs to look and feel that way. One thing that really bothers me is forced voice acting, or just terrible acting in general. If you're trying to create a compelling story, having the characters sound like they're working for $2 a day doesn't really help. I got that feeling when I recently replayed Rainbow Six: Vegas via the free Games with Gold promotion. I remember liking the game when I was younger, but playing through it now didn't go so well. The actors sounded terrible, and the graphics were glitchy.

In finding games with high quality production, I look for what the game is doing and how it does in comparison to other titles in its released year. I think that's one reason why I loved Final Fantasy VIII so much, even though it took my RPG V-card all the way back in the 4th grade. Yes, VII was amazing for its time, being the first CD-based FF title. However, with VIII I saw what amounted to real people in that game. They stood tall, were able to look right at the player and even had certain gestures that looked human. No voices, of course, but that was the standard for the day. Fast forwarding to today, you need a lot more in your production quality. I admire and respect Hideo Kojima, creator of the Metal Gear series, for how much time and effort he puts into story, visuals, music and voice acting. His newest title, Metal Gear Solid V, is created using its own graphics engine. He's also bringing in Hollywood talent to voice his characters, such as Kiefer Sutherland. Finally, he is continuing to work with composer Harry Gregson-Williams to score the game. These things are those little details that put a game over the top in my mind.

Multiplayer/Co-Op: Now, I'll admit that I am not the most competitive in video games. I enjoy playing the single player immensely. The MP is just an added bonus that I try out to see how it works. If a game ties in the MP experience with single player, I become intrigued. I applaud the efforts of the team at BioWare for using Mass Effect 3's MP to help aid your single player war efforts. Also, The Last of Us uses a sort of meta-game objective of collecting and maintaining a surviving camp as the driving reason for playing the MP. And, I think I'll skip past the painfully-obvious example of Call of Duty. That's a dead horse right there.

I think another good example would be anything that Rockstar does. Their Social Club experience brings players together over multiple titles, a sort of meeting place you find friends with in each of the Rockstar titles you play. Though I haven't attempted the GTA Online fun yet, I spent a lot of time doing multiplayer in Max Payne 3. Abilities to create clans or groups that stay with you from one title to another is an alluring and smart move on Rockstar's part. It also helps create friends to play and connect with, and I need friends. (That sounds kinda depressing, but I wouldn't mind having more PSN friends. Look me up: MogwaiOfOwnage.) Anyways, I'm always interested in a new kind of multiplayer experience.

Also, co-op is huge with me. My friend and I bought Dead Space 3 within the first week of its release for the soul purpose of playing it together. The story was created with two players in mind, and that's how it should be experienced. Getting more content and gameplay through co-op is what partly drives that whole experience, I think. Another example is any of the Army of Two games. The only thing that suffers about those is that you kinda lose a little bit of the fun by playing them alone; you really have to play those games with two people. You just feel cooler that way. Splinter Cell: Blacklist has a great new co-op feature that helps everyone in their single player campaign.

So, that's my criteria for a good game. I'm sure that I skipped over some genres, including sports. (I enjoy a few sports games, but they're really not my thing.) However, these are just my opinions. Many gamers probably have different standards for what they consider a good game. That's the great thing about the video game industry: in the community of all things games, there are so many different reasons to play.

*Info taken from   read

10:51 PM on 10.16.2013

Where Did That Adventure Run Off To?

When I was a kid, I had two different types of video game experiences: the console games I had in my room, and the games that I shared with my mother on the old IBM we had in the study. Everything that I played on the computer was a whole new breed from what was controlled on a D-pad and geometrically-signed buttons. We played adventures on it; moving tales that brought you the story at your pace and made your mind work. I suppose my question to the world now is, Where have these games gone?

Now, before you think back to what you played on a PC, let me clarify. The games I played didn't have much to do with over-the-top scrolling of a character as they move throughout the world. These were the games where you clicked a spot and made the character move. You clicked an image or an item and dragged it into your inventory or where you needed it to go. Sometimes the games were animated, and sometimes they were live action. Most of the mechanics involved solving puzzles and exploration. In fact, some of the puzzles and levels in these games were so challenging that telephone hot-lines were created for players to call in for hints. I think the biggest thing about these games that I remember was that they were accessible to adults in a time when video games were wrapped for kids during birthdays and Christmas. I was allowed to skip bed time a lot due to the combined brain power and efforts of my mom and I during a particularly tough quest. I miss that experience.

One of my favorite PC adventures was called Torin's Passage. In here, the player controlled Torin, a simple farmer with royal blood, who has to travel to the center of his world, where different types of worlds lie in between the top crust and the center. Each world offered a new type of people or challenge, and the player had to figure out what tools and tasks were necessary to travel deeper into the planet. There was something so satisfying about finally solving the puzzle that moved one on to the next challenge. I loved it.

Perhaps one of the more well-known PC adventure games was Myst, a first-person title that involved an unnamed player (you) being transported to a new world through a book. In this game, the player explores the abandoned island of Myst and travels to other places through the magical books they find. Again, the player clicks to move and picks up items they find. There aren't any enemies to fight here; the only adversary is the challenge of figuring out how things work in these places. Myst turned out to be a huge success, by the way.

One last example that I remember is The Beast Within: A Gabriel Knight Mystery. A supernatural thriller, the player controlled investigator and hunter Gabriel Knight as he traveled around Europe researching a potential werewolf threat. This game was almost completely live action, allowing the player to explore the European landscape and cities as they searched for clues to solve the mystery. Each chapter brought suspense and accomplishment with it, keeping me and players around the country in front of the screen for hours at a time.

So, why aren't there games like this anymore? Well, that's up to how you interpret the idea of an adventure game in the 21st century. Examples such as Uncharted, Journey, Brothers and others still satisfy some of the qualifications in that there is puzzle solving and exploration. However, I think adventure games had to become more marketable for the newer generation of gamers, so action had to be slowly added in to make them more appealing. Take Fable for instance. 20 years ago, Fable could have been a purely adventure title, where you explore, make money and build a life for yourself. Of course, that may be hard to perceive as fun now, considering that Fable has an action core to it. But that's just one example.

I think that adventure games can still be created and made fun for the public. In fact, some may even become a breath of fresh air for the gaming community. It all depends on how one is made and whether or not a company chooses to use "retro" as a platform for the future titles. I certainly wouldn't mind a new edition of King's Quest, that's for sure.   read

8:41 PM on 10.14.2013

Are You A Gamer?


11:45 PM on 10.12.2013

Indie Games: The Unsung Heroes of Console Options by Marcus Brown

What's the last game you played that didn't come from a disc or online version of a disc game? For some, that's an easy question to others. But, if you're like me, then you may have to think for a bit. It's very easy to get caught up in the AAA games that headline review and news websites. However, sometimes a player needs to take a step back, or rather deeper, into the network marketplaces of their consoles to find some real treasures of games.

Some may be surprised to find just how many options one has to get a game on the Xbox Live Arcade or the Playstation Network. These sites, along with Steam, have become lush playgrounds for upcoming game developers to make their ideas come to life, but these iterations sometimes get overlooked in comparison to big names such as EA and Ubisoft. Even in the indie game circle, some titles get much recognition, while others become small titles that a minority of people discover. These titles should be explored by more than just the serious gamer.

Take Journey, for example. Winning many awards, this simple game from thatgamecompany involves nothing more than a simple run and jump mechanic. But, through stunning visuals and a moving soundtrack, the developers create atmosphere, and this drives the gameplay forward.

In a much more action-based setting, Dead Nation, a zombie shooter developed by Housemarque, offers a fluid, third-person view of a single survivor in a zombie apocalypse. Like Journey, this game does not have much in the way of complicated game mechanics. It just offers players a satisfying time of killing the undead without having to be good at it.

These are but a few examples of indie games that offer much in the way of experience, and that's one advantage of playing these games. You get a certain gameplay feeling that can be different from the normal console games released monthly. Also, one gets value in their purchase, both in the kind of game it is and the price it costs. Many of these smaller titles cost about as much as a hearty meal at McDonald's. Trust me, you'll get more satisfaction out of the game than the food.

Finally, you are getting one more thing out of the game, and this may be the most important part of it all. You're getting the chance to critique, to analyze and to help out developers. Upcoming game creators need experience just as much as they need funding or ideas. Even if you end up hating the game, give it a review somewhere. You could go one step further and make this review on the developer's website or blog. Knowing where one's weaknesses are can make the next project so much better, if given the chance.

With big titles like Call of Duty: Ghosts and Destiny being released soon, much focus is spent on the next big thing to buy, especially with the holiday season fast approaching. But, what if you took the time to explore the little games too? I challenge you to find one or two in the next month and try them out. Most of these games have demos, so you don't have to pay anything at all. Discover something new, play it and critique it. Also, if you wondering what to get a gamer for a birthday or Christmas gift, get them gift cards to the PSN or XBLA, but make the amounts small enough so that they can't buy a brand new game online. They may find something big that comes in a small package.

Check out sites like Gamespot and IGN for info on release dates for independent games. Enjoy!!   read

2:03 AM on 10.06.2013

Would The Last of Us Really Be The End of Us?

by Marcus Brown

Human civilization is characterized by order. We wake up each day assuming that life will act more or less like it did yesterday. So, when something crazy happens, it throws us out of sync, and we react in such extreme ways, whether we act out or we shut down. Take a second to stop reading and and think about how you would react to any kind of major change in your life, if you haven't already experienced something similar already. Imagine what you would do then, if this certain event happened to everyone at the same time. Do you think society would find a way to exist, or is it really every man for themselves? You may think you know the answer to this, but perhaps an in-depth thought process on the matter would surprise you.

For years, movies have tried to show the audience the kinds of decisions and stories that can be created from any kind of catastrophic event. These events are the kind that make everything turn to chaos and create new personas, either in a form of hope or gritty survival. Games have tried this too, and in my own personal opinion, the whole zombie epidemic has become a little bit overdone. So, when I purchased my copy of The Last of Us in June, I discovered a breath of fresh air in seeing the crumbling of society. The game featured not a virus epidemic, but a brain infection of fungus that created the evil that exists in the future. This showed me one of the most realistic imaginings of a destroyed culture that a video game could provide, and it got me thinking about the idea of world disasters and how the world would react. I believe that civilization would definitely crumble, and people will ultimately look out for themselves. That much is not a revelation; it's pretty much common knowledge based off of history and the smallest introspective on yourself. However, I also believe that a human has a choice to be who they need or want to be, even in the face of ruin. It has to be about balance.

The Last of Us deals with two major components of survival in the human world: the factor of society, law and ethics in a society, and the human element of doing what is necessary to survive in such a world.

Within the first 15 minutes of the game, the player witnesses the overwhelming panic of a people involved in a chaos of incomprehensible proportions. Fires, screaming, people dying. It's incredibly overwhelming. Later, the player sees how the world has been after having to live in the aftermath for so long. In a certain way, it's a sort of government, though it involves more regulation than living. I believe this to be the closest to reality concerning a post-apocalyptic world that a planet can get. In the face of drastic events, drastic change happens. I can speak of this because of personal experience. My father, after serious health problems, died when I was 12. Everything had to change after that. If that happened for me, imagine how it would happen for 7 billion people. The necessities change, and the idea of a day-to-day life becomes something so much simpler.

Half of the enemy force in the game is the more gritty form of survival in this setting: the hunters. These people are not truly evil. They have just been corrupted by the idea of doing what it takes to live, with little regard to anyone outside of their family. This cynicism for life can be seen even today: in gangs, cartels, bad families and other examples. When stripped of the community values and expectations of what is expected of you, then you become something much simpler and drastic. You become a survivor.

How do you live in this world? Well, that's up to you ultimately. There is no decision that can be made. This is a question of morals and what you believe in. I'll ask again: take a second to think about how you would react in a world when everything screams for you to be ruthless, immoral and self-preserving. Perhaps your answer will determine how you live in this world.   read

11:11 PM on 09.30.2013

A Thinker's Guide to Metal Gear: Games 2-4

by Marcus Brown

So, I recently created this blog account, but it's not my first. I was way ahead of this one in posting items, and I've been playing catch-up by trying to copy and paste my articles from other places to here. The problem is that the process does not make my articles look very good on here. So, in an effort to get this one completely up to speed on my Metal Gear saga analysis, I'm just going to copy links to those articles onto here. Feel free to look and comment on what you think. Starting this week, I'll be back on track and have a process of posting my content on time on both here and my other blog site. Thanks for reading!!

Metal Gear Solid 2 Analysis

Metal Gear Solid 3 Analysis

Metal Gear Solid 4 Analysis   read

10:05 PM on 09.26.2013

A Thinker's Guide to Metal Gear: Part 3-Genetic Fate

by Marcus Brown


Is humanity destined to act and be a certain way? Some believe that their fate is decided based off of their heritage and who their ancestors were, while others would create their own destiny based off of choice. Is one’s genetic code a layout for how their life will be? Hideo Kojima brings this discussion, and others, to light in the first iteration of the most well-known saga in gaming, Metal Gear Solid.

[left]MGS was created in 1998 by Kojima and his team at Konami. With the recent creation of the Playstation console by Sony, Kojima saw an opportunity to put his famed protagonist, Solid Snake, in 3D, thereby allowing for more interaction with the character and the stronger development of a story. Improvements were made to the radar system, now that the game screens were free flowing instead of a grid-like system, and also the alert system and enemy AI. Weapon and item switching became much easier. One of the most important innovations was the addition of better music and voice acting, with David Hayter becoming the voice of Snake for the next 12 years.


Metal Gear Solid became the name of innovative gaming on the Playstation console for many years.

MGS takes place in 2005. FOXHOUND, the former commando unit of previous games, has taken over a nuclear weapons disposal site within Alaska’s islands and has threatened to launch a nuke somewhere if their demands are not met. Solid Snake is sent in to rescue hostages and determine the nature of this threat. Many familiar elements of the previous games can be seen in this game, both to the benefit of veteran players and newcomers alike. Read up on the full synopsis here.




With MGS, Kojima begins a trend of including a major theme within each of his games. This theme encompasses many of the main plot points and drives the story to an inevitable discussion of the world the players live in. However, this one theme is not the only thought Kojima creates for the players, as there are many supplemental discussions that can be taken from the series. These all will be brought up in each iteration of this essay. For now, one can focus on the main theme of MGS, which is Gene.

This game focuses on the genetic disposition of society. To explain it another way, this title discusses the nature side of the Nature vs. Nurture discussion, in that it asks whether or not one’s fate is tied to their genetic composition. One of the characters in the game, Naomi Hunter, explains that she studies genetics in order to discover who she really is. She later goes on to try and type other characters based off of what is in their genetic makeup, though she is not always correct. Another main character, Liquid Snake, believes it is his genetic destiny to start conflicts around the world and to give soldiers a place in that conflict. The question here is, are we products of our heritage or our decisions?

Background of this genetic discussion comes from real world data. The Human Genome project, completed in 2003, successfully mapped mankind’s genomic structure, thereby allowing scientists to study and understand DNA much better. This project identified certain genetic markers and traits that exist within humans.

This project is constantly referenced within the game, giving base to the plot of using a process called gene therapy to change one’s DNA structure to better a person or eliminate weaknesses. The intended results, in the context of MGS, is to create the perfect soldier, one who doesn’t need years of training to hone his or her skills.

[right]This raises ethical questions. If one has the ability, should they alter themselves genetically for the sake of improvement, much as people alter their physical appearance nowadays? Is tampering with the human genome legal or right? Answers can vary depending on who you ask. In any case, this research would be revolutionary, despite the ramifications of making a right or wrong decision.                                                                                                                                


So, if one knows how their DNA is aligned, does that determine who they are and what they will accomplish? If this is the case, then a plumber’s son would most likely be a plumber, and the daughter of a clothing designer would be predisposed toward fashion. We know though that this does not always happen. Therefore, genes cannot tell us completely who we are, but rather tell us where our heritage has been. Perhaps knowing how one’s genome is mapped could help us know what mistakes to avoid in the future.

Though the genes are the hot topic for this game, Kojima brings another discussion to light: the mass number of nuclear weapons on the planet and their misuse, storage and continued existence.image

[center]Kojima’s numbers as of 1998 state that there are around 20,000-25,000 nuclear weapons on the planet. Nuclear reduction treaties, including START, were created in order to reduce the nuclear stockpiles of Russia and the US by many as 17,000. However, many characters within the game bring nuclear proliferation to light, stating that black markets of nuclear materials exist and that the race to maintain nuclear superiority still exists. This is also backed by real world information. According to the Arms Control Association, America alone has over 5,000 nuclear warheads, with over 1,600 ready to launch. The only other country that matches America is Russia, with a total of over 3,000 weapons. So many were created during the Cold War, and the dissolving of this conflict has   left the world a giant warehouse of nuclear materials.                                                                                                                  


A staple character, Hal Emmerich, finds himself and his love for science being used to make a Metal Gear, though he wanted to create it for defensive purposes only. Emmerich, later titled as Otacon for his love of Japanese anime, was a gaming representation of a nuclear tool, one that is used for the better of America’s power. In fact, later plot sequences show that the whole creation of Metal Gear and testing of nuclear weapon strike capability was an act created by those who felt so strongly towards American power in the world that they would risk global scrutiny in order to keep America at the top of the food chain. Kojima uses all this to show just how far humans are willing to go in order to maintain power.

In MGS, Kojima brings the topics of genetic disposition and nuclear power to the gamers. Metal Gear Solid is a forerunner of espionage action games that bring innovative gameplay with meaningful characters and story. If a gamer has not played a single one of these titles, Metal Gear Solid is the place to start. And with its 15th anniversary arriving very soon, now is as good a time as any to meet Solid Snake.

Articles used:   read

6:41 PM on 09.23.2013

A Thinker's Guide to Metal Gear: Part 2-Metal Gear 2

by Marcus Brown                                                                                    


War is a terrible machine, and Hideo Kojima wants you to know it. His sequel to the breakthough hit Metal Gear gives players a view of the damaging consequences of battle and what it takes to keep going on in the face of adversity. Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake once again takes players on a mission of espionage that they won’t forget.

Three years after the revolutionary title Metal Gear, fans and co-workers of Hideo Kojima were clamoring for a sequel. Players could not get enough of the espionage action that came with the story of Solid Snake. Many wondered what Kojima’s next Metal Gear project would be.

Surprisingly, Kojima never intended to make another game. However, Konami decided the world was ready for the sequel and had one created for release on the Nintendo Entertainment System in the West. This title, Snake’s Revenge, was not well received by fans of the series, citing that it strayed too far from the original character and that it didn’t feel like a Metal Gear game.


In fact, one of the members of the Snake’s Revenge team ran into Kojima on a train in Tokyo and practically begged him to make a true sequel. Thus, Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake was created. This game would not see Western consoles until 16 years after its creation, being released with its prequel on Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence.

Metal Gear 2 was released in 1990 on the MSX2. The player once again took control of Solid Snake, working for the special unit FOXHOUND. This time, Snake is to infiltrate Zanzibar Land, an independent military nation bordering China, Russia and India, in order to rescue a Czech scientist that holds the key to the world’s oil futures. Snake once again encounters Metal Gear and other familiar characters. This was the true sequel fans were waiting for. Read up on the full story Full synopsis.

Additions to the gameplay were created to give the players more freedom. Snake could now crawl under tanks and tables to hide from the enemy, who would now continue to search for Snake across multiple screens. Here was the implementation of two other elements: the 9-grid screen radar that allowed the players to see what the enemy was doing across multiple areas, and the alert system that forced players to hide when caught, rather than fight until the alarm silenced. Enemies also had better lines of sight and could spot Snake more easily. Again, Kojima created an environment of the sneaking mission.

With better visuals and gameplay also came a more serious tone to the characters. Here, Kojima uses the nation of mercenaries to tell a darker story of war and its consequences. One of the main motivations of the enemy that is discovered is the cycle of war and its participants. The player sees how war displaces people and ruins their home. These orphans and citizens are then forced to survive by the only way they know how: participating in the next war. Finally, they create more war orphans to fuel the armies around the world.

The cycle is not so far-fetched. According to Orphan Hope International, a site dedicated to the aid of war orphans around the world, every day gives birth to almost 6000 new orphans. The site also details that in Colombia alone, the site of a 40-year civil war, there exists an estimated 577,000 orphans. Many of these orphans end up trafficked for other uses. So, a player can understand how the war cycle is perpetuated here in this fictitious place.

A couple of other themes come together in this game, namely the idea of finding purpose and the betrayal that sometimes comes from this. Snake finds two characters in this game that existed as allies in the previous game but are now his foes. Both give reasons for this switch of sides, citing that they experienced their own betrayals at the hands of NATO and other military organizations. Therefore, their need for revenge and to set things right puts them on the opposite side of the fence, so to speak.

One more interesting thing to note here is the subject of this game’s title: Solid Snake. Here, the player gets a more in-depth look at Snake, who speaks a lot more and often holds conversations containing his thoughts and outlook on life. It’s almost as if this game is as much about Snake as it is about the mission. The player begins to learn what really makes him tick.

All of these elements come together to give a very cinematic feel to an already amazing franchise. With this game, Hideo Kojima cements his name in video game history. Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake sets the bar for other game franchises as well as its own name, taking players into a world of intrigue, emotion and action that would carry them 25 years later.

Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake can be found in both the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection and Metal Gear Solid Legacy Collection.

Sources Used:   read

10:44 PM on 09.20.2013

A Thinker's Guide to Metal Gear: Part 1-Metal Gear

by Marcus Brown
Every gamer seems to have that one game that changed their whole outlook on the video game industry. Whether it was the game that convinced them that being a gamer isn’t so bad or it was the game that sold them on a specific console, gamers around the world have that one special IP, like the best friend they’ve had since high school. This title and any sequels that may have resulted from it have cherished and nurtured gamers through years of problems, boredom and want of something more than just a boss fight and a happy ending. 

For me, that title is the Metal Gear saga. Starting in 1987 as a sort of eleventh hour project by Konami and director Hideo Kojima, the Metal Gear franchise has grown to become the series that defies conventional gameplay mechanics, easily digestible plot lines and cookie cutter characters. The tale of Solid Snake, the espionage operative turned heroic symbol, is one that becomes less about saving the day and more about saving himself as time goes on. The series lays out plenty of material for discussion, and that’s what I plan on doing here. So, join me on this and other parts as we discuss what exactly makes the Metal Gear saga great, in regards to thought and play. 
Metal Gear was a title for the MSX2 computer gaming system and was released in 1987 by Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc. The project director was Hideo Kojima, a recently employed game designer who, at the time, was struggling to release a product that would succeed. Originally, Kojima was tasked with creating a war game for the MSX2. However, the fact that the MSX2 could not properly handle the graphics and action needed made Kojima consider other types of games he could make. He decided to do the exact opposite, creating a game that encouraged players to not fight rather than destroy every character on screen. Kojima credits his inspiration for this to the game Hide-and-Seek, stating that he was fascinated by the idea of role changes in an instant. He understood the allure and rush of going from the being the seeker to the hider, and he wanted his game to reflect that. This became the beginning journey for his legendary hero, Solid Snake.  


To give a brief synopsis, the player controls Snake, a rookie operative in a top-secret spec ops unit known as FOXHOUND. Snake is tasked with infiltrating a mercenary-run military compound in South Africa known as Outer Heaven. Though he has to go in alone and weaponless, a staple situation in the whole saga, Snake has radio support from his FOXHOUND commander, Big Boss. (If you’re unfamiliar with the series, just accept the names of these people. They are code names.)                            
After Snake infiltrates Outer Heaven, he spends the rest of the game trying to rescue another FOXHOUND operative, Gray Fox, and to figure out what Metal Gear is. What follows is a basic starting story but gameplay mechanics that are unheard of. (Note: if you would like a full synopsis of the game, click here.)
As mentioned before, the main idea of Metal Gear is to not get caught by the enemy. This means that Snake is able to hide behind cover to avoid the sight of enemies, which works fairly well even in this 2D environment            

If Snake is seen by an enemy or camera, an alert phase is triggered. The only ways to escape this are to either run to another screen or kill all the enemies that appear. Other elements that have become defining Metal Gear characteristics include using a cardboard box as a hiding item in plain sight, using a variety of weapons in certain situations, and fighting bosses that require learning individual weaknesses in order to beat them. All of these parts come together to create a gaming experience that was ahead of its time.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                
The Metal Gear saga is known as much for its espionage gameplay as its underlying messages and themes that Kojima wants the player to understand. The entire saga has a tone of war and the military complex as it relates to individual lives. Though Metal Gear is a little more basic in its story and does not reflect strong themes, one can still see 2 of Kojima’s thoughts in the gameplay. 
First, the character, Snake, is a rookie to this mission and environment, as is the player. Kojima has been quoted to say that he expected players to project their own personalities onto Snake, in order to feel part of the world and to understand Snake’s mission and struggle. As Snake learns more about Outer Heaven and the intentions of its occupants, so does the player. 
Second, the game is about flight, not fight. Though there are mandatory battles in the game, most of the violence can be avoided with patience and practice. Kojima is trying to introduce players to a thought of using stealth to accomplish tasks rather than fists and guns. Here, a thinking gamer can see undertones of creating peace and using wits to achieve ends. Hideo Kojima wishes the players to understand that there are alternatives to war. 
Metal Gear began a new type of gameplay that future generations would experience in titles such as Splinter Cell and Assassin’s Creed. Through revolutionary game mechanics and strong characters, Hideo Kojima created a legacy for himself and for Konami. This was the start of something extraordinary, and it would only get better, if not a little stranger at times. Whether you’re a newcomer to the series or a long time fan, make sure to start your story’s journey here. 
Metal Gear can be found on both the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection and Metal Gear Solid Legacy Collection, both available now. 
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