Hey there random human or perhaps alien if you've infiltrated our world and society and you're currently masquerading as a human and decided to blend in online on video game websites in which case tell me why the fuck that Engineer from Prometheus ripped off Michael Fassbender's head, cheers!
Anyway my name is Josh and I'm part of that gross icky male type, yuck.
My dream is to become a video games journalist blogger dude guy so here's where I'll put all my writing work as often as I can to shine and polish my skills to their peak condition.
Full time Ken Levine lover and Part Time Jonathan Holmes obsessive.
Watch my awful Let's Plays if you so desire! Go on have a cheeky peek, it won't hurt you, probably http://www.youtube.com/user/BodaciousRayTube
And hey follow me on twitter if you really want, I'll try not to be too shitty
Nintendo sometimes strikes me as a company that is either afraid or confused by the internet, they've proven themselves to be slow on the uptake when it comes to the latest online features and trends. But as many have said before sometimes Nintendo's complete obliviousness to such things have allowed them success, after all the vast majority of people buying Wii's weren't doing so for the vast networking online features.
However outside of their consoles and woeful online features they've gained themselves a bit of a bad image of late, with knuckling down on Let's Play videos and then trying to block Super Smash Bros Melee from being streamed for EVO it's hard not to think they just don't quite get it.
But then today Masahiro Sakurai, creator behind the upcoming Super Smash Bros Wii-U and 3DS games did an interview with Famitsu revealing the future titles won't be utilizing cut-scenes like their predecessor 'Super Smash Bros Brawl' did, all because they end up 'online'.
"Unfortunately, the movie scenes we worked hard to create were uploaded onto the internet. You can only truly wow a player the first time he sees [a cutscene]. I felt if players saw the cutscenes outside of the game, they would no longer serve as rewards for playing the game, so I've decided against having them,"
So much about this quote irritates me, it speaks to such a huge large understanding of the internet and the community's that inhabit it.
To me this is like a child taking away his toys because you didn't play with them correctly, you didn't let his Spider-Man toy defeat your Venom toy so instead he snatches away all the cool Spider-Man toys and throws them against the wall so one of Venom's arms pop off and you try to pop it back on but its useless! That my dear friends is the exactly same scenario that has happened here.
I respect that some creators such as Sakurai himself want their content to be viewed, read or listened in what they believe to be the most suitable perfect way possible, but sadly that isn't up to them or Sakurai. We live in an age where we can access the content we want through a variety of devices, dismissing those who enjoy experiencing that content through other means than the game itself is to put it frankly, really fucking stupid and appalling shit eatingly rude! This is coming from someone who didn't even like the god damn Subspace Emissary mode with its cutscenes but I can't help but get angry at the nature of how this all went down.
If this was down to resources and costs due to them making two games for two different platforms then I'd eat that up just fine, a necessary sacrifice. So you may be wondering why I'm getting so angry about losing something I never wanted in the first place? Sure the attitude may seem rude and dumb but I got what I wanted in the end right? Sadly you're mostly wrong.
To me this speaks to the worry I hold with Nintendo and their attitude with the internet. They just don't seem to quite get it and that's leading to them really screwing over their fans who I imagine a large portion of which interact online.
They may be able to get by with their consoles and handhelds being behind online wise but when it comes to the internet its self and its community's, well I think the last few months have proven not to fucking mess around with them too much. EA may have gotten way with Sim Citys un-necessary Always Online DRM, but when Microsoft tried to pull the same thing on a much larger scale they got absolutely pummeled for it, something that Sony didn't go without noticing and smartly capitalized upon whilst they could. If Nintendo aren't careful soon enough a company could capitalize just like Sony did on their bad moves and leave a stigma that could hurt them in the long run.
I'm sick of them treating the internet as if it does nothing but bad things for them, yes piracy clung onto DS like an aggressive case of influenza but damning the entirety of the internet just makes no sense. The amount of free marketing you get from these videos online is insane, you have people literally working for you unpaid as they help spread the word to their audiences who will then go onto spread the word to their friends and family alike, you absolutely positively win with people uploading videos of your games in my mind. Which I'm totally not just saying because I upload footage of games myself, NOTHING FISHY GOING ON HERE GUYS!
But in all seriousness I can do nothing but get on my knees and pray to Iwata who's crucified on a cross made of wii-motes to forgive us for our Let's Playing and Youtube sins and begin embracing what the internet can do for them. They must understand it in some sort of capacity otherwise they wouldn't have started doing Nintendo Directs, streaming videos containing news regarding their upcoming games then uploading it as a video later on, THAT'S A GOD DAMN GOOD IDEA RIGHT THERE!
Nintendo Directs are like little events now for many of us and build excitement, they must then have some vague understanding of how the internet can help you win at life! But trying to win at life with the internet by yourself will never happen, you've got to let in those who love you Nintendo, yes even those who upload videos and talk what they did today at work, embrace those people as well. Because we're lovers, if you treat us well then we're sure to do the same in return!
So last week Nintendo finally announced that Earthbound will be seeing a re-release in the West, you know, that one game Nintendo and intense Earthbound fans have been begging for since we get the Virtual Console service on the Wii. Even as someone who's only played what I imagine is a very small percentage of the game my heart skipped a beat when I saw the announcement, it even made me think of a brief period that I have to get my hands on a Wii-U so I can play the game then stop half-way through or something like the billion other times I've done with the game.
Celebrations aside I found myself with a tiny spot of irritation with the whole affair, at this point you probably want to punch me in the stomach and be grateful us Westerners are finally getting the chance to play the game, it's the only other legal alternative that doesn't involve people having to hop onto eBay and spend ridiculous amounts of money to get their hands on a copy. But I couldn't suppress this feeling, it erupted from my chest like H.R Giger Penis Monster ready to bare its fangs at Nintendo. You see no matter how awesome it is that we're finally getting Earthbound, I have to ask, why aren't we also getting it on the 3DS?
I don't know about the majority of gamers but these days I find myself preferring to play old games on handhelds, in age where HD TV's rule the living rooms this often threatens these old classic games as they clearly weren't made for such large screens. Put it on a smaller screened device though and suddenly everything feels just right, true with the Wii-U controller you can do exactly just that and play the game off-screen but the console isn't exactly selling like hot cakes right now, the number of people who own a Wii-U is sure to be lower than those who own a 3DS so that cuts out a significant portion of potential buyers and fans.
It's not like restricting it exclusively to the Wii-U is going to suddenly ramp up the sales of the system nor is releasing the game on the 3DS going to diminish the Wii-U's potential sales. There's literally no reason as to why the game can't be on the 3DS as well, if it can have some NES games, Gameboy Color games and for a few lucky foolish few Gameboy Advance games then why the little toe jabbing hell can't it also have SNES games?! Surely Earthbound would be the perfect start to this library of content, I don't want to dish out $374.99 for a Wii-U just so I can play a 19 year old game! We shouldn't even be in a place where it's only just now we're finally seeing the game re-released, this should have happened all the way back with the Wii in 2007, we shouldn't have been made to wait this long!
This all speaks to a larger problem that I have just not with Nintendo, but also Sony. The complete and utter incompetence of getting their amazing past gaming libraries is enough to make my eyes bulge out with pure rage.
Nintendo and Sony seem to have major issues with emulating games, it's an issue that baffles me, they're both major huge corporations, you'd be hard pressed to find anybody who hasn't heard the name of at least one of these two. Nintendo has shaped the world of gaming as we know it and Sony dabbles in just about everything, ranging from computers to your movies, yet they just can't seem to fully master emulation! Then you go on the internet and find lone groups of people with very little money giving out programs for free to emulate games on your PC and other hacked devices, I can't help but find that incredibly embarrassing.
To me that perfectly illustrates why there is next to no excuse as to why these two companies can't seem to fully master emulation, we should have Earthbound on the 3DS, we should have PS2 on the PS Vita, what the hell is going on? If it isn't programming complications then what else could it be? Are they simply holding back to build up hype and potential sales? Nintendo particularly are guilty of drip feeding digital titles on their systems to the point where you might as well wait till their systems are no longer supported to play the old games you actually want to play.
Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled to see Earthbound is seeing a re-release and that I can sit down and play Spyro 3 as pure joy oozes out of my every orifice. But I always know in the back of my mind that it could be better, that random people on the internet are doing a better job than the huge corporations do or even being unable to match the quality services of GOG.com.
With backwards compatibility becoming a thing of the past it's becoming even more important that companies nail down the digital offerings of these classic games, the PS4's cloud services holds promise to this idea but the case with Sony is that they often speak of great ideas, then deliver half-assed on them, I know Nintendo and Sony can do better than this.
All in all I shouldn't be here writing this post, I should be playing Spider-Man 2 on my PS Vita re-living awful Tobey Maguire dialogue, that my friends is the biggest tragedy of it all.
Now whenever controversies like these pop up whether it be the Hitman CGI trailer with the 'sexy' Nuns or Lara Croft being sexually assaulted I always feel compelled to write about it in a not rage filled way, I don't like seeing people being too actively rage filled about these controversies as I feel it's not always helpful and encourages less debate and discussion among people as it can get pretty tiring hearing people shouting all the time. That's the last thing I want though, I like that everyone is talking about sexist, racist and any other issues in games, I love seeing good healthy discussion being thrown around however I feel it's also important the topics that inspire these conversations be careful in their approach of things.
So I'm here to approach this small issue with my own thoughts, not just on whether I find Tiny Tina to be racist or not but also in some of the problems I find surrounding these controversies. I've always hesitated with these type of posts since I fear I won't adequately get my thoughts across and crash and burn but there's a first time for everything. Just to keep things light hearted though here's a picture of a bunny smiling, aww isn't it cute?
Remember when you were young and you'd come across something that you found cool or funny? Something like a TV show or Film which had you running around repeating the lines like you were the children's comedian of the year.
Heck I remember vaguely my first viewing of the South Park movie (well before I was 18) and finding it to be the best, funniest and coolest thing ever, then I'd go out and play with my friend constantly saying "UNCLE FUCKER" and "Shitface Cock Master". I found it funny at a very shallow level though and now that I'm older I can appreciate more of what's going on underneath it all, and also why some baby sitters don't appreciate you "You're such a pig fucker Phillip" around young kids.
You see swear words had this mischievous quality of fun about them as a kid, honestly they still fucking do to me now, shit me I love swearing like the bastard I am. But we didn't know why we liked saying them so much, sure it's because it has that taboo element and you have all these giant people telling you not to say them as they then step on one of your legos and scream those sweet, sweet forbidden words. We would say those words not knowing how they could affect those around us, we would be told not to use those words not knowing why they were so forbidden ultimately.
Does this long analogy have a point you ask? Well of course, because I feel Tiny Tina perfectly sums up what is to be a kid and a young teenager, which to me explains why some people can't stand her and others like her. Her character to me is making fun of that phase we all go through as kids, she's hyper active and spouting random words and phrases without fully knowing what they mean because she probably just heard someone else using them.
Ignoring any problems you may have with her using the word "Badonkadonks" you have to admit, forgetting any context that's related to the word, it's a pretty fun word to use. It just rolls off the tongue, you barely have to put any effort in to say it. How about the word "Crunk"? That's also really fun to use, it's like saying CLANK but a more relaxed version, and again just rolls off the tongue like smooth buttocks sliding down a butter covered road. They're easy and simple to say, a lot like swear words in fact. As a kid you're pretty dumb so your vocabulary is somewhat limited, and a lot of extreme descriptive non-swear words can be pretty long and complicated to a kids mind so swear words are like a holy grail of easy language.
So to me Tiny Tina using the words "Badonkadonks' and "Crunk" is just the exact same as a kid saying the word 'Bitch'. Many people consider the word 'Bitch' a gender based insult therefore a sexist term to use but obviously the kid doesn't see it that way, the kid won't even be aware of any of those potential issues. Same goes for Tiny Tina, she's not aware that to some people those words are associated with stereotypical 'black' lingo and therefore may been as offensive or even racist to be used to some. So the explicit use of these words suddenly to me is no longer a problem, the guy who started this said the problem was the character of Tiny Tina is "white girl uses craaaazy black lingo" whereas to me I feel it's pretty clear she's a character of "Kid's will repeat just about anything fucking thing they hear".
But now we must move on to a deeper issue, one where I'm going to in a bit of a conflicted mess about but bear with me and hopefully I'll get to heart of my problem of it all.
Dictionary.com defines the word 'Racism' as "hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.".
I outline this because I think the words "Racism" and "Racist" are being thrown around WAY too loosely. When it comes to these controversies it's important to me to consider the intent behind the creators work that inspired the controversy. Was there malicious intent or was it just an ill informed mistake? To me it's important to define between these intents because then we can get to the root of the problem.
So let's look at Tiny Tina considering she uses what many consider to be stereotypical black lingo. Does that honestly say to you her use of language and dialogue is layered with a undercurrent of hatred or intolerance for black people? Do you honestly think Anthony Burch constructed her dialogue in a way to portray his hate filled opinions of black people? Of course not and I doubt this is what Mike Sacco felt either BUT to me using the word "Racist" implies all that. It implies her language has been designed in a way that's fuelled with hatred for black people, that she's been designed in a way that expresses Burch's intolerance for black people.
Maybe to some people it isn't something as extreme as that but see it as her character making fun of how black people talk. For this to be true though she'd have to be expressing and using these words in a sarcastic, sneering way, which to me she doesn't at all. In this video where we first hear her use the word "Badonkadonks" (skip to 00:51) she's clearly using it in a way that she considers an every day part of her vocabulary. What confuses me further is that Tiny Tina is white, if she was black then I could understand people mistaking it as Burch thinking "This is what all black people talk like and they always, ALWAYS say Badonkadonks".
So to me using the word "Racist" to describe this entire situation is just...wrong, it is unfit for the actual content of it all. However whilst listening to the latest Podtoid Holmes mentioned a guys point off Twitter that could potentially combat my problem with using the word 'Racist' in this controversy. Point being, "Unless we call it Racist, no one will pay attention at all" and here's where I get conflicted...
As I said before I'm all for healthy debate and discussion and hate it when I see people in comments saying "Oh god this all over again? Do we have to talk about this again? Eurgh enough of all this crying!".
I can somewhat understand their frustration as over the past year or so I've made an effort to expose myself more to these issues but sometimes I just need a time out as it can all get a bit over-whelming especially when there's so much screaming going on. But I had a choice there, in no way are people forcibly exposing me to these issues, I actively seek them out as I want to learn more about these issues and take part in these discussions as I am horribly doing so right now. These people who complain about it all also have that choice and ability to block it out so I don't get the problem.
So with this in mind I'm partly FOR people calling this whole controversy potentially racist as it promotes and encourages people to take part in these discussions and debates. It could be constantly catching peoples attention and getting people more involved each and everyday which in turn can help educate those with an open mind. Which is great, it means we're a more free minded community and can decreases the number of bigots and assholes within that community.
But then I consider that although they may be using the word "Racist" to help promote something that I find positive I DON'T find devaluing and misusing words as something positive. This could in its self have the potential to harm healthy discussion and debate as we may get people being overly sensitive to things in the wrong areas, which will lead to efforts and great minds being wasted and make the number of people growing tired of these discussion grow in numbers. Perhaps any discussion is good discussion, but the word "Racist" which is tied to such huge issues which are still prevalent today I find mishandling it to be irresponsible.
If we are to all talk about these serious issues at large in an effort to move things to a more positive future then surely we should do this in the most responsible of ways, which don't threaten the value of language. Is it a much harder and difficult path? Yes it is, but that doesn't make misusing the word ok just because the alternative is difficult, this only means everyone who cares about the issue must continue to persevere and never stop their efforts to deal with these issues. As someone who hopes to enter the world of writing language is invaluable to me.
It's clear this year will have plenty of controversies as every other year does and I often look forward to them, as I hope each and everyone helps us advance and if anything else at least provides food for thought, with that said I hope this post provided enough morsels for your hungry rumbling thought bellies.
Of all my gaming purchases throughout 2012 deciding to take a chance on the Metal Gear Solid series was probably my best purchasing decision. Its given me characters I've come to deeply love along with ones that I deeply hate, its given me one of my favourite games of all time whilst also giving me one of my most disappointing games of all time. The best thing though is whether one of the games be good or bad I always found myself with so much to say and talk about, it's a series I've been thinking about non-stop.
With this in mind I was cautiously excited when diving into Metal Gear Solid 4, those who had shared my opinions regarding the other 3 games appeared to voice not so great fondness of this entry and that if I didn't like MGS2 then I probably wouldn't be on board with this one much either. With this in mind and then coupled with the fact I had an insanely good time with MGS3 and struggled to see how Kojima could top my love and experience with it the most I hoped for was that it at least wouldn't be an MGS2 situation all over for me again.
I was right about it not rivalling my love for MGS3, however much to my delight it also wasn't an MGS2 moment for me all over again. In fact in many ways MGS4 is the most interesting entry out of the entire franchise of which I've played so far, it does many things that I found irritating or things that I found to be outright abysmal. Now usually with these Metal Gear pieces I've been doing I like to outline what I've adored and hated about each game, and although I have much to complain about I'm putting that aside as there's something incredibly more compelling for me to speak about.
Throughout these ups and downs one common powerful theme remained from start to finish. The feeling of oppression, the weight, burden and soul crushing power of oppression. This is something that is not only put in practice with the story and narrative but also with the gameplay. So let me take you on a whirlwind ride of my distant valleys of thoughts of Metal Gear Solid 4.
I'll be honest, I did not enjoy this game at all at first, this was really upsetting me and I was scared it would only get worse for me. I didn't like how hectic the gameplay and environment had become, enemy soldiers are everywhere and explosions and gun fires are going off left and right. The previous Metal Gear games had trained me into a mindset of which being over run to such a manic degree was only the result of YOU making a mistake, of YOU messing up and getting caught.
So to be sneaking around uncaught with all hell breaking out loose around me was conflicting with everything I thought I knew and loved about the Metal Gear games, there was a clash going on within my mind. However I was determined to give this game a fair chance and set aside my discomfort and initial upset as best I could. Quickly I began to adjust to this change and gained a better handle on the feel and gameplay which allowed me to enjoy the game much, much more.
This is then extended to your arsenal of weaponry, in the previous Metal Gear games I would almost always be using my tranquillizer gun on enemy soldiers. You could usually use it with a silencer ensuring my continued unnoticed presence, the only times I would end up using full on weaponry such as a shotgun or a rifle would be either when I got caught which is when things get hectic and suddenly there's enemy soldiers everywhere or during a boss fight. The games taught me to only use heavy fire power in the most desperate and pressurizing of times.
To me this speaks to the levels of how authentically Kojima and his team were able to re-create war torn like environments and gameplay. In many ways the enemy soldiers are the exact same as the enemy soldiers I've encountered before but suddenly I no longer feel safe, I can't risk the unconscious body being found, I don't feel safe knowing there's live enemy soldiers all around me, I must dispose of those that pose a threat to me. This adds a somewhat heavier action element to the non-boss battle sections of the game but it does it in a way that never detracts from the stealth gameplay aspect.
These elements give a whole new feeling to the settings and environments we take play in, to a certain degree I usually felt control in my immediate surroundings in the Metal Gear games and had little to worry about. Here I feel little to no control over my surroundings, suddenly the field I take play in is unpredictable and deadly, suddenly I feel dominated and oppressed by the environment I'm in, I no longer feel safe.
One could assume though that being able to easily kill of enemy soldiers due to my preference for heavy fire power would lighten the oppressive theme going on, luckily the game combats this and raises the weight of oppression upon me with the inclusion of some new enemies.
First of all we have the Haven Troopers or known more commonly as 'FROGS', and they have a few more skills then the regular troops. I'm generally quite use to enemy soldiers not moving or running around too much but the FROGS are unlikely to stay in one place unmoved for too long, instead they run around at blazing speeds, jumping around the environment with great agile grace. They can even plant themselves upon walls and ceilings just to make you panic even more as to where the gunfire is coming from. They also take a lot more bullets and fire power to take them down and they're nearly always dispatched in teams so that you really have your hands full upon they're arrival.
This contributes to the overall theme of oppression especially since you never truly know when they're going to turn up, they can turn up completely out of the blue landing you in some sticky situations but they're also much harder to sneak around in later portions of the game.
Then we have the Scarabs, though one by its self is easily dealt with and doesn't take much to destroy it you always come across them in large numbers. Numbers that make it incredibly difficult to sneak your way around a room as they are eternally perched on walls keeping an eye out for intruders, then we have ones on the floors constantly on the moving seeking out you. This makes things insanely tense for what are essentially little balls with hands.
But when you are spotted things take a turn for the worse as they will crowd around you in huge numbers very quickly, this gave me a real genuine sense of claustrophobia made even worse by the fact when you kill them they explode which can send you flying across the room and then you watch them swarm around you once more as you barely pick yourself back up from the initial blast.
Finally we then have the Gekko, an Unmanned Fighting Vehicle or to put it in better descriptive terms, giant walking tanks that will fuck you up considerably if they spot you and are close enough to kick your ribs in. These guys can be real mother fuckers to take down due to the fact you'll often have to be dealing with other enemy soldiers at the time or the Gekko its self will be running up to you to take out a chunk of your health. They dominate any battlefield they take place in and can be relentless in their pursuit of you. They hold a strong, powerful presence about them, just being in the company of them unnoticed will have you sweating bullets as you nervously crawl and tip toe around them.
What makes them all the more oppressive though is that they're used somewhat sparingly in the game, we do see them plenty of times in cutscenes but when we do they're usually taking down everyone in the battlefield and over-powering certain whiny cyborg individuals. At one point in the game you get to pilot Metal Gear REX, you know that big mother fucking robot from the first game that you just about took down? What was once an iconic powerful piece of machinery and tech is rendered powerless in the face of multiple Gekko's as they will whittle down your health bar rapidly if you aren't careful.
When it comes down to it though these new enemy additions not only contribute to some fresh new baddies to take down but also largely contribute to the ongoing oppressive theme, hammering home the notion that you really aren't safe no matter the situation or environment.
It wouldn't be a Metal Gear game though without a colorful selection of bosses ready to challenge your skills and delight your mind with their madness. This is something I'm really excited to talk about though, you see the first boss of this game 'Laughing Octopus' I can say with full confidence is without a doubt one of the best boss battles I have ever fucking played through, hands fucking down. You'll notice I'm using the word 'fucking' a lot because I can barely fucking describe the emotional state I was going through during this boss battle yet it epitomises and perfectly distils the theme of Oppression.
First of all the setting that the fight takes place in is supremely perfect. It takes place in a small hut like one floored building that's then filled to nearly every corner with laboratory equipment leaving only tight filled spaces and the narrow hallways circled around it all. This is the starting point of a true claustrophobic and oppressive experience. Then we have the boss herself, Laughing Octopus and I don't say this lightly she's pretty damn creepy. Just her design alone is unsettling, her feminine seductive body is outlined clearly giving a rather human element to it yet that body is suffocated and trapped in a grey skin tight suit with a large piece of mechanical machinery on top of her with four tentacles protruding out. Her face is covered by a mask with no defining features at all, in fact it looks a lot like a gimp mask adding to the suffocating uncomfortable look. She ends up alluring you whilst simultaneously repulsing you, brilliant!
Then throughout the entire battle whether she's close or far from you no matter what the distance you'll be able to hear her laughing as if her lips were inches away from your ears. (Especially due to the fact I was wearing headphones when I played this.) a laugh that strikes a great degree of discomfort to myself leaving me genuinely unnerved. Her voice its self is also terrifying, mixed with a female and male voice to give it a split off putting vibe to it making her seem not fully human. We can also hear her barging about smashing windows and various objects constantly so you know she's on the move, but you don't where from, she could be round that corner you're about to run around, maybe she's right behind you, maybe she's about to crash through that window to your left. You start feeling genuinely paranoid especially when halfway through the fight she'll curl up into a ball and come hurtling out of no way at you making me jump out of my skin and shit my pants.
Then of course is the stunning moment when she comes out of the suit and walks freely, she begins walking towards us as the world around us drains of all color, the only color that remains is faintly glowing from her. We some truly disturbing scenes from her past, the cries of murder and death which left me feeling quite unsettled yet utterly enraptured by what I had just played and witnessed.
This is a boss fight where I didn't feel calm or safe for a single second, I felt like i had absolutely zero control over the situation and this all came together in a gorgeous climax of perfection. I love this boss battle so much, it truly leaves me feeling utterly oppressed upon, instilling me with fear, paranoia, discomfort and panic. Rarely does a game conjure up such vivid unsettlingly emotions within myself yet this boss alone was able to do it.
Somewhat sadly however every single boss from there failed to impress me as much, I wasn't as hopelessly ensnared by the other ones however I was still able to appreciate them on what they contributed to the oppressive theme of the game. Crying Wolf's fight takes place in a snow covered and blizzard torn forest where not only do you have to try and seek out a large mechanical wolf that's constantly on the prowl for you with her ever watchful eye and massive electric firing rail gun, but you also have to deal with FROG troops constantly being deployed and hunting for you. This puts you in a rather interesting dilemma, on the one hand you want to take them out so you can avoid being found and having to deal with them on top of the insane psychotic wolf woman, but taking them out could draw more attention to you in which Crying Wolf will find you anyway. On top of all of this though you're also consistently left blinded by the ongoing blizzard storm leaving you to rely on the Solid Eye however that will run out of battery power quick leaving you to your own devices. Not for one moment will you feel safe and again a constant state of paranoia will be injected into you as the battle progresses.
The game manages to avoid what I feel was MGS2's greatest misstep and brings forward some genuinely unsettlingly whilst eerily beautiful bosses each leaving a distinct unforgettable impact upon you.
I feel it's important for me to highlight a certain event in the story that really drops the dread and oppression upon you once it all kicks off.
It's when Liquid Ocelot has gotten his hands on the corpse of Big Boss and has just beaten you to submission with ease. But then Meryl and an entire Army appear in the nick of time to save the day, with greater numbers and heavier fire power surely this means the end of Liquid's plans. Obviously this isn't how it works out, Liquid now has control of the system, the Armys weapons are now useless, he can make helicopters fall out of the sky and the only weapons that now function are his own, allowing him to reduce an entire Armys worth of soldiers to bullet ridden corpses. I really believed at first that maybe he was going to be captured here, sure it wouldn't work out but I couldn't see how he'd get out of it but by the end of it all he lays waste to them all and flips the odds on their head entirely.
It's hugely a dramatic scene that truly raises the stakes but above all leaves you feeling like there's almost no hope left for Snake to succeed. Liquid has completely dominated him and an entire army, what more can they do? Now this leads me to one of my favourite decisions done for MGS4, the decision to have Snake considerably aged to the point of being an old man.
This is a trope I've become somewhat fond of, take a legendary iconic figure who's typically associated with being powerful then age them so that suddenly they're vulnerable, they're out of their depth, times have changed. We see this used in recent movies such as the Dark Knight Rises and Skyfall so I was delighted to see it executed here, something about the trope just fascinates me. But with Snake it's much more serious, it's not just about he's not as skilled as he once was, it's more about the fact he has very little time left, six months in fact. This puts a rather powerful level of doom and dread over the entire story since it doesn't take place in a single day or night, the clock is ticking, Snake has to stop everything before he bites the dust but with each passing day his condition becomes increasingly worse.
Then he's told the FOXDIE virus he was injected with all the way back from MGS1 has now mutated into something that could become a worldwide pandemic, the only way to prevent that would be Snake dying which would kill off the virus. So even if Snake does somehow make his way through al these trials of war and battle the reward he'll be met with by the end of it all would be a bullet to the head. And after everything we witness in the game that he has to suffer through the reality of it all becomes increasingly depressing, he's put through utter hell by his enemies in this game all of which climaxes to a section of the game I found astonishingly hard to play through and witness. Snake is so close to ending it all, the key to ending it all is in a room so close by but first he must struggle his way through a microwave hallway.
This is on par with the torture scene in MGS3 for me where Volgin beats Big Boss to a pulp, except this moment was even more excruciating to witness. You don't just watch Snake suffer his way through this hallway slowly being burnt and crumbled down to near death, it's you who controls him throughout this all. You have to push him forward as he inevitably falls to his knees and is left to crawling along pitifully, it's you who has to frantically mash the triangle button to ensure he keeps on moving, even if it's just by the tips of his fingers that moves him you must push him through it. He barely gets out of it alive and one would imagine when he emerges from it back on his feet it would feel like a grand victorious moment, except it doesn't, so discomforting was it to play through and witness it was that it left an impact upon me that could not so easily be dispelled, to see a character you care for and like so dearly be subjected to absolute hell leaves you feeling very odd indeed.
This is a game where the hero never really gets his big win, I felt like after everything he had gone through he of all people deserved the greatest victory, yet the most he gains are the small fleeting victories that in the end mean nothing and take no effect in the grand scheme of things. He has to deal with the constant knowledge of how little time of life he has, and the time he has will most likely be spent with hardships and suffering. The inescapable loom of death is ever present throughout the entire game resulting in what for many people feel is one of life's greatest oppressive inevitabilities and fears, the fear of death, the mystery of what's beyond and missing out on parts of the future we've contributed to, whether it be good or bad.
I discovered halfway through writing this that the game was designed around the motto "No Place To Hide!" and this feels most appropriate to describe the game. You'll never feel truly safe and with every new situation and event you're met with an increasing amount of paranoia will be instilled upon you leading to great crushing weight of fear. I love this game for that, for me MGS2 didn't have a strong distinct feel to it, there was a dull, bland air to it all which made it even harder for me to forgive its missteps.
With MGS4 though it has such a potent unforgettable unique and distinct feeling to it, the theme of Oppression is pushed spectacularly in just the right places making me forgive and turn a blind eye to certain missteps as the overall feel of the content is just so perfect. Sure some things completely pissed me off like Meryl getting together with Johnny, possibly the stupidest thing I've witnessed happen in the MGS series so far and probably the most angry I've felt from a cutscene in my entire life as they propose to each other in truly horrendous displays of disgusting affection that doesn't have an ounce of genuine air to it and instead feels convoluted and forced, and in my eyes is a fucking insult to the character of Meryl. But that's a full fleshed out rant for another time...
Yes awful writing and choices aside I ended up really enjoying Metal Gear Solid 4, it just about ties things up in a mostly satisfying way but it gave me a ride unlike any other, and that's all I can really ask for. I can only hope Ground Zeroes will see a return of my wild erotic passion for the series in the same vein as I had for MGS3 and if not that, DO ANOTHER BOND-ESQUE TITLE SEQUENCE PLEASE! (I will never stop pushing this.)
Like many of you my love and adoration for games has only grown and swelled like a disgusting case of acne as I've gotten older. They tend to eat up a lot of free time as games are constantly getting bigger and better with oh so much to do. As a kid I dedicated a great deal of my time to playing games and these stays strong today however not as frequently, why? Because when you're a kid the most responsibility you have is to not use the living room plant as a toilet because you were too lazy to go upstairs and use the toilet. But as a 19 year old who now has a social life and college work to deal with I find my time with games sometimes harder to arrange.
Even then though my responsibilities are tiny compared to what the future adult world holds in store for me and I sometimes worry this threatens my precious time with games. You see after a day that has left you mentally and or physically exhausted despite the desire to play games the energy to push ones self through it is low. Games like Skyrim are like a feast who's size rivals that even of the most royal and prestigious of feasts, it looks and tastes great but you have to spend so much time consuming it to fully appreciate it. Sometimes I'm just not in the mood for something so big and sprawling, for something that requires what is admittedly little brain power. So how do I get past this and gain my gaming fix? With the fresh packaged box of IOS mango slices.
At this point last year if you asked me if I think IOS is a part of gaming I would have replied "No.". This wasn't so much down to me finding Angry Birds success a disgrace like so many others seem to but the reasoning I recall was that I didn't consider them deep enough, meat filled experiences to be recognised as a part of gaming, to me gaming on IOS provided nothing more than 5 minute distractions.
Then I hit 2012 and begun seeing some of the things coming to IOS and I started feeling a little jealous, these small little games looked fun to me despite what may potentially be small quantities of content. Soon enough my past problem with IOS was dropped and I was able to recognise IOS has a place in gaming.and people can play what they damn well want. Then I recently acquired myself an iPhone, now I've never been more thankful for IOS.
Sometimes I just want to relax in my own bed and play a small little game, nothing too extravagant or overly complicated and many of IOS's gaming content provides that perfectly. Games like Royal Revolt feature missions that barely take 5 minutes but provide me with plenty of enjoyable content in that small time frame to leave me satisfied afterwards with a quick gaming fix. Games like Tiny Tower I can easily jump into and quickly sort out my residents then hop back into whatever else I was doing.
Then there's Fieldrunners 2 a game I've become quite fond of, a classic tower defense game that manages to not feel overly familiar or dangerously by the numbers thanks to a great wealth of various towers each with unique certain ways of putting down waves of soldiers. All that wrapped up neatly with a pretty bow of beautifully coloured levels that have some life to them and not feeling overly solid. However the missions here won't be any smaller than 5 minutes due to my latest wave lasting up till 70 rounds! But hey guess what, I can easily pause and jump in and out of the game without a sweat and no hassle of painful loading times. Pain free!
This is all fun and well though it made me realize something even further, that I'm longing for consoles to include such a feature. Despite the huge leaps of advancements with each generation the loading times, clunkiness and hoops required to get to our games have only increased and become all the more irritating. I do love my PS3 but the god awfully irritating long downloading times for patches never ceases to irritate me and sometimes by the time it's done I've lost all motivation to play the damn game!
Then we have games like Gravity Rush which I'm so desperate to like but oh the loading times, why in Zeus's thundering authority are the loading times so awful? I encountered my first stealth mission in the game and needless to say I was quick to be calling the game a piece of shit. Not only isn't the game really built for stealth gameplay at all but when you get caught and have to restart you're subjected to a black screen with a tiny loading icon in the corner staring you in the face for what feels like eternity. Why must I wait so long for something that in the end was poorly designed and included?
Overall having an iPhone and getting into IOS gaming has made me increasingly intolerant of the clunkiness and inconvenience we're plagued with from consoles today. Don't get me wrong Apple aren't exactly saints themselves when it comes to these problems as certain actions on their devices can feel like ripping out your own teeth but when it comes down to the gaming side of it all I'm happy, it's fast, easy and hassle free. Even better is that when there is a patch/update for an app, it's waiting for me on the app store, this might sound inconvenient but I still get to play with my games when I please and not have to worry about any impending slow patches of doom.
However the things I'm hearing about the Wii-U and some of its multi-tasking skills have grabbed my interest and Nintendo could have some of the answers I'm looking for. In the end though despite these trivial realisations I'm just happy that when I've finished playing Bioshock for the infinite uncountable time I know that just a hand reaches away I have a tiny little device bursting full of content ready to snack on and give me my fill for the bitter moments I spend away from my console.
So Skyfall came out recently and having loved it so much the first time I decided to see it a second time last Tuesday. Being a huge lover of Casino Royale and a huge hater for the bowl of faeces and puke that is Quantum of Solace I was pleased to leave the cinema satisfied, giddy and full of thoughts! But then a certain thought became apparent to me, why hasn't there been an earth shatteringly insanely awesome James Bond game?
For some this might be Goldeneye but I can't speak to that due to having small vague memories about it from my childhood. To me I compare the idea to the Batman Arkham games, before Arkham Asylum came out Batman games weren't much to talk about, but then a Developer came along bursting with creativity and love for the franchises mythology and BOOM! We then got two of this generations best games and two of the best Batman games ever. To me this proves no matter what the previous history you can still milk gold out of the teats of an ancient cow and James Bond should be no different.
The series is sort of like a smartphone in that it has a stupid amount of functions, it has drama, tension, thrills, action, romance, terror, suspense, humour, campiness and even balls being whipped. Whether you're a hardcore fan or indifferent to the series they at least have something no matter how small for everyone. Then it hit me, the perfect candidate to take hold of such an ambitious video game project, a man who certainly has a license to thrill, a man who knows to never say never to Metal Gear, a man who comes from Japan with love. Incredibly awful jokes aside the man I speak of is of course Hideo Kojima.
To me there is no more suitable person to take on James Bond and there's no one more suitable than myself to tell you why this is a fact. After all I am British and I'm constantly doing all the coitus to the ladies, driving all those radical bodacious cars and killing the bad foreign men who dare oppose my beloved majesty the Queen. So sit back dear reader since this post is forever for your eyes only.
One of my absolute favourite things about James Bond films is the prologue and the title sequence, at they're best they effortlessly set the scene, tone and mood for the entire film, but even more so I'm excited to see what they've done with the title sequence visually and creatively. They can be gloriously over the top and exciting, themes like Live and Let Die really pump you up and makes you want to dance naked whilst on fire punching holes into pure fucking concrete GRRRR! Then we have themes like the recent Skyfall which has a certain melancholic sombre feel to it whilst reaching grand dramatic orchestral heights that takes you on an intense journey
Now I've already made my feelings perfectly clear on the Snake Eater opening theme, so allow me to take the opportunity to gush about it even more. You see we just went through a prologue that introduced to some all new game mechanics and ideas whilst introducing us to the environment we'll be getting oh so cosy with in the upcoming hours. But it also sets up everything for the story, with a strong shot of action, betrayal and mystery we've perked up and engrossed to dig deep into the game, then the title sequence starts. This is a song I can't get enough of listening to and this is a song that has a woman bellowing "SNAKE EATER" and declaring that someday I'll come across a tree frog. It has the fantastic elements of campy silly lyrics twisted to fit in the name of the title whilst reaching powerful emotional and orchestral depths to my little human brain. Even better is that the title sequence is visually pretty interesting to watch, splicing in clips with wonderful creative ways along with a the skeleton of a snake slithering around and the staff's credits also slithering into view.
To me this is proof that Kojima and his crew know exactly how to nail down a near perfect prologue and title sequence of the likes which I'd love to see applied to a James Bond game.
The 007 series is no stranger to the weird looking and disturbed villains. Never mind Skyfall's Javier Bardem with his terrifyingly blonde hair but what about Die Another Days villain who changed himself into a British White guy because that's what you do when you're hurled over the edge of a waterfall. With Kojima you don't have to dig far to find his fair share of odd and interesting villains.
Forgive my constant flowing love of Snake Eater but I must once more refer to it, specifically one of it's boss fight characters, The Fury. This guy parades around in an Astronaut suit in which I like to imagine he doesn't take off even when sleeping. He also carries along with him a god damn flame thrower and jet-pack, what part of that doesn't sound awesome? It ticks all the boxes for a campy, over the top silly fun villain. But he was only small potatoes in the grand scheme of things, he doesn't fill that main antagonist role, the main source of all the conflict, so let me not talk about Snake Eater for once here and go back 14 years.
Liquid Snake is a villain that fills me with an indescribable amount of joy to watch. He's a villain who will walk around with pride delivering grand silly speeches that will make you hang on his every campy word. He constantly has a presence about him that is unique and distinct among the colorful cast that he's grouped with and suitably doesn't seem all there in the head. In fact I'm now thinking Javier Bardem should definitely play Liquid in the Metal Gear movie, just look at that blonde hair he has in Skyfall, then imagine that voice shouting out "BROTHER", Kojima and I are onto something here...
The point is Kojima knows how to write interesting bad guys whether it be in the small roles or the big roles. He can bring us some of the most gloriously silly villains ones that we can't help but love to behold but he can equally provide us with villains grounded in serious issues and conflicts, inspiring great levels of hatred or villains so well written with twists that will pull at your heart strings, The Boss and Volgin are prime examples of this and I reckon Kojima would have a ball coming up with villain perfect for the James Bond series.
For some people they associate the concept of James Bond with crazy ass gadgets, this can range from mobile phone controlled cars, exploding pens, invisible cars with machine guns and a little ring that smashes glass when twisted. But with Casino Royale this idea was dropped and has remained on the floor of unloved ideas ever since, now they focus on a much more real world so you can say goodbye to shoes with knives shooting out of them. So despite MGS's campy and silly moments the items and weapons used stay relatively simple and believable.
In fact the one weapon you'll find yourself using the most is a silenced tranquillizer/handgun. In terms of spying and stealth Kojima has this area perfected with items to aid our escapades, items such as heat seeking and night vision goggles are very much in line with the world of James Bond that we're currently use to. But admittedly Bond doesn't really get up to much spying but often opts for great action set pieces which can require heavy fire power. Moments such as shooting down enemy soldiers off their motorbikes as a madman chases you in a big super fast robot tank thing or firing off missiles at a helicopter on top of a tower are classic action set pieces which requires such heavy power.
Kojima doesn't even have to follow the current Bond formula though and could opt for a completely campy journey instead which he's also dabbled in with the items. You need to look no further than the iconic cardboard box featured throughout the MGS series. He's also given us a little remote controlled missile to play around with before, perhaps such a weapon does exist today but it's pretty goofy in nature but fun to have! Not being completely tied down to such gritty realistic ideals also provides us with the chance to see Kojima go nuts with ideas, I'm sure we'd all be more than happy to see what he'd do with the weapons and gadgets.
As I just mentioned above Bond tends to opt for the more aggressive less than subtle way of getting things done which is a bit of a departure to what we're use to in Metal Gear. But then it's also no stranger to grand action set pieces either.
Bond's action pieces can range from chasing a guy who's crazy ass good at parkour through a construction site and on top of a crane, or getting into a digger, latching onto a train then proceeding to fight a dude on top of the train. Then we have Metal Gear which provides with such moments as fighting Liquid on top of Metal Gear Rex or shooting down enemy soldiers off their motorbikes as a madman chases you in the Shagohod although somewhat silly in a certain view provide those action filled thrills.
Also it'd be interesting to see Kojima try his hand at such action filled sequences, I'm certain he could provide plenty of unique twists to the classic on foot chases and we saw with the reveal of MGS: Ground Zeroes that he's now toying around with vehicles that we can drive around in, so if he also gets that right then I'm excited to see what he'd do with car chases. I'm also sure he wouldn't turn a blind eye to the tense, adrenaline fuelled action set pieces set in bizarre locations, for such inspirations he could look at the Uncharted series.
I'm not the biggest fan of the Uncharted games but I'm rather fond of moments from Uncharted 2 which involved me running around in a building shoot down soldiers as a god damn helicopter was shooting down the building with missiles which led to me stumbling about in it as it fell in real time. It's a pretty intense short thrill ride but certainly managed to leave an impression. Uncharted to me is basically the exact concept of an action movie, not a bad one or an amazing one just one that ticks every single trope and concept of the list. The small ideas I feel are great to take away and use with Bond, just don't take anything from the story or characters Kojima, those aspects are Bond, I mean Bland.
Kojima may have only proven himself with action pieces minimally but I want to see him challenge himself because whether it be good or bad we're sure to get something interesting out of it.
It wouldn't be a James Bond movie without a woman somewhat grossly named as a "Bond Girl". This is one aspect of the Bond franchise that I'm not overly fond of, never mind the potential sexist issues but I just find it incredibly dull to watch unfold. This is because they rarely seem to leave a lasting impact on the story and just pretty much feel like they're there to fill the role of woman who James gets to do all the flirting and sex with.
But there is one 'Bond girl' that I'm rather fond of, Vesper Lynd from Casino Royale is my absolute favourite from all the movies I have seen and I find her unmatched ever since. Yes she may fill the roles of being flirtatious with Bond and eventually sleeping with him but she was the one who truly left a mark, she was the one who clearly mattered to Bond, she was more than just being there to fill the role of generic romantic interest. To see Bond interact with a woman that didn't just feel like as a means to advance to sex helped foster my interest in the series and Craig's Bond. This was the first time the romance aspect mattered to me in a Bond flick, and Kojima has managed to make it matter to me easily before as well.
MGS features Meryl who somewhat out of her depth, despite her military training once she's out in the field it becomes clear war, betrayal and murder isn't something she can easily turn a blind eye to. It's something that Snake consistently does throughout the game however, he'll express his distaste for it but won't hesitate to pull the trigger, it's in his nature after all. However the more time they spend together the more Meryl begins to unfold and peel away the layers of who Snake is as a person, a lot of which he covers up for the mission. We see a slow, subtle transformation and evolution to his character who started off with a pessimistic bleak view on life but came out of it all with a brighter outlook and a solid belief in change.
Instead of being an irritating out of place love story it becomes the central emotional core of the story lifting the game to heights of unmatched praise and love. Both Casino Royale and MGS manage to show us a love story done right can become one of the most endearing parts of the story, two female characters who aren't just there to be eye candy and to be the generic love interest lead, they fulfil a bigger role which allows me to become heavily invested in their conflicts and budding relationship.
However just to be on the safe side I'm going to sit next to Kojima whilst he inevitably designs the game and every 10 minutes shout in his ear "HEY JACK DO YOU REMEMBER WHAT DAY IT IS TODAY?!" so he understands the gravity of emotional distress I felt as I had to sit through his awfully written couple of Raiden and Rose from MGS2. That's not how to do it Kojima, I know you're fond of Raiden but no don't do it, don't even think about it, stick to what you got so right that I wanted to write 16 love letters to you. That's a good boy.
Bond films typically take place or at least feature exotic locations, whether this be places such as the Bahamas, Cuba, Iceland, Venice and most recently Shanghai. This gives us some lovely environmental eye candy to keep things visually exciting and interesting, because let's face it England looks like a dog turd that's then be pissed on by the dog responsible. At least that's how it looks in the eyes of this home country loathing British man. But this staple of the Bond franchise allows for the games to never grow bland or tired to look at and provide us with a world worth playing in.
Having seen Skyfall and then watching the recreation of it in 007 Legends I was somewhat...disgusted. The game just looks ugly, piss poor pathetically ugly! Of course we all know graphics aren't everything but to me they go hand in hand with gameplay, if one is brilliant and the other grating then it will take away from the experience. Kojima has made games that stand the test of time and in some cases look much, much better than 007 Legends does. Even in its blocky PS1 era hideous glory I find MGS1 more pleasing to look at, they used the colour palette to great use so that it never looked dull whilst never looking too overly colorful to clash with the mood. I have problems with how MGS2 looked but it never looked ugly at least and aged well so that it didn't grate on me. Snake Eater on the other hand looks absolutely beautiful still in my eyes, especially concerning the jungle settings and the ending battle is a real treat for the eyes.
Skyfall to me with its cinematography really cranked up things a notch and made the exotic locations we expect all the more beautiful, they even managed to present Britain in an appealing manner, for once Britain didn't look dull and grey to me. Kojima doesn't always have the luxury to choose exotic locations in his games when he does he leaves an unforgettable impression, when he can't and has to work with such locations as military base even then I don't find myself bored with the view I'm presented, he manages to ensure no matter what that familiarity doesn't creep in.
Besides did you see that Ground Zeroes trailer? LOOK AT THAT, it looks eye wateringly beautiful, Kojima looks set to be doing impressive things with his new FOX engine so think of all the things he could do with a Bond adventure.
This is more of a personal point in some ways, you have to like Kojima to understand this I suppose I just feel like its time we give the guy a break. I'm loving the Metal Gear series and there's so much of it to dig into both in present and future but at this point I feel sorry for the guy. The fact he's received god damn death threats is quite disheartening and depressing for a guy who's given us so much to treasure and love.
But above all with all creators that I adore and no matter how much I love a certain line of their work I always wish for them to do what they want to do, to do where their heart is at, to do what they're most passionate about. If Kojima continues making these games out of obligation or threats then I'd rather he not make them at all. Granted that I don't know the guy personally, maybe he's 100% ok with still working on these games but from various interviews I always get the impression he's trying to claw away from it.
I guess I want to see him get out of his comfort zone a little, try all new things and experiment once again. Also let's face it if Kojima makes the game then we know a good amount of effort and money will be backed behind the project. Looking at the 007 Legends gameplay and trailers alone is enough to tell me hardly any time, money or love has been put into it. Metal Gear features numerous references, jokes and aspects from the James Bond franchise that I find it hard to believe Kojima hasn't watched a single one especially considering how he makes clear his undying love for movies.
So there you have it, 007 contrived messy reasons as to why Kojima should definitely make a Bond game, I've never been so sure of something in my life before, probably. I want to see a developer and publisher that can properly and efficiently produce a 007 game, we hardly need to worry about following existing novel or movie plots, they simply need to follow what Skyfall did. Take various parts, pieces and aspects from the mythology and re-work them for the current age to bring us something new and unlike something we've never seen the likes of which before.
If not that then at least give Ground Zeroes an opening title sequence, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD PLEASE I WANT SOMEONE TO SING ABOUT GROUNDS AND ZEROES! Do it for me Kojima, do it for Christmas, after all it only comes once a year.