NOTE: This post sort of turns into an incoherent, convoluted, rambling on about something I'm a bit unsure of... SO! lower expectations.
I do not own a PLAYSTATION 3. I do not want a PLAYSTATION 3, but- I will give it this... Metal Gear Solid 4 is one of the most powerful examples of superior story telling I have ever come across. Bravo Kojima.
I just wanted to express something that I'm sure many gamers have come across. Some spoilers to follow...
I am a big fan of Metal Gear, I give it the respect it deserves, time after time it reinvents itself, improves on a winning formula and sets the bar in terms of play and cinematic experience. That being said let me take some time to explain my odd relationship with the Metal Gear Solid franchise.
I played the first game on the PS1 and fell in love with it. Even though I was young the game impressed me. It was an experience that was very unique in entertainment and one of the earliest games that took it self seriously while still relishing in the fact that it was a game. Now, as much as I loved the game, I couldn't bring myself to play the second one. There is no logical explanation for this. I was exposed to the game thoroughly though by one of my best friends. He lives for the series.
I watched him play the whole thing. I did not touch the controller, I just watched. The story dragged me in and I suddenly found myself longing to revisit Snake's world. I bought the game...and played the tanker intro a few times, but never progressed, never even saved.
After expressing my loss of interest in the gameplay I think my friends assumed I didn't care for the series because I didn't really see any of MGS3. Which brings me back to the present.
I watched my friend beat MGS4 and I was just as satisfied with it as I had been with MGS1- even though I didn't play it at all.
This, to me, is just a testament to the strength of Kojima's story telling. It was always interesting and When approaching the conclusion I felt as if I had witnessed multiple historic moments. One of my most memorable games.
It was upon reaching the monumental microwave chambers, split-screen, that I understood where the power of game stories resided - character (and interactivity).
The Metal Gear franchise is home to some of the most memorable characters in gaming, and arguably cinema as well. But I believe that this is due to the role playing element inherent to the medium. It has been 10 years since the Solid series began and players took control of the modern Solid Snake. The interactivity places gamers in control of the protagonist, their actions become his actions and a bond is formed than cannot be found in film or literature. Could this be a superficial bond? Maybe, but I don't think anybody could argue that they felt detached from Solid Snake, even though he acts independently through the cutscenes. The bond created through gameplay and history is unrivaled.
Game franchises evolve over time, updated frequently in most cases, and have faithful followings. I find this to be an extremely important factor in their success regarding character development and story telling. Players spend so much time with these characters that they are familiar to them, a bond is formed and they legitimately feel something for that character over time. Games also allow for a prolonged period within any given universe. While the Lord of the Rings trilogy totals over 9 hours (no memes please...) the average story based game can reach 12hrs, with some outliers getting over 20 and any given JRPG around 50 - 70. Simply, the amount of exposure to these worlds that we get to these worlds is far greater than anything any other form can provide. Besides that players are required to be fully immersed in, not the story necessarily, but the law of that world, they need to know how things work in order to get through the game. For instance, I know, that in Hyrule if I want to get past a bed of spikes I need to find a giant button to stand on, or a crystal to hit. In MGS Kojima puts it on the player to learn how to use the technology and weaponry he presents them with.
To me, games have the potential to be the most powerful form of art/entertainment we know, little have proven this but MGS4 does. The connection to the world and, more importantly, the characters immerses the player in a way that not many other games, movies, or books can. The cumulation of history within the series leads up the one of the most fulfilling conclusions to anything and the fact that you are in control of it.