Metal Gear Solid: Rising: Revamped: Revengeance: Part Four

Noted hero and food picture taker Hideo Kojima took to Twitter to mention that that game  will be released on February 19th in North America, the 21st in Europe, and the 22nd int he UK. The game has been in the works for quite awhile by Platinum Games (Bayonetta) and features hack-and-slash gameplay instead of the traditional playstyle Metal Gear is so well known for. You can catch a trailer here.

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MGS Standalone Editions Stealthing Their Way to PS3, Xbox

Kojima Productions recently announced that Metal Gear Solid HD Collection will be tactically, espionagely, and actionly making its way to the PSN Store and Xbox Live Marketplace. 2 and 3 will be released in a bundle for Xbox on the 21st of August, while they’ll be released separately for the PS3 that same day. On the 28th, Peace Walker will be released for both consoles, with a full three-game bundle set for the PS3 the same day.

They haven’t released pricing, but it should vary from title to title and console to console.

And no, Peace Walker HD will not be released for the Vita. Thanks for nothing, Hideo.


Metal Gear Solid HD Collection (Vita)

Released on June 12, Metal Gear Solid: HD Collection for the PS Vita feels like it’s long overdue (seeing as how the console edition was released in November), but it is a very welcome addition to the Vita’s somewhat lacking lineup of video games.

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The Legend of Zelda Timeline

Despite all the pimp gear, nothing could prepare Link for the weird goblin dude with half a Q-Tip.

I used to be a huge Legend of Zelda fan, back in the day. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is definitely one of my favourite games of all time (yes, I like it more than Ocarina of Time, watch out). While I don’t hate the series today, I haven’t had a chance to really catch up at all (playing none of the handheld games save Link’s Awakening, and only playing the NES, SNES, N64 games, along with The Twilight Princess). I was interested when I first heard hints about an official chronology coming out and happy to see it over at Hatm0nster’s My Two Caps.

Like Hatm0nster, I was under the impression that these games couldn’t properly be tied together, that each one was its own separate work of art (save for direct sequels), and I felt that was really cool. I mean, the overworld from The Legend of Zelda, A Link to the Past, and Ocarina of Time look nothing alike. They have a few landmarks in common (especially LttP and OoT), but that’s about it. I always just assumed that there was no direct connection. Once you included the fact that it seemed like Zelda was getting in a lot of trouble and was constantly being rescued by a guy named Link (who rarely had previous knowledge of being a hero), it just made sense.

But nope, we have a linearish timeline. There have been several Links, and several Zeldas, and that’s pretty cool. But what’s especially rad is what happens at The Ocarina of Time, which is definitely one of the best games ever made (GameRankings.com holds it as #1, still). The tree splits into three, with two distinct branches: in one, the hero succeeds and banishes Ganon. In the other, the hero fails.

Whr-whr-whr-whr-whr

That’s right, the hero flat out fails. This doesn’t exist as a possibility, but as a distinct universe (Zeldaverse?). That is to say, A Link to the Past, Majora’s Mask, and The Wind Waker all appear to occur at (roughly) the same time. Accepting that there are two main outcomes in Ocarina of Time (ie, you get the game over screen and quit or you beat Ganon), there are two branches after defeating Ganon:

The first assumes that after defeating Ganon, Link does go back as a kid to before Ganon rose to power in the first place and that Ganon is thwarted in his attempt. Link lives his life and has some wacky adventures as a kid (including in Majora’s Mask)

The second assumes that after defating and sealing Ganon, Ganon eventually escapes, leading to the Great Flood, leading to Wind Waker. Because of the very confusing nature of messing with time, it is easy enough to assume that a time paradox of sorts is created in the whole fiasco, resulting in dual Links and a single timeline. To be specific, Four Swords + Hyrule Adventure does not lead to Wind Waker. Wind Waker and Majora’s Mask both involved the same Link in different time Zeldaverses. It’s the same Link, at different times, essentially.

Link failing, I think, is the coolest thing they could have included. I think that while the other two timelines make sense in that they are things that happened in the story of Ocarina of Time, I don’t think anyone has (on their first playthrough, at least) not hit the game over screen in Ocarina of Time.  What the timeline essentially proposes is that the very possibility of failure has created a third timeline. Eiji Aonuma, the Zelda boss, has stated that all these events occur in a single continuity, which means that when the tree splits into three, it isn’t to say that these options are left open, but rather that all three occur simultaneously. Because, well, they do. Once again, our role as gamer is much, much more important than we thought. And that’s really cool, too.


Metal Gear Solid: HD Collection

Raiden and Snake, together at last!

While it has been out for slightly over a month, I’ve only just now had the chance to get around to playing the re-release of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, and Peace Walker in Konami’s Metal Gear Solid: HD Collection. And, obviously, it’s awesome. It’s a tough thing to review if only because, well, MGS2, 3 and PW are all old news. Sure, they may be some of the finest video games ever made, but we’ve played them. Aside from improved graphics (most notably in 3 and Peace Walker, less so in 2), you’re looking at the exact same games as before (except PW has moved from your PSP and now you can get trophies/achievements for choking guys out). But there are a few things to note for the nerds in the room: you’re playing the expanded editions of each. That’s right, Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance and Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence. That means that in addition to getting two of the greatest video games ever made, you’re also getting a slew of bonus missions, training, and extra content (minus the Skating mini-game for 2 and Snake vs. Monkey in 3). On the other hand, while they have been dramatically improved, the graphics of MGS2 and 3 still show their age.

Before proceeding, however, something needs to be said: Metal Gear Solid 2 is the superior game. It’s tough to say and it’s, I dare say, a wildly unpopular opinion. I’ll run through the two biggest complaints:

Here be spoilers!

1) The story is batshit insane (minor spoilers ahead).

Metal Gear Solid 2 has an insane storyline which seems to involve removing letters from the alphabet, incest, and destroying a financial center, a la Fight Club. Along the way you discover that not only are you a former child soldier and a soldier now with no real training aside from VR training because you’ve repressed your time as a child soldier being raised and taught by none other than John Cygan Canderous Ordo Dash Rendar Solidus Snake, Liquid Snake and Solid Snake’s third, perfect brother, but that the entire mission is another training, VR-esque mission. Also, The Patriots control everything.

Naked Raiden.

2) Raiden.

Hideo Kojima played a really mean trick in 2001. Following, again one of the greatest games ever made (MGS1), we were given fully 3D, slightly-human looking Solid Snake. The first two-three hours of MGS2 are awesome because you’re once again playing the living legend himself. The same badassery and box-wearing shenanigans are back, and it is actually sweet. Then everything goes south and you find yourself in part 2, AKA The Plant chapter. Campbell begins by addressing the player as Snake, and for half a second you’re thinking that somehow, Solid Snake and the Campbell are back together for an awesome mission. Nope. Some wuss responds and within ten minutes you see Raiden in all his douchebaggery. Whether it involves slipping on pigeon crap, getting felt up by an old man (only for him to exclaim “You’re a man?”) or getting urinated on by a guard, you are a running joke for the rest of the game. You don’t even find redemption in the final fight. Regardless of what Raiden has become, his beginnings are pretty sad.

Addressing number one, yes, it is a little nuts but like with any story, if you allow yourself to be pulled in, it becomes believable. And, well, let’s not forget that we’re playing a video game in the first place: it’s not real, anyhow, and striving for realism in what is clearly an unrealistic medium seems kind of silly, no?

Number two is the harder part. Raiden is ultimately a wuss and is a lousy character. He’s whiney and dumb and weak and constantly confused but, in the end, he really is the player. MGS2 touches on this to some extent, but look at it this way: the average video gamer has no actual combat experience. I’ve played tons of war games but I’ve never been to war. I’ve launched nukes and mortars and cannons and fired guns, but not outside of a video game. Like Raiden, we have no combat experience. When we first meet Snake in MGS2 (or even in 1, or even going back to Metal Gear), he has more combat experience than us, period. He is an expert at what he does and his level of ability is far beyond ours. Raiden, though, is relatively unshaped and unmolded. He has a wealth of combat experience, but all of it (save his child warfare stuff) is purely virtual. So when we’re launched into the game as him, we’re going in with that same background of VR training, but nothing real — and even our experience as Raiden is virtual (and while Raiden’s experience is somewhat real, the fact remains that it is all a test by The Patriots, anyway, meant to mimic Shadow Moses). His experience eventually has him ranting at his girlfriend and at the Colonel, saying that “we bleed, we die” and that one needs “something higher” than just the mission to fight for (but what that is, he doesn’t know).

The cutting edge VR training Raiden received while in the Solid Snake Fan Club Boot Camp Class of '07.

What we’re fighting for is, at the start at least, the game. We’re fighting because we’re told by the Colonel, by Konami, by Kojima, to fight. That is our role and our mission. And maybe we turn at some point and start fighting because we want to, not because that’s the mission but to figure out what is going on and try to set things right. In MGS1, Otacon asks Snake “what am I fighting for? What are you fighting for?” Snake enigmatically explains, “if we make it through this, I’ll tell you”. He fights to fight. He fights to survive, he fights to set things right. At the end of MGS1 (and repeated by Snake to Raiden halfway through MGS2), Gray Fox famously says to Snake:

We’re not tools of the government or anyone else. Fighting was the only thing I was good at, but at least I always fought for what I believed in.

Gray Fox, the unsung hero of MGS1

Towards the end of MGS2, we’re expected to decide what to continue fighting for. We can continue the mission, continue playing Kojima’s game as it were, or we can break out and instead fight for the game. While Raiden is our avatar in MGS2 and he ultimately decides to fight for what he believes in, thus forcing us to fight for what Raiden believes in, we can still make the same choice. We can care, or we can beat the game. Of course, as Raiden too finds out, either choice forces you to the same end, though you take a different path. In the end, we gain our VR experience playing as Raiden, while Raiden, insofar as video game characters can have “real” experiences, gains the experience of the Plant chapter as VR mission, as well as beginning to face his inner demons as a child soldier.

This, I think, is the brilliance of MGS2 and of Raiden. There are very few video game characters I hate more than Raiden of the MGS2 era. When the game first came out, I heard people claim that we were supposed to like this unlikable character but I think that’s wrong. Raiden is this bland, by-the-book, no real experience sort of character. We’re expecting a Snake, and we get this wuss. We’re expected to hate him because we all like to think that we’re as tough and as badass as Solid Snake, especially if we have beaten MGS1 a dozen times a dozen different ways. But we’re not, and through MGS2, we’re expected to come to terms with that and even if we don’t ever come to like Raiden, we come to at least understand and not totally hate him.

I will admit that nostalgia does play a small role in my love for that game. My cousin and I rented it the day it came out. I had school the next day but there was a chance, admittedly a small chance but a chance, of an overnight snowstorm. We started it late in the day and eventually cloistered ourselves in a room in the basement. I remember our original playtime came to thirteen hours because we made ridiculous rules such as no restarting through suicide after getting caught and so on. It took what felt like forever. 5 AM or so rolled around and my cousin had to go to work. We were near the end, ready to fight some Metal Gear RAYS. He took off, and I beat the game. I looked outside for the first time in hours and the snow was up several feet. Here in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, even a light dusting of snow stops everything. School was cancelled, I went to sleep. It was one of the best video game playthroughs in my life.

All that said, MGS3 is an absolutely amazing game and I respect the fact that most people would rate it above MGS2 simply because of how excellent a game it is and is worth a critical reading same as MGS2. Peace Walker looks and plays better here on the console than it ever could on the ill-fated PSP as well. It easily had a much thorough overhaul than MGS2 or 3, and while I don’t think it’s as good as either, it is an excellent game.

Pick up MGS: HD Collection if you’ve never played the games or if you have a few hundred hours to kill (assuming you play through more than once). It’s definitely worth it.


Metal Gear Solid Rising: Revengence: This Time It’s Personal: Part One

Well, Hideo Kojima’s secret was let out of the bag before the Spike TV VGA: Metal Gear Solid Rising is to be developed by Platinum Games (the Japanese developer responsible for Bayonetta) and not Kojima Productions nor Konami. The project, which has already seen two different lead producers (and not Kojima himself), may also get a new subtitle: Revengence (which may or may not have something to do with revenge). Whether or not it will be Metal Gear Solid Rising: Revengence or It will be called Metal Gear Rising: Revengence, and we can all assume with some certainty that revengence will be had.

Kojima previously assured fans that it would be a slightly faster paced game than the MGS series known for its “Tactical Espionage Action”, but by the looks of the new trailer (not yet online), things are set to speed up quite a bit.

Read more here.


Metal Gear Solid: Rising

Raiden, showing off his bedroom eyes.

Maybe you forgot about this trailer from 2010, but noted eccentric game producer Hideo Kojima is set to announce some stuff about Metal Gear Solid: Rising tomorrow at the Spike TV Video Game Awards. While the VGA is so absurd and so embarassing that it makes me wish Spike TV didn’t exist and that I didn’t play video games, it should be worth checking out. I mean, it’s Kojima. What could go wrong?

Raiden gets a bum wrap pretty often, but I liked him in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots well enough. And while he is no Solid Snake, playing him in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty was actually pretty fun, if you ask me. You instead got to see the “living legend” Solid Snake himself in action. And Raiden wasn’t as awful a character as he was made out to be. Granted, he was a bit of a sissy and I often worried about being outside for too long in case he got skin cancer really easily on account of being an albino, but he had a cool backstory and, judging from his state of being in MGS4, had a cool break between games 2 and 4.