Similarly to my previous entry (http://jamesmakesgames.blogspot.ca/2013/10/blog-quest-1-emotional-contagion.html), this post is about a game that has impacted me emotionally and inspired me to become a game developer. This time, that game is the Metal Gear series. The franchise's genre-defining stealth gameplay, deep plot, and Hollywood cinematic production have made it into a household name and one of my favorite games of all time.
First of all, let's talk gameplay.
Metal Gear Solid was the first game I played (and know of) with a cover system. Unlike this mechanic's use in most modern third person shooters, the cover system was only useful for stealth (as Snake was unable to attack from cover). This feature was later improved in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, allowing Snake to peek around corners and fire weapons from cover. This cover system undoubtedly served as inspiration for the cover system in Gears of War, which would eventually be imitated by the majority of subsequent third person shooter titles.
Before Marcus Fenix, there was Solid Snake.
As one of the earliest pioneers in the stealth genre, Metal Gear Solid was the innovator of many mechanics which have become standard stealth game staples.
One such mechanic was the radar system used in MGS1 and MGS2. This game (along with Eidos' Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines) was one of the first to use this type of GUI to display the field of view of enemy NPCs. This would later become very popular in other stealth titles.
My personal favorite mechanic to be popularized by the series is stealth take-downs. These close quarters surprise attacks have evolved with each game, giving Snake more options to dispose of his foes lethally or non-lethally.
That's enough talk about mechanics, time to talk about the feels.
The series has featured a number of different protagonists, the primary one being Solid Snake. Over the years Snake has matured into a complex character with a deep inner conflict. In Metal Gear Solid 4, Snake is told he has less than a year to live due to an accelerated aging condition related to his mysterious origin. The theme of certain death is explored throughout the game as Snake embarks on a suicide mission to destroy yet another military super weapon.
Aside from MGS4's particularly morbid tone, each game explores themes of patriotism, loyalty, compassion, and humanity. While the games do at times feel like movies, this is not a bad thing as the production quality of the in engine cut-scenes have always been top notch for the time. Below is one of MGS4's exceptionally choreographed fight sequences.
Fortunately these cut-scenes are not just about flashy combat and explosions. They are often filled with emotion and presented in experimental/interactive ways. MGS4 in particular has scenarios where gameplay and cut-scenes happen simultaneously via split screen. This seems confusing at first, but the tension created by seeing multiple characters' points of view is truly exhilarating
This type of scene exemplifies the innovation and high quality presentation the Metal Gear Solid Series has become known for.
Final Thought: If you haven't played this series before, I'm sorry for possibly spoiling it for you. That being said, you should still play it. If you're a long time fan of the series like me, I'm sure you can't wait to get your hands on Metal Gear Solid 5: Phantom Pain. So far the title looks to be even more innovative and well presented than the previous games.