5 memorable homages to David Bowie in Metal Gear Solid

The world of pop-culture suffered a tragic loss when David Bowie passed away on January 11, 2016. During his career; he released many memorable songs and performed in many critically acclaimed films while influencing a generation or artists.

Among those Bowie inspired was Hideo Kojima and that influence could be experienced in the Metal Gear Solid series. The game has made many references and taken influence from the works of Bowie.

These are the five memorable moments in Metal Gear Solid that were inspired by the works of David Bowie.

5. Diamond Dogs

One of David Bowie’s most memorable album and song was also the name of the mercenary army that succeed Militaires Sans Frontières after the events of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes. It may appear that Kojima just made another nod to Bowie, but there is actually a hidden meaning behind the use of Diamond Dogs.

The album Diamond Dogs focuses on a dystopian future with themes of totalitarianism that were inspired by George Orwell’s 1984. The use of this title could also be a nod to the phrase, “the dogs of war,” a term often used to describe mercenaries thanks to Frederick Forsyth.

The concept of totalitarianism and the role of mercenaries in modern combat are both common themes that the series has examined.

4. Major Zero’s code-name

Major Tom is a character who has become subject of several David Bowie songs with “Space Oddity” being the most well known. He is an astronaut that meets a tragic demise after technical problems hurl his spaceship into the darkness of space.

During the Virtuous Mission in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, Major Zero informs Snake that he will use the code-named Major Tom during radio chatter. While Major Zero claims its reference to the movie The Great Escape (named after a tunnel), it’s actually a reference to the character from “Space Oddity.”

3. A plethora of androgynous characters  

Besides his contribution to the musical arts, David Bowie will be remembered for his androgynous style that was best represented with his alter ego, Ziggy Stardust. This made him an icon in the LGBT community as he paved the way for other transgender leaders and icons as he took gender fluidity to the mainstream.

Ziggy Stardust also played a major influence on Hideo Kojima and the creation of many characters in the series. Among the most notable examples are Raiden and Vamp‘s depiction in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. One also has to note how Solid Snake underwent a transformation from being masculine figure in Metal Gear Solid to an androgynous figure in Guns of the Patriots.

The influence of Ziggy Stardust was not limited to male characters as several female characters were also created with an androgyny style. Strangelove from Peace Walker and Olga Gurlukovich from Sons of Liberty would be among the best examples to look at.

2. The Fury

Another tribute to “Space Oddity” in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater comes in the form of a cosmonaut who is engulfed in total rage. The Fury is a member of the Cobra Unit who is deployed to stop Snake before he could infiltrate Groznyj Grad.

Like Major Tom, The Furry was a space explorer who suffered after the computers in his spaceship malfunctioned. Rather then drift away into space, he was burned alive upon returning to Earth. The pain he suffered gave him a new vision of life as he was from that moment consumed by anger.

The Fury is just one of many moments in the game that explores the forgotten dark side of the Space Race.

1. The Man Who Sold The World (Spoiler Alert!)

This iconic Bowie song is played at the beginning of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain and is the name of Episode 46. The song tells the tale of a person meeting their doppelganger while exploring the themes of multiple personalities. However, its inclusion was a major spoiler as fans were quick to deduce that the character they are playing as is not the real Big Boss.

During the events of Ground Zeroes, an MSF medic was badly injured while Big Boss fell into a coma. After undergoing facial reconstruction surgery along with hypnotherapy, the medic became a body double known as Venom Snake.

When the real Big Boss returned to the world, Venom Snake was also awoken and are immediately hunted by XOF. Following their escape from a military hospital, Big Boss begins establishing Outer Heaven while Venom Snake helps spread the legacy of Big Boss with Diamond Dogs.

This could either be the most brilliant twist or one of the dumbest endings, but it could be denied that “The Man Who Sold The World” played a major role in creating this plot line.

The world may have lost David Bowie, but his legacy will live on through his music, films, and the works of those he influenced.

Written for GameSkinny
1/12/2016
Original Article: 5 memorable homages to David Bowie in Metal Gear Solid

 

5 controversies that will haunt the legacy of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain was a long-awaited game in an iconic series, and one of the most highly anticipated games of 2015. It’s also a game that has been plagued with a lot of controversy during its development.

From a new voice actor to the infamous Kojima/Konami dispute, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain has seen its fair share of turmoil. And some of those controversies could haunt the game forever. In honor of it being the fifth MGS title, here are 5 MGS V controversies that the game might never shake off.

5. Microtransactions

As the release date approached, it was unveiled that microtransactions would be part of the online experience. Players who participated in the PvP feature could develop extra Forward Operation Bases (FOB), using MB Coins as currency.

Fans were outraged, as the practice of microtransactions has been very controversial in the gaming industry. Other games have faced the same kind of backlash when opting for microtransactions in the online gameplay.

Things only got worst when Konami introduced FOB insurance, a feature that has players pay real money to recover lost resources. This only added fuel to the fire. Players bemoaned the microtransactions, while many in the media were quick to denounce the feature.

4. Kiefer Sutherland replaces David Hayter

The first big controversy to hit Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain was the rumor that David Hayter would not return as the voice of Big Boss. Gamers were shocked to learn that the rumors were true, and that he had been replaced with Kiefer Sutherland.

Fans of the series were either outraged or conflicted, as Hayter had been the voice of Snake and Big Boss since Metal Gear Solid. On the other had, Sutherland was well-known for his role as Jack Bauer on 24, so we knew he had what it took to play a badass character.

But here’s one of the biggest problems: Big Boss is driven by resentment and the desire to continue the legacy of his mentor. Jack Bauer is the personification of a hero America needed to look up to in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. We all wondered whether Sutherland would be able to separate himself from that patriotic role and bring to life the much darker motivations of Big Boss.

3. Quiet’s outfit and sexual assault

The portrayal of women in gaming has been a hot topic issue in recent years, and the use of rape in games is always a lightning rod for controversy. So it should not have been a surprise when gamers had a problem with Quiet’s skimpy outfit and the use of sexual violence.

Back in December 2013, it was revealed that the ESRB had listed Sexual Violence among the reasons why Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes had received an M rating. This was because of an audio recording of Paz being gang-raped while she was detained at Camp Omega. Even though it was an audio recording, many gamers found it to be very disturbing.

And most of us were not too pleased with Quiet’s lack of clothing, along with the fact she never speaks. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the beginning of Mission 45: A Quiet Exit, shows Quiet narrowly escaping sexual assault by a soldier.

Many felt that her attire was at best juvenile and at worst incredibly sexist. And the lame excuse they gave us doesn’t really help either. She breathes through her skin because of the parasites? Sure. It seems that if hypnotherapy and extensive facial reconstruction can turn a random medic into a supersoldier, someone in the MGSV universe would be able to create more breathable fabric.

2. Ground Zeroes short playtime

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes and The Phantom Pain were first announced back in 2012 simply as Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes. However, the project was split due to the long development time and Kojima’s desire to give players a sample of what to expect.

Gamers were excited to sample the next chapter in the iconic series, until it was revealed that it had a playtime of only two hours. Many felt that Konami was trying to pass off a demo as a real game

Kojima assured gamers that there was more to Ground Zeroes then the main game, but fans were not appeased. The controversy forced the game to undergo several price cuts before and after its release. But for some fans, that still wasn’t enough.

1. The Kojima/Konami dispute

Of all the controversies that have plagued the development of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, none has been as detrimental as the feud between Konami and Hideo Kojima.

News of a breakdown in their relationship first became public when the Kojima Studios credit and Kojima’s name were removed from all promotional material for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Konami also removed his name from the game’s official box art.

Next came one of the most controversial decisions of the year: Konami announced that production of Silent Hills had been canceled. The announcement enraged gamers, and Guillermo del Toro announced that he would never work on another video game.

Allegedly, the root of the dispute is that Konami is undergoing a change in structure, and they want to focus more on mobile gaming. At the same time, the leadership at Konami was not happy that the production host of The Phantom Pain had hit $80 million. More than likely, those were both contributing factors to the fallout.

The dispute has been a disaster for Konami’s public image, as most of the gaming community has sided with Kojima. The industry has taken a more mediated approach, either asking that they bury the hatchet or passively taking a pro-Kojima stance.

Despite the turmoil, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is one of the best games of 2015 and a fitting conclusion to the series. Did any of these controversies make you reconsider the game? What’s your opinion on some of these issues? Let us know in the comments below!

Written for GameSkinny
10/11/2015
Original Article: 5 controversies that will haunt the legacy of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Resident Evil 0 HD’s success or failure will determine future of RE franchise

Capcom announcing an HD remake of Resident Evil 0 may seem like another gimmick to appeal towards gamer nostalgia, but to the gaming community, its a representation of a cultural struggle that will determine the future of this iconic series.

Resident Evil was the leader in defining the concept of the horror survival genre, but now its future has been brought into question. Now a debate that has pitted traditional fans of the series against a new generation could be finally resolved by the success of Resident Evil 0 HD.

A Tale of Two Gaming Generations

Starting with the Fifth Console Generation, the Resident Evil series was the leader in defining the concept of the survival horror genre. However, the times changed and so did the series in the hopes of appealing to a new generation of gamers.

At first the new direction was welcomed by fans when Resident Evil 4 found the right balance of horror and action. Then everything changed when Resident Evil 5 abandoned most of the survival horror elements in favor of an action game. It all finally came to breaking point when Resident Evil 6 was released in 2012, being hailed as the worst game in the series. The result were a deep rift between a new generation of gamers and traditional fans while the future of the series was being put into question.

Adding insult to a disgruntled community was a special investment report that was published in 2013 that attributed the problems of the series to the fan base having become “too old.” Gamers were quick to express their outrage while the gaming media denounced the report as further proof that Capcom is failing to connect with its core audience.

Going Old School

In the Summer of 2014; Capcom announced that an HD remake of Resident Evil(based on the 2002 GameCube version) was in the works. The game took the player back to the traditional setup while visually being presented in 1080p and running at 60fps along with 5.1 surround support.

The announcement was met with enthusiasm and support from the gaming community, as there has been a strong demand to re-release the GameCube remake (dubbed REmake). Social media networks along with gaming sites were flooded with gamers voicing their support for the HD remake.

Resident Evil HD Remaster released on January 20, 2015, and it was highly praised by both fans along with critics. Despite being released at the end of the month and after the Holiday season, it was one of the best-selling titles of the year. According to Capcom; it was the fastest selling title in the series and one of the best-selling digital media titles. Sony also verified that Resident Evil was the best-selling game in January for both PlayStation consoles.

The Future Is Zero

Despite what fans are hoping for, the success of one game alone is not enough to determine the future of the series. Resident Evil 0 HD will be an attempt to recreate the success of Resident Evil HD to see if the series should return to its roots.

Should Resident Evil 0 succeed then the fans have sent a clear message to Capcom that the series needs to return to its roots as a true horror survival. It could also be the push needed for a proper remake of Resident Evil 2, something fans have wanted for a long time since its often hailed as the best game in the series.

However; if Resident Evil 0 HD fails then the ramification are going to be worse then more action games. The message sent to Capcom will be one of doubt that could jeopardize the future of the series. With no clear understanding of what the fan base wants, this could be a tipping point that could kill the Resident Evil series.

Gamers will have to wait until January 2016 to see if the success of Resident Evil 0 HD is the push needed to return the series to its roots. Or will its failure be the final nail in the coffin that ends the legacy of this pop-culture icon.

Written for GameSkinny
6/4/2015
Original Article: Resident Evil 0 HD’s success or failure will determine future of RE franchise

5 Games That Failed But Earned A Second Chance

The path to success is always met with a series of failures, and the gaming world is no exception. Not every game series started with a major hit, as several iconic titles had a rocky start.

The following are examples of five major games that failed at first but the creators worked to learn from their mistakes.

5. Driver 

The series started as an icon during the days of the PlayStation but became a joke when Driv3r failed to redefine the genre. A follow-up, Driver: Parallel Lines, was also met with modest reviews by critics and failed to reignite gamers’ interest. By the time gaming entered the Seventh Generation, the series was almost forgotten.

After Ubisoft acquired the rights to the series, they aimed to redeem it for the fans. Driver: San Francisco abandoned the GTA-style elements and returned the series to its roots while introducing new gameplay content. This paid off, as Driver: San Francisco was highly praised by critics and became a hit among gamers.

4. Just Cause

This was one of those games that had a good concept but terrible execution. Just Cause has Rico Rodriguez working to overthrow a South American dictator by waging a guerrilla war alongside rebel factions.

However, its clunky function along with poor control setup earned it mediocre reviews from critics and gamers. It also failed to standout from games like Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.

All the game needed was a little polishing, and it paid off with an iconic sequel. Just Cause 2 kept the premise of the original, but had smoother controls and gave players a more reliable gaming experience.

Gamers fell in love with Just Cause 2 so much that a group of dedicated fans created a multiplayer function that received the blessing of the game’s developers. Meanwhile, Just Cause 3 is in the works and is set to be released sometime in 2015.

3. Hitman

Mr. 47’s introduction to the gaming community didn’t go as Eidos and IO Interactive planned. Despite its unique premise, Hitman: Codename 47 suffered from poor controls and clunky gameplay. Critics were not impressed, but it did develop a small cult following.

One thing gamers had to admire about Eidos was their ability to learn from their mistakes and apply that knowledge to sequels. Hitman 2: Silent Assassins fixed the clunky gameplay and presented a polished second chance for Mr. 47.

The sequel was highly praised by critics and fans. Its success was followed by Hitman: Contracts, a retelling of the first game by recreating several of the original missions.

2. Killzone

The series has become staple for PlayStation gamers, but many forget the game failed to be a classic when it was first released. The original game for the PS2, a fast-paced action shooter set in a futuristic conflict zone, was marketed as Sony’s grittier rival to the Halo series.

However, the game was met with mediocre reviews and was mocked by gamers for failing to live up to the hype. This could have been the end of the Second Extrasolar War.

The series earned a little redemption thanks to Killzone: Liberation for the PSP. But more needed to be done save the series. Lessons were learned in time for the Seventh Generation consoles, and the result was Killzone 2.

The sequel was a hit among gamers and was praised by critics as one of the best shooters for the PS3. Its follow-up, Killzone 3 improved an already successful setup and avoided being branded as a Call of Duty knockoff.

1. Grand Theft Auto

A game series doesn’t become a cultural landmark without going through some trial and error. The series started as an innocent racing game titled Race’n’Chase, before a glitch convinced DMA to create what is known as Grand Theft Auto.

The game was a success on the PC, but failed to gain the attention of console gamers and received mediocre ratings. Grand Theft Auto 2 did no better. This would have been the end of the series unless real changes were made.

Grand Theft Auto III took the concept of its predecessors and incorporated it into a 3D environment. The result transformed the video game world, moving it from being a niche culture toward becoming part of popular culture.

Its success was followed with Grand Theft Auto: Vice City  along with Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, which broke its predecessors’ records and raised the bar for the gaming industry. At the same time, the concept of open world-gaming became of the most popular genres.

The legacy of the series has not ended, as the 2013 release of Grand Theft Auto V sold over $1 billion in three days, making it the fastest-selling title of all time. The PS4 and Xbox One ports were released in late 2014, but gamers are still anticipating the PC version.

The moral of the story is that everyone will fail, but a successful person or company can and will learn from their mistakes.

Written for GameSkinny
1/4/2015
Original Article: 5 Games That Failed But Earned A Second Chance

Metal Gear Solid Does Not Need a Remake

In this age of cultural bankruptcy that is dependent on remakes and reboots, it needs to be stated that not all classic works need a makeover just to be more appealing for a new generation.

These classics have survived the test of time to have a massive impact on pop culture but do not need a makeover that will devoid it of what originally made them a landmark or have its message watered-down to appeal to a broad audience (the RoboCop remake being an excellent example).

The same could also apply to classic video games that are significant to the cultural arts. As with movies, the concept of what made it significant is lost in the need to re-imagine it for a new audience. It may have worked well for Resident Evil in 2002 but the GoldenEye remake in 2010 failed to live up to the legacy of the original.

Yet from time to time, Hideo Kojima has voiced his support for remaking Metal Gear Solid, his greatest masterpiece and one of the most iconic games of all time. Most recently he expressed at Gamescom 2014 how he hopes the original game could be remade using the Fox Engine.

It’s understandable that Kojima wishes to see his masterpiece recreated for a new generation of gamers but the reality is that Metal Gear Solid needs to be remade as badly as The Godfather. Its one of those classics that are so timeless that no remake will do it justice or at worst be a work of blasphemy.

This has already been proven when the game has remade for the GameCube back in 2004 as Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes. This updated version included improved graphics, extended cutscenes and infusing the gameplay mechanisms from Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. While the game was praised for rebuilding an iconic, a lot of the aesthetics that made the original a masterpiece was lost.

The most obvious was the remade cutscenes relied too much on over the top action that were so campy that it devoid the game of its dramatic aspects. At the same time the performance of the voice actors lacked the theatrical depth that allowed the player to have an emotional connection with the character. Metal Gear Solid was one of the earliest games to feature a real dramatic presence driven by the strong performance of the voice actors, but most of that would be lost in the remake.

Most players had some remorse after defeating Psycho Mantis while feeling a sense of sorrow when having to fight Sniper Wolf. Yet all that emotional connection was lost in the remake.

Not helping The Twin Snakes was how the new gameplay mechanism took the challenge out of memorable boss fights and made the overall experience lack any significance. Classic moments that required carefully timed tactics lost there challenging aspect with the new mechanisms.

The best noted example was the boss battle against Revolver Ocelot while the Arms Tech President tied up in the center while strapped with C4. In the original game, players had to outflank Ocelot then properly time when to take a shot while avoid hurting the hostage. In the remake all the player had to do was stand in a corner and aim in first-person view then shot.

The duel against Revolver Ocelot is one of the most memorable boss battles because it required the player to think before acting. Meanwhile The Twin Snakes made it into a simple battle that lacked a challenge. The same could be said about other boss battles in the game that lost their significance because of the new gameplay mechanism.

Finally the new musical score composed for the game along with re-tuning some of the classic did not help make The Twin Snakes a better game. The musical score help drive the emotions of the moment while adding to dramatic tone. The new soundtrack did its best but lacked the same passion as the original.

If the GameCube remake failed to live up to the legacy of the original than Kojima shouldn’t expect a Metal Gear Solid built on the Fox Engine to create the same momentum. Another remake will water down its themes even more and rob it of the elements that made it significant.

Metal Gear Solid is one of the most important games ever developed while its legacy has made it an icon of pop culture. It doesn’t need to be remade just to appeal to a new generation because a real gamer should respect its legacy for what it has accomplished for the gaming medium.

Written for GameSkinny
08/27/2014
Original Article: Metal Gear Solid Does Not Need a Remake