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

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

Metal Gear Solid V: Will gamers be playing as Snake or Jack Bauer?

Konami shocked the gaming community when it unveiled that actor Kiefer Sutherland will play Snake (aka Big Boss) in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. The news comes after months of speculation when its was learned that David Hayter, the actor who has provided the iconic voice of Snake since Metal Gear Solid, will not return.

Obviously fans were shocked by the change up and have been sharing their mixed reactions. Some have welcomed the change as a new perspective on the character while others are furious that the game has rejected the spirit of Snake. Its common to find gamers having some doubt that Sutherland could bring the same character motif as Hayter. The fans do have a valid point.

When gamers get the chance to play Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain; will it feel like they are taking the role of Snake (aka Big Boss) or the role of Jack Bauer?

Despite his reputation as an respected screenwriter; Hayter’s performance as Snake has been engraved into his legacy (like Sean Connery as James Bond). Meanwhile Sutherland is iconic for his role as Jack Bauer in the acclaimed series, 24an espionage-themed drama that focus on the 24-hours time period of Agent Bauer and members of the Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU).

The linguistic dialect and its personal traits of a character have always been driven by the actors who have portrayed them. Yet the problem presented is the actor who has been synonyms with Snake is being replaced by an actor who is synonyms with another iconic character. While they may be iconic heroes admired by action buffs; Jack Bauer and Snake are two different characters.

On the surface; Snake was influenced by the character Snake Plissken (played by Kurt Russell) from the classic John Carpenter film, Escape From New York. After the events of Snake Eater, Snake (aka Big Boss) has become a character driven by resentment who at first is trying to find a purpose to fight. By the start of Peace Walker; Snake has established his own private army to provide needed service regardless of nations or ideologies. Meanwhile he seeks to fight for a cause that he believes in which brings him into conflict with his former colleagues. Hayter’s performance gave Snake the same kind of tone projected by Kurt Russell but with a more dramatic respectability.

Unfortunately Bauer as a character is nothing like Big Boss.

Jack Bauer is the personification of a hero America needed to look up to in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. He is a loyal government agent who has to do what is necessary to protect American citizens from terrorist threats. Like Snake; Bauer shares a similar military background with his involvement in clandestine operations as a member of Delta Force. During the series, he has made so many personal sacrifices while his loyalty has been tested at the hands of incompetent bureaucrats, trusted colleagues and crooked men of power. Sutherland’s performance as Bauer has developed a character that is guilt ridden and trying to overcome past regrets.

Therein lies the problem; Sutherland’s performance as Snake may not be the character gamers want but instead a projection of Bauer. For gamers who have been playing the series from the beginning we have grown accustomed to having Hayter as the voice of Snake. But by using Sutherland; gamers are going to have a radically different mental projection of Snake. At best gamers could play a Snake that has become more battle harden in a way that only Sutherland could depict. Or gamers may have a mental projection of two characters morphed into one.

In the end all speculation games have will be put to rest upon the release of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.

Written for GameBeats
06/9/2013
Original Article: ‘Metal Gear Solid V’: Will gamers be playing as Snake or Jack Bauer?