Metal Gear


Metal Gear
Metal Gear
Mgs logo.png
The Metal Gear Solid logo used for The Twin Snakes, Sons of Liberty, Snake Eater and Portable Ops
Genres Stealth action
Developers Konami
Kojima Productions
Publishers Konami
Creators Hideo Kojima
Official website www.konami.jp

Metal Gear (メタルギア Metaru Gia?) is a series of stealth video games created by Hideo Kojima and developed and published by Konami. The first game, Metal Gear, was released in 1987 for the MSX2. The player takes control of a special forces operative Solid Snake who is assigned to find the eponymous superweapon "Metal Gear", a bipedal walking tank with the ability to launch nuclear weapons. Several sequels have been released for multiple consoles after requests from Konami to produce new Metal Gear games. The sequels expand the original game's plot adding new characters opposing and supporting Snake, while there have also been a few prequels exploring the origins from the Metal Gear and recurring characters. Various parts were inspired by Hollywood films with character's names, settings and artworks often referencing them.

The series is famous for pioneering the stealth game genre, in which the character initially has only one weapon and has to go through the game to accomplish his mission by himself. Other notable traits are cinematic cut scenes, intricate storylines, offbeat humor and exploration of political and philosophical themes. The game franchise has sold over 30 million copies worldwide, with individual installments being critically acclaimed and receiving game of the year awards. The franchise has also been adapted into other media such as comics and drama CDs.

Contents

Games

Hideo Kojima designed the original Metal Gear, which debuted in Japan and Europe in 1987 for the MSX2 computer platform.[1] A separate team created a heavily modified Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) port of the game that was released in Japan, North America and Europe.[2] Konami then produced a NES sequel titled Snake's Revenge—in whose development Kojima was again not involved—that was released in North America and Europe in 1990. One of that game's designers became acquainted with Kojima and asked him to create a "real Metal Gear sequel". In reaction, Kojima began development of Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, which was released in Japan in 1990 for the MSX2.[3][4]

Following Metal Gear 2's completion, Kojima worked on other projects before directing his third Metal Gear game, Metal Gear Solid, which was released for the PlayStation in 1998.[5][6] The success of Metal Gear Solid resulted in a series of sequels, prequels, spin-offs, ports and remakes for Microsoft Windows, the Game Boy Color, PlayStation 2, GameCube, Xbox, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable. The game was followed by Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox, and by the prequel Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater for the PlayStation 2.[7][8] These games were followed by a sequel to Snake Eater titled Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops, which was released for the PlayStation Portable in 2006.[9][10] The series' main storyline was concluded in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots for the PlayStation 3 in 2008.[11][12] The game featured a multiplayer spin-off called Metal Gear Online.[13] A remake of Metal Gear Solid called Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes was made for the Nintendo GameCube.[14] The latest game in the series is titled Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker for the PlayStation Portable, and is set shortly after the events from Portable Ops.[15][16]

Expanded re-releases of games in the series were produced as well, such as Integral (Metal Gear Solid), Substance (Metal Gear 2: Sons of Liberty), and Subsistence (Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater).[17][18][19][20] The series' portable instalments are usually set outside the main storyline. Metal Gear: Ghost Babel was released for the Game Boy Color, and several titles were released for Sony's PlayStation Portable. In a departure from the series' style, Metal Gear Acid and its sequel used turn-based strategy mechanics based on cards.[21][22]

On May 18, 2009, a teaser site for the following installment in the Metal Gear series was uploaded by Kojima Production.[23] The site has so far consisted of a series of countdowns leading to several flashing letters and the images of two characters looking like a middle-aged Big Boss and a cyborg Raiden. An article published in the July 2009 issue of Famitsu PSP + PS3 covers the content of the site and features an interview with Hideo Kojima.[24][25] The interview, revealing too many details, is heavily censored and was published that way as a request by Kojima, who is directing and designing the new game. Famitsu is to publish the full interview in its following issue.[26][27] The new game was eventually revealed to be Metal Gear Solid: Rising, which was announced on June 1, 2009 at E3, during the Microsoft Press Conference.[28]

At E3 2010, a demo entitled "Metal Gear Solid 3D: Snake Eater - The Naked Sample" was shown for the Nintendo 3DS. The official E3 Kojima site later released screenshots and official art for the demo.[29] Kojima did state however, that this was not a preview for a full game but just a sample of what could be done on the 3DS hardware.[30] Another mobile port of a previous released game was shown at Sony's PlayStation Meeting on January 27, 2011, where Hideo Kojima demonstrated a possible portable version of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots for the upcoming PlayStation Vita.[31]

On June 2, 2011 Konami announced the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection would be released in November 2011 for both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, which will include Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, and Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker. The collection will include high definition graphics, Trophies/Achievements, and remastered audio.[32][33] On August 15, 2011 UK retailer Zavvi secured the exclusive right to sell the Metal Gear Solid: Ultimate HD Collection only available for the PlayStation 3, which would be released on November 25.[34]

In November 2011, Kojima discussed with PlayStation Official Magazine (UK) the series' future commenting a future Metal Gear Solid 5 though further details have yet to be revealed.[35]

Storyline

Metal Gear series fictional chronology

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops
Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker
Metal Gear
Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake
Metal Gear Solid (The Twin Snakes)
Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty
Metal Gear Solid: Rising
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots

The nine games in the Metal Gear series continuity reveal a narrative that spans five decades. Of these nine titles, three are prequels set decades before the events of the original Metal Gear.

Plot

The first Metal Gear game for the MSX follows Solid Snake, a rookie member of the FOXHOUND special operations unit. He is sent by his superior Big Boss to the fictional South African fortress Outer Heaven, with the goal of finding the missing squad member Gray Fox and investigating a weapon known as Metal Gear. However, Big Boss is later revealed to be the leader of Outer Heaven. He fights Snake and, although he loses, Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake reveals Big Boss' survival. The two face off, with Snake once again achieving victory.

Metal Gear Solid elaborates on the storyline of the earlier games and reveals that Solid Snake is a genetic clone of Big Boss, created from a secret government project. A new antagonist is introduced in the form of Liquid Snake, Snake's long-lost twin brother who takes control of FOXHOUND after Snake's retirement. A third Snake brother known as Solidus Snake is introduced as the United States President at the end of Metal Gear Solid and serves as the main antagonist of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. The game is set several years after Liquid's death in Metal Gear Solid, and it puts the player in control of Raiden, a soldier who fights against Solidus.[36] Raiden joins forces with Snake, and later learns that they are all are being manipulated by Revolver Ocelot, a spy from a group known as The Patriots that controls the United States.

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, which is chronologically the first game in the series, introduces a younger version of Big Boss when he was under the codename Naked Snake during the Cold War.[37] The game focuses on the rise of Naked Snake from apprentice to legendary soldier as well as the downfall of his mentor and matriarchal figure The Boss whom he kills in a mission. The origins of Metal Gear, The Patriots, and the FOXHOUND unit are also explored in the game. Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops and Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker serve as direct sequels to Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater and follow Naked Snake's life until his decision to create Outer Heaven in reaction to the betrayal of his comrades in charge of The Patriots.[38] Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots is the latest title in the Metal Gear series as it follows an older Solid Snake who is still on his quest to find and defeat Ocelot. His objective later changes to destroying the artificial intelligences of The Patriots and stop their oppression. After he and his allies succeed, Snake decides to live out his life peacefully.

Tone and themes

The original Metal Gear, which was released in 1987 during the Cold War, dealt with the manipulation of soldiers by politicians of the East and West, countered by the concept of "Outer Heaven", a country without politics. Its sequel Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, which was released in 1990 at the end of the Cold War, expanded on this with themes regarding political intrigue, battlefield ethics, military history, and the negative effects of warfare.[39]

The overarching theme of the Metal Gear Solid series is that of the "gene, meme, scene and sense" and how people are affected by these factors according to the game's producer Kojima — Metal Gear Solid deals with genetics and the moral implications of genetic engineering, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty deals with how identity can be affected by the philosophies of one's society (a 'meme') and the effects of censorship on society, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater deals with how the time and place one lives in (a 'scene') affects their identity and how politics change along with the times, and Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots deals with the 'sense' that people die, things move on and times change, and that life should not be defined by fighting.[40] The games carry many implicit parallels to Nietzschean philosophy.[41]

Characters

From top to bottom, Big Boss, Liquid Snake and Solid Snake, three central characters in the Metal Gear series as drawn by Yoji Shinkawa.

In games, players control a character who has to infiltrate into his enemy's area alone to complete his mission.[42] Across the mission, the player receives assistance by a supporting team communicated by Codec. While the team tells the player hints about the mission, it also helps expand the characters through their interactions.[43] A common motif in the series is the use of powerful enemies. As games were released, new concepts were given to the bosses to make them innovative and notice their strength. As the first games used humans with supernatural abilities, for Metal Gear Solid 4, the staff decided to use monsters rather than humans as enemies.[44] A notable boss battle was The End from Metal Gear Solid 3 that was meant to differentiate it from all the other bosses in the franchise due to its strategic gameplay.[45] Another common motif has been the use of a character dressed as a cybernetic ninja. It started with Kyle Schneider in Metal Gear 2 and several other characters have imitated him.[46]

Much as Metal Gear began as a pastiche of action movies of the time, characters were pastiches of contemporary action movie heroes.[47] Ever since Metal Gear Solid characters have been designed by Yoji Shinkawa. Several of their real names and alliases are references to films that Kojima watched.[48][43] Because of the timeskip between titles, a few of the characters have been redesigned to fit in the game's year. With the improvements from new video games like the PlayStation and PlayStation 2, the staff gave the characters a more realistic look although they initially had doubts about it.[49] Kojima's thoughts regarding Snake's improved abilities by the time of Metal Gear Solid led to the concept of cloned characters who would be able to match him in combat.[44] By Metal Gear Solid 2, Kojima was inspired by the Sherlock Holmes novels to introduce a sidekick character in order to view Snake from a different perspective.[50] Although the series will continue after Metal Gear Solid 4, such title is Snake's final canonical appearance as Kojima does not want future developers to handle the character.[51][44]

Development

Hideo Kojima has been in charge of directing the Metal Gear games ever since the series' debut.

The first Metal Gear game was intended to be an action game that featured modern military combat. However, the MSX2's hardware limited the number of on-screen bullets and enemies, which Hideo Kojima felt impeded the combat aspect. Inspired by The Great Escape, he altered the gameplay to focus on a prisoner escaping.[52] In a series of articles written for Official PlayStation 2 Magazine, Hideo Kojima identified several Hollywood films as the primary sources of inspiration for the storylines and gameplay of the Metal Gear series. He further noted that the James Bond series is what influenced him the most regarding the creation of Metal Gear Solid.[53] The original plot has references to the nuclear war hysteria during the mid-1980s that resulted from the Cold War.[47] Following games would revolve around nuclear weapon inspections in Iraq and Iran, but such idea was left out due to growing concern regarding the political situation in the Middle East.[47] Other changes to the series were made in Metal Gear Solid 2 as a result of the September 11, 2001 attacks.[54]

After Metal Gear: Solid Snake, Kojima planned to release the third Metal Gear rehash in 1994 for the 3DO Interactive Multiplayer in 1994.[55] Besides changing the console, the game was renamed, and its subsequent sequels, were given the word "Solid" as the series started using 3D computer graphics.[56] Games since then were designed to be more realistic to further entertain the players.[57] Metal Gear Solid 3 was initially meant to be made for the PlayStation 3, but due to the long wait for PS3, the game was developed for the PlayStation 2 instead.[58] As previous game's settings were indoors areas due to difficulties with the consoles, ever since Metal Gear Solid 3, Kojima wished to drastically change it despite difficulties.[42][59] Since Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty had several plot points unresolved, it was originally meant to leave it to players to discuss them to come to their own conclusions.[60] This has led to consistency issues in the English version from Metal Gear Solid and Metal Gear Solid 2 as they mentioned plot elements that were further explored in Metal Gear Solid 4.[61]

Related media

Adaptations

A novel adaptation of the original Metal Gear was published in 1988 as a part of Scholastic's Worlds of Power line of novelizations, which were based on third-party NES games.[62] It was written by Alexander Frost. The novelization is not based on the game's official storyline, but rather on Konami of America's localization of the plot. The book takes further liberties by giving Solid Snake the name of Justin Halley, and by changing the name of Snake's unit from FOXHOUND to the "Snake Men". In Japan, a Metal Gear gamebook was published on March 31, 1988, shortly after the release of the game on the Famicom. It is set two years after the events of the original Metal Gear, and is part of the Konami Gamebook Series.[63] A novelization of Metal Gear Solid was published in 2008. It was written by Raymond Benson, the author of nine James Bond novels.[64] Benson also wrote a Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty novelization, which was published in 2009.[65] Critical reaction to Benson's novelizations has been generally positive, with Bookgasm.com writing that "Benson does a fine job translating the game to the page" with Metal Gear Solid,[66] and MishMashMagazine.com calling Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty "a great companion to the game".[67] A Japanese-language novelization of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots by Project Itoh was published on June 12, 2008.[68]

A radio drama based on the original Metal Gear Solid aired in Japan from 1998 to 1999 as part of Konami's syndicated clud DB program. Directed by Shuyo Murata and written by Motosada Mori, the serial lasted over 12 weekly installments spanning three story arcs. The series was later collected as a two-volume set.[69][70] The series serves as an alternate continuation to the events of Shadow Moses, with Solid Snake, Meryl Silverburgh, Mei Ling and Roy Campbell going on further missions as FOXHOUND operatives (Mei Ling and Meryl are depicted wearing a battle dress uniform and a sneaking suit respectively), although the stories are not considered part of the mainstream Metal Gear canon. The Japanese voice actors from the game reprised their roles for the series, while new characters are introduced as well.

A comic book adaptation of the original Metal Gear Solid was published by IDW Publishing in 2004. It was written by Kris Oprisko and with illustrations by Ashley Wood. The series lasted 24 issues and has been collected in two trade paperbacks as well as a single hardback collector's edition which is currently out-of-print. The entire run of the comic was collected again in a paperback book titled Metal Gear Solid Omnibus and released on June 2010.[71] A comic book adaptation of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty has also been published by IDW, written by Alex Garner with illustrations by Ashley Wood. A digital version of the first comic book adaptation was released for the PlayStation Portable titled Metal Gear Solid: Digital Graphic Novel in 2006. A second digital version, titled Metal Gear Solid 2: Bande Dessinée, was released exclusively in Japan as a DVD release in 2008 and features fully voiced versions of both comic book adaptations. All the Japanese voice actors from the games reprised their roles with the exception of those that have died.

Several promotional DVDs have been released detailing the Metal Gear series. Metal Gear Saga vol. 1 was released in 2006 as a pre-order disc for MGS3: Subsistence. It is divided into five chapters, each dealing with one game of the then five-part Metal Gear series in chronological order (beginning with MGS3), and each include discussions by Hideo Kojima.[72] Metal Gear Saga vol. 2 was first shown at the 20th Metal Gear Anniversary Party, and then released as a pre-order disc for MGS4. In this, the video is presented as a pseudo-documentary about Solid Snake and is divided into a prologue and four chapters: Naked Snake-the birth of Snake (chronicling the events of MGS3, MG1, and MG2), Liquid Snake-the second snake (MGS), Solidus Snake-the third Snake (MGS2) and Solid Snake-the first Snake (setting the stage for MGS4).[73]

Film

In May 2006 Metal Gear series creator Hideo Kojima announced that a film adaptation of Metal Gear Solid was in development. The film was purported to be in English, said to be released some time in 2011.[74] Kojima also announced at the Electronic Entertainment Expo later that month that he had negotiated a contract with a party in Hollywood to adapt the video game into a film.[75] Kojima also considered Alaska as the site of the film production, due to the game's setting in the state.[76] David Hayter, the English voice actor for Solid Snake, had submitted his take for the movie but executives have passed on his script.[77] Kojima also denied claims that German director Uwe Boll was a possible contender to direct a Metal Gear film.[78]

Producer Michael DeLuca has expressed interest in having Equilibrium director Kurt Wimmer write the script for the movie. Later on Kurt Wimmer was opted to direct the movie adaptation.[79] However, Wimmer will not take part in the directing for the film. He was only approached to pitch a take on adapting the Metal Gear Solid franchise.[80] Konami's Aki Saito had commented that There Will Be Blood director Paul Thomas Anderson was interested,[81] but DeLuca dismissed the claim. According to an interview in Nuts Magazine actor Christian Bale is interested in playing Solid Snake in the film,[82] during an interview for Public Enemies, he stated that he has not been approached for the role.[83]

However, on January 11, 2010, de Luca confirmed that work on a Metal Gear film adaptation has been postponed indefinitely. He said Konami expressed concern that the entire Metal Gear franchise could be seriously affected if a movie version performed poorly.[84][85]

Additionally, a non-profit fanfilm titled Metal Gear Solid: Philanthropy, was produced. The film is set in 2007 and somewhere before or after the events of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. The movie was well received by fans and also by Hideo Kojima, who said, after being asked by a fan if he had seen the movie, "Of course I did. It's awesome. I felt like crying for their love towards Metal Gear. It's also a well made movie. I can't wait to see next part."[86][87]

Toys

In 1999, McFarlane Toys, with the collaboration of Konami, launched a series of action figures depicting key characters from Metal Gear Solid.[88] In 2001, following the success of the first series, and with the release of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, McFarlane Toys and Konami combined their efforts to produce a line of action figures depicting Sons of Liberty's main characters. Each character has a piece of Metal Gear RAY, so collecting the entire set is essential to build the robot.[89]

Konami has also released 4" scale blind-box figures based on MGS2 released in Japan, Sons of Liberty in 2002 and Substance shortly after in 2003; the Substance series was eventually brought to the US and UK markets packaged on card rather than blind boxed. During the release of MGS3, Medicom released 12" figures of Snake as part of their Real Action Heroes line. Medicom continued to support the franchise with the release of Kubrick figures for Snake Eater and Guns of the Patriots, which also included seven- and 12-inch versions of the game's characters.

Square Enix also joined the production of toys based on the series by creating replicas of the boss vehicles and characters from Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker. The toys, which are from Square's Play Arts Kai line were released in 2010.[90][91]

Soundtracks

Soundtracks for the first two games were produced by Iku Mizutani, Shigehiro Takenouchi and Motoaki Furukawa. For Metal Gear Solid, Kojima wanted "a full orchestra right next to the player"; a system which made modifications such as tempo and texture to the currently playing track, instead of switching to another pre-recorded track. Although these features could not be achieved at that time, they were implemented in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty.[92] Hideo Kojima chose Harry Gregson-Williams, a Hollywood film composer from Hans Zimmer's studio, as the composer for Metal Gear Solid 2 was highly publicized in the run-up to the game's release.[93] Gregson-Williams would reprise his role in Metal Gear Solid 3 and Metal Gear Solid 4.[94] Starting with Metal Gear Solid, theme songs have been provided by popular artists such as Rika Muranaka.[95] Several soundtracks based on the games have also been published.

Reception and legacy

Aggregate review scores
As of August 14, 2011.
Game GameRankings Metacritic
Metal Gear
Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake
Metal Gear Solid 93.75% (PS)[96]
84.22% (PC)[97]
94 (PS)[98]
83 (PC)[99]
Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes 85.46%[100] 85[101]
Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty 95.04%[102] 96[103]
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater 91.91%[104] 91[105]
Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops 86.95%[106] 87[107]
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots 93.56%[108] 94[109]
Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker 88.75%[110] 89[111]
Metal Gear Solid: Rising

The Metal Gear franchise has achieved great success, selling more than 30 million copies as of early 2011.[112] Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty shipped over 7 million copies worldwide,[113] and is followed in sales by Metal Gear Solid with over six million and Metal Gear Solid 4 with five million.[113][114] According to Chart-Track, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots was the second fastest-selling PlayStation 3 title in the United Kingdom after Grand Theft Auto IV.[115] The PlayStation Portable games were met with notably lower sales, but it has been analyzed that this was because of the low sales of the console when the games were released.[116]

Several games have been critically acclaimed by critics with Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty receiving a score of 95.04% in GameRankings and a 96% in Metacritic.[102][103] In 2002 IGN's editors ranked it as the best PlayStation game ever.[117] In Game Informer Magazine's list of top 200 games of all time, Metal Gear Solid 2 ranked at #50 on the list.[118] Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater was also voted as fifth greatest PlayStation title ever released in a poll from PlayStation Official Magazine (UK).[119] Metal Gear Solid and Metal Gear Solid 2, will be featured in the Smithsonian American Art Museum's "The Art of Video Games" exhibition, taking place from 16 March to 30 September 2012.[120] Metal Gear Solid is often recognized as one of the key titles involved in popularizing the stealth game genre with the player starting the game unarmed.[121] Several boss fights have been praised for their variety and strategy required to beat them.[122][123] The series has been notorious for its fourth wall breaking scenes.[124][122] The storyline was commented to give characters "rich characterization" as well as to touch several controversial themes.[125][39] Hideo Kojima's ambitious script in Metal Gear Solid 2 has been praised, some even calling it the first example of a postmodern video game.[126][127][128][129] Cutscenes have often been praised for its graphics and stunts the characters perform.[130][131] Nevertheless, a common criticism was the scenes' length which tend to last for a long time as well as some parts from the storyline.[132][133] Raiden's unexpected introduction in Metal Gear Solid 2 due to his lack of appearances in the games' trailers and how he replaces fan-favorite character Solid Snake have been deemed as one of the most controversial parts from the entire series.[134][135]

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