Op-Ed: The legacy of ‘Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater’ ten years later – 11/21/2014

A young Big Boss in 'Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater'

A young Big Boss in ‘Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater’

Ten years ago on November 17, ‘Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater’ was released for the PlayStation 2 and it truly demonstrated the storytelling craft of video games.

The game started as a way for Hideo Kojima to make amends with fans who were outraged over the bait and switch of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. At the same time the success of Vietcong had started a temporary fad of creating military games set in jungle environments.

Not wanting to settle for a game that panders to popularity, Kojima crafted an origin story that explores the political atmosphere and pop-culture of the 1960s. From the start the players is given a quick history lesson on the Cold War while the opening credits feature a theme song that pays homage to the James Bond films.

The year is 1964; tensions on the world stage are high as the rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union threatens the peace of the world. At the same time the leadership of Nikita Khrushchev is being threaten by Colonel Volgin, who is plotting to replace him with Leonid Brezhnev. In the midst of all this, the Fox Unit commences the Virtuous Mission with the goal of bringing Dr. Nikolai Sokolov to the West.

A young Special Forces operative code named Naked Snake is deployed to find Dr. Sokolov. Everything goes according to plan until it’s unveiled that The Boss, the Mother of the Special Forces and Snake’s mentor, has defected to the Soviet Union. To make matter worse; a research facility is destroyed in a nuclear attack that was perpetrated by Colonel Volgin using the Davy Crockett.

As a result the world has on verge of a possible war between the United States and the Soviet Union. The only way to avoid a nuclear war is for Naked Snake to embark on a journey that will push him to the limits as he is tasked with eliminating The Boss. It is out of the tragic ashes of Operation Snake Eater will rise the legacy of Big Boss.

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater was universally praised by both gamers and critics for raising the bar with a thought-provoking story that explored several passionate themes while redefining the stealth genre. Ten years later it has been hailed as one of the greatest PlayStation 2 games while its story has been praised as one of the most memorable in gaming.

It’s one of the few PlayStation 2 games that have survived the test of time as several ports only updated the graphics while keeping the original content. What has made Snake Eater standout is the revolutionary gameplay it introduced and the moral themes it explored.

The gameplay broke from the traditional setup featured in stealth action as the jungle environment presented a new opportunity. It was not just about avoiding detection, but a focus on jungle survival and overcoming natural obstacles. The character had to be fed and have his medical needs attended to or it would be difficult to continue. This laid the foundation for other titles that included survival in the gameplay mechanism.

The story has been a memorable one because the game explores the themes of unquestioned patriotism and its consequences along with the bound of a mother and son.

The consequences of unquestioned patriotism is the most significant due to its role in American politics during the Cold War. McCarthyism banished the concept of questioning authority while unchallenged obedience to the government dominated the political landscape. For her country, The Boss is forced to make several life changing sacrifices, including killing her lover. In the end she was asked to defect to the Soviet Union than killed by her protege for being a “traitor.”

It’s after the success of Operation Snake Eater that Snake learns the truth. He then questions his own patriotism after his mentor was tossed to the wolves by the country she swore to defend. This sets in motion Big Boss turning his back on America that will reach to a major boiling point following the events of Ground Zeros.

The bond of a mother and son is also a very powerful theme explored during the events of Operation Snake Eater. Snake is consistently at odds with his mission of eliminating The Boss due to their past history that has created a relationship similar to that between a mother and child. Like a mother; she nurtured him as they have fought in combat together while being a major influences on his character.

This relationship and its challenges are best demonstrated when The Boss is able to easily subdue Snake on multiple occasions. It may appear that he lacks the skill, but in truth is he is unable to bring himself to hurt his mother figure. Snake is finally able to defeat her after overcoming his emotions but at a cost to his principles.

It’s because of these powerful themes that made the story of Snake Eater an emotional, driven work of art. Rarely had a video game had a story that would emotionally impact the player like Kojima’s did.

Finally, one should not overlook the musical score that was composed Harry Gregson-Williams. It’s a mix of some new sounds along with a familiar composition that helps build the dramatic tension in the story.

Looking back 10 years after its release, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater is truly one of the most magnificent works of digital art. As gamers await the release of The Phantom Pain, the story of how it all began will be a true testament to the power of story telling in the context of a video game.

Written for Digital Journal 
11/17/2014
Original Article: Op-Ed: The legacy of ‘Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater’ ten years later

Noriega’s lawsuit over ‘Call of Duty: Black Ops II’ dismissed – 10/31/2014

A judge in California ruled to dismiss Manuel Noriega lawsuit against Activsion for using his name and likeness without his consent in ‘Call of Duty: Black Ops II.’

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge, William H. Fahey, ruled to dismiss the lawsuit because it violated Activsion’s right to free speech and the states anti-SLAPP laws. Court documents noted several similar cases in the past to support Activsion’s claim while also making note of the atrocities committed by Noriega when he was dictator of Panama.

Activision lead console and former New York Mayor, Rudy Giuliani, statedin a press release, This was an absurd lawsuit from the very beginning and we’re gratified that in the end, a notorious criminal didn’t win. This is not just a win for the makers of Call of Duty, but is a victory for works of art across the entertainment and publishing industries throughout the world.

The former dictator filed the lawsuit against Activsion for using his name and likeness without consent in Call of Duty: Black Ops II. Noriega appears as a minor villain who helps a terrorist escape than is hunted by the main character during Operation Just Cause.

Will Fulton of Digital Trend noted that ruling could set precedent for Lindsy Lohan’s lawsuit against Rockstar Games. The actress is suing over the appearance of a character in Grand Theft Auto V which she claims was based on her likeness without consent.

Call of Duty: Black Ops II is the ninth game in the series and was released on November 13, 2012 for the PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. The game focus on a father and son in the special forces as they hunt a terrorist starting from the Cold War circa 1980s up until the near future.

Written for Digital Journal 
10/31/2014
Original ArticleNoriega’s lawsuit over ‘Call of Duty: Black Ops II’ dismissed

Review: ‘F.E.A.R. Online’ brings the horror icon to the multiplayer world – 10/27/2014

FEAROnline

The concept of a free-to-play multiplayer game based on the iconic horror shooter may at first feel difficult to comprehend, but ‘F.E.A.R. Online’ is able to capture the series essence in an online environment.

Following the destruction of the Origin Facility in the first game, Fairpoint City has been overrun by demonic creatures led by Alma Wade while the Armacham Technology Corporation (ATC) is trying to cover up its involvement with an army of mercenaries. The government response by deploying the Task Force to eliminate the demonic presence and recover evidence of ATC’s involvement.

Its hard to imagine how a MMO game could be developed given the fact that the F.E.A.R. series was more of a single player game. To overcome this obstacle, the devlopment team created a Co-Op game with a story that runs parallel to the events of F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin.

The Co-Op missions are several different scenarios where up to five players must complete a series of objectives while battling swarms of Abominations along with squads of Replica soldiers or ATC mercenaries. The players start by achieving simple tasks (like bomb defusing) but as they progress more challenging tasks need to be accomplished.

However, no multiplayer game is complete without featuring classic modes like team deathmatch.

Players will earn experience after each game which will help them level up and gain access to new weapons. They will also earn points that can be used to purchase new weapons and gear or customize what they already have.

Unfortunately the game has a few issues that keep it from being perfect but they are flaws that can be overlooked. The biggest problem is how often it tries to milk the player to pay for gear or characters that could be used for a limited time.

Gamers can earn or purchase gear with points, but they have time limits on how long it can be used before it has to be repurchased. However, the need to purchase gear will not interfere with the overall playing experiences as a real gamer would not need to waste money on such trivial novelties.

One problem that is out of the developers’ hand is the community’s obsession with team deathmatch. Despite its amazing co-op gameplay, its hard to find or start a game due to the lack of players. However it’s real easy to find a game of deathmatch with plenty of players available to play.

Death match is fun but the co-op story offers gamers such a unique experience that it’s a real disappointment that many prefer to play the same deathmatch that could be found in every other multiplayer shooter.

Just in time for Halloween; F.E.A.R. Online is not only one of the best free-to-play shooters but also an ideal follow-up to one of the most iconic horror games of the Seventh Generation era.

Final Score: 4/5

Written for Digital Journal 
10/27/2014
Original ArticleReview: ‘F.E.A.R. Online’ brings the horror icon to the multiplayer world

Op-Ed: Capcom needs to stop forcing co-op into every Resident Evil game – 9/8/2014

resident-evil-logo

According to the details gathered by GamesMaster, ‘Resident Evil: Revelations 2’ is suppose to continue the style of its predecessor and return the series to its horror survival roots.

For devoted fans of the series this has been promising news as many have felt the series has abandoned its horror survival roots for a more action orientated game that is trying to tap into the Call of Duty fan-base.

Resident Evil 5 was a commercial success while many were disappointed over its heavy dependence on the action concept. Its success was followed by the train wreck of a game that was called Resident Evil 6, which was panned by gamers and most critics. Capcom attributed the failure of Resident Evil 6 along with several other games to their core fans being too old, an insult that was meet with a massive backlash from the gaming community.

Flash forward to the Summer and Capcom announced that an HD remake of Resident Evil was in the works and set to be released in 2015 for all major consoles. Along with the announcement of Resident Evil: Revelations 2, it appears that Capcom is actually listing to its fans and it could be rewarding in the years to come.

However there is a “but” to the news and that is the fact that Resident Evil: Revelations 2 will also feature co-op gameplay. Despite its efforts to take notes from the fans, Capcom still has an obsession with shoehorning co-op into every Resident Evil game.

Its understandable that Capcom does not want to churn the same game every year while looking for new ways to innovate the series, but forcing co-op into a game has not worked out all to well for them. Go onto any forum and its easy to see that gamers have despised the shoehorned co-op feature

Resident Evil 6 being the obvious example of how the co-op system was an utter failure in innovating while its feature in other the games was ignored by players. Unless its included as a side-game, Capcom is better just abandoning the concept of co-op in future Resident Evil games.

Resident Evil has always been the inspiration for horror games but major titles in the last few years have not been trying to force co-op onto the player. Dead Space and Alan Wake did not have to shoehorn co-op to be successful while the upcoming Alien Isolation is more focused the player trying to survive the horror scenario.

If Capcom is really interested in expanding the Resident Evil universe to the multiplayer world than it would be better to develop an open world MMORPG set in Raccoon City. The game could take inspiration from Grand Theft Auto: Online and DayZ while in the context of the Resident Evil universe.

Capcom is on the right path to restoring the series to its horror survival root but if it hopes for Resident Evil to be the example for other games to follow than they really need to abandon the concept of co-op in future titles.

Written for Digital Journal 
09/8/2014
Original Article: Op-Ed: Capcom needs to stop forcing co-op into every Resident Evil game

Op-Ed: ‘Metal Gear Solid’ should not be remade – 8/24/2014

MGS

In this age of remakes, reboots and re-imaginings; it needs to be noted that not all classic works of the cultural arts 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 example was the duel 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 battle against Revolver Ocelot is memorable because its suppose to require the player to think before acting. Meanwhile The Twin Snakes made it into a simple boss 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 Digital Journal 
08/24/2014
Original Article: Op-Ed: ‘Metal Gear Solid’ should not be remade

New ‘Silent Hill’ being developed by Kojima and del Toro – 08/12/2014

Silent Hill
Sony unveiled at Gamescom 2014 that a new ‘Silent Hill’ game is in the works and it’s being developed by horror icon Guillermo del Toro along side gaming icon Hideo Kojima.

It was first reported back in 2012 that Konami asked Kojima to create a new Silent Hill game, which he accepted.

The game was being promoted by Sony as “P.T.” before the gameplay teaser was unveiled it to be a new Silent Hill. The hour-long teaser features a character exploring the setting in a first-person perspective before revealing that del Toro and Kojima are responsible for this project.

At the end it’s revealed that the main character is played by Norman Reedus, from The Walking Dead. Not much details about the game is known other than it will be titled Silent Hills and that it’s being developed using the Fox Engine.

News of a Silent Hill game being created del Toro and Kojima has surprised the media while having gotten the attention of the gaming community. Gamers voiced their support for Silent Hills and welcomed collaboration between the two icons.

Many should have suspected that del Toro and Kojima were working on a project after two were seen hangout together at Comic-Con 2014.

With del Toro now working on Silent Hill, its unknown if his previous horror game is still in development or has it been cancelled. It was unveiled back in 2010 that he was working on inSANE but the project was put on hold after THQ went bankrupt.

Silent Hill is a horror survival series known for its eerie tone and for having help establish the genre alongside Resident Evil. The series focus on the supernatural forces that haunt a small town and the people connected to the evil presence.

Written for Digital Journal 
08/12/2014
Original Article: New ‘Silent Hill’ being developed by Kojima and del Toro

‘Grand Theft Auto: Online’ mod allows players to rape others – 8/12/2014

gta-v

‘Grand Theft Auto: Online’ may have been developed to allow gamers to build their own criminal empire online, but some may have take it too far by developing a mod that allows players to rape others.

This mod was developed and used by a few players trying to “troll” the games online community and is not connected or endorsed by Rockstar Games.

The mod allows the player to manipulate their character and the environment to allow them to force themselves onto other innocent players in a very sexual manner. To develop such a mod would require a player to tamper with the game engine, which could get a player banned from the servers if caught.

News of the mod was first reported by players on Reddit with the username, mrerikmattila, who reported having such an encounter with a player named DEEPER_IN_DA_ASS. The user further elaborated the encounter with Patrica Hernandez of Kotaku.

Hernandez elaborates that while such encounter are rare, there have been videos found on YouTube showing hackers sexually assaulting other players in the game. She also hints that Rockstar may need to do another round of house cleaning to crackdown on hackers who tamper with the game engine.

News of the mod has repulsed many gamers who find it to be distasteful and disturbed by the fact some one took the time to make such a program. One user stated on Kotaku, “What the hell kind of person starts playing GTA and thinks, “I wonder how I can make these characters rape each other?” Worse, what kind of person then dedicates actual time and effort to making this a reality?”

Grand Theft Auto V was released on September 17 and it has been highly praised by critics as one of the greatest games developed for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Grand Theft Auto: Online is the multiplayer feature and it went live two weeks after the games launch.

Written for Digital Journal 
08/12/2014
Original Article: ‘Grand Theft Auto: Online’ mod allows players to rape others