I’m going to agree with you that 1998 was one of the greatest year for game release, though in hindsight it’s not a as huge of a surprise, nor was it that 2007 proved to be a huge leap. The fact of the matter is that while games are just as valid a medium for ideas and feelings and whatever the hell else we want to include in them as well as sheer unadulterated play, one thing that separates them from other forms is how big a role technology plays in their creation.
Every now and then, we get a year where great games are bountiful and formative. 2011 was great. 2007 was better. 1998 was the best (I’m willing to hear an argument for 2007, but I’m not sure I’m ready to forgive Portal for the flood of puzzle-platformers that followed). 1998 gave us Resident Evil 2, Suikoden II, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Half-Life, Grim Fandango, Baldur’s Gate, Star Craft, Pokemon Red & Blue, Banjo Kazooie, Star Wars: Rogue Squadron, and, of course, Metal Gear Solid.
I’ll get to the the intro credits in a minute, but you touched on something that I suddenly can’t stop thinking about: the scene with Gustava in the sewer. You’re right, it isn’t necessarily cinematic. But as you so terribly put it, it isn’t very gamematic (you won’t be thrown off the site, but there will be some kind of punishment for that one…) either. Time stops for a moment down in the sewer. There is a quiet moment that I couldn’t help but feel on a strange emotional, maybe even physical level. Snake and Gustava slump against the walls as they wait for Madner and the whole scene feels tired and drained. The dialogue itself is fairly forgettable, but the delivery is unlike anything I’ve seen in a game before.
To: Blake Foley From: Sean Gandert Subject: RE: The Phantom Sequel Theoretically, I would always have games make an attempt at telling their stories through gameplay—after all, that’s why we’re here, right? Playing through a story is different from reading through it or watching it, and we want games to reflect this fact. I sit […]
The inventory in Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before in a video game, and I think you are on to something when you compare it to an adventure game. In many cases, it is almost as if Kojima and his team thought of the items in your inventory as the actual objects they were meant to represent, defying typical game logic. At first it was puzzling why I kept finding different types of rations in the game with different contents. They seemed functionally the same, and initially I chalked their existence up to Kojima just being Kojima, but later I discovered that the contents of the rations actually matter. As silly as it might be that the chocolate bar in one ration can neutralize acid that otherwise kills you instantly, it again helps to make the world of Metal Gear feel real. A ration isn’t just a thing that you use to heal; it is cheese and chocolate.
To: Blake Foley From: Sean Gandert Subject: RE: The Phantom Sequel Dear Blake, So if Metal Gear 2 isn’t just more of the same, then the question I have to ask is, “What is it?” Obviously there’s not just one answer to this question, but I think the bigger aspects of what changed during just […]
To: Sean Gandert From: Blake Foley Subject: The Phantom Sequel Dear Sean, As we head into Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, I thought it would be worthwhile to take a brief look back at its history. Sequels generally follow two trajectories. They’re either A) a near carbon copy of the original with a new story, […]
From: Blake Foley To: Sean Gandert Subject: RE: Stop the Operation. Switch off Your MSX at Once. Man, Bioshock’s twist… I really hate that it is THE twist in video games, and I equally hate the popular video game trope that it’s built upon. Bioshock’s twist is a classic “gotcha” that a lot of games […]
Codec Logs is a retrospective Metal Gear letter series by Blake Foley and Sean Gandert. An index of the letters can be found here. From: Sean Gandert To: Blake Foley Subject: Stop the Operation. Switch off Your MSX at Once. Let’s start with the big twist: does Big Boss’s turn at the end of the […]