Codec Logs: Don’t worry, it’s a game! It’s a game just like usual.



To: Sean Gandert
From: Blake Foley
Subject: RE: Our boy is right on schedule. He’ll know soon enough…

What do we call the Metal Gear universe? The word “Nanomachineverse” immediately came to mind. While I find that a little funny, the whole “everything is nanomachines” meme is a little played out at this point and has never actually sat well with me. Don’t get me wrong. As we get into the later parts of the Metal Gear timeline you WILL find that many series mysteries are resolved with nano-technology, but I end up feeling like the nanomachine joke is mostly there for people to crack wise when Kojima has strayed from what they feel the franchise should be. 


Metal Gear Solid was most people’s first introduction into the franchise. On its surface, you play as, to quote Dan Ryckert, “A cool guy doing cool guy stuff.” Kojima’s subversion of those tropes was lost on a lot of fans, including myself. It wasn’t until I played Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty that I started to understand that something else was going on in Kojima’s games. It wouldn’t be until years later that I really started to grasp the depth of Kojima’s vision. 

I read your letter yesterday, and you mentioned that you weren’t finished with the game. Thanks to a text message you sent me last night, I know exactly how far you are. 

I really should have been keeping these texts…

You found the president… 

Now, you’ve already clearly grasped that things aren’t as they seem in Metal Gear Solid 2. Certain things don’t sit right. Other things just feel… off. At its launch, Kojima’s big surprise protagonist switch left many players reeling, and I’d go so far as to say that playing as Raiden provided an adequate distraction for just how strange the game really is up until you meet the president.

Kojima really has a knack for predicting the future… what comes next is no exception…

I won’t hit send on this until I’m sure you’ve finished MGS2. What comes next in the game was/is too much for some fans and I’m curious how it will sit with you. Earlier I mentioned fans talking about what Metal Gear Solid should be, and people mainly fall into two main camps—those that embrace what is going on in 2 and those that want their Metal Gear Solid to be about Solid Snake being a cool dude. A third group exists, but I’ll get to them in a little bit. We’re not quite there yet, but you’ll see that Kojima even acknowledges this dichotomy at the very start of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater


I don’t intend for this to sound like I am talking down to the second camp of fans—the camp that wants the series to mostly be a series of action tropes. I can see why they are drawn to that. There is a perception that cool dude action is mindless and that it is something a million games already do, but it can’t be denied that Kojima does cool dude action better than almost anybody else in games. His love for film—notably the action genre—runs deep in the Metal Gear franchise and he is pulling from some of the very best. You’re the film guy and I’m sure you have a much deeper well to draw parallels from, but it is clear that Kojima is moreso channeling things like Escape from New York than he is The Expendables. It is easy to posit that fans who want Metal Gear Solid to stick to its more action tropey roots are the type of people that want more films like The Expendables, but I think that’s doing this perspective a disservice. Metal Gear Solid is a hell of a game that somehow gets pretty weird while staying very mainstream. Metal Gear Solid works on a variety of levels, and that is what makes it so appealing to so many fans. 

Enter Metal Gear Solid 2—a game that is exponentially more challenging. I’m not talking about difficulty, but instead subject matter. A lot has been theorized and written about what the game is all about, postmodernism etc… but regardless of what Kojima was actually doing with MGS2, it asks A LOT from its players. The introduction sets up everything that a sequel to Metal Gear Solid “should” be. Solid Snake is at it again with his Otacon at his side. There is a new Metal Gear out there and he is going to be the hero and save the day. The Tanker is a showcase of everything the new engine can do—weather, shadows, animation, destructive environments, first person shooting, improved enemy pathing, and melting ice (MELTING ICE!). The tone is set with David Hayter’s gruff voice. The environments—while in an entirely different part of the world—still feel comfortably similar to Shadow Moses. Players buckled up for a new Solid Snake adventure no longer limited by last generation’s hardware. Then, just as they’re starting to get the feel of all of this and are really anticipating the rest of the adventure they’re hit with something pretty weird and hard to digest—even by Metal Gear standards. Liquid Snake has taken over Revolver Ocelot’s body. Before they can even full process THAT, they fast forward two years… Many players felt betrayed by what came next and Kojima definitely wasn’t done toying with player expectations. 

So yeah, I can’t be mad at people that don’t want what Metal Gear Solid 2 is. Sometimes you just want what you want. But like you said… I like Southland Tales… 

I mentioned a third camp earlier. That camp is influenced most by what you are on the cusp of in the game. You’re about to dive headfirst into not just shadow governments, but the notion that the whole Big Shell section of the game was an elaborate simulation constructed as a test/training exercise by The Patriots. You’re about to learn Otacon’s dark secret that his father drowned in the family swimming pool while he was knocking boots with his stepmother. His sister almost died, too! You’re about to learn that the POTUS grabs people in the crotch as an opening gesture. The Colonel is an AI! Rose is an AI! “I need scissors! 61!” You will sword fight the former POTUS—cosplaying as Doc Oc from Spider-Man—on the roof of Federal Hall. I can keep going, but I think I’ve made enough of my point. Metal Gear Solid 2 is a weird game throughout, but it gets overtly weird in the last act. The third camp tends to look at this—and much of Kojima’s later work—and say “Kojima just likes being weird for the sake of being weird.”


I don’t believe that is true. In fact, I find that response incredibly aggravating. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think everything Kojima does sticks the landing, but I do think it is done with purpose. A lot of his decisions are based on his personal politics. Some are based on an exploration of the medium. Others are asking philosophical questions. Sometimes his decisions are based on the fact that he is a horny man that enjoys some toilet humor. Other times, he just thinks something is cool. But he is not random. Self-indulgent? God yes. But not random. 

You mentioned Kojima quitting after this Metal Gear. There are times throughout the series where he more definitively quit than others—particularly between 3 and 4— but it is my understanding that he was prepared for each Metal Gear to be his last. There might be more official records out there, but I myself can only speculate as to why he came back each time. My guess is that it was likely the only way he could continue to make AAA games while still exploring complex themes and ideas. Konami wasn’t likely going to greenlight a new IP with a Metal Gear Solid budget, so Kojima kept coming back to Metal Gear and used each new game to explore whatever he was into at the time. I think his willingness to retcon his previous stories is some evidence of this. 

So… with that said. I think the only thing we can call this universe is… prepare to be underwhelmed! The… Kojimaverse! I have my reasons. Stick with me a little bit longer here. 


We hit a rut with this series. Some of it was life and some of it was lack of inspiration. Then the latest Death Stranding trailer dropped along with a release date. I think we both got inspired at that point. Everything we’ve seen for Death Stranding is unmistakably Kojima. With a tangible release date—and the reveal of Die Hardman—we’re both excited to see what Kojima can do free from Konami and free from Metal Gear Solid

You love PT and you were excited for Silent Hills. You weren’t alone. I’ve spent hours watching fans try and connect it all on YouTube. I think the point I’m trying to make with the “Kojimaverse” is that it doesn’t matter what game Kojima is making. Metal Gear kind of wound up just being another medium for telling his stories. P.T., Silent Hills, and Death Stranding are just different wrappings for them.

I have no doubt that Kojima has a lot of love for the Metal Gear universe, and it is a shame that he likely will never get to return to it. I just don’t think that much was actually lost. Fans of Metal Gear Solid 2 will continue to get more of what made the game so memorable. Fans of the original Metal Gear Solid? They might be out of luck…

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