Metal Gear {Essay} I: Tactical Espionage Action

Game x Cinema

Metal Gear Solid (1998), first and foremost, is the brainchild of a cinephile. Hideo Kojima, the game’s director and primary writer, shares a foundational kinship to the realm of cinema, blending its genres, tropes and scenery into his games in innovative and intriguing ways. He based the core stealth gameplay of his initial installment in the Metal Gear series, Metal Gear (1987), upon the sneaking scenes in The Great Escape (1963). The series’ protagonist, Solid Snake — sometimes referred to as ‘Iroquois Pliskin’ — is named after Kurt Russell’s one-eyed badass Snake Plissken from Escape from New York (1981). Raised on the action and sci-fi cinema of the 60s, 70s, and 80s, all of his works reflect such cinematic influence. Through everything from direct references (The Deer Hunter bandana, 2001’s ‘Dave’ and ‘Hal’), to the design of the gameplay and its characters (James Bond-style lairs and villainy), to the style and flash of its intervening cinematic cutscenes, Metal Gear Solid’s DNA is sown inextricably, lovingly with that of the pantheon of cinema.

Military-Industrial Complex x Anime

The premise for Metal Gear Solid’s narrative:

Ethos of a Soldier x Actions as a Pawn

In one of Solid Snake’s first lines in the game, he describes himself as a “pawn.” As you progress through the game’s events, challenges, and twists, more of his personality and perspective are revealed. This cynical view of his role, however, permeates his whole person. And there is truth to it.

Solid Snake
~ Solid Snake vs. Frank Jaeger ~ art source
Snake and Meryl
~ art by Yoji Shinkawa
Snake and Otacon
https://youtu.be/6WZHpPaWTm0
~ art by Dave Rapoza!

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