The end is near.
I make no qualms in saying that I genuinely love Metal Gear. I could reasonably say my love for the series was at its peak around the time 4 came out and its leadup, but there’s no question in my eyes it’s still a series I hold near and dear to me, for better or worse.
I never played Metal Gear Solid at the time of its release or afterwards in 1999, only getting as close as an OPM demo disc. I wouldn’t play and finish the full version of MGS1 for the first time until 2009. I only finished the game for the second time just last month (each time getting the different endings – first time, Meryl and then Otacon last month).
But it all began properly 13-and-a-half years ago: Metal Gear Solid 2’s European launch day in March 2002. The one thing that sold me on the game? Not the E3 trailers, not the whole Raiden deception, nothing. Matter of fact, I hadn’t seen or heard anything of the game up until launch. The one thing that made me want to buy the game, or at least convince my mum to then give my 22-year old sister to buy her 11 year old brother a rated 15 BBFC game at the nearby Xtra-Vision, was a vain one: the cover artwork done by Yoji Shinkawa. Although as vain reasons go, it’s a pretty good one considering Shinkawa’s amazing art skills.
I wouldn’t realise until years later how much MGS2 meant to me, my first mature game so to speak. But I was hooked, even if Arsenal Gear was something I really shouldn’t have seen as a 11 year old thanks to how creepy the Colonel is with ‘I need scissors’ and actual skullface Codec calls. I’d pinpoint from the first time you see the Ninja after beating Fatman to then being ambushed and taken into Arsenal Gear – about five hours worth of gametime there – as the moment I was in.
But then, there was Metal Gear Solid 3. I’ve already written at length earlier this year about it and how much that game means to me, not only from a professional perspective but also on a pure personal meaning following events last year, so I won’t go on too long about it here. But I will say that I am absolutely not exaggerating when I say MGS3 defined who I am. It genuinely changed my life.
Metal Gear Solid 4 was – and still to this day – the most excited I’ve ever been for any other game in my life. Although I can definitely see complaints it’s the weakest game of the series, I actually personally prefer it over MGS1. Not to say MGS1 is a bad game – far from it – but it’s a game that I enjoyed greatly, even if the bosses were not as good as MGS3’s or even MGS1’s and if the ending was emotionally manipulative.
I wanted to write all this as a reminder for myself for how much I love Metal Gear Solid and to tell people why I love the series as much as I do. I say all of this because it really does feel like the end of an era. Whenever Kojima has said in the past each Metal Gear game will be his last, we’ve always taken it as a ‘boy crying wolf’ scenario – we’ll believe it when we see it. This time, it seems like the real deal. If anything emptimised that, it was the release today of the final trailer for MGSV: The Phantom Pain – the final ever Kojima-made MGS trailer – which goes on one hell of a melancholic nostalgia trip for the first half of it anyways that nearly had me in tears in what is, more or less, Kojima’s goodbye message to the series.
It’d be remiss of me if I didn’t say that Metal Gear doesn’t have its issues – it does in various ways, some endearing and some that are quite troubling – but it really is a beloved series to me. Even now, I don’t think I’ve really properly discussed in great detail how much it means to me.
I think, effectively, it’s just sunk in this genuinely is going to be the end of an era, for real this time.
I’m planning to do some writing on V (actual work writing, not blogging writing) but it’ll be interesting to see how everything pans out on a purely personal level. Because after nearly 14 years, I’m possibly about to get closure to a series that has meant a great deal to me. And the more I think about that, the more I get sadder about it.