It’s no exaggeration to say that Final Fantasy VII had a major impact on me. It marked my introduction to JRPG’s and broke me of my N64 stockholm syndrome and its slow trickle of games to embrace the Playstation, the platform I look back on as the defining point of my gaming life. I spent so much time breeding chocobo’s and grinding that goddamn crashed Gelnika ship that I continued to play for months after I’d killed Sephiroth and avenged Aeris’ famous death. I hadn’t experienced anything like it. Then I came to despise it and what it became in the years after its release. I thought back on the tangled weave of Cloud’s angst and Sephiroths madness and the nonsense turns its plot takes. But when you can no longer remember why you dislike something, perhaps it’s time to return and look with fresh eyes.
Asura’s Wrath contains one of the most brilliant player-directed narrative sequences in videogames; a fist fight. The two brawlers dance about the screen, one trying desperately to explain his actions to the other among a flurry of attacks. To evade them, the player must nail the timing for the increasingly frequent on-screen button prompts as any mistake is punished with a fist to the face, interrupting the dialogue and completely ending the conversation.
NOTE: Franchise Spoilers
Two lighthouses stand tall. In both Bioshock and Bioshock Infinite, walking through their front doors is the first step in your adventure in two cities that share more in common than their architecture would lead you to believe. In Bioshock proper, the door leads to a bathysphere that takes you to the cold blackness of the underwater city of Rapture, deep below the sea. In Infinite, it contains the rocket that will launch you to the sun washed floating city of Columbia, high above the clouds. You only need to play the first five minutes of both these games to observe the duality at their heart- one is a descent into Hell, the other the ascension to Heaven.
First impressions are tricky things. You are introduced to every character as you are every person- without context. You might have seen pictures of what they look like, heard of their stories, but until you see them with your own eyes, it’s all academic. There are only two qualities about any person that can absolutely be measured- their existence and their actions. Their motivations and psychology are nothing more than conjecture and speculation but that doesn’t mean they’re not important.
Fez requires you to change your perspective.
You start in Gomez’s small room. Presented as a flat 8-bit, 2D side-scroller, the room is clean and well decorated, but is obviously a child’s. Gomez can run and jump but his only initial act is to leave. Outside is the beautiful, vertically oriented village and kind but simple residents. You are beckoned to the top of the village from a mysterious old man with an eye patch and a small red fez. He tells you that it’s an important day. That’s when the Hexahedron appears.
In the second part of our thematic analysis of the Metal Gear Solid franchise, we took an exhaustive look at the structural subtext of Metal Gear Solid 2: Son’s of Liberty. Starting in that game, a thematic split began to form in the narrative. The story was about the importance of ideas and information to the growth of a single individual but also looked at the interaction of many individuals to form a society. Metal Gear Solid 3 carries it further. Continue reading “Metal Gear Solid Analysis: The Identity Trilogy Part 3: Snake Eater”
Sons of Liberty
The second installment in the Metal Gear Solid saga is about the dissemination of information, how important ideas are to the beliefs of an individual, and how they get passed within a society.
For those who never played The Twin Snakes, its story is recounted on disc as the fictional novel ‘In The Darkness of Shadow Moses: The Unofficial Truth’ written by that games weapons specialist, Nastasha Romanenko. The book fulfills several important roles all at once: it provides players of the first game with new story bits that happened on the opposite end of the Codec that Snake wasn’t privy to and exists in the Metal Gear universe as the tell-all that made Solid Snake and his crop of dark mulleted hair a hero the world over for preventing nuclear war.
MEME, GENE, SCENE
As an aesthetic work, the Metal Gear Solid saga examines what it means to be human. The spine of the series revolves around the full development of an individual’s identity through the foundations of their biological makeup, the shaping of culture and art upon them, and the importance of the experiences that individual collects throughout their life. But just as important are how those facets forms an individual’s beliefs and directs policies within their country and relative to countries across the globe.
There seems to be this qualitative assertion that when it comes to narrative, more equates with better. This strange idea has become the primary dividing line in any debate between the first Mass Effect and the second.
Mass Effect 1 has an incredible burden on its shoulders. As the first chapter in what Bioware had early on promised to be a trilogy, the story needed to juggle introducing the fiction of the universe, the narrative for the events that would transpire in this game and justify the character that would be instrumental within it.