Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty is celebrated for how it critiques social engineering, Hideo Kojima having crafted a theme that shows how controls built into the social fabric of a culture can shape an individual’s thoughts, ideas, and beliefs. The story and game progression do an outstanding job of subtly running players through a simulation of the events of MGS1’s Shadow Moses incident as the rookie Raiden, forcing them to question whether their actions were truly their own or if they had been molded into a clone of Shadow Moses’ legendary hero Solid Snake.
As is the great curse of every artist, the critic gets the last word. For the burlesque dancer Bayonetta, the Omnitient Critic grades her revue on a six-point scale of dirty Stone to Pure Platinum. It’s a good thing that her routine was so incredibly well choreographed that she can test it against her newest dancing partner, the mysterious and powerful Lumen Sage. The purity of the battle system comes alive against an evenly matched opponent and the vast armies of Paradiso and the hordes of Inferno, on the path to save the soul of a lost friend. So let’s look closer at our provocateurs moves and understand why they steal the show.
Policenauts was the perfect game to introduce the world to Hideo Kojima’s visual style and keen eye for editing a trailer. Unlike other games at the time, every screenshot from the 1994 ‘Interactive Movie’ could have been ripped from an anime, this one the tale of a man lost in space for the first twenty five years of humanity’s move into off-world colonies. It’s Lethal Weapon in the Gundam timeline with an Aliens setup, starring a blue-haired Mel Gibson. The trailer claims Policenauts is ‘The Next Generation of Snatcher’.
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.