Sadness in MGS4

A few days ago, as a guest blogger at Kotaku, Stephen Totilo of the MTV Multiplayer Blog described some of the thoughts about MGS4 he tried to get across in the New York Times article on the same game. He said, "Metal Gear Solid 4 is so unusual in that it's the rare game that asks them to be interested in something else: a march toward defeat, an interactive tragedy."

Granted I haven't played the game yet. Nor do I even have a PS3. But I've mentioned at least once on this blog that I feel like I too often play games that lead to inevitable success. There are so few games where something evil occurs at the end, or the narrative is focused on sadness rather than triumph, or the hero is ultimately unsuccessful. Small spoilers upcoming for Crisis Core: FFVII. I really loved the narrative in Crisis Core, and how the ending is bittersweet. Even though I already knew the general story arc, the actual presentation of it was more powerful than I expected. Despite the uncommon ending, it felt quite refreshing to experience something so different.

For the same reasons, I really want to play MGS4, and see just how much it really touches on sadder themes of loss. Totilo made a really great point. Games really need to move away from the "advance through the world, destroy final boss, everyone rejoices" pattern. I can only hope that more games follow suit.


Daniel Primed said...

Interesting commentaries, upon finishing MGS4 I felt quite empty and not as reassured as I usually feel when I finish games.

There is this whole feeling of ending of life throughout the game and it is quite a challenging aspect to apreciate when you have been conditioned by so many "happily ever afters". I like it though and I am looking to explore more games of this unconventional nature.

Michael Abbott said...

I really hope you get a chance to play MGS4 soon, Korey. I feel quite conflicted about the overall design, but there's no question it's a game of great ambition.

MGS4 did provoke me in ways I'm not accustomed to being provoked by video games. I did feel sadness as well as a mix of other emotions. Snake is a unique protagonist in the history of video games, and more than anything else, this game is a farewell to him and what he represents. There is a softness at the heart of MGS4 that one rarely finds in games, and I admire it for that.

Korey said...

Thanks for your comments, Daniel and Michael. I'm really looking forward to this game, and know that if I was in the U.S. now, it would be a system seller for me, despite not having played 3 yet. But I probably won't be playing it for quite a while, since I rode out the storm of my enthusiasm here in Japan. It will probably still be the first game I play when I finally get a PS3, but I really don't know when that will be. Wait and see, I suppose.