: Metal Gear Solid 4: A Revolution And A Revelation

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Metal Gear Solid 4: A Revolution And A Revelation

Real quick: I'm well aware I'm very late in beating MGS4, but I'm a pretty busy guy, so get over it. Thanks. :)

Being an avid reader of literary classics, and being an avid attempter of the dying discipline, I'd like to think I can acknowledge true skill in the realm of the written word. For the most part, there is no video-based entertainment medium that can compare with books; nothing is even remotely close to the likes of Joyce, Marquez, Collins, Melville, Milton, Fitzgerald, Bronte, Dickens, Conrad, Ovid, Kafka, Eliot, Chaucer, etc, etc, etc. Even in terms of playwrights - not my favorite - a video game can't stand up to the classic plays by Williams, O'Neill, Ibsen, and of course, Shakespeare. As for movies, I think we can all agree there's a sadly significant lack of quality writing, and it's easier than ever to compare them to video games.

Of course, we must factor in the interactivity aspect of gaming, which makes it the only one of the three mentioned forms of entertainment that's not entirely passive. Hence, given the fact the viewer (or in this case, "participator") has some control, it can be extraordinarily difficult to form a cohesive, well designed story. I recognize this, and others should as well. But all this being said, I still enjoy watching the strides the gaming industry has taken in terms of storytelling, and in my estimation, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, represents another big leap forward. To be perfectly honest, I must say I haven't seen many movies in 2008 that can compare to the level of accomplished quality found in MGS4; including, dialogue, choreography, character development, acting, writing, and pacing. I wonder if others feel the same way, and if so, I further wonder why more people aren't surprised. I mean, Hollywood should be embarrassed.

They face none of the restrictions Kojima Productions faced - again, due to the interactivity - and yet, a movie with great writing and acting seems more and more difficult to locate. Instead, we get cheap comedies that only semi-impaired teenagers would laugh at, and even Academy Award nominees that seem to fall well short of expectations. After completing MGS4 last night, I reflected on the story and the more I thought about it, the more surprised I became. Prior to this, I had seen very little of professional literary skill in the video game industry, although there have been glimpses of it in certain titles. Now, we get something that makes me look back on the days of Super Mario Bros. with a certain form of awe that is born of a contrast I can scarcely believe. Now, before I begin to heap praises upon the game, bear in mind the first paragraph of this piece, and also bear the following in mind: the writing in MGS4 still falls prey to relatively amateur flaws that aren't seen as "amateur" in today's world.

For example, there's a whole lot of "telling" and not "showing," which is the cardinal sin of fiction. I won't explain what this means (look it up if you need a description), but MGS4 is guilty of this major transgression. Of course, one will argue that this is a visual experience, which means the developers are supposed to "show" certain things, but that doesn't change the inherent rules of writing. At least, I don't think it does. With such a new entertainment medium as games, it's hard to say... Anyway, moving on: during the storytelling in MGS4, they will belabor the point, they won't know when to end a scene, and as much as the hardcore fan wants to prove otherwise, some of the plot-line really is convoluted. Examples of the preceding include the final scene with Big Boss (the ending was satisfying, but they didn't know when the end should come) and flashback scenes that seem to leave out important pieces of information. Furthermore, it was a little disconcerting to be in control of a protagonist who is constantly in the dark about...well, everything, apparently.

But now that I have this out of the way, let me try to explain the upside. At times like these, I curse the lack of literary brilliance the true masters found magically injected into their souls, because I'd love to adopt an epic, poetic tone for this description. But as much as I'd like to describe Walter Hartright's first glimpse of Laura Fairlie as well as Wilkie Collins, I'll never be able to summon that insane level of descriptive ability. But I can still try! Despite all its flaws, MGS4's story did something no video game has done before it: it presented us with a story that contained all the crucial elements of a finely honed tale, from the initial conception of the premise, theme and characters to the detailed climax designed to reward the viewer/participant for following along. Occasionally, we are treated with a little less respect than I would've liked (that telling instead of showing issue rears its ugly head, here), but not anywhere near as often as usual. In the end, the writing is sound, the actors absorb these lines and make them their own, thereby successfully portraying and distinguishing each character, and the pacing really is quite good.

There's a sweeping, majestic tinge to the story, and although the philosophy and theory is firmly cemented in futuristic, technology-oriented themes, the Kojima team still manages to include a steady dose of humanity. This isn't easy to do, especially considering the focus of the plot and the action foundation the game is built upon. Furthermore, upon completion, all good fiction causes the reader to accept and believe the events that transpired, but above all else, he or she will embrace newfound questions. The story in MGS4 features an inherent question from start to finish, and while it's a tad too visible, we're always given a chance to see the purpose of each side. Sympathy and understanding are dishes best served on the side of villainy, because this invokes immediate questions that involve the entire cast of characters. Intelligent villains who contain several shreds of truth and human weakness beneath a rock-hard exterior grab our attention, and this augments the conflict between "good" and "bad."

Like many fantastic stories written in the past, MGS4's plot presents itself, inverts itself, and then opens up to show us both angles in all their unveiled glory. On the one hand, we are examining a certain concept through a microscope, as the characters act as players in a hypothetical play that revolves around critical questions. As the play progresses, we not only begin to assess the microscopic characters and their motives, but we also begin to get a sense of the bigger picture. We can tell it all ties together somehow, but the real mystery remains hidden behind a veil of unfinished drama that seems to accompany every new development. Granted, I still think Kojima withholds too much in all his games, putting too much emphasis on crowd-pleasing, bombshell twists, but the story maintains the mystery and appeal, and that is a solid accomplishment. This whole experience is dark, effectively misleading, intricate, and somehow, strikes a virtuous chord between overstating the situation and leaving us entirely ignorant of the proceedings. Many writers wish they could do this on a consistent basis.

In short, and I think you've seen this coming for a while, since when do we see this in a video game? Sure, we still have a ways to go, but if this doesn't represent a complete revolution - in terms of storytelling, not gameplay - than nothing does. An emotional, thrilling journey punctuated by flashes of supreme brilliance and never crippled by adolescent-esque errors, I was most impressed with the result. Those who wish to be anal and point out the drawbacks can do so, but it'd be most unfair to ignore the strides Kojima and Co. have taken with this game. The bar has once again been raised, and perhaps some time in the not-so-far-off future, video games will have legitimate Oscar-worthy scripts. Think it's impossible? That wide-eyed kid who stomped his first Goomba with a pure, innocent giggle I couldn't muster today...well, he believed the video game world began and ended with the controller and the screen. I no longer believe that, and who's to say what will happen 5 or 10 years from now?

Chasing a dream is both intoxicating and dangerous, and at some point along the journey, the dreamer must accept both personal limitations and realistic restrictions. Only once this has been accomplished can the dreamer move forward. He will select the appropriate time to take that extra fearful leap, he will hope for the day such a leap is no longer fearful, and he will chase the nightmares from his reeling thoughts with a barrage of positive energy that only the most determined minds can generate. I don't pretend to know much about Hideo Kojima, but from what I've read, he strives to be a dreamer in a world of pseudo-dreamers that aren't willing to take those frightening steps and bludgeon the demons that hold them back. Kojima and the rest of the crew? They stepped up and made me think...not about the story itself - those thoughts will fade with time, as they always do - but about where the industry is headed. I can count the number of games that have made me do that in the past quarter-century on one hand.

And that's the best I can do for a quick editorial piece that probably deserved more time and attention. :)

9/12/2008 Ben Dutka

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Comments (48 posts)

AceTatsujin
Friday, September 12, 2008 @ 10:25:31 PM
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Ben, you hit the spot. And I agree with everything you've said. MGS IV is beyond words, I simply couldn't resist the moments they brought, the story and how they put it together, character creation, development ... the graphics were just stunning and jaw-dropping and love all the battles. I do have to admit, I hate Act3 (sneaking mission) with guts, but once you get on that motorcycle its all action baby! Really great review man, two thumbs up!

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jlch777
Friday, September 12, 2008 @ 10:35:41 PM
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MGS4= Masterpiece

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Jove
Friday, September 12, 2008 @ 10:37:29 PM
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ben, i strongly think that video games will become the 8th art for sure. for blending the interactivity that comes with everything else. there wont be any other art after it.

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Fatcat3788
Friday, September 12, 2008 @ 11:30:34 PM
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Hey, I won't pretend like I understood everything that you were saying. Considering the fact that I am a twenty year old engineering student I haven't been well versed in vocabulary or literature. I have not read many of the classics myself. That being said, I want you to know that I actually read it to the best of my abilities (because from what it sounded like it seems you felt very strongly about what you wrote).

I will start with what I understood best from your editorial. I agree that MGS4 was a huge stride in this industry's storytelling. While I wouldn't go as far as saying it is on par to the classics, I must say that it shortens that gap. Maybe not by as much as one could hope, but it definately does more so than the rest.

While I can't disagree that videogames WILL NEVER be better than books, I must say that, amazingly, games have perks to them that books and movies can never have and I believe that storytellers, authors, and even directors are starting to embrace that. They are starting to realize it even with the fact that they know that they must overcome videogames' restrictions. The major one being that the player character is controlled. Not on a set path, not in a stable mindset, but in a path and mindset who is as dynamic as the player playing them. My point is, how many times have to started a game thinking you want to do it one way and then later on you wanted to do it another way?

Take MGS4. In the game you aren't required to play the game in one certain way. You don't push one button and everything happens in front of you. You can make your character look like an idiot, a professional, a killer, or a sympathetic being. This is the restrictions that I think you are talking about and if so, I agree that this is the huge flaw of videogame storytelling.

The perks are what are drawing these talented people to the videogame industry. Music is a perk that books do not have. I believe it is one of the most important aspects in our new-age entertainment. Length is something movies will never have. While a book or a game can keep your attention for days, even weeks, movies cannot. Background... This perk is something books can have but movies have a little more trouble with. A background to a story. (I feel that I have already written too much myself and I will end this with the next paragraph) The point being people with talent are starting to see this.

Metal Gear Solid IS revolutionary. You are completely right. Though I agree that it has it's flaws. Too many times were you reminded of things that were already said. Too many times did the story have to tell what happened in the past (and yes I am aware that at times it was necessary). These problems are more of problems with the industry itself though. People do not want to do research on the past of a game. They want to be entertained... Therefore Kojima HAD to do those things. Despite the flaws built in by the medium, I believe that Kojima did a great job and did create a revolutionary experience. (I lied, one more paragraph, I hope you bare with me.)

I believe these flaws will disappear one day. Perhaps movies, books, and videogames will be integrated into each other, thus resulting in an experience like we've never seen, heard, or felt before. It will happen one day, and I believe that Kojima and MGS4 will be a catalyst for it, and that is comforting news. Thanks for writing the editorial. It definately was worth the read, and I hope you get through my thoughts on it as well.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Friday, September 12, 2008 @ 11:46:30 PM
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FatCat: Well done. What you wrote there kind of loosens my grasp on the theory that those more involved in the maths and sciences don't have a respectable grasp of the written word. :)

I appreciate you taking the time to read it, and I certainly read all your comments, with which I agree. There are so many things to talk about regarding MGS4 and the industry, it can be difficult to squeeze it all into one cohesive piece. But I understand exactly what you're saying, and provided people like us continue to appreciate what people like Kojima are trying to do, this industry can only go forward.

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Fatcat3788
Friday, September 12, 2008 @ 11:58:17 PM

Kind of funny... I am starting to understand why you enjoyed Final Fantasy Tactics so much. ;P

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vulcaroth13
Saturday, September 13, 2008 @ 12:16:08 AM
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The story telling was great in mgs 4 but the story of the metal gear games has always been pretty solid for a game during that time period i would say. Kojima has always done a pretty good job integrating story into his games and i read a interview with him as to why. it was in the first mgs strategy guide.

in this interview he talked about his love for movies and how he wanted to be a director or producer for a movie cant remember which one for the life of me so long ago. anyways he said he could not get into the movie industry at that time and that it was about the time the video game industry had just started to flourish and he looked at video games and said that he seen that video games could be kinda like a movie in the ways of telling stories and so forth. i believe kojima's desire to be a directory or whatever for movies is what brought his passion in about stories.

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Scarecrow
Saturday, September 13, 2008 @ 1:30:34 AM
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Ben it's great to see that you completed the great masterpiece that Metal Gear Solid 4 is. Something becomes a masterpiece when more than half of those who come across with something LOVE TO DEATH without conditions. And even more when no matter how much time passes it is still talked 'bout.

That's the Metal Gear series in a nutshell, an art beyond storytelling. It's storytelling which touches you from ALL directions.

MGS4 is an amazing piece of work, one which takes into account a lot of things(character development, the situation at hand, the political world, and the goal).

It's a great culmination to Snake's saga.

This game is amazing, and Hideo Kojima as its creator is such a genius. To have created a game so well connected to each other in a way where it all makes sense it really is something.

Again it's the best game I've played this year, and I don't think any other game can really replace it.

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Aftab
Saturday, September 13, 2008 @ 2:39:17 AM
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Well written, Ben. Hilarious disclaimer.

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Jed
Saturday, September 13, 2008 @ 3:15:49 AM
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I'm another one of the technical types, and while I am not very familiar with great works of literature, I would really like to know them more. But I can still appreciate a piece of work like MGS4.

It was really refreshing to see a game that was done so well, not just the graphics and gameplay, but the story, and the acting that made it such a complete work. The storey could be a movie itself. So many games, and unfortunately movies, are just thrown together and made because they are "good enough to sell". And even more aren't even that good.
I agree with Ben and most of the other people that played MGD4 and thought it was a great game, and I hope we see others follow suit.

It's also refreshing to see that there are still some people out there who can understand and appreciate something great. especially when the benchmark is set so low by nearly everything else out there.

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Skwidd
Saturday, September 13, 2008 @ 4:25:20 AM
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Ben, I agree with you in that MGS4 is a revolutionary game. I thought so while playing it with a big smile. Though Im not as familiar with literature as you may be, I do believe I have a good sensibility to the art. I'll mention Dostoevsky, Poe and Nietzsche as some that I really love. Im actualy a professional filmmaker with modest films and I write my own. My influences are Imamura, Antonioni and perhaps we can throw in Truffaut. I have a pretty wide range of appreciation to storytelling. I know what you mean by show and not telling. None does it better than the person that took it to the limit, Antonioni. A lot of exposition in MGS4 to tell players whats going on. Though MGS series is my fave of all time and Im an avid videogamer, I still prefer the first one with the 4th following in a tie with the 3rd. This is on an enjoyment scale. The brilliance of some moments in MGS4 was never achieved in any of the previous games nor in any other. Now, in terms of 'story', which often people place too much importance on, MGS4 was fantastic. Better than Hollywood? Seriously, I've seen nothing good from Hollywood. Well, I guess 1 percent is good :) MGS4 cannot be compared to Hollywood because it feels like an alternative kind of medium. Those who cannot play are missing out. Which brings me to my point, MGS benefited from 9hrs to tell part of a story that was already set up. Its still no easy task but films dont enjoy that luxury. Also, though the story is great the execution wasnt perfect either. It was brilliant though. I never liked how Snake would get briefed after every mission aboard the plane. Other games felt like the more you move forward the closer you are to enemy territory and felt like theres no turning back. Old Snake took lots of rest on that plane. This I found a flaw in the game in general. Also, setting up characters for their eventual demise and overly dramatizing it with no mortal conclusion to their fate was kind of cheap. No one died at the end which is kind of weird seeing that its an acceptable thing in Japanese culture to have a heroic and honorable martyr. I would have liked to play more but I looked forward to watching as well. MGS4 is a true achievement and a revolution in gaming and storytelling. Though I kinda felt that in MGS1, MGS4 takes it yet another step further.

Sorry about the non paragraphing but this box is tiny!

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Alienange
Saturday, September 13, 2008 @ 1:37:22 PM

Wait a second. You guess only 1% of Hollywood is good? That's ridiculous. Hollywood has it's trash, but the masterpieces are all there and have entertained us all for most of our lives. 1% ? One? Go watch Memento and take another guess.

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Skwidd
Saturday, September 13, 2008 @ 2:12:57 PM

I watched Memento. Real good movie that I believe is independent that was picked up by a bigger "hollywood' distribution company. I dont think that applies as Hollywood. Its like EA buying out a smaller company. Aaanyway, really good film. I still stand at 1%. You'd be surprised how many movies Hollywood dishes out a year. I used to know the number but I forget. I think for every 100 films one standing out as good is pretty fair in my opinion :) Every year I watch perhaps one decent hollywood film. And I say PERHAPS. That sounds less than 1% to me. I still like my Robocop though :P

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Skwidd
Saturday, September 13, 2008 @ 4:31:24 AM
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BTW MGS4 is a masterpiece of commercial entertainment. Not sure if it could pass as 'art' though its one man's vision. It still follows conventional narratives in a familiar medium made for an audience to sell. Okay it breaks through some barriers I'll give it that but not sure if you can start comparing it to works of literature.. But yes it is a masterpiece of a game and I love it :)

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Qubex
Saturday, September 13, 2008 @ 5:03:28 AM
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I haven't played the game yet! Enjoyed the editorial very much. How long did it take you to write it Ben? Just thinking of the editing you may have had to do on it to perfect its balance and pace :)

Q!

"aLL RoAds LeAd ToO HoMe"

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eLLeJuss
Saturday, September 13, 2008 @ 8:23:11 AM

wow.. how could you not play mgs4 yet.. lol

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Qubex
Saturday, September 13, 2008 @ 10:04:11 AM

Money! but I bet its worth it...

Q!

"aLL RoAdS LeaD ToO HomE"

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OhYessss
Saturday, September 13, 2008 @ 5:58:45 AM
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Here Here!

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ThePoetRazel
Saturday, September 13, 2008 @ 8:43:07 AM
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Other than your literary snobbery and over analytical nature this is a great editorial.
MGS4's storytelling is superb. Books have been around longer and there are for more of them to choose fine works from, separating the wheat from the chaff. Movies and Video Games on the other hand have had far less time to give us many of those special examples of genius. MGS4 is the top of the 1 in 1000 works that achieves the status of true genius.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Saturday, September 13, 2008 @ 10:29:07 AM

...I fail to see how reading books is considered "literary snobbery."

That's the problem today. If you tell someone you read a book, they think you're a snob. On the other hand, it's perfectly acceptable and even encouraged to tell a large group of people how you went dumpster diving in a New Jersey alley when wasted. Why exactly are we impressed by stupidity and mock the mind like a bunch of low-IQ high school jocks?

Last edited by Ben Dutka PSXE on 9/13/2008 10:32:50 AM

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OhYessss
Saturday, September 13, 2008 @ 10:39:31 AM

I think he just wanted a reply from you...

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ThePoetRazel
Saturday, September 13, 2008 @ 11:44:59 AM

You missed my point. It's not that you read books that's snobby, it's that you have a clear bias towards them. Perhaps you only read the first line of my comment?
And again you display a snobbery by implying that only smart people read books and stupid people don't. The world is more than "nerds and jocks".

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Saturday, September 13, 2008 @ 10:46:36 AM
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Well, it's a pet peeve of mine. I'm really VERY sick of everyone in this country encouraging stupidity and sloth and frowning on anything that might actually be considered human accomplishment.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Saturday, September 13, 2008 @ 12:05:40 PM
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Poet: I didn't miss your point. It's not a "bias" to say the literary classics are far superior to any form of video-based storytelling. I'm sorry, that's a universal fact. I know the raving liberal train of thought is that everything is opinion and everything is subjective. Yeah...it's not.

And at no point anywhere in that article do I imply that "only smart people read books." But here's one implication that's stated as a fact: those who DO read are generally much smarter than those who DON'T. Another universal fact. Take it or leave it.

Last edited by Ben Dutka PSXE on 9/13/2008 12:06:08 PM

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ThePoetRazel
Saturday, September 13, 2008 @ 12:12:23 PM

Not in your article but your reply, "Why exactly are we impressed by stupidity and mock the mind like a bunch of low-IQ high school jocks". It's not a universal fact but an opinion that you state as fact. Like i said, books have been around longer so there are more examples of good books. But there is also examples of bad books. Movies and Video Games have much the same percentage, but a 1% of 100 is less than 1% of 1 million. So counting them in number rather than percentage is rather unfair don't you think?
Your personal preference does not make fact.


Last edited by ThePoetRazel on 9/13/2008 12:12:59 PM

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Qubex
Saturday, September 13, 2008 @ 12:32:36 PM

How does one define fact then?

Q!

"aLL RoAds LeAd ToO HoMe"

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LightShow
Saturday, September 13, 2008 @ 2:15:11 PM

while i do agree that the great literary works are far superior to film and games, i will also point out that the written word and the stage acts have had FAR more time to mature, with around 4000 years depending on who you ask, against maybe ~100 for film and arguably 30 for games.

Books and Plays may have games down flat, but dont count them out just yet. Given enough time, i believe games (and maybe film, but im not sure) will start to ascend and become better and better.

and for everyone deciding to call admins idiots, what ever happened to respecting those in authority?

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lolrrodlol
Saturday, September 13, 2008 @ 2:16:07 PM

Ben's right. To suggest that video games can compare, at least presently, with movies or books on an artistic level is absurd. There's only a few games that can even be considered art, or at least to have artistic elements. The MGS series is, in my opinion, the epitome of artistic games and can compete with great works of cinema and fiction. But I can't think of another game for which the same can be said. I'm sorry, but it is a fact (and will be for some time, I imagine) that, as a whole, games remain far behind film and literature as an artistic medium. The top 1% of games is a joke compared to the top 1% of books or movies, even looking only at what has been created in the past decade.

I realize that games have only been a viable artistic platform for 15 years at the most. Accordingly I don't expect this medium to be at the same level as the traditional ones. But that doesn't mean we can assume that it ever will be. MGS may be an exceedingly rare exception. It's still too early to evaluate the place of gaming in the artistic world.

Also I disagree with the assertion that literature is generally superior to film. I think film really has more artistic potential than any other medium. I'd take Kubrick's movies over all the books of any ten authors.

One more thing. Ben, I 'm not sure what exactly you mean by saying that people with backgrounds in science/math/engineering don't have a grasp on the written word. In comparison to similarly educated people in other fields, we tend to be more intelligent and are likely better at written communication. Of course, there are those of us who lack competence in this area due to inexperience. But I don't think it's fair to criticize a chemist's writing abilities if he spends all day in the lab and rarely needs to lift a pen (or sit down at the keyboard). Perhaps you're suggesting that us quantitative types "just don't get it" with regards to literature. That is true of some. But can't the same be said of some philosophers, journalists, or even artists? I don't believe that we are any less capable of appreciating and understanding literature than any other professional/academic group, save for writers themselves or anyone else who dedicates their life to the subject.

Last edited by lolrrodlol on 9/13/2008 2:58:47 PM

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Aftab
Sunday, September 14, 2008 @ 6:56:21 PM

I agree with you, Ben. The "opinion" card is exessively overplayed. It's a last resort of those who have no logic or emperical evidence to offer. And it is ironic, that in a country that prides itself over "free speech", that real discussion, and attainment of truth is still stifled accross many levels and groups of people. This is because respect is missing.
The most difficult obstacle in discussion is ego. Because if it is provoked, ears will close even to the truth.
And to poetRaziel, although the world may not be split in to "nerds" and "jocks", it certainly contains a spectrum consisting of those two kinds.

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Xanavi23
Saturday, September 13, 2008 @ 12:46:50 PM
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The story is incredibly powerful, i generally beleive crying is for women...but at least one part in the story had me tearing a bit. I can't remember a Movie that had a story this strong.

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JPBooch
Saturday, September 13, 2008 @ 1:03:44 PM
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Very nice piece Ben, although I am a little surprised you took this long to finish it ;)

While I see where you are going with this and I couldnt agree with you more as MGS4 being an industry changing game. Every aspect of the game had obvious attention and work put into it.

My point of view of the gaming industry is a little different I guess. Video games are a form of entertainment and entertainment is just that, meant to illicit emotion in its viewers. There are many forms of entertainment and the best do it better than the rest. Music has its greats for every facet of its many genres. TV, the silver screen, literature, artwork, sports, and even architecture to a certain extent are made to be enjoyed by others. Video Games are no different, Mr Kojima is our Jordan or our Beethoven.

I remember reading something from a philosopher that extrapolated that when a person becomes very competent in an area he is considered a professional. When he truly knows everything there is to know about that field he becomes a trend setter and the field becomes an art. I have seen it in my own profession of chiropractic. Mr Kojima is the trend setter.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Saturday, September 13, 2008 @ 2:38:42 PM

"I remember reading something from a philosopher that extrapolated that when a person becomes very competent in an area he is considered a professional. When he truly knows everything there is to know about that field he becomes a trend setter and the field becomes an art. I have seen it in my own profession of chiropractic. Mr Kojima is the trend setter."

That's awesome. :)

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Alienange
Saturday, September 13, 2008 @ 1:42:56 PM
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I haven't played MGS4 either ! Your editorial makes me think it's more than just hype selling this game. I'm sure I'll be thanking you once I get it.

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LightShow
Saturday, September 13, 2008 @ 2:03:41 PM
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Masterpiece? Perhaps no, but it gets very close, and im not even a fan of the MGS series. it may not be my thing, but if you ever needed an argument that games could be art, you've got your exibit A right here


Last edited by LightShow on 9/13/2008 2:07:49 PM

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Saturday, September 13, 2008 @ 2:37:14 PM
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lolrrodlol: Well said, and I agree with all of that, except for the last paragraph...which I can't possibly disagree with more. The masters of literature have created works that so far outstrip anything Kubrick has done, it's not even a fair comparison, IMO. As people have said, though, there's an issue of time. People have been writing books for thousands of years and movies are, what...100 years old? Not even that, unless you count the silent era. And while I certainly respect that opinion from someone who clearly enjoys art in a variety of different forms, I would suggest reading more of the classics. You can't possibly read something like "One Hundred Years of Solitude" by Marquez and then put Kubrick in the same universe. Or maybe you can; I don't mind differing opinions, I really don't. :)

Poet: Now I'm not even sure what point you're trying to make. Nowhere did I say that all literature is better than all movies and games. Nowhere in that entire piece can it even be INFERRED I would suggest such a rash generalization.

Last edited by Ben Dutka PSXE on 9/13/2008 2:37:38 PM

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lolrrodlol
Saturday, September 13, 2008 @ 3:55:18 PM

While I was adding that last part you posted. So let me add a few more comments.

I think we both have respectable opinions regarding this film vs. literature debate. After all, each one has its strengths as a medium. Books allow for much deeper and lengthier storytelling than film. But film has the powerful combination of image and music to complement narrative. When these elements are combined to full effect, film is unbeatable (not the best word, but you get the point). Yet I completely understand how someone could prefer a great book to a great movie. I get more out of the aesthetic and musical elements in film, you find the greater narrative depth and interpretive freedom of books to be of more value.

The important thing is to enjoy great art no matter what the medium. We may prefer one over another as a whole, but there is incredible stuff coming out of all areas, even video games.

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Freaky_Tiki
Saturday, September 13, 2008 @ 3:03:01 PM
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Overall, i really agree with everything you said but when it came to you saying Kojima was "putting too much emphasis on crowd-pleasing, bombshell twists" I had to disagree.

Now, i know this is just my opinion but i need to make the point nonetheless. I don't know how many people still clearly remember FFX (I should hope someone does) but many of the scenes that made you gasp were based on those mind blowing twists. Like when Tidus was told that Yuna was going to sacrifice herself for the final summon. Of course, that was lead up to and maybe a bad example but stunning nonetheless. For an example that was much less forseeable, what about when Tidus himself was told that he would vanish upon completing his goal of killing the aeons?

I dunno, it could just be me, but when it comes to plot twists i like most of them to be intricately planned but released in such a way that they leave you sitting there speechless with a look of utter shock on your face.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Saturday, September 13, 2008 @ 3:56:36 PM

I agree, and I really liked the twists in FFX. But I think the difference between FFX and MGS4 is that almost every new development in the latter can be considered a "twist" of some kind. It just got a little tiresome and even predictable at times, that's all.

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lolrrodlol
Saturday, September 13, 2008 @ 4:02:27 PM
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There's one final thing I'd like to note. This wasn't mentioned in the article, so I thought I'd bring it up. It seems like people tend to forget that MGS is actually translated. We're not getting the original writing. I'm sure it's fairly close, but there are definitely some ideas and phrases that get muddled in the translation to English.

Last edited by lolrrodlol on 9/13/2008 4:02:55 PM

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Saturday, September 13, 2008 @ 5:40:44 PM
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lolrrodlol: You make a good point about movies, of course. I think it's obvious that given the benefits of that particular art form, there's any number of ways to generate unique, amazing accomplishments.

But for my part, I will maintain that the mind and imagination - what we create for ourselves - will never be able to compete with any form of visual art. This is why I seriously doubt anything but books will have the largest impact on me, although needless to say, music, games, and movies also have had impacts as well. Just not to the same degree for me.

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BeezleDrop
Saturday, September 13, 2008 @ 8:03:49 PM
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So would I be wrong in saying that MGS4 was one of the most memorable gaming experiences I have had? Doubtful. All that Kojima put in to this makes it without a doubt one of the greatest titles to date. I expected this game to get a 10 because it deserves it. This game has everything! From action to drama to humor. I still cant get over wearing the head from MGS1!

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The_Benny
Sunday, September 14, 2008 @ 9:09:03 AM
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Out of interest Ben, where do you see game stories heading in terms of how they're told? By all accounts MGS4 uses cutscenes for a lot of its storytelling but I don't know how much is told simply while playing. Do you think cutscenes will (and should) still play a large part going forward in games generally, or should the industry be heading for telling everything while in game?

Obviously cutscenes can be far more cinematic and epic than anything that relies on the player looking in the right direction or doing what they are supposed to but they often show the player moving or acting in ways that aren't possible in the game itself, presenting a disconnect between them and the player, and rarely come close to the movie equivalents they are trying to ape.

Do you think games should be aiming to present everything in game, with the ideal being one long, seamless experience that never takes control from the player from start to finish, or does breaking up play with cutscenes have a place in the generations to come?

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Scarecrow
Sunday, September 14, 2008 @ 1:38:51 PM

A lot is told while playing or do you need glasses?

Remember the beginning with Meryl?
Remember the ride with Eva?

Remember the fight with Vamp?

Seriously this game's PACKED!

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The_Benny
Sunday, September 14, 2008 @ 2:12:27 PM

I've not played it Scarecrow, sorry if that wasn't clear. I was commenting on games generally, based on MGS4's story obviously impressing Ben as some of the best gaming has to offer.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Sunday, September 14, 2008 @ 11:27:24 PM

Benny, in response to your question: I honestly have no idea. I think games like Heavy Rain might give us a better idea of the answer, but sadly, there are so FEW visionaries like Kojima out there that it could take a long time before more huge steps are taken in the realm of game storytelling.

Last edited by Ben Dutka PSXE on 9/14/2008 11:28:05 PM

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The_Benny
Monday, September 15, 2008 @ 12:29:58 PM

Heh, fair enough. It was a fairly chunky question, but I thought I'd ask seeing as you were clearly very taken with MGS4's approach. Heavy Rain did come to mind as I was typing it because it looks like paying a lot of attention to movie-style story telling, with carefully chosen camera angles, splitscreen events and the interactive cinematics of QTEs. It's definitely one of the more interesting games on the horizon.

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Aftab
Sunday, September 14, 2008 @ 9:54:19 PM
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I think, Ben, you've demonstrated a good practice when dealing with unruly member: Egos feed off of attention, be it positive or negative. I feel the best way to deal with them, as you have done, is to ignore them. It's often difficult to walk the fine line of knowing when to remain aloof, or when to devote energy not knowing fully if something is worthy of attention.

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LowKii
Thursday, September 18, 2008 @ 5:33:09 AM
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Hahahahahahaha don't worry about being so late to beat MGS 4. I honestly opened it when I got it and never even put it in my system till 2 weeks ago lol. I only beat it last weekend. so its all good bud.

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