Thursday, September 24, 2015

Getting to Know the Ground in ‘Metal Gear Solid V’

PopMatters is undergoing some maintenance, so I'm posting this now and will update with links once the column goes live.

This week on PopMatters I talk about how Snake gets low.

I mean literally low to the ground.  Like hiding in the brush low.  Like down in the dirt low.  This assumes you’re playing Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain stealthily of course, which is a reasonable assumption seeing as how you’re rewarded with points and unlocks for avoiding detection.  If you’ve decided against the Rambo path you’ll need to do lots of hiding, which means becoming very familiar with the way the world looks from a snake’s eye view.

If you pay attention, MGS V telegraphs this from its very opening moments.  A huge portion of the hospital scene is focused on introducing you to crawling, crouching, and hiding under things.  The pace is deliberately slow and Snake is fairly fragile compared to his enemies.  The “normal” state of the world is one where you’re looking at it from the ground up.

I also got to do some pretty fun research around how many different ways there are to interact with the ground in MGS V.  Here is a video of my studies:

Silliness aside, MGS V’s open world feels very different than GTA or Saint’s Row.  Instead of being rewarded for stealing planes or jumping halfway across the map, you’re prompted to spend time inching along the terrain.  It’s a slower, more methodical pace that is unique and useful as a juxtaposition for scenes when everything goes to shit.  The quiet moments are more tense and the chaotic scenes are more bombastic when it feels like your life is tied to your ability to become part of the landscape itself.

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