Friday, January 22, 2010

Star Gear & Metal Wars #1 – Fallen Messiahs & Sons of Conflict

Yup, yet another little series I made for myself (which I probably won’t finish either) that I thought would be worth at least a few shits and giggles for fans of either series. This is actually one that’s been locked in the back of my head for years, but I've always crammed it back due to its facetious nature as fanboy fodder. I haven’t posted anything in quite a few weeks though, so I thought this could fill the void until I can get myself to finish the Assassin’s Creed 2 SP.

I’ve always been a bit of a Star Wars fan, but I’ve consistently made it a point not to delve too far into the EU (extended universe) content, as it would be an insult to whatever reverence I have for the series at large. I had extremely obsessive phases growing up and Star Wars sucked at least a year or two out of my prepubescent life easily. Given my rather obnoxious and longtime adoration for the Metal Gear series, it doesn’t take much for someone such as me to start linking up countless corollaries between the two. That’s what this basically is, me drawing lines from the Metal Gear universe to the Star Wars one.

Code #1 The Sith and The Soldier

In that galaxy far far away, the Sith basically encompass an aspect of life that is obsessed with emotion, passion, and conflict. They vehemently adhere to the drive which furthers life through a lust for fighting. This is diametrically opposed to the rather pacifist Jedi, whose drive for peace was viewed by the Sith as a offensive way to simply make room for the weak. Depending on how one views or accepts the Potentium Theory (which argues that there truly is no Dark Side, and only malicious desire in the Force-user), it’s easily logical to press forth that the ‘Dark Side’ exists out of sheer necessity (a sort of spiritual balance is a narrative muscle both Metal Gear and Star Wars operate on). In Star Wars canon, I believe Jedi masters reject such views outright. Either way though, it’s anything BUT disproven that ‘darkness’ is an inherent side of whatever humanity exists, fictional or not. The Sith do not embrace things like morality, as it typically obscures ‘truth’ at any given point.

"Fighting? What are you really after?"

"A world where warriors like us are honored as we once were... as we should be."

"That was Big Boss's fantasy."

"It was his dying wish! When he was young, during the Cold War, the world needed men like us. We were valued then. We were desired. But things... are different now. With all the liars and hypocrites running the world, war isn't what it used to be... We're losing our place in a world that no longer needs us. A world that now spurns our very existence. You should know that as well as I do. After I launch this weapon and get our billion dollars, we'll be able to bring chaos and honor...back to this world gone soft. Conflict will breed conflict, new hatreds will arise. Then! ...we'll steadily expand our sphere of influence."

"But as long as there are people, there will always be war."

"But the problem... is balance. Father knew what type of a balance was best..."

"Is that the only reason?"

"Isn't it reason enough? For warriors such as us."

"I don't want that kind of world!"

"Ha! You lie! So why are you here then? Why do you continue to follow your orders while your superiors betray you? Why did you come here?"

"......"

"Well... I'll tell you then. You enjoy all the killing, that's why."

"What! ---"

"Are you denying it? Haven't you already killed most of my comrades?"

"That was ---”

"I watched your face when you did it. It was filled with the joy…of battle."

"You're wrong!"

"There's a killer inside you... You don't have to deny it. We were created to be that way."

- Solid & Liquid Snake, atop Metal Gear Rex

In essence, The Metal Gear series lets the Sith mindset bleed into (and from) the player him/herself. Although the backstories diverge in correlation, Solid Snake easily becomes a sole surviving Dark Jedi, an exile tainted with the realization that ‘man just needs to kill’. Across the course of Metal Gear Solid, Solid Snake channels the player’s raw desire for ludic enjoyment and the entire game becomes a fourth wall mess, with Liquid Snake directly speaking to the player in the passage shown above (who was Liquid REALLY talking to when he stated “You enjoy all the killing that’s why.” ?). There’s even the added aesthetic irony of ‘The Terrible Children’ all aging rapidly or physically deteriorating, as it relates to all the Dark Side users’ tendency to physically fall apart as they grow more immersed in their lifestyle. Over the course of Metal Gear Solid, Solid Snake (and the player) is beaten over the head with the notion of being a monster far worse than any of the actual antagonists. The player essentially IS the Dark Side, and Solid Snake is left to narratively combat their interactive will. Obviously however, every single one of the antagonists in the Metal Gear series desired a sort of harmony with the world by participating in or perpetuating a large scale conflict. Metal Gear won out on wooing me when I was young as it was laced with a plethora of interactive irony and ‘profound stupidity’.

Code #2 The Fallen Messiah Complex

As with every narrative tale constantly bathing in its own mythos, both Metal Gear and Star Wars are known widely for their messiah figures. For Star Wars, it’s the impressionable Anakin Skywalker, who ‘fell’ after being confronted with the death of his mother (which also acted as a catalyst for an overwhelming amount of fear towards a vision showing the death of his wife and children). He embraces a lust for power out of fear and in effect shoots himself in the foot by killing his wife and getting his torso chopped to shit. I personally didn’t like how Revenge of the Sith turned out, but respected the general coloring that Anakin was to be a whiny brat whose ‘turn’ was ultimately meant to ascend to the height of the iconic Darth Vader --- out of pure cowardice. In contrast, Big Boss rose to similar heights out of a choice to embrace his feelings over duty; in effect he let the former BECOME the latter.

Metal Gear sees its messiah in the form of John, aka Jack, aka Naked Snake, aka Big Boss. Video games prove their worth here once again, by placing the player in the shoes of a rather humanistic hero, whose experience with the truth of his government having a life-changing effect on him. Not only does Big Boss witness the death of ‘his mother’, he’s forced to kill her himself. In Guns of the Patriots, Big Boss is referenced multiple times as being manipulated as a ‘Christ figure’. Also, throughout the series, he’s constantly perceived as being a savior for hundreds of war orphans and professionals. Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake even features children (a rarity in such games) walking around speaking rather highly of him. Anakin was a prophesized figure who was created by a means of ‘virgin birth’ (manipulated by Darth Plaugeuis). Big Boss ironically shares this relation with him, but in an entirely different respect; his cells were used to intentionally generate the virgin births of at least three children (who all left their own scars on the planet). Even with such things in common though, Star Wars for the most part, remains a strictly ‘good vs evil’ story, while Metal Gear won me over by eliminating the strict moral code of right and wrong (any story I find interest in does that by default by the way). It inundates, corrupts, and humbles the player with ‘the Dark Side’, instead of simply beating them over the head with ‘evil, evil evil’. It should also be added that both messiah men ultimately die under the solitary gaze of their sons, within a short timeframe not consumed by antagonism and strife.

Though to be fair, the EU of Star Wars could play up similar strengths, but like I stated, I’m only drawing matchups between the two series' primary entries.

Yeah, real surprise right? A fanboy declares such things with great force mind you. Big Boss’s rise was far more profound than Darth Vader’s, and although a robed Sith with a red lightsaber is more aesthetically gripping, the bare-chested Brit screaming aboard a mechanical monster holds way more meaning for me.