Metal Gear M---er July! | Beauty & Destruction

"Keep trying boy!"

Well I was gonna just go ahead and post one of the half-finished revisits I haven't bothered looking at for the past few years, but I decided against that as I saw a lovely opportunity to annoy myself this time. With the Legacy collection[1] coming out next week (which is the first 'collection' they've released actually worth a damn), I thought it might be fun to leisurely make my way through the series again.

In short, I'm going to focus on Metal Gear Rising: Revengence and more importantly, the positives I find in the game relative to the Solid series proper. I found the thoughts interesting considering how sour the overall package left me feeling.

Today's topic? One of my favorite characters in the game, Mistral[2].

The Winds of Destruction (Revengeance's boss squad) were one of the better things about the game, but the first member you encounter is unique for a number of reasons. Let's go ahead and get the obvious one out the way first.

She's black.

More specifically, she's half-Algerian, half-French. This sets her apart from a character such as Fortune who was more or less strictly an African-American antagonist in the 2nd Solid game. Obviously, her child-soldier backstory is going to center around her African heritage (something she shares with Raiden).

Other than Sniper Wolf[3] in the first Metal Gear Solid she's the only female squad antagonist who's overtly sexualized (yes, I'm completely ignoring Beauty & Beast corps. for a number of good reasons). Pandering ass shots and bouncing breasts aside, she does have a sort of Bayonetta-like ownership over how she presents herself. She also shares her world view in relation to Wolf in how she approaches her killing, going through the joy of taking lives until some figure comes along and gives her even more focus and purpose in conflict. Both have noted accents that feed back into how they present to the player (most likely only present to heighten the sexuality leaking off both of them), and both women use long range weaponry to fight as well. Granted Mistral's L'Etranger polearm is just a melee weapon by comparison to Wolf's PSG1, it's also probably the most distanced weapon in Revengeance outside of the mostly useless firearms. 

Where Mistral deviates rather drastically from Wolf is in how much style she's given to masquerade as personality (or vice versa if you're willing to buy it). Counting the Bladewolf DLC, she's actually shown to be a lot colder and more vicious character than she is in the base game. Sniper Wolf came off as more of a melancholy killer with a code, whereas Mistral is cold, manipulative, and far more susceptible to flat out bloodlust (almost literally).

There's another thing about the Winds of Destruction encounters I really enjoyed, and it's something I particularly found most effective in Mistral's fight: the music. All of the boss battle music in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance use procedurally generated (layered) music. This is music that increasingly adds elements of its total composition over the course of a sequence. It's something I rarely see in games but I always appreciate it when it happens, especially in what are meant to be climatic fights. Until Revengeance it had only occurred in the Metal Gear Solid series once (i.e. The final battle of Snake Eater) In Mistral's fight specifically though, the vocals to the track do not kick in until the last third of the battle. Her hair has become slightly disheveled and her technique becomes more chaotic[4]. For a Platinum game, this is excellent because regardless of whether or not it's 'a good Metal Gear game', regardless of whether or not one even likes the damn music, it really does add to the intensity of the fight.

Her design although inherently sexualized is still interesting nonetheless, which seems to take some notes from the somewhat popularized Bodhisattva depiction of Cundi[5]. Mistral's initial change from this makes her even more intimidating than she initially presents as. Already a tall and imposing woman (about 6'3) she wears a large shell on her back which is revealed to be the carrier for the multiple arms she attaches to herself in an almost orgasmic fashion.  If we take Cundi correlation one step further and consider the sense of enlightenment that figure is mean to convey, Mistral's somewhat sensual stance on fighting is a bit more interesting to look at. The lyrics that are specifically highlighted in the final sequence of the fight with her play into this as well:

I’ve finally found what I was looking for

A place where I can be without remorse

Because I am a stranger who has found

An even stranger war

I’ve finally found what I was looking for

Here I come

La chaleur me dérange

Mais c’est le grincement du bateau qui m’a réveillé

I sharpen the knife

And look down upon the bay

For all of my life

A stranger I remain

I’ve come here from nowhere

Across the unforgiving sea

Drifting further and further

It’s all becoming clear to me 

But violent winds are upon us and I can’t sleep

Internal temperatures rising

And all the voices won’t recede[6]

The most recent DLC released for the game paired her narratively with Blade Wolf, another neat presence in the game. Serving as Blade Wolf's commanding officer, Mistral seemed amused in abusively manipulating the growth of Blade Wolf's sentience as an A.I.. The entire DLC in fact is implied to be somewhat of a ruse crafted by her to drive Blade Wolf into murdering one of Mistral's own squadmates, Khamsin. After this point, she cruelly reveals herself to have been following Blade Wolf and showing the freedom meant to serve as his driving theme as an outright lie she dangled in front of him like a carrot. The DLC then ends on that note with her laughing at him and the player (while shocking his restraints), which is fairly dark compared to the rest of the game[7].

The only thing I really didn't like about Mistral is the strong implication that she loved Steven Armstrong, who I think is the worst aspect in the game plotwise. It is only implied and never stated explicitly which is its only saving grace.

Metal Gear has no lack of female antagonists, but Mistral is the closest I've seen the series come to an actual villain, which I think is pretty cool. She's a force of nature rather than a pathos obstacle which Raiden and the Snakes are typically faced with.

  1. Metal Gear Solid: The Legacy Collection [Link]
  2. Mistral - The Metal Gear Wiki [Link]
  3. Sniper Wolf - The Metal Gear Wiki [Link]
  4. You may have to watch the entire video to get the full effect, but this is the moment I'm referring to: [Link]
  5. Cundi (Buddhism) - Wikipedia: [Link]
  6. 'A Stranger I Remain' [Link]
  7. Final cutscene of the Bladewolf DLC [Link]

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