Tag Archives: playstation

Metal Gear Solid (1998)

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Before we discuss Metal Gear Solid, we have to talk about why Showgirls is actually a good movie.

When most people watch films, they are not first and foremost watching for technical craftsmanship. This is not meant as a slight, because it’d be a pretty bonkers world if they did, one that would completely undermine film’s century-long history as a populist medium. So, I think it’s safe to say — with no snideness intended — that most people watch films for stories, for relatable characters, for themes they can extrapolate onto their own lives for their own benefit and self-fulfillment. These are the elements we as human beings have deemed the very basics of “good” art and storytelling, the simplest building blocks that explain why applying our empathy to something abstract and stripped-down like the plot of a film is a vital and life-affirming experience. These are also the elements which Showgirls fails to communicate, and why most people reject it upon first encounter. Showgirls is a movie about shallow, stupid people doing shallow, stupid things, and unlike something like Seinfeld — where the characters’ awfulness is always winking at you, and the winking and relatability are the whole point — director Paul Verhoeven has all the sympathy for his creations as the blinding sun harassing hungover strip club denizens at dawn.

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Shadow of the Colossus (2005)

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 A deserving masterpiece is at once subversive and straightforward, a fable about not always trusting fables.

Shadow of the Colossus is, at least in part, the story of a man’s hubris flying in the face of natural order. I take this to heart while writing this, because talking about any other “important” videogame before it feels like going against the grain just for the sake of it. How can you discuss this medium without first tackling the game that explicitly asks what’s so damn appealing about killing things in an expensive-looking simulator? And yet, I fear that by writing about Shadow of the Colossus too early, I’ll have nowhere to go but down.

For a game laced with both heady and popular influences (let’s get Moby-Dick, Miyazaki, the loneliest bits of Zelda, and the Troy McClure classic David Versus Super-Goliath out of the way), Shadow of the Colossus never feels like mere pop-culture amalgamation or a round of post-modern spot-the-references. It’s almost suspiciously pure, so stripped-down in storytelling and aesthetic that it feels more likely to have sprung from Greek myth or Bible stories than the powerful processors of a mid-aughts Sony Entertainment. Amazingly, the game maintains the familiarly repetitive, objective-based structure of most action-adventure titles, but not once alters course or complicates it with new elements; hell, even Ico had you improve your weapon a few times. If there’s one Fumito Ueda lesson I’m glad to see rippling through the industry, it’s that words like “complication,” “backstory,” and “length” are not at all synonymous with “depth” or “feeling.” Continue reading

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