Trigger warnings: Extreme , Sexual Violence, Child Abuse.
oh and spoiler warnings but the trigger warnings are the important thing here.
I wanted to share some of my thoughts on Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, but did not want to throw something with possible triggers on twitter. So I've decided to use this. These are all just thoughts on the game with no real anchor just having beaten it I feel like I want to talk about it but can't because everyone is still playing through it.
The first thing that really stood out to me about the game was the amount of sexual violence between this and Ground Zeroes. The fact that Paz was repeatedly raped and on one occasion Skullface forces Chico to watch and gives him this bizarre sex lesson that I expect a serial killer like Ted Bundy or Gary Leon Ridgeway. Both of them had a severe hatred of women, to the point that Ridgeway didn't even believe the sex workers he killed were even people. The fact that this exists and is sorta swept under the rug is terrifying, either we talk about it or we don't. Putting it in a hidden corner of the game treats it like a reward, and then going into the Phantom Pain and seeing everything that happens to Quiet made things even worse.
There's a point in the game where Quiet speaks Diné Bizaad (Navajo) to Code Talker. In a lot of ways Code talker and Quiet are similar in that they both are able to use photosynthesis, don't breathe, y'know "Parasites Son". The thing is, Quiet is naked all the damn time and Code Talker isn't. Granted, Code Talker looks like a lighter skinned version of my grandpa, and I DON'T want to see my grandpa naked, it makes the reasoning behind quiet being naked really flimsy. Still I liked her because I saw all of her struggles coming in the story and she was great to use in game, although the only unique playable-ish woman is grouped with a dog and a horse you can order to poop is not great treatment we'll get back to that.
Quiet speaks Diné Bizaad, I'm ecstatic because my favorite character thus far may actually be *gasp* a native woman! OH MY GOD A POSSIBLY NATIVE WOMAN IN A AAA RELEASE OH SHIT...then someone tries to rape her. Now I know she could have just learned the language as some Deus-Ex Machina so she wouldn't have to speak English but I wanted to believe. even so, once I saw the Russian soldiers chasing her down I erased the thought from my mind because I've seen enough "NDN" women raped and I just can't do it mentally. I just skipped the scene and found myself with a rocket launcher, whatever.
Despite being in Africa there's no black "good guy" that actually talks to you. I feel like SIGINT (Who later becomes an enemy anyway) is the only one. How hard is it to say "Hey here is this specialist on African affairs"? The game treats most black people almost as bad as it treats women (I say almost because seriously shoving a bomb into Paz's vagina is a pretty sick piece of writing) and like most of the playable women the playable black characters are recruited and have very little personality.
On a mechanics side, I hate that so many of these open world games are made to reduce narrative dissonance by making sure the "endgame" where the player can sandbox actually exists in the narrative. It ends up forcing the ending into something very anticlimactic. Just give me a real ending, show me Big Boss siting at his desk and sending new recruit solid snake to Outer Heaven. Cut 20 years into the future and actually cement that this giant organization that Venom boss has built has somehow crumbled or become Outer Heaven and he created FOXHOUND because it was his plan. Give me a real ending.
See the problem with Peace Walker, Portable Ops and now Phantom Pain is that they each rely on "the next game" to tell a part of the story. Thing is this was supposed to be "the last game" so you needed to clear up some of the confusion between this and Metal Gear 1. The thing is, Boss and Venom boss built some serious shit that can't just be written off.
At the end of MGS3, you know it's big boss, you know he's pissed and you know eventually he will be "The bad guy" you can fill that in between MGS3 and MG1 because there's nothing huge staring you in the face. Militares Sans Frontiers is a huge deal. Big Boss and Kazuhira Miller had an entire army at their disposal, complete with a base. They had nuclear capabilities, they had a damn Metal Gear. So you go ahead and destroy that, well cool, but now you build up Diamond dogs to be the same thing.
Maybe Diamond Dogs becomes outer heaven and they move to South Africa, well that is a pretty big move. That is something worth talking about. Also I remember reading in game informer or something that the base in phantom pain would be outer heaven but as far as I remember Outer heaven was in a desert and mother base in V is in the damn ocean.
Aside from that I really liked the openness of the game to just do solve problems however you want. I wish there were more indoor sections, I wish there was some keycard, gas mask, environmental puzzle type stuff to deal with but hey maybe in dlc. I actually would love to see more Metal Gear games, heck even maybe a remake of Metal Gear 1 and 2 in some form to sorta tie the family together, we'll see how all this plays out with the Kojima situation but hey a person can dream.
The main thing is I wish games could deal with some of these subjects just a bit more. Everyone is talking about Quiet's bikini when we should be talking about how disturbingly bad the entire game treats ethnic minorities. It's almost like a venom in it's own way, we want to like it and have fun but are inundated with pieces of media that are problematic and could act to poison the perception of people who don't know any better. It isn't a matter of should we talk about sexual assault, child soldiers, ethnic cleansing etc, but the way it is presented and the content itself is important. Think of an upper-class white cis-man who was raised in comfort and privilege and one day saw Roots and decided he wanted to help people. Bless him, his heart would be in the right place, but he has no real experiences with the things he may be fighting against. In a lot of ways this is what the Phantom Pain's "lessons" come off as to me.
So there I wrote a hot take, eat up, it's tasty.