My cousin with his KA-BAR.
My brother unarmed.
I carry my AK-47 bayonet.
Too many snakes. Too many vicious dogs in the Lebanon wild.
I want to see the valley at the end of the village.
Nothing else to do.
We wake up early. We start down.
My cousin warns us it will be difficult.
From the top it seems straightforward. I don’t believe him.
But the descent is slow.
The mountain is cold and sharp.
Every plant full of thorns. Miniature sheer rock formations and crevices. Snakes.
Hours pass. The sun blooms. We are oceans of sweat.
We make it.
We clamber into the riverbed.
We catch our breath.
A snaking path of baked white stone ahead of us.
The heat is heavy. Wet.
We press on.
In the cold seasons the valley fills with water.
There is a small, elegant waterfall that forms.
I look up at where it would be.
We press on. There is no way back.
We emerge at the dump.
We wait for the other cousin to pick us up.
We watch the trash fires burn.
Dogs hang around the garbage and rummage for food.
My cousin throws rocks at them.
He swears at them in Arabic:
“Fucking dogs. . .”
Car shows up late.
We pile in.
We smell awful. We look worse.
I get home. Shower.
I set the bayonet on the dresser near my bed.
I close all the shutters.
I lay down in complete darkness.
I dream exhausted.
I dream of nothing.
Metal Gear Solid V is a solemn game.
It is a zealous interpretation of an empty dream.
It is quiet. It is expansive.
It is sad.
Older MGS titles have a flickering joy in them. Opportunities for empathy.
MGSV is a mountain wrapped in thorns and Snake is its cavernous will.
Everyone is sad. Everyone is angry. The world is a wake.
There is no banter. There is no talk of anything other than the destruction of the enemy.
This is a game of broken, fearful men.
This is the first Metal Gear to take on the open world.
And it is the most compelling open world offered today.
In its expansiveness Kojima maintains the allure of the small things.
Nothing is drowned out. Nothing is diluted.
Everything can be Fultoned.
A global arcade:
An open world that funnels the player towards interaction.
It pushes the player to design action.
It is light and suggestive.
Earlier, Witcher 3 releases on console.
It is beautiful, but muted and broken.
Its immersion suffers from the technical.
Swamps. Running. Rain.
All kill the speed of the game.
The world falls apart too often. It is painful.
It dissolves into abandonment.
MGSV is slick.
A 240 FPS Punch and Judy show injected into the spine.
A living diorama of a one-armed man weeping into the desert while listening to tapes of bathroom noises.
A liquid palace built on honey and salt.
There is a base in the middle of the ocean.
There is a mute sniper living on that base.
I walk into her cell.
She is laying down on her bed. She is topless.
She sighs. Nothing happens.
‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ plays through the speaker.
The sun begins to set. I go outside. I stare across the ocean.
I want to sit down. I can’t.
I crawl to the edge of the helipad.
One of my soldiers salutes me.
He thanks me for saving animals from the battlefield.
I roll over and shoot a tranquilizer dart into his face.
I call in the helicopter. I watch it come in.
A Kotobukiya kit made virtual: The fruits of an ironic feedback loop celebrating the symbolic utility of military hardware.
I get in. Mother Base recedes.
I thumb through available missions.
I need to kidnap more men. I need more technicians.
I need to build a rocket launcher.
All I get is cardboard.
I land somewhere in Afghanistan. Night.
I pet my dog. I Fulton sheep.
There is a Soviet checkpoint ahead.
I send my dog to attack two of the soldiers.
When he’s done, I put both to sleep.
I crawl up to them. I judge their abilities.
Only one of them is worth kidnapping. I send him off.
I climb into the guard tower. I throw the soldier out.
I climb down. I scan him with my binoculars.
I zoom in on his crotch. He is not worth it.
I steal their tapes and fuel supplies.
A truck nears. I hide in the portable toilet.
I watch it go by. I get out.
I follow the road. I pet the dog again.
I lay down by the roadside.
I listen to the flies buzzing around my head.
I forgot to shower.
I turn around. I look back at the checkpoint:
Quiet. Empty. A spotlight turned to the sky.
I turn around. Black. Crickets. I push on.
I continue my slide into this magical wasteland.
Full of jokes.
Covered in blood.
Riddled with holes.