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Part 6: Liquid Ocelot is Silly

PART 7: Nanomachine Overkill

Of all the complaints about Metal Gear Solid 4's storyline, the one which gets heard the most is "nanomachines". They were used too often to explain too many things. There is no arguing that nanotechnology is used for pretty much everything in the game... but the big question is, "Why?"


Obvious Reasons

Let's be reasonable and look at all the obvious reasons why Kojima would overkill the nanomachine theme, shall we?

(1) It's a logical extension of their use in previous games. I don't know whether Kojima was using nanomachines in the original MSX games, but by Metal Gear Solid we have several characters using them for a wide range of reasons. They monitor and regulate Snake's bodily functions, assist with Codec calls, and are even used to prevent him from using weapons in the nuclear warhead hanger. We must admit, MGS4 is not the first game in the series where nanomachines have played a big part. MGS2 went even further, showing us how they can be used to store and manipulate information; by the end of the game and Raiden doesn't know whether his experiences were even real, and Solidus is bent on extracting data from Raiden's nanomachine network! Talk about importance.

It makes sense that nanomachines would become increasingly utilized by the military and government, and even trickle down to average people — especially when the Patriots' conspiracy to control the population is taken into account. Remember the S3 plan? The Patriots wanted a way to control behavior, and with Raiden's nanomachines playing such a big role, it's no wonder they would use them everywhere.

(2) It's easy. Nanomachines are like magic fairy dust. Once you realize just how very much story can be replaced by a simple drop of the word "nanomachines", it's easy to see why a science-fiction author would rely on it for all those tricky logistical questions. Even if it cheapens the story and causes the audience to roll their eyes, it's no worse than the explanations given by fantasy stories and many other popular series.

(3) "War has changed". Kojima wanted Guns of the Patriots to feel like a particularly shallow dystopia, where everything is "ID tagged" and controlled on a molecular level. To reinforce this, it actually makes sense to use nanomachines to explain everything. What was once accomplished by hard work and skill can now be accomplished by synthetic methods of enhancement.


The Hidden Reasons

It would be foolish to miss the parallel between Kojima's nanomachine-crazy dystopia and his personal opinions on the direction of the series, in my opinion. We know from looking at the Old Snake metaphor that Kojima was implanting his personal feelings into the game, and the most important part of completing the allegory is to create a world that reflects what he sees: superficiality, automation, invisible control, and a general feeling of soullessness. Sequels are being hyped up and pumped out without any real inspiration, while developers are being bought up and merged by profit-driven conglomerates. "War has become routine", much like how game-creation has become routine, you could say. I wouldn't be surprised if the PMCs and their "Outer Heaven" parent company serve as a reflection of companies like Electronic Arts, with their reputation for buying up the competition and then producing soulless installments. Where's the heart?

There's no denying that Kojima is aware of artificiality and the loss of identity. Think about the Les Enfant Terribles project, the genome soldiers, and the S3 Plan... All perfect examples of how Kojima is obsessed with the dangers of duplication and loss of "self". Using something as lame as nanomachines to explain something as controversial and mysterious as Vamp's immortality is a big middle finger to all those fans who couldn't let well enough alone after MGS2, illustrating what happens when you take the soul out of it. "You want an explanation? Here's your explanation: nanomachines. Oh, and that? Yeah, that's nanomachines too. And that one..."

And that's the real shame of the nanomachine overkill. Frankly, I'm glad that Kojima made his feelings as obvious as he did, but of course it's a tragedy to ruin the story to prove a point. Especially since most people won't get it.

Happy now? You got your explanation.


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PART EIGHT: Vamp Becomes Science

"Body of Armor" commercial:

September 3, 2009

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