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Exhibit F: Dead Cell

 

Using a group such Dead Cell as evidence of a virtual reality setting is relatively easy, but only if we put them into the context of the rest of the MGS2. Without context, they simply seem like poorly designed FOXHOUND wannabes, with powers and abilities that are either arbitrary or silly. Certainly this was a common first impression of them; like they could just as easily have been a firebreathing clown or a flying dude with a hammer. But when seen from the light of the rest of the game, it becomes obvious that their powers (or at least their levels of absurdity) were deliberate and important.

There is, of course, a thin layer of science-fiction plausibility to these kinds of powers. Previous games featured characters with supernatural powers, so what makes these three so suspicious?

Raiden: What was that man just now?

Plisken: That blood sucking freak? That was Vamp. He's Romanian, a wizard with knives as you saw.

Raiden: The way he moved -- didn't seem human.

Pliskin: You won't see that in VR, I guarantee.

The first red flag is the fact that Solid Snake (posing as Pliskin) flatly tells you that you won't see something like him in VR. We can assume that Snake only mentions this as a way of illustrating how ineffective VR training is, since he just finished lecturing Raiden on the subject and has years of experience fighting equally bizarre enemies... But unlike Snake's former enemies, what science-fiction excuse are we given for Vamp's powers?

Vamp : I died once already. I cannot die twice.

Vamp : Unfortunately, hell had no vacancies...

These are the best explanations we get: none at all. His immortality, ability to stand on (and swim through) non-bouyant water, go straight up walls, and pin people's shadows to the ground are all mysteries. In the end, we're left to do exactly what Kojima intended: accept the impossible at face value, simply because we want to be in a recreation of Shadow Moses badly enough, just like Raiden.

However, in anticipation of the player's nagging doubts, Raiden says this...

Raiden : Understood... But I need to ask you something before I go.

Colonel: Make it quick.

Raiden: Who are they -- Dead Cell, I mean? They couldn't hit her, no matter how hard they tried... And that vampire too. It's -- it's like... It's like being in a nightmare you can't wake up from.

His concerns are perfectly valid, but as usual, they are immediately sidestepped by "Colonel" and "Rose" rather than being explained in even a small way. And remember that Raiden has already covered all of Snake's missions (or at least Shadow Moses) in VR training! This, at least, suggests that Kojima knew that these characters were particularly far-fetched.

The rest of Dead Cell is just as wacky. It's amazing how little backlash came from their designs, considering that one of them was really just a fat bomb guy on rollerblades. He's a mockery of a villain; a parody at best. Perhaps the suckiness of everything else in the Big Shell lowered player's standards enough for them to swallow it?

Then we have George Bush on the right. Shinkawa's artwork says it all, but for good measure they added the first name "George". Is it a coincidence that this character was included during his the Bush presidency? Only if you believe the opening disclaimer, which was no doubt included simply because of such glaring similarities. Were we really not supposed to find make this connection and find it suspicious?

That leaves us with Fortune, whose unbelievable invulnerability is chalked up to "luck", all the way until Ocelot supposedly dispels the magic. However, soon enough she does the impossible in front of everybody, even after her illogical electromagnetic shield has been turned off, diverting Metal Gear RAY's entire payload of missiles from the group. "She really is Lady Luck," remarks Snake. Really?

What are these characters' common denominator? What do they all share in common? Nothing except a tendancy to shove their silliness in our faces, rather than hiding it; to raise our doubts, rather than allowing us to suspend our disbelief and swallow the fiction. It's the perfect group to illustrate the purpose of Metal Gear Solid 2, which is to challenge us to look beyond what we're shown, and see things for what they really are.

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