The Importance Of Pink, Puppies & Kim Wilde In MGSV

Continuing a diary/review-in-progress of MGSV [official site], from the perspective of someone who hasn’t really played Metal Gear Solid before. There are no plot spoilers in this one.

Metal Gear Solid V is a videogame in which I travel around on a bright pink helicopter which blares Kim Wilde’s Kids In America from a loudspeaker. Then I go home to my bright pink oil rig in the Seychelles and roll around on the floor with a one-eyed puppy for a while, before delivering a savage and unprovoked beating to the men who work for me. They thank me for my cruelty, and demand I hit them harder.

11/10

I spent so many years convinced that Metal Gear Solid was the antithesis of everything I wanted from games, but now I’m certain that it’s everything I want. At any point that the game threatens to take itself too seriously, be it in the militarism of its missions or the uncensored auterism of its cutscenes, it will before too long pour over a mad custard of silliness, or at least the potential for it. It’s not simply surface silliness: it’s silliness that matters. ‘Here, it’s your game, enjoy yourself.’

This is so at odds with the aspect of the game which relentlessly tells me it was made by Hideo Kojima (credits before and after each mission, his name in mile-high letters, held on the screen, which are surely half-pride and half satirising the breathless, unrealistic lionisation the man’s fans apply to him. All these other names in the credits, but those screens flash by at lightning speed) that I begin to doubt every prior assertion about the man’s ego. I’d had him pegged as some sort of idiot savant until MGS V, but now I see the extreme self-awareness at play too. Either that, or he lets his team get away with anything so long as the ‘cinematic’ cutscenes are the intended vision.

So I paint my helicopter pink, and have it blare Kim Wilde as I drop into a Soviet-invaded Middle Eastern warzone. ‘We’re the kids in America, woah-oh.’ Oh God. Cold war kids in America. Cold war on terror kids in America. I thought it was just pop, but I’m making an accidental statement. Back to Bowie next time, I think. I will collect more music as I play, and I’m almost more excited about that than I am ballooning new species of animal up into the night sky.

There are people who will not paint their helicopter pink, I realise. They’ll paint it green or grey, or some dreadful camouflage pattern that they believe makes them look like A Very Important Soldierman. They’ll ignore their PREPOSTEROUSLY CUTE HUSKY PUPPY, or – ugh – they’ll punch it to the floor when it skips up to them with love in their eyes. How could they? Why would they?

Conversely, maybe they won’t tussle with their masochistic, adoring staff; maybe they’ll just bristle with pride when all those fanboyish jarheads salute them while they stride around their drab olive base. You can be Patton if you want, if you really must. Or you can be Pink Boss. Or Yellow Boss Or Purple Boss or Lime Green Boss. Be your own Boss.

Me, I beat those waiting, bug-eyed tropps. And strangle them. And bodyslam them. And kick them when they’re down. It’s what they want. It’s what they love. They are soldiers, and they want a Boss.

The base is mine. The base is me. Saints Row does this to an extreme, with infinitely more options, but that’s so chin-deep in satire that its subversion dissipates. In Metal Gear Solid, to paint my base pink and my helicopter pink, to listen to Kim Wilde is to say “I reject everything Call of Duty says videogames should be. I reject realism. I reject visceral.” It is such a simple tool, to choose the colour, to tweak the logo, to change the music but it matters so much. And the puppy? The puppy tells me that the game’s creators endorse my doing this.

I don’t have to return to Mother Base after every mission, and usually there’s little new to do, but I do go, I must go. What a greeting I get. Kim Wilde, over-excited puppy, a dozen men begging to be wrestled and choked.

How could I ever refuse that, after crawling through the dust and blood in Afghanistan, after all the guns and the hiding, the panic and the fury? This is catharsis. This is how to cope, not how to celebrate military violence.

You, you prick who sets your helicopter music as Ride Of The Valkyries, who struts around a grey deck, who pushes the puppy away, who hasn’t made his armed insurgency group’s logo look like the cover of a glamrock fanzine: what is wrong with you? What the fuck is wrong with you?

73 Comments

  1. Hideous says:

    My helicopter music is set to be I Need a Hero by Bonnie Tyler, because it makes it so much better when I need to call in the helicopter to help me.

    It’s also painted gold. BLING BLING.

    • Ejia says:

      Holding Out for a Hero is appropriate in every videogame situation. But I find in sci-fi/futuristic settings, Frou Frou’s version is better.

    • DigitalSignalX says:

      Long Tall Sally. Couldn’t help it. Neon Blue.

    • Mrice says:

      Tiger stripe and Dance Commander-Electric Six

    • Syra says:

      GOD I WANT THIS GAME SO MUCH BUT MY LAPTOP CANT RUN IT.

      Need to buy a new pc that will ast a few years. Ideas?

    • drygear says:

      Four Tops- Walk Away Renee
      Kanye West- Power
      David Bowie- Heroes

      If I had One Nation Under A Groove on my hard drive it would be on there.

    • kommissarnicko says:

      What about bleak dark gray base, bleak dark gray helicopters, Flight of the Valkyries, and a big red stopsign that says “NAKED EMERGENCY”?

  2. darkath says:

    My emblem in the game is a yellow chick with the codename ULTRA FAT on it.
    As such it’s everywhere on the motherbase.

  3. GallonOfAlan says:

    “You, you prick who sets your helicopter music as Ride Of The Valkyries, who struts around a grey deck, who pushes the puppy away, who hasn’t made his armed insurgency group’s logo look like the cover of a glamrock fanzine: what is wrong with you? What the fuck is wrong with you?”

    Me serious beige manshooter manchild.

    • aleander says:

      But when I tried to make my logo purple it ended up looking like an american football team logo :[

      Lime sounds like a good idea, though.

  4. SuicideKing says:

    DAWWWW THAT PUPPPYYYY!

    Careful about how much virtual human blood that puppy tastes, though.

  5. Wowbagger says:

    This all made me want to play so much of this game, I haven’t had time passed the prologue so far due to other constraints (work + child).

  6. Tackyion says:

    [Stand in for a like button]

    “…who hasn’t made his armed insurgency group’s logo look like the cover of a glamrock fanzine: what is wrong with you? What the fuck is wrong with you?”

    This article/series makes me very happy.

  7. FreudianSlippers says:

    Can I just say, this article is accurate, hilarious, well-written, and just amazingly entertaining. I would say that this game may have been made just for you Alec, if I didn’t know that it was made for us all.

  8. Scelous says:

    I made my helicopter black/grey, my base grey, and I made my emblem a grim military symbol.

    I prefer to minimize the wackiness in my games.

    • Dogsbody says:

      i believe you are playing the wrong series entirely then.

      • no_username_available says:

        Because you know how this game should be played …

        • Mrice says:

          Nah, he’s just saying that metal gear IS a wacky series so maybe if that aint yah thing then the game aint yah thing.

    • Stomphoof says:

      You know there was a dude made of Fire right….who summoned a giant whale made of fire and then rode a horse made of fire which you then ran from shooting it with a shotgun?

      Yea….this is a serious game :P

      And I have never played a MGS game before now.

  9. colw00t says:

    I tried to pet the puppy last night and accidentally kicked it and oh my god I felt like such a monster. Then the puppy got up and still loved me. But it lay there, still, for a really long time.

    • colw00t says:

      also, throwing a magazine near the puppy DOES NOT RESULT in the puppy playing fetch

      3/10

    • Andrew says:

      Where do you find the puppy on mother Base? I’ve scoured high and low and so far he only turns up in cut scenes.

      • Deadly Sinner says:

        He should be on the command deck near the helipad if you have Fultoned him already. At least, that’s where he is on my base?

    • Fry says:

      The absence of a “pick up the puppy” research unlock is a tragic omission.

  10. Synesthesia says:

    “but now I see the extreme self-awareness at play too.”

    That’s it, you need to play MGS3.

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      This!

      I feel like, from what I’ve put together from your articles, there will be bits of MGS3 that irritate you. On the whole a lot of the gameplay (and pacing) improvements that have come since are really big deals. BUT I definitely think you need to experience it. I’d call it a high point of the series in both seriousness and silliness, were it not for MGSV.

    • drygear says:

      If you do actually play MGS:3, don’t let the beginning put you off too much. The first few hours are very exposition heavy and more serious than the rest of the game. Eventually it gets awesome and rivals the best action movies.

  11. MrUnimport says:

    Yes, yes, how very grown-up of you. My helicopter is green, therefore I must support the firebombing of civilians in conflict zones around the world, right? The sneering superiority of the previous diary entries finally reaches full blossom with this installment. The author’s avowed ignorance of the franchise is made clear by their implication that Metal Gear Solid is only subversive with pink helicopters, that it’s somehow the player’s job to push back against a prevailing narrative when that narrative has been making pointed jabs at the American establishment for the past decade. Yes, even while playing Very Important Soldierman in Grey, even before pink helicopters were a thing. So MGS is going to do its thing, regardless of whether you’re wearing the camo or the leopard-print jammies, and it’s the height of snobbery to suggest you’re missing out by picking one of these options over the other.

    • colw00t says:

      Boy that shrapnel really embedded itself in the humor section of your forehead

      • MrUnimport says:

        Humour frequently has a point, and in this case it seems to be an attempt to ‘save’ MGS from the accusations of military fetishism which are entirely, and not unfortunately, accurate. That sort of tactical wankery is as much a part of the Metal Gear DNA as the poop jokes and the Japanese quasi-pacifism that offsets it and makes it palatable is.

    • BatmanBaggins says:

      Pretty much. MGS has been rejecting “everything Call of Duty says videogames should be” way before it ever let you color a helicopter pink. The author’s ignorance of the rest of the series was admitted up front, but, still.

    • Scelous says:

      I agree with you wholeheartedly, but I wasn’t in the mood to make such a confrontational post.

    • Minglefingler says:

      I also agree, I’m heartily sick of whimsy and my intense solipsism doesn’t allow me to see this article as anything other than a direct assault on my personage. I have therefore taken umbrage.

      • ResonanceCascade says:

        I take umbrage with Alec’s assumption that playing Flight of the Valkyries out of the helicopter speakers is not just as funny as playing 80’s pop tunes.

        • Minglefingler says:

          If the person doing it is wearing military fatigues and insists on being called Kilgore then it’s not. I’ve was once on voice with a workmate for a bit of COD co-op, he insisted on straightfacedly saying things like “eyes on” and “check your six.” Quite right to take the piss out of that sort of thing.

          • ResonanceCascade says:

            If that person is doing it, it adds a 10x hilarity multiplier.

          • Universal Quitter says:

            A few years in uniform have made it hard to NOT say ridiculous shit like that in, say, a DayZ or ArmA. It’s a mindless impulse.

            But now I’m going to be very self-conscious about it. You’ve completely ruined my life and my self-image.

          • Minglefingler says:

            I do apologise if you find yourself on a downward spiral thanks to my reckless commenting. Rest assured, the man I referenced above hasn’t been in a uniform since he dressed up as Angus Young for a school dance and has also been known to say things like “I saw a load of our guys running behind a tank and I thought ‘this is what real war is like.'” This was, of course in reference to Battlefield: Bad Company 2. So really, a buffoon and not even the genial kind.

    • hungrycookpot says:

      While the author is clearly trying for humor here and not being serious, it’s weird that there are so many articles where the author makes a big deal about never having played any other games in the series, or how terrible they are at playing the game.

      • Minglefingler says:

        Not really, it’s written from the perspective of someone who hasn’t played MGS before which makes sense given the series’s longevity and infrequent appearances on PC.

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      I’m pretty sure nobody implied anywhere that “MGS is only subversive with pink helicopters”. This reads to me like someone gradually realizing just how deep all that actually runs. In fact, I’m not sure how it could read any other way.

      It’s more a case of, to me at least, “you really should be embracing that side of the game if you’re playing it. If you want an ultra serious military shooter/stealth game why the hell did you play this one?” and definitely not “if you paint your helicopter grey you are an incurable asshole”.

      I feel like maybe someone else’s self-awareness is a bit lacking.

    • GWOP says:

      Or maybe, just maybe, he meant that the game itself was subversive itself, and you should enjoy all its means to subversion to the fullest?

    • Neravine says:

      You take yourself, and this game, especially this game, far to seriously.

  12. Easy says:

    Alec, I like you! Always have, always will.

  13. Perry Noid says:

    Got my chopper music set to Contact in Red Square by Blondie and my logo is a yellow octopus with “Whiskey Tango” or “WT” which stands for “What the?”
    It wouldn’t let me add a third word, I would have chosen “Foxtrot”

  14. CookPassBabtridge says:

    I’ve worked on oil platforms and most of that is accurate. Well, at least it really does look like that when you come in on a chopper. Closest I have seen to pink is high vis orange though and the chopper pilots normally just chat about weather and arrival time. There is significantly less Kim Wilde and a lot more silently trying to remember your emergency training and forget that episode of Air Crash Investigation whilst trying to look manly in a very tight bright yellow survival suit and the enormously fat scaffolder next to squashes you against the fuselage.

    • MrUnimport says:

      But you were regularly pulverized by your grizzledly handsome cigar-smoking employer, right? Because an oil rig without beatings doesn’t sound like an oil rig I want to be on.

      • CookPassBabtridge says:

        I once tripped through a bulkhead door and wrecked all the gristle in my ankle, if that’s close enough? I think maybe someone shouted at me. That’s sort of the same thing :D

  15. eggy toast says:

    All those screen shots look horrible, to me. The puppy looks so boxy and poorly textured, and the heading one looks like a bad lazy photoshop collage.

    • Smashbox says:

      I was wondering if maybe this was being played on low settings? The top pic is really bad.

    • Toupee says:

      The focus in this game has a very narrow depth of field, it looks like Ocelot is in focus and Snake isn’t. Exacerbated by some not-good image compression. MGS5 looks amazing in action.

    • Enso says:

      I keep taking screenshots with steam, set to uncompressed, and they come out looking dogshite.

    • OmNomNom says:

      Yeah the DOF in this is not good unfortunately and there seems to be a lack of tessellation

  16. Premium User Badge

    teije says:

    I really hope that “Intimidate the enemy into marking other nearby enemies” means that, once properly intimidated by my alpha dominance, they go over to their former pals, lift their leg and shakingly pee on them.

  17. thekelvingreen says:

    “I reject everything Call of Duty says videogames should be.”

    Sold.

    (Well, I was convinced when I saw the video with the transforming robot/bike rocket-punching everyone, but consider me double convinced now.)

  18. MaverickZer0 says:

    Having a helicopter roar over the Afghan mountains blaring ‘Cotton Eyed Joe’ whilst gunning down soviet soldiers was one of the best experiences i’ve every had in a game….

  19. Barchester says:

    This will from now on be my to-go-to article whenever someone doesn’t believe me when I say that MGS is awesome. Well done, sir. And yes, pink is a better option than black. I’ll make amends tonight.

  20. OmNomNom says:

    I am enjoying the game so far although I’m not too keen on a few things.

    The silliness is mostly a welcome change and is generally not too overdone. I usually enjoy making myself look retarded in the most serious games.

    The graphics are decent on the whole although it can look quite last-gen in places. Characters mostly look good although some of the effects and environments over utilise low quality textures and 2d polygons.

    The prologue is long and tedious with the immersion breaking buddy who tells you useful tidbits like ‘to aim hold your aim button’ and baddies who apparently cant see you in cutscenes when you are inches from their faces.

    Controls are pretty good for a console port, not stellar but definitely better than most.

    FOV is awful. 60fps lock is unforgivable. Built in AA (if there is any) is not great.

    The story is good but often disjointed leaving you to fill in the gaps yourself. Gas mask lady looks stupid.

    I am really enjoying it, i just feel it’s worth mentioning some weak points instead of hopping on the 10/10 bandwagon.
    For the most part imo it is Far Cry 5. 8/10

  21. Marclev says:

    So, anybody know where you can get this game from for a reasonable price? Everything I’m reading and hearing about it looks good, but I’ll be damned if I ever spend £45(!) on a PC game.

    • CookPassBabtridge says:

      Agreed. I was looking at UK prices for AAA releases from 2012, and the average price was £30. I remember thinking “I am gonna wait until that’s half price (£15)”. An outlier that year was Far Cry 3, but … Ubisoft. Now £40 plus is the normal cost for AAA. You won;t get any sympathy from other countries though as it looks like the UK has been brought up to the same “number” as the US, despite neither the exchange rate nor inflation supporting that. Maybe games got more expensive to produce, or maybe its just more of “the market will bear it” thinking, but I am the same as you. A 50% increase in price is outside what I am willing to pay, but thankfully, waiting only brings positives: Bug fixes, GOTY’s, walkthroughs if you get stuck, performance improvements and of course, price drops. Unless you are a massive, massive fan of the series there is no real reason to buy day one at such a price.

    • hungrycookpot says:

      On kijiji or your local classified website, when someone is finished with it. This is a hugely popular series, you’re not going to find it for less than market price for some months at the least.

      • CookPassBabtridge says:

        Thanks Mr Cookpot, looks like one for the future then. Reviews all sound great so its definitely on the list.

        Also I feel an affinity with you because we share 5 letters in our names and I always bump into you when I control F my comments in multi-hundred entry comment threads. In this day of fractured internet relations that is basically tantamount to some kind of brotherhood. Cheers * raises glass *

  22. kabic says:

    Erm, just to poke you in the eye.. it’s not Bowie singing his the Man Who Sold The World.. it’s 80’s Midge Ure covering it :D

  23. Curly Brace says:

    I am amused at the notion of anyone whose Helicopter music is Ride of the Valkyries taking themselves even remotely seriously.

  24. mpOzelot says:

    Guy with the olive drab helicopter here.

    I’m glad to hear you have finally converted to mgs Alec, and accepted Kojima as the true profet, you should now play all the previous titles of the series with your newly opened eyes, while crouched in a cardboard box of course.

    Let me tell you why my helicopter will be in a boring color and there will be no music while traveling on it.
    Before the cash cows of the various modern warfare and battlefield desensibilized us toward war themes, the game industry was genuinely attempting to portray the horror of war and its impact on society. MGS is very much a child of that ideal, it wants to be taken seriously. The struggle of trying to convey the social impact of war, while keeping the marketing and mainstream fandom happy is almost tangible in the latest installments of the series(then again, which half decent game doesn’t have this problem).
    MGS has a medietas of its own you see, realism and broken characters on one side, cardboard boxses and shit jokes on the other, the horror of war next to the mundaneity and sometimes silliness of every day life; it is a story of characters irreversibly touched by war, unable to escape their nature of soldiers, no matter how many puppies they play with or black hawks they paint pink.

    MGS is very much like a well composed song, with an intense and serious melody punctuated by silliness, too much of one or the other and you might miss the bigger picture.

  25. bitscreed says:

    My helicopter is grey. My base is grey. My Boss’ attire of choice is a black leathery stealth suit. My grey emblem resembles the flag of a crypto-fascist regime in a cheap sci-fi miniseries. My guns are plain, unadorned grey tools for killing faceless strangers in foreign lands.

    My helicopter music is “Smalltown Boy” by Bronski beat.

  26. Stomphoof says:

    My base and chopper are bright Orange. I WANT them to see me coming…so they know death comes.

    Shhhhhh sleep now Russians..only dreams….