In his final column, Mr. Kojima reveals the movie series that was most influential in the conception and substantial core of Metal Gear Solid. This article was exclusively written for Official PlayStation 2 Magazine by Mr. Hideo Kojima.
In this column I have talked about movies that have influenced MGS. This happens to be the seventh round. Round One was about The Great Escape, which created the opportunity to come up with 'stealth' game play. Round Two was on The Guns Of Navarone, which had a plot based on infiltration, destruction, and escape. Round Three was about Escape From New York, which influenced the main character, Solid Snake. Round Four was North By Northwest, on the direction of tension and suspense. Round Five dealt with Planet Of The Apes and its anti-nuke and anti-war message. Round Six was about Dawn Of The Dead and how it uses a closed area as the setting. There is no doubt that all these films served as nutrients for the human being Hideo Kojima and became the flesh and blood of MGS. However, I have not yet talked about the film that became the skeleton of MGS. I'm sure MGS fans know that what I'm talking about, finally, is 007. There is no way I can choose one film. Therefore, I would like to cover the 007 series as a whole.
The 007 series is what influenced me the most regarding the birth of MGS. The nucleus of the idea of MGS - a secret mission on which hangs the fate of the world, spy-versus-spy, and espionage action - is all there in 007. Were it not for 007 films, modern action films would not be as they are. And without 007, there would have been no MGS. Moreover, the video game industry would not be the same. This, I can say for sure. 007 was synonymous with action films during my childhood. And James Bond was every man's idol and hero.
Guns, booze, cars, women, wicked villains, secret weapons, life-risking stunts, never-before-seen visuals, a dash of world affairs, world landmarks, high-tech gadgets, British humour, memorable music, a cool opening and love scenes too sexy for children - this was truly the realization of male dreams. How could a boy or man not respond to this series! I was no exception. I grew up watching Bond films. There were always bed scenes and violence. The films were not necessarily the best from an educational standpoint, but I still ended up watching them with my entire family. When I was small, I did blush watching the kisses. Even my father who was a movie freak seemed uncomfortable. Regardless of this, the films were fun indeed.
Bond films have always been cool, sexy and funny. They might not have been films for kids, but they destroyed the fake ethics that society and school forced upon us. James Bond was our teacher. He taught us how cruel the real world is, and he also taught us about Martinis, Dom Perignon and Blackjack. I learned about how to seduce women. The films were my textbook of fashion and style. My knowledge on cars, watches and bags increased. A man of any generation, age, or nationality will be turned on by 007. The films have always been and will always be top-notch entertainment, loaded with male-mesmerizing essences.
Bond films were extremely popular during my childhood. New films came out every Christmas, and it was a feast. The hype could be compared with the Lord Of The Rings and Harry Potter now. Before they came out, there was always ninety-minute TV special that showed previews of the newest film and also reviewed the old ones. Thanks to these shows, those of my generation who never saw the films in their entirety know what the films were about. It is unfortunate that I cannot tell people how much hype there was back in those days. The third film, Goldfinger, became a major hit, and the series reached its first climax with Thunderball. After this, due to factors such as the change of star, the series' popularity decreased a bit. Then it made a comeback with the tenth film, The Spy Who Loved Me. The second climax was with Moonraker. But with the emergence of new-wave film series such as Star Wars and Indiana Jones, and more realistic action film series such as Die Hard, the popularity of the 007 series decreased gradually. In the 80s came sci-fi and horror films that led to the fading away of the Bond series. I myself missed Octopussy and License To Kill (I plan to watch them on DVD). The time when these films came out was when people said, "007 films are out of style" and "Where can you find a spy in a tuxedo with a Walther PPK?!" Unfortunately, no Bond fan could fight such voices. In a way, the 007 style was outdated.
The first Metal Gear was born in 1987. Even then, using a spy in a tuxedo in a game was not an easy thing to do. That's why I turned the spy into a special forces member and gave him heavy firearms and equipment, and a more realistic world. Back then I had read a lot of adventure novels and had some knowledge on special forces, artillery, weapons, and world affairs. I could come up with a game plan very quickly, and enjoyed the process. Although I 'updated' the setting, what I wanted to do with MGS was 007. Special forces unit members work in teams. They never go on solo missions, and the military will never try pursuing a solo mission. I was aware of that, but I insisted on a solo mission. Yes, it worked better that way as a game - but what influenced me the most to make this decision was 007. It was James Bond who always saved the world. It had to be one person (the player) to save the world. In order to have a special forces unit pursue a solo mission, I introduced the element of stealth mission. I call such missions 'sneaking missions' in MGS. A ghost unit that does the job but never leaves a trace - FOXHOUND. This is how MGS - a game about an agent who goes on a solo infiltration mission - was born.
My favourite Bond films are From Russia With Love, Goldfinger and Thunderball. They all turn out to be films from the first Bond boom with Sean Connery as James Bond. You Only Live Twice is another favourite of mine. I cannot forget the large-scale action towards the end in the secret base. The most memorable film turns out to be Thunderball, in which Connery wears a very bright orange diving suit. I am certainly a From Russia With Love fan, just like most Bond freaks. However, this film reminds me too much of Hitchcock's North By Northwest. The reason why this one is popular is probably because of the romanticism flowing throughout the film, unseen in other Bond films. From the second Bond boom I would like to choose Moonraker and The Spy Who Loved Me. The tenth film, The Spy Who Loved Me, was a highlight film of elements and scenes from all previous Bond movies. Those who have never experienced a Bond film (I don't think there are too many of them) might want to start with this one.
Another film one must not forget is On Her Majesty's Secret Service, starring George Lazenby as Bond. It is a great film, although not all Bond freaks will agree. I personally like Timothy Dalton's first film as Bond in The Living Daylights. Today's Bond films are of the Goldfinger style. They consist of consecutive action and a lot of humour. They have nothing to offer intellectually, but they are very enjoyable. The tastes of Live And Let Die and The Man With the Golden Gun - both Roger Moore Bond films - are still present in today's Bonds. Sequences thrown in just for certain stunt scenes, weddings and parades inserted in chase scenes, laughs at parties and so on make the films appealing to audiences of all ages. This style of humour has left a great impact on subsequent Bond films. It is this very style that is at the root of Hollywood entertainment films.
My understanding of the plot in Bond films is as follows: investigate (fly around the world); discover enemy base; infiltrate; somehow get captured; have a meal with the boss; duel with boss; ally force arrives; base crumbles; escape with Bond girl; have fun with Bond girl; rival arrives; duel. This is what I want in a Bond film. I want no curve ball. Trying to make something new out of this fixed plot is what¿s great about Bond films. This plot structure is implemented in MGS intentionally. Being caught once and then escaping is a sequence essential to both MGS and 007. Would a villain not kill a spy, but invite him to a meal and reveal his entire plan? But it is this unrealistic sequence that allows the creator to effectively portray the relationship between the spy and the boss. This is something I make sure to include in MGS. However, there is one phase that I cannot include in MGS because of hardware limitations. That is the arrival of your ally force and the melee between them and the bad guys. The original plan of MGS2 included such a sequence towards the end on top of Arsenal Gear. But again, the processing speed of the console did not allow this. I have been able to include something similar in Zone Of The Enders: The Second Runner. I hope to do the same in the MGS series some day.
One of the highlights of Bond films is action, which relies on stuntmen rather than visual effects. Driving on two wheels, fighting underwater, skiing down mountains, rappelling down from great heights, motorboat chases, sky diving - all can be seen in Bond films. They are a challenge to what man can do. It is like the Olympics of stuntmen. Also in these films were the latest vehicles and weapons still in development. The rocket pack, small underwater vehicles, mini gyrocopters, hang gliders, cars with wings, and other vehicles using cutting-edge technology were quickly introduced in the action sequences. Bond's important partner - his car - was carefully selected for each film. My favourite ones are the Aston Martin DB5 (Goldfinger) and the water-diving Lotus Esprit (The Spy Who Loved Me). A lot of filming techniques have been introduced along with stunts and high-tech gadgets. Just like Star Wars, James Cameron's films, and the work of Industrial Light & Magic, Bond films have contributed new techniques to filming, such as shooting under water and in the sky. Every time a new Bond film came out, a new technique was introduced and resulted in action scenes you had never seen before.
Many people ask me who the best Bond actor is. This is a tough question to answer - a mean one for someone born in the 60s. As a small boy, I grew up watching Sean Connery. When I think of Bond, I think of his face and hairy chest. He is the Bond of all Bonds. But then as I grew up, it was always Roger Moore that I saw in the theatres. Both Bonds are totally different people, but they coexist within my mind. Connery and Moore are the 'original Bonds', and those who came after them are the 'new Bonds'. Timothy Dalton is the serious and shy type. His Bond was pretty good. Pierce Brosnan - the current James Bond - is definitely James Bond, but what about after him? Who will be the sixth Bond? That¿s a question fans want an answer to.
007 became an outdated hero that people laugh at. Not all 007 films become mega hits any more. Last year the movie xXx became a huge hit. There was a Soviet spy in The Spy Who Loved Me whose codename was Triple X. What the movie xXx did was take the outdated 007 concept and made it modern. In a way, it has taken the MGS approach. Although the hero, fashion and music have gone extreme and hip-hop, everything else is totally 007. They basically replaced the tuxedo-wearing agent with a modern day-guy. The film begins with a former Soviet spy in a tuxedo getting killed. The concept is there, and the entertainment is there. I look forward to its sequel. But as someone who grew up with Bond, I felt that something had changed. That's why I was really excited when I heard that the newest Bond movie, Die Another Day, was a big hit. I hope this marks the beginning of the third boom of Bond films. How much happier could I be!? A fantasy that does not change over time and keeps on providing us with dreams - that is 007 for me.
Actual espionage activities - deeds of a spy - consist of wet work (dirty work) and killing. They must not be the most interesting people to hang out with. But the word 'spy' to my generation has a cool, elegant, and even sweet connotation, unlike the word 'agent'. A lot of this is owed to Ian Fleming's spy novels. Following the success of the first Bond films came The Man From UNCLE and Mission Impossible. In the 60s and 70s, spy films and TV series were the thing. We grew up surrounded by spies. There was nothing negative about the word "spy." We idolized them. Many of us actually wanted to become spies when we grew up. In a weird period called The Cold War, we totally misunderstood the whole idea of spies. The exaggerated image of spies in fiction led to sweet connotations for our generation.
Last year I was planning to visit the International Spy Museum in Washington DC to do some research. But just when we planned our trip to the US there was the Washington DC sniper incident, so we ended up cancelling. This museum exhibits spy gadgets of the KGB and CIA from the Cold War. You can also find a 007 exhibit there and view a lot of spy testimonies on video. The funny thing is that this museum is right near the FBI building. Supposedly, 100,000 people visited the museum in the month since it opened last February. This is proof of how popular spies still are and how influential spy films have been. I must visit this museum some day.
The 007 series has continued for almost half a century. The reason why the series has maintained its style (in a good way) and its freshness over 40 years is that the staff and cast have kept and passed on the 007 style and spirit loyally. This is what a series must do. While minor things do change due to world affairs and fads of the time, the 007 style and spirit at the heart is not lost. While the actors playing James Bond have changed from Connery to Lazenby to Moore to Dalton to Brosnan.... Bond is still Bond. 40 years is a long time and cruel as well. However, the torch is being passed on really well. Peter Hunt, the editor of the earlier films directed a later Bond film and John Glen (who was a second director) became the director for other Bond films. While the main actor changes, the sidekicks change, the directors change and the producers change, 007 remains 007 and delivers dreams to all generations. I hope the 007 series makes it into the 22nd Century.
The grand theme of MGS and MGS2 was that of passing on to future generations. I believe I have passed on to my young staff not only the storyline, message and game property but also the dream of 'videogame creation'. MGS is no longer the property of the human being called Hideo Kojima. As long as gamers want more, this title must continue. My staff and myself have a life span. We will not live forever. In that sense, the 007 series that has been around for 40 years with 20 films is indeed 'passing on to future generations'. It is a successful case of executing this concept. While the producer, scriptwriter, musicians, main actor, supporting actors and stuntmen have all changed since the first Bond film, 007 continues. Just like parents passing on to their children and masters to their apprentices, the essence of 007 is passed on so that the series continues generating hits. The way the 007 series passes on to the future is the theme I wanted to communicate in MGS. What will MGS be like 40 years from now, created by those who share the spirit of Team Kojima? I would like to stay alive and experience it myself.
-- Article by Hideo Kojima, Official Playstation 2 Magazine, 13.05.2003