Metal Gear Solid’s greatest death scene is your own

Say what you will about auteur theory, but some artists demand it. Take Hideo Kojima, whose 1998 masterpiece Metal Gear Solid is covered in its creator’s fingerprints. After a long, expository cutscene, and a Hollywood-style opening-credits sequence featuring mostly fake names, you sneak through a dank subterranean basement, punch the button to call an elevator, and then—get told to wait for it. Someone literally calls you up and tells you to hold your horses. So the first thing you really do in a massively anticipated, big-budget video game is kill time—crouching behind a forklift, fiddling with the first-person view, and so on. It’s the first of many indications that this won’t be a ceaseless sprint to the finish but instead a tightly metered aesthetic encounter, all under Kojima’s careful control. There’s an author, and his name is all over the place.

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