Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Top 5 Instrumental Tracks in the Metal Gear Series

The Metal Gear franchise has long stood among the greatest of video games, due in no small part to its deep and involved narrative that carries on in increasingly complex ways from one entry to the next. With each new game comes an equally impressive soundtrack, which fittingly also tend to rank among the best this entertainment medium has to offer. Below are my personal picks for the five best instrumental tracks in the entire Metal Gear franchise, following up on my previous list of the series' five best vocal tracks.

#5 – Yell Dead Cell (Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty): While perhaps simpler in its arrangement as a tense techno action tune, Yell Dead Cell does well in helping to establish the atmosphere of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty early on. While The Sons of Liberty may be the sequel’s stand-ins for Foxhound, they operate on very different ideals and significantly more advanced tech. There may be fewer representatives in Dead Cell, yet each feels threatening due to the strikingly different skill sets and arsenals they possess. Yell Dead Cell is a classic, catchy tune, and given the in-game scenarios it is attributed to, a great way to help set the stage for the MGS sequel.

#4 – Eva’s Reminiscence (Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater): A slow burn to a sultry, soft jazz number, Eva’s Reminiscence is a perfect match to the character is represents. The song may rely on a much longer buildup than other Metal Gear tunes before its 1960s spy movie soundtrack style is revealed, but Eva’s story progression is delivered in a very similar fashion. She is a mysterious ally to Snake during his mission to take down Colonel Volgin’s Shagohod, but always seems to be withholding information from him, teasing Snake during each of their encounters. As the game enters its epilogue sequences, Eva’s true nature is revealed, leaving a bittersweet impact on both Snake and the player.

#3 – Zero Allies! (Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker): Utilizing a sampling of the classic MGS2 theme scored by Harry Gregson-Williams, Zero Allies! is more than a mere throwback to the games that preceded it. It is an encapsulation of the Peace Walker story – the theme of Naked Snake transitioning into Big Boss and wrestling with his complicated history with The Boss, as well as the sense of desperation and intense tactical espionage as the private army of Militaires Sans Frontieres builds itself up in the face of an ever-delicate balance of global politics. It also opens with some of the some echoes reminiscent of a couple of other Peace Walker tunes, namely Clients and Mother Base, and to that end plays into the stealthy construction of Mother Base and the mysterious nature of a steady recruitment of soldiers to Big Boss’ cause.

#2 – On The Ground – Battle in the Jungle (Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater): A successor to the stealth and detection themes of the two previous Metal Gear Solid titles, Snake Eater takes its soundtrack to a whole new level with a tune that can be as frequently-changing as the situations Naked Snake finds himself in. Keeping a low profile in Metal Gear Solid 3 is a much more complex and involved ordeal than in the games that came before it, as Snake must rely on camouflage patterns as he traverses harsh jungle terrain – both enemy soldiers and wildlife posing a threat to him. Snake’s need to nourish his body and patch himself up on the go similarly leads to MGS3’s more involved gameplay, and juggling these multiple facets leads to a more complex yet more so rewarding gaming experience than many other entries in the series. This tune is more than an accompaniment to the moments when GRU soldiers spot Snake crawling through some tall grass – it’s an audible representation of the situation at hand, the general atmosphere surrounding Snake.

#1 – Debriefing (Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater): The last leg of the Metal Gear Solid 3 epilogue offers a full and striking reveal of The Boss’ role in the larger picture. It is lead into by the information that Eva leaves Snake before she hits the road, and she details how The Boss let her in on certain details during the time they spent together in Groznyj Grad. Snake’s history with The Boss is described as being intimate and complicated, as they spent years of their lives together training on the battlefield, which is why Snake was so frustrated and confused by her apparent defection to Volgin’s political uprising. Debriefing is the song that plays over the final page of the Snake Eater story, the last hurrah before The Boss’ legacy can be paid tribute to, then laid to rest. It is largely responsible to those final moments of the game being so emotionally charged, and is part of – what I consider to be – one of the greatest cinematic moments in video game history.

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