Gazing into the future...
The Metal Gear Solid franchise has always been a little... weird. From cybernetic ninjas to automated camouflage to immense walking tanks, franchise director Hideo Kojima has never shied away from the bizarre. But the most interesting bit of Kojimas strangeness is the dystopian future his series depicts.
Each entry in the Metal Gear Solid franchise (well, except for MGS3) makes a series of bold predictions of the state of the world in the early years of the 21st century. But as we dive into 2014, we find ourself living in a world sort of similar to the one in Kojima's game. At this point, weve met that future in the real world. How do Kojimas predictions stack up?
Genetic manipulation of soldiers will be advanced enough to see widespread use
The prediction: The generic guards you encounter in Metal Gear Solid are genetically modified to encourage alertness and aggression. As if that isnt enough, the main character and his principal antagonist are both clones of the mythical Big Boss. Clearly, Kojima predicted a society that had a handle on genetic engineering and cloning.
The reality: Given a bit of wiggle room, I say Kojima got this one right. Genetic engineering and gene therapy are more commonly used in medicine than war, but the technology is essentially the same. There hasnt been anything resembling the extensive human cloning depicted in MGS, but the main obstacles are ethical, not technological. We probably could engineer human clones--we simply choose not to do so.
Terrorist attacks cause widespread destruction in New York City
The prediction: Metal Gear Solid 2 is perhaps the most prescient of Kojimas games--its chock full of predictions that almost came true. Consider this: the central location in MGS2, a cleanup facility near New York, was built in reaction to a massive terrorist attack on the city. Oh boy.
The reality: Scarily accurate, actually. It would be easy to say that MGS2 was made in reaction to September 11, 2001, but MGS2 was all but finished by then--it was released only 62 days later (game development takes more time than that). The nature of the attack--a crashing vehicle ruining lower Manhattan--was so similar to the actual tragedy that nearly all imagery of the event was expunged from the game
The government will secretly monitor and censor global web traffic
The prediction: The central storyline for Metal Gear Solid 2 involves a powerful artificial intelligence designed for the sole purpose of monitoring and surveillance. Specifically, this AI monitors and censors web traffic in an effort to control and protect the civilian population. Sounds kind of familiar, doesnt it?
The reality: Kojima pretty much nailed this one. Granted, the Patriots were more concerned with filtering out useless information, while the NSAs domestic program is essentially an extension of police wiretapping. But Kojima correctly predicted that the powers-that-be would have a big hand in monitoring the flow of information on the web. Given that MGS2 was in development long before the PATRIOT Act was written, it was a pretty solid guess.
Unmanned war machines will take prominent roles on battlefields in the future
The prediction: The Metal Gear Solid franchise offers a fascinating look into the evolution of unmanned, automated warfare. The only unmanned enemies you face in Metal Gear Solid are stationary, gun-equipped cameras. MGS2 takes it a step further with cyphers, essentially autonomous flying camera drones. Metal Gear Solid 4 takes it several steps further, introducing powerful, autonomous walking tanks called GEKKO.
The reality: Kojima got this one right, if only in theory. Drones and unmanned weapons platforms have taken an ever-growing place on modern battlefields. The difference is in the details, though--actual unmanned drones are usually closer to planes rather than tanks, and are usually piloted via remote contro
Nanomachines will be highly advanced and commonplace in the military world
The prediction: Nanomachines, son! They're everywhere throughout the Metal Gear Solid franchise. Some nanomachines give characters accelerated healing. Others serve as communication relays, allowing squadmates to literally share their senses. Nanomachines suppress soldiers emotions, making them more efficient on the battlefield and less likely to commit atrocities. Theres no problem those tiny wonders cant fix.
The reality: Kojima was way off base, at least as far as 2014 goes. Nanomachines do exist, but theyre nowhere near as Kojimas work predicted. Real-world nanomachines are capable of small feats like shuttling individual ions across otherwise impassable boundaries, which stands in sharp contrast to the nearly magical powers nanomachines are given in the Metal Gear Solid franchise. When you get down to it, nanomachines are basically Kojimas equivalent to a wizard did it.
Private militaries overtake national armies as the premier fighting forces on Earth
The prediction: The issue is first hinted at in MGS2--the patrolling guards are all members of an ex-russian PMC, the Gurlukovich Mercenaries--but the concept fully ripens in Metal Gear Solid 4. In MGS4s version of the 21st century, the roles of state militaries have essentially been turned over to PMCs so powerful that a constant series of proxy wars are needed to keep the war economy moving.
The reality: Sorry, but this one isnt even close. The significant armed forces of the world are still funded and controlled by various nation-states. Perhaps this isnt a bad thing--with the public military, war is used as a means to securing economic ends, rather than as an end in itself as depicted in MGS4. To give credit where its due, PMC useage is on the rise, but theyre nowhere near close to achieving the supremacy Kojima depicte
A small group of political and financial elites shape world events to suit their needs
The prediction: The single most important organization in the entire Metal Gear Solid franchise is the shadowy group known as The Patriots." Consisting of anonymous wealthy donors, and headed by the Wisemans Comittee, the Patriots embody the idea of a New World Order conspiracy, in which a select cabal directs the motions of history through a series of fences and puppets.
The reality: Ultimately, this is where Kojima really [REDACTED]. The idea that any one group [REDACTED] to any single future goal is patently [REDACTED]. There are simply [REDACTED] for any one group to possibly satisfy. Of course, [REDACTED].