As I progressed through Batman: Arkham Asylum, I couldn’t help but notice its similarities to the Metal Gear Solid franchise.  There are the obvious points of comparison, like sneaking around, taking out generic thugs, and getting new toys, all punctuated by periodic boss battles.  There are also similar scenes, like the electrified floor, though I won’t describe too many of them here as I don’t want to spoil the game.

One thing that often frustrated me about Metal Gear Solid was the villains.  After spending most of my time using realistic weapons to combat normal soldiers, I suddenly have to deal with a…flying psychic? A vampire? A gunslinger possessed by a severed arm?  They just seemed so silly.  To be fair, I actually liked some of the more “normal” villains of the series, including Sniper Wolf, the Revolver Ocelot from MGS1, and the Boss; it was just the supernatural characters that annoyed me.

Now, I bring this up because, as I thought about the relationship between Batman and Metal Gear, I almost caught myself saying “the only difference is that Batman doesn’t have the ridiculous villains.”  Of course, I had to stop there.  Clearly the villains in Batman are far more ridiculous an Metal Gear.    How can I bring myself to say “silly” when describing the MGS villains, knowing that Batman faces The Joker, Scarecrow, Killer Croc, Poison Ivy, and the Riddler?

For some reason, though, I’ve always given a pass to superheroes that I wasn’t willing to give to Metal Gear.  Maybe it was the years of conditioning to Batman’s villains.  After all, I grew up watching Adam West fight the silliest of villains on a regular basis.  It could also be the interruptions of mystical/magical elements into an otherwise realistic world.  The introduction of a superpowered villain is a bigger interruption when you are shooting an M-9, sniping with a PSG-1 sniper rifle, smoking cigarettes to see lasers, etc., than it is when you are using a batarrang and other tools dropped off from the batwing or retrieved from the bat-cave.  The point is that it’s easier to swallow moments of realism in an unrealistic world than it is to swallow moments of silliness in a realistic world.

Still, this game has given me a new perspective on the Metal Gear franchise.  I was very reluctant to play MGS4 because I felt the franchise was getting too silly.  But I think that, if I go into the game with the same attitude that I brought to Batman, it will be more enjoyable.