So yes, I had a lovely holiday, not that anyone asked. I took a 7-night cruise around the south - west Pacific with P&O, stopping at Noumea and Lifou, New Caledonia and Port Vila, Vanuatu. Not that I spent much time off the boat. Can't stand that whole "tourist" thing. Where you and a bunch of overweight, pale, flabby, screeching families who you already see far too much of on the Lido deck get funneled through a little theme park version of the island where locals dance around in traditional costume and try to sell you bits of varnished wood on pieces of string. Plus, being English, I felt uncomfortable knowing I was probably related to someone who'd done a massacre there once.
So for the most part I stayed on the boat, watched the sea, chilled out, drank fruity cocktails. But I could only sunbathe so much when my skin tone is closest to a glass of milk with no coffee in it whatsoever, so I needed something to amuse myself with. Plus I'd have to review something when I got back. So a few weeks ago I sank some money into an old-style PSP. I've only ever relied on borrowed PSPs up to now because it really is the inferior handheld, rather awkwardly designed for my large masculine hands, and its only saving grace is the occasional exclusive title. In this case, I bought one so I could play Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker.
I admit to having a soft spot for the Metal Gear Solid series. They are extremely overwritten and batshit insane, and I will happily say without qualification that Metal Gear Solid 4 was absolutely fucking dreadful, but in an age of dull, inoffensive, design-by-committee sludge, Hideo Kojima is one of our last remaining auteurs. And any game developer still taking personal ownership of their work is something to be celebrated, even if we must accept the occasional bit of insanity that is the privilege of the individual.
But having played a little of Peace Walker, I think there's one specific thing he really needs to answer for. What is it with him and women?
In Metal Gear Solid 1 and 2 women only really existed to die some mawkishly tragic death at some point, with the closest things to romance in the series taking place largely between men, but this is no worse than, say, most action movies. And it's considerably more progressive than a lot of stuff that comes out of Japan, the country where sex crime is the foundation of the entertainment industry.
It worsened somewhat with Metal Gear Solid 3. I'm thinking of that one female character who constantly wore a jumpsuit unzipped to the navel so that her bra-encased titties swung free, which strikes me as the equivalent of a male character who spends the entire game with their trousers around their ankles. And the tragic story of the other female character who apparently had to go into war while heavily pregnant, and whose baby was cut from her womb by the evil conspiracy. A baby which, judging by the scar she was left with, the evil conspiracy had considerable difficulty finding.