Girl in the Machine
Monday, March 17, 2008
Tempting the snake in the Garden of Eden.

Warning! MGS3 spoilers follow!

In 2004, Konami released Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, the prequel to its stealth-action Metal Gear series. Snake Eater sets itself apart from the rest of the series by moving the action from urban environments into the heart of the Soviet jungle, requiring players to utilize camouflage and various survival techniques. The game's Cold War era setting also imbues it with a James Bond feel, complete with a kitschy theme song and opening. With every Bond movie, there is also a so-called Bond Girl, and Snake Eater's irritating symbol of sexism is a frisky lady named EVA.

Our pal EVA is a KGB spy working alongside Snake in his mission to destroy the Shagohod, a nuclear-equipped ancestor of the first Metal Gear. She poses as a Russian woman named Tatyana to infiltrate the traitorous Colonel Volgin's forces, feeding Snake information from her position as a mole. She also repeatedly takes her clothes off (guess her boobs need some air), flirts with Snake in literally all of her scenes to the point of sexual harassment, and gets groped by male characters no less than three times over the course of the game. Oh, but she's tough, though! Tough and she wants to do you.

Yes, she's one of those characters: the tired "Beautiful but Deadly" stereotype we're all sick of. EVA fairly jiggles her way from scene to scene, pausing only to unzip her motorcycle onesie down to her crotch for no particular reason, and the more voyeuristic gamer can take advantage of Snake Eater's first person cutscene viewer to join Snake as he repeatedly ogles the goods. I have to admit, I laughed the first time, but does our intrepid hero really have to stare at her tits in every single scene as if they contain the meaning of life?

It's no surprise as well that EVA is boring as all hell. She's a tough chick, blah blah, she rides a motorcycle and can apparently fly a plane as well, she's a super spy with a kickass gun, whatever. In a series known for characters who are interesting (sometimes to a fault -- especially when you're covered in bees!), EVA is predictable and stale. Her lines are generously peppered with double entendres, she's a master of charming any and all foes with her smoldering good looks, and she falls in love with Snake at the end . . . even though she's not supposed to! How shocking.

Unfortunately, things get worse. While oversexed leading ladies are no strangers to all sorts of media, EVA's case is made more disturbing by the sexual violence inflicted on her. While posing as Tatyana, she is repeatedly raped and tortured by the sadistic Colonel Volgin over the course of the game. Fortunately, these scenes are never shown, but Snake does observe a number of scars caused by Volgin during one of EVA's "skip around in my underwear" scenes. Rape is not often addressed in video games, and the way it's presented here is cringe-worthy at best. While the act itself is (thankfully) never sexualized, EVA endures it as part of her mission -- something that no male agent would ever be expected to do. As well, EVA was trained to seduce her foes, a technique that places her in this victim's role intentionally. It's horrifying and sick, and treads dangerously into "She was asking for it" territory.

After all is said and done, she's also a centerfold in a men's magazine the player can obtain in Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops.

Metal Gear Solid 3's female lead, EVA, is one of the worst examples of a female character I can think of. Two-dimensional and stereotyped, she's the Sultry Vixen With a Gun that we've seen thousands of times. Even more problematic is the sexual violence she repeatedly suffers, the effects of which are never even mentioned. I love the Metal Gear series, but EVA's design and presentation severely soured my experience with Snake Eater. I can only hope that her return in MGS4: Guns of the Patriots doesn't make things even worse.

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 Posted by BomberGirl
 8:08 AM + Link to this post
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