Video games are a unique form of entertainment. Most other forms of entertainment, like books and movies have central plots that string everything together. Back in the day, most games didn't have plots and if they did it was something about as simple as: Princess captured by monster --> Hero defeats monster --> Princess saved. This is a formula that has proved successful again, again and again. In fact, that's about as complicated as any game plot was for a while. It's also why many of our favorite classic video games wouldn't be (or aren't) very good movies. Think about it, would you watch a movie about a yellow circle that must get his pellet fix by traversing an infinite maze while he dodges and murders ghosts? Okay, bad example...
Then there's the other side of the spectrum: games with plot overload. These games have a huge amount of characters, locations, ideals, motivations, twists and turns. Some games have more than enough convoluted plot twists to make M. Night Shyamalan blush. Luckily for developers (who for the most part have the cumulative writing skills of my dead goldfish, Mindy), plot only accounts for a small part of the overall game experience. As long as a game is fun to play, you won't find too many people complaining about inconsistencies in the story or how it fits in with the rest of the series. Most of us are pretty good about accepting things for the way they are, myself included. With that said, there have been times I just had to set my controller down, sit back and say "WTF?!" So I'd like to share three of those instances with you today, and just so you know: Oh yes, there will be spoilers.
Part One - Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of LibertyDespite having to play as a she-male for most of the game, MGS2 happens to be my favorite game in the Metal Gear saga. Even though we had to play the majority of the game as Raiden (who admittedly makes Otacon look like Zangief), it didn't stop me from enjoying the game, although though I did gorilla glue a pic of Snake's face to my TV so I could at least pretend to look like a bad ass (while increasing the value of my television a thousand times over). The gameplay is similar to MGS1 with some major additions such as the ability to pop around corners, hang from ledges, aim in first person and make guards lose control of all bodily functions.
Too bad the story makes about as much sense as The Matrix Reloaded being reenacted by Mrs. Brian's third grade class which, for the record, made a tad more sense than the actual movie. The story itself makes sense at first: Snake and Otacon are on a peaceful mission to stop production of all Metal Gears. Snake infiltrates a U.S Marine tanker to take pictures of a new Metal Gear in development, Metal Gear RAY. Upon jumping off the Washington Bridge onto the stern, Snake realizes it's being taken over by Russians. This is only a minor annoyance for Snake, as he easily makes his way though to the lower decks of the tanker while successfully evading and dispatching of bunch of Ruskie's on the way; One of which was Olga, the knocked up daughter of a Russian Colonel. In the lower decks, he finds where RAY is being held, sneaks past multiple rooms of guards listening to their Commanding Officer giving a speech about RAY and uploads the pictures to Otacon. After this, all hell breaks lose and the game quickly turns into a large series of "WTF" moments.
Immediately after Snake sends the pictures to Otacon, Revolver Ocelot (a long-time antagonist, who got his hand sliced off in MGS1) and the Russian Colonel sneaks onto the stage and takes the Commanding Officer hostage in an attempt to "reclaim" Metal Gear for Mother Russia! But Ocelot has other plans: Ocelot plans to take the prototype for himself and the late Liquid Snake, Snake's brother and fellow clone of Big Boss... who now resides in Ocelot's new arm. Occasionally, Ocelot's arm starts hulking out and he takes on the personality of Liquid Snake (British accent and everything)! That's right, Liquid lives on through an amputated arm. So Ocelot kills the Commanding Officer and the Russian Colonel, goes all Dr. Jeckyl as Liquid takes control of Ocelot, takes command of RAY and sinks the ship while escaping. But that's only the first of all the "WTF" twists!
At this point, we believe Snake is dead. So the player must take control of a new protagonist: Raiden, who is being directed via codec by none other than Colonel Campbell. His mission is to infiltrate Big Shell, an off-shore marine cleaning facility in the Atlantic Ocean, and rescue a group of hostages, including the President of the United States and Emma Emmerich (Otacon's half-sister), from a group of Russian terrorists called the Sons of Liberty. At this point in the game, the twists are essentially throwbacks to memorable moments in MGS1: there's a Cyborg Ninja, hostages die under mysterious circumstances and there's a guard with irritable bowel syndrome. You know, the ingredients to a classic story. On top of that, we have some new characters like Fortune, the 'psychic' daughter of the Commanding Officer at the beginning of the game who wants to die to be reunited with her family. Despite her efforts to die on the battlefield (like Pops), bullets seem to avoid her more than women avoid me (except bullets are nicer... they don't point and laugh). Then there's Vamp, presumably immortal with a taste for blood, lives up to his name by being a cross between Dracula and Dracula, making him 100% more Dracula than the leading Dracula (although 33% less Dracula than Count Chocula). Not to mention Vamp is voiced by one of the best voice actors of all-time: Phil LaMarr. The game tries to make the player feel smart by throwing in a few softball twists like the mystery of a man who looks, talks and acts like Solid Snake under the codename Iroquois Pliskin... who ends up being Solid Snake. Also we're introduced to another member of the Snake family: Solidus Snake, who is also a clone of Big Boss leading the terrorist group while pretending to be Solid Snake (who obviously isn't Snake). Compared to the remainder of the game, these preceding twists are almost as severe as the total amount of deaths directly caused by rock, paper, scissors (three and a half).
As the player reaches the later parts of MGS2, many crazy plot twists emerge. In fact, I probably can't even remember many of them. The last time I tried to remember the plot of MGS2, my face exploded. Where to get started...?
Well, Otacon banged his half-sister's mom (he's not a virgin?! What a twist!). He always wanted to apologize to Emma for neglecting her after getting jiggy with his own Step Mom. So he did, right before Emma dies at the hands of Vamp. Great timing. Then we find out the bombshell: the whole mission was actually a training simulation. It was all a set up by La-Li-Lu-Le-Lo (aka The Patriots), an organization that essentially controls the world thanks to a seemingly unlimited amount of funds discovered by the organization decades ago. The simulation was designed after the Shadow Moses incident (the events of MGS1) to test the limits of a single man, also known as Solid Snake Simulation (S3). Big Shell was actually hiding an Artificial Intelligence, which has been running the simulation the whole time and acted as both Colonel Campbell and Rosemary (Raiden's fiance/ save point) and also hid a new type of Metal Gear: Arsenal Gear, which housed a small army of autonomous RAY's. Olga was actually in disguise as the Cyborg Ninja and was forced to take part in the simulation and try to keep Raiden alive otherwise the simulation would be a failure and The Patriots would kill her daughter. Olga takes one in the face from Solidus (who has these weird ass Doc Oc robot tentacles that were also designed by the Marines), and dies... but not before making it Raiden's responsibility to find her kid. The RAY's on Arsenal Gear were destroyed by a program created by Emma, modeled after FoxDie (except for the prototype, which was originally a U.S. Marine creation with manual controls that weren't affected by the virus). This FoxDie program also affected the AI which was controlling the situation and caused it to malfunction, this resulted in a bunch of eerie messages from the simulated Colonel Campbell and Rosemary (I need scissors, 61). Raiden was revealed to be a child soldier who worked under Solidus' command years ago, which was important because they shared a father-son bond akin to that of Solid Snake and Big Boss. Revolver Ocelot was acting on behalf of the Patriots the whole time until he hulked into Liquid again, who doesn't want to help The Patriots and ran off with RAY... again, as Snake followed... again. Fortune was not psychic, but the reason bullets curve around is because Ocelot planted a little device on her which acts as a bullet repellent using...um (error404), reverse-magnetism or some sort of mumbo-jumbo like that ( whiz zihw eseehc stae natas). Ocelot drove the point home, by driving a bullet in Fortune's chest. Th-this device explains why Ocelot didn't get shot after killing the Commanding Officer and the Russian Colonel inside the tanker, despite there being about a hundred or so Marines and Russian soldiers shooting at him. Th-then it really hits the fan as Arsenal Gear crashes into New York City, where Raiden and Solidus duel it out while Raiden c-c-continues to take calls from the malfunctioning AI (1100101100011101). Uh, but wait... now that I think about it, before Fortune dies, she repels about a couple dozen missiles using telekinesis without the device because Ocelot had stolen it back at this point and....
(To Be Continued)