Mento Gear Solid 2: React-sons of Incredulity (Part 1: Tanker)

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When I'm not committing atrocities with the English language with titles like the above, I like to play video games. Until recently, I used to mentally put an asterisk at the end of that statement with the footnote "*except Metal Gear Solid". Whether it's the relentless weirdness, the complex continuity or the unintuitive stealth/shooting mechanics, I couldn't say, but it was over a decade ago when I tried Metal Gear Solid 2 for a few hours and decided the series just wasn't for me.

Flash forward until a few months ago. Dan and Drew had decided to partake on a quasi-Endurance Run series in which Drew tackles the missions of one Solid Snake under the keen tutelage (and gentle mocking) of Dan, a series expert. My pattern with every Endurance Run on the site is to play the games first, so I can experience them on my own terms before watching the crew struggle endlessly with them. Something to do with my gamer psychology, I suppose: I get agitated if I *think* the guy I'm watching is doing something wrong, or if I *think* a particular strategy is a far better plan of action than whatever they might be doing. When I actually *know* these things, gleaned after a playthrough of the game myself, the videos become far more tolerable and actually a lot more fun. It's getting all that backseat driving out of the way with, perhaps. (Of course, that didn't stop every Souls expert in the known universe from weighing in on Vinny's and Brad's playthroughs, but then those games are a special case.)

Anyway, I rushed to beat Metal Gear Solid 1 once they began their series, and I'm doing the same thing with MGS2 now they've resumed this quixotic campaign of cardboard boxes and Kojima craziness. With it comes a whole new reactions blog from yours truly, jotting down my thoughts and exasperations as they happen for later publishing. As before, this is really meant for those already familiar with Metal Gear Solid 2, largely because I skip over a lot of the necessary exposition. There are spoilers (for a 13 year old game), so be warned. I dunno why, but these games are starting to grow on me now.

Instead of one big text dump of bulletpoints like last time, I'm going to split these up a bit. For now, this is just the opening prologue chapter with Solid Snake on the USS Discovery tanker. I'll throw in additional "chapters" whenever I complete them.

Tankers For Nothing

  • Shoot, choke, you all remember. Stealth box back again, yes, forever.
  • So Snake joined some anti-Metal Gear PMC/charity thing? Presumably Meryl went on to produce some exercise videos instead: "Rookie Eyes, Great Butt: Squat Thrust Your Way to a New You".
  • Also, the menu on the HD collection straight up says what happens at the end of the prologue. I guess I could just skip it, then?
  • Starting the game up proper, got all psyched up by the fancy chemical formulae-slash-action filled intro movie. Immediately hit the main menu, saw "Transfarring" and now I'm back to anticipating stupid shit. Those tonal shifts are still here, then.
  • Also, there's some information about the previous game. Apparently Nastasha wrote a tell-all expos√© that has been roundly dismissed as wild conspiracy theories. I can only guess how she knew most of this info, given that I rarely called her about anything.
  • And after that, a super flowery 128 page account from some journalist named Gary McGolden who went to Shadow Moses (possibly) and discovered everything. Given that he actually starts the piece by discussing his alien abduction as a child and then just becomes weirder from there, I'm starting to wonder if there's anyone in Kojima's world that isn't crazy.
  • Oh god, he infiltrated Shadow Moses in a hollowed out tuna filled with balloons. Who wrote this? Why? This is amazing.
  • "Solid Snake vs. The Army of Darkness". This document is the game now. Screw all that tanker nonsense I'm supposed to be doing.
  • "Peanut butter is my Waterloo. When I was a kid, I was a wuss who couldn't eat peanut butter like other red-blooded children. One day, I decided to confront this weakness of mine, and put myself on a peanut butter overload: anything I put in my mouth had to have peanut butter on it. I piled the stuff on everything from chilidogs without onions -- my favorite dish -- to spearmint gum to my first girlfriend's lips."
  • Gary's last published piece of nonfiction? "The Telekinetic Powers of the Loch Ness Monster - The True Energy Source of UFOs".
  • After that, a 324 page book from Nastasha shows up. Naw, I'm done. I gotta start playing this thing while it's still light outside.
  • New game menu gives you the choice of "tanker", "plant" or "tanker-plant". I'm starting to wonder how much of this HD edition was geared towards people who had already played the original years ago. Presumably, as a first-time player, I want both?
"Remember Snake, we sent you back in time to find Sarah Connor."
  • Nice "Ghost in the Shell" infiltration cutscene. I guess Otacon finally found a spare stealth camouflage dealie to give to Snake. It immediately breaks of course, because the game's not that generous.
  • Ocelot's here too. I guess we aren't done with our Western-loving chum. I am dimly aware of the stupidity concerning his new hand, but not the finer details as of yet.
  • First new Codec! "You know how [story exposition Snake must already know]?" "Yes, but let's explain it all for the audience." One day, video games are going to find a better way to get around that. Maybe a cassette tape player someone left on the ground?
  • I missed all the tutorial button descriptions because I was too busy focusing on what they were talking about. Whatever, I'm sure I'll figure it out.
  • You need eighteen people to take over a ship run by a computer, apparently. Sure. I'd love to know where Otacon pulled that number from. Are there many Japanese animes about terrorists taking over a military ship? Did they adapt Under Siege as magical girl shoujo? And, most importantly, if Casey Ryback is now an anime lady, would that make her a terrible cook?
  • Otacon created a different Codec frequency for saving the game. It's still him, but he'll only save the game on that frequency instead of talking about the mission. And, of course, Snake is the one who asks how he might be able to save his game. Otacon even bothered to memorize a bunch of proverbs and idioms in case we were missing Mei Ling (we were not, for the record).
  • Found some hidden Pentazemin. "An anti-depressant". What? Are these for when I start to feel sad? Or is this to do with the heart rate bar, like last time?
  • Sneaking around this tanker hasn't been too tough so far, though I am getting hopelessly lost. I managed to do a full circuit of the upper decks.
  • I, uh, might've tripped some Semtex. Obviously these ship invaders don't actually care that much about the cargo, if they're willing to blow it up just to get rid of little old me.
  • I found a "The Orange" box to hide in, but this joyous citrusy discovery soon turned sour in my mouth when I realized how ineffective it is. I'm getting spotted left and right up here, and these guards are way more persistent than last time. Attentive too, but for checking underneath things.
  • This guy figured out where I was and chucked a grenade under. Wonderful. What was I supposed to be doing about a fire extinguisher, again?
  • All right, so I shot the fire extinguisher, passed through the now-visible infra-red lasers that would've tripped the explosives and then hid around the corner from the nearby patrolling terrorist. And then Snake sneezed. Goddammit Snake, are you allergic to silence now?
  • Well, we made it to the control room. I'm meant to go down to the lower decks to find the Metal Gear, but Snake got distracted by another woman. Classic Snake.
  • So this is Olga. The game sure is emphasizing her underarm hair. That's... an interesting fetish you have there, Kojima.
  • I liked some of the neat tricks she pulled. Putting up that tarp, using the spotlights, flushing me out of hiding spots with grenades. If I knew how to shoot from waist-high cover or make some kind of reticle appear in first-person mode, I don't think I would've needed a single ration.
"Grabbed by the Spetsnaz, eh James?"
  • Anyway, I got her gun now, a USP. It needs ammo, which are presumably called USP Sticks, but I've already encountered so many ammo boxes for the thing that I wasn't allowed to pick up that I was getting paranoid that I'd missed it.
  • Just picked up a... wet box? Oh good lord. I already have a dry one, why do I need this?
  • They've definitely beefed up security. Getting back down to the lower levels is considerably harder, with more guards and cameras to deal with. Fortunately, I remembered where the tripwire explosives were, and acrobatically tumbled directly through them because apparently the crouch button becomes the roll button when you're moving.
  • Snake is momentarily surprised by what appears to be Vulcan Raven's shadow being cast on a wall. Turns it out it's one of those comical mistaken identity shadows: it's actually a small figurine of Raven highlighted by a flashlight that somebod- why is there a figurine of Raven here? Who made it and why?
  • Why is there a poster of a girl with "Mooch!" on her blouse? And why is it when I open the locker door it's on, there's another poster of the back of the girl? Actually, strike that, I feel like I'm falling right into Kojima's hands by remarking on this.
  • So, okay, there's more to these explosives than shooting the green glowy sensor thing. Either that or there's a second sensor I'm missing.
  • Ah, spotted it. It's on the top of the instruments. There's also a bomb in the way, and apparently I'm not quite as accurate with the first-person view as I thought I was (though I did figure out how to line-up shots down a gun barrel, finally. I ought to pay more attention to the tutorials: what am I, a YouTube LPer?).
  • One of the guards was listening to music on his headphones. So these guys are as highly trained as the Genome soldiers, then?
  • Well, I guess I was forced to kill a bunch of soldiers in a shooting gallery section. I tried stunning them, but the bodies all vanished regardless. The game just became Lethal Enforcers for a hot minute there.
  • Talking of killing Russians unexpectedly, it appears Ocelot's planning something malevolent. What are you up to, you ornery old rascal?
  • So I have to sneak past a whole room full of marines? (Scratch that, three whole rooms.) This'll be fun. Glad I had the foresight to sneak under the projector.
  • Also, I have to get past the marines, find the new Metal Gear and then take four pictures from various sexy angles and get back to a specific console to upload them all within seven minutes as the Commandant gives his speech. Because this is a video game.
  • Man, if you get spotted by one of the marines, they all spot you and play the alert sound several dozen times at once. Nice. Of course, it means doing all this shit again.
  • Oh god, this whole dual-screen switching and the speech's sudden swerve into aerobics. So stupid. Also dumb is that all the off-topic stuff (including the Commandant just straight up repeating himself) was accounted for in Otacon's time limit.
  • "Metal Gear?!" Welcome back, everyone.
  • The game is nice enough to save any photos you make even if you mess up and have to restart. Sure made getting the four shots of RAY I needed easier.
  • This little 8-bit Otacon sprite reviewing all my photos is... goofy. Well, everything's goofy. I feel like he should be saying "wonderful!" after each good shot.
  • Ocelot's made his grand entrance. And there's far fewer marines around now for some reason.
  • The enigmatic Patriots from the epilogue of MGS are still around. La-le-lu-le-lo? Are they Teletubbies?
  • Liquid Snake is Ocelot's arm. I mean, I knew this, but still... it's super dumb. Couldn't he have a found a better prosthetic with a more agreeable soul within? Like maybe the wife arm from Bionic Commando?
  • Oh c'mon, why wouldn't they securely bolt down their billion dollar walking tank-sub? This is Bush League, US Marines.
  • That's the end of the tanker, and presumably the Tanker chapter. Ol' Shalashiskabob seems a little too badass compared to that first boss fight in MGS. A Liquid Snake arm must do wonders for your accuracy.
Metal Gear RAY is loose and Solid Snake is MIA. Surely he can't be dead? Well, I mean, obviously he's not.
Metal Gear RAY is loose and Solid Snake is MIA. Surely he can't be dead? Well, I mean, obviously he's not.

Conclusion: This game is already stupid. Thanks for stopping by and I'll see you next time for Raiden's infiltration of the Big Shell.

Actual Conclusion: Why, that's directly over here. Let's see what ol' Raiden's up to, why don't we?