By Mento 21 Comments
We're back for the final edition of Mento Gear Solid 3: Snark Eater. Can we please, please, at this late stage of the game, move beyond the basics of CQC? I want to hit a guy with a move so complex he'll wake up a year later with a profound, lingering sense of existential despair. You pull that on someone and they don't ever forget it. Talking of existential despair, I suppose it's time we saw Metal Gear Solid 3 to its conclusion.
Before we start, it's time for the spoiler hint, which those in the know will know and those not in the know will... this is a very silly sentence that I don't feel comfortable finishing. Here's the hint: We're right after the AC/DC UFC fight. If that sounds like nonsense, don't read any further. (Of course, it could still sound like nonsense even if you've beaten the game several times.) This update will also cover the end of the game, so consider it spoiler-central.
Normally, I'd write about some feature of Metal Gear Solid 3 here, but I've covered more or less everything that requires deeper explication. Instead, I'll provide my final thoughts on the game and how it stacks up to the first two in my estimations. First, it's important to note that MGS3 is very clearly trying to build on as much as it can borrow from the advancements of 1 and 2 in a way that doesn't feel anachronistic: while a lot of the tech from the first two games, including the fancy Soliton radar, obviously can't make the jump 40 years into the past, certain mechanics introduced in MGS2 like first-person shooting, shaking people down for useful items and popping in and out of cover to get in a few quick shots are all present. MGS3 cherry-picks the best elements of the previous two games, takes (some of) the criticisms of MGS2 to heart in curtailing its of the irksome non-stealth diversions that brought that game's fun levels down, and opted for a far more patient style of stealth action where the player has to pay more attention to their status and surroundings.
Even though it's certainly a "best of both worlds" construct in a lot of ways, it's still scuppered by a few recurring problems. Inserting a pointless escort sequence (more on that later), how often you're forced to go into the pause menu to micromanage your status, hunger and camouflage, its boss fights are still mostly kind of weak barring a couple exceptions and despite wanting to be a more serious Vietnam-style drama about war heroes it's still full of really dumb stuff. Not just hidden Easter egg dumb stuff like catching Meryl in her underwear or the Colonel telling you about purple stuffed worms in flapjaw space, but right in your face main story cutscene dumb stuff. Para-Medic, when pontificating about her beloved movies after every save, talks about how one derives more pleasure out of entertainment by approaching it with a willful suspension of disbelief rather than picking apart all the inconsistencies and incongruities like a pedant (pretty much the MST3k mantra in a nutshell), but that's really no excuse for including a guy who shoots bees at you from a tommy gun made of bees while deflecting bullets with his bee shield. Don't get me wrong, I love MGS craziness, but a lot of its flights of fancy were tonally against everything the game was going for with The Boss's tragic arc and some of the sexual assault stuff elsewhere. I'm starting to see why some folk have a problem with how MGSV is setting itself up tonally. It's trying to have your cake and eat it too, only the cake's for a funeral and Kojima wants to throw it in the face of the widow to liven things up.
Overall, I liked MGS3 just fine. Conversations with the codec correspondents were more fun, rather than a painful chore involving emotional withdrawal and nagging. The outdoors stuff was a nice change of pace. The End and The Boss fights were fantastic. The camo index is a great idea, though could use some tweaking to be less micromanagement-y. I'd say the overall story was a great yarn too, and far more grounded and accessible than the meme AI Patriots end speech of MGS2. And yeah, I do secretly enjoy whenever the game throws a curveball or fifty, because it makes the following bulletpoint observations more fun to write. I'd place it on par with MGS1, then, insofar as it was the sort of game I wouldn't normally be into, but was glad enough to finally see for myself and tick off the bucket list. I'm now all set for the rest of Metal Gear Scanlon 3, most importantly of all.
Snake, You've Got a Way to Fall. Many Ways, It Turns Out.
- Motorcycle chase! We're getting pursued by the lobster-like Shagohod while taking a circuitous route through the base. After a couple of shoot-outs, we went into automatic cutscene mode as Ocelot tried to gun us down. He has a little arm steadier thing for his revolver, it's adorable.
- I guess Volgin stopped caring about collateral damage. He just plowed through a bunch of dudes and a helicopter. In fairness, they probably shouldn't have put themselves directly in his path. Even if he wasn't an asshole who didn't give a shit about the lives of his men, it would've been hard to stop that tank in time.
- Let me tell you how easy it is to hit all the Kerotans in this sequence: not very. Many are strategically placed so you have time to hit them whenever Eva stops for a shootout. The ones on the runway, however? She doesn't even slow down here, and they're quite far away.
- Anyway, we eventually get to the bridge past the runway and blow the thing up, as planned. Ocelot barely missed driving his motorcycle into it (rats!) and most of the Shagohod is gone. Just the part with the guns is left. Well that's super.
- Shagohod boss. Nothing damages the thing beyond the occasional chip, but my rocket launcher (which now has infinite ammo) can knock out its guns. Importantly, it can also knock out its weird corkscrew drill treads temporarily, preventing it from turning around. The area at the back that used to be the rest of the tank isn't nearly as well protected.
- The second part of the fight's a little more interesting, because I'm now on foot while Eva distracts Volgin, who has decided to tear cables out of the tank and is now controlling it from on top. You know you had a perfectly good cockpit just a second ago, right? I don't think "grab cables and become one with the supertank" really works outside of a Valkyria Chronicles game, and that had magic blue-haired ladies in it.
- After the boss, we have some more (now vaguely anticlimactic) motorcycle chases, with even less time to hit the Kerotans. I haven't seen a frog this difficult to shoot since Charles de Gaulle. (Day of the Jackal? Not a big Frederick Forsyth crowd here?)
- The chase eventually ends, or rather, is it eventually ended for us by a log in the road. Eva gets herself punctured, and we're required to patch her up in the Survival Viewer. Interesting twist on that mechanic.
- I just applied a splint to a broken rib. Hey, we're having to make do here, this is field surgery.
- Wow, Eva's been through the wars if this medical history is anything to go by. This is a non-feature that lists all the recent things Snake's eaten or been injured by, but Eva's is mostly made up. Encephalitis, bronchitis, sprains, inner ear infections, night terrors (what?), broken nails (c'mon, Kojima, really?), breast enlargement (goddammit).
- Her list of eaten foods is... expensive sounding. Exactly how many French restaurants did Volgin have on the base? Why couldn't I find anything better than instant Ramen and Calorie Mate?
- OK, I guess I just went through a fictional woman's recent dietary habits and medical history. I'm not really in a position to cast aspersions on Kojima's creepiness. Like the old saying goes: People in glass houses shouldn't be using powerful binoculars to spy on their attractive neighbors through their glass walls. (I'm sure there's a more succinct version of that idiom.)
- To complete the creep trifecta, we can also feed her food. Why do I have to share all my hard-earned dead rats and insects?
- Also, she's very slow and her stamina bottoms out incredibly quickly because of her injury. It looks like I'm going to have to stop every five minutes to feed her an entire vivarium. So this is the escort quest I heard about; the one to rival Emma Emmerich's hydrophobic adventures in sheer "why even"itude.
- Oh, I'm sorry, I thought this was "Metal Gear Solid" not "the extended cut of the end of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid". Why are there so many soldiers? Have I been controlling Zack Fair this whole time?
- After a tense few areas in which whole squads would march in behind me, I'm finally at the lake. Eva suddenly gets her second wind or something because she's practically sprinting to the WIG we'll need to leave. Of course, I still have one target left...
- Whoa, the water texture on the lake did something weird when it zoomed in on Eva leaving.
- Oh boy, time for a big Kojima info dump. The Boss is wittering on about the Cobras, WW2, the Philosophers and the nature of enemies. It's sounding like she wants to create the Patriots?
- Aaaaand, The Boss was the first person sent into space. Because of her excellent martial ability? Never know if you'll need to CQC a Martian up there. (No seriously, what the hell? You need to be able to do more than drop a guy on his ass to be an astronaut.)
- Anyway, she got an epiphany in space about how everyone's not so different, and she wants to reform the presently-splintered Illuminati style guardian group "The Philosophers" to keep world peace united under one power.
- The Philosophers had a "Wiseman's Committee" too, all of whom died out around the 1930s (way to not carry the two, Otacon). So we're looking at the proto-Patriots here, or the Prototriots. And who just so happens to be the last surviving relative of any of the Wisemen? Yep, The Boss.
- This sure is a big speech. I guess she had a lot to get off her chest. Actually, she has one last thing on her chest to reveal: a kickass snake scar from a battlefield C-section.
- Now it's time for the boss fight to end all boss fights against The Boss (who is the boss of this boss fight) (just so we're clear).
- I like this. I mean, it's another timed battle, which I don't like quite so much, but The Boss is a very crafty opponent. Even so, I found multiple ways of taking her on, each with a different ratio of "speed" and "getting hurt". It's an exceptionally well-balanced fight, all things considered. Balanced in the sense that the designers took a long time to make it right, not that Snake would normally be a match for The Boss.
- I essentially have a few routes here: I can sneak underneath the flowerbed that spreads across this amazing looking area to sneak a few shots at The Boss while she's temporarily lost sight of me. It's a tough and lengthy process, because she's very cautious when she doesn't know where you are, and it's hard to see her through the flowers besides (almost like she knew this fight would be in a white field when she put on that white combat suit). I can also try to evade her SMG and take her down with CQC, which is faster but gets me hurt an awful lot.
- Almost every attack she does breaks something. I can't take one hit without fracturing a limb. Either she's incredibly strong or Snake drank nothing but Malk in elementary school.
- Here's a strange element to this fight: there's a few snakes of all breeds lying around the field, I guess to play into the whole Snake/snake tattoo imagery, but there's a few ones unique to this area: Solid Snake, Liquid Snake and Solidus Snake. They all tasted great!
- Though ten minutes is not nearly enough for the stealthy approach, and the limited number of life medicine and splints barely covers the injuries incurred fighting her up close, I eventually managed to get her down. She's like The Fury or Volgin, in that she'll take three hits and be knocked on her ass for a while, so that's a great time to sneak in some extra hits (if you can find where her prone form is among the white flowers, that is).
- I'll admit to dying a few times. Either because I was careless with keeping in shape with the surgeries, or the time limit expired and MiGs just bombed the crap out of the entire area. The Boss called those guys in to incinerate me if I can't beat her, have a long sad scene where I mourn her death, have her horse walk up and make plaintive whinnies as if everything wasn't depressing enough, run to the WIG where Eva's waiting a few hundred yards away, do all the necessary pre-flight checks and then take off all within ten minutes. Just imagine what would happen if Drew was the guy piloting the escape plane: we'd still be figuring out where the "Britain" switch was as the bombs fell.
- Anyway, The Boss needs putting out of her misery, and they leave it to the player to hit the trigger because this is the one time the game decides not to be fully automatic. I won't say the inevitable moment took quite as long to reach as Kaworu's death by Unit 01 in Neon Genesis Evangelion (hey, someone has to keep the anime quotient up around here), but I did momentarily forget which button actually shoots. Hey there, I'm Big Boss, the legendary soldier.
- Once The Boss has been shot, the entire field of flowers turns red (why couldn't you do that before and take away her camouflage? Stupid flowers) and her spirit departs to the afterlife with The Sorrow's. It's more straight up magic, but I'll accept it this time.
- We gotta leave, since someone decided summoning the MiGs was more important than leaving your bereaved assassin some time to bury you, but even after picking up some steam we're suddenly dinged by one of those flying platforms. Jetson! You'rrrrrrrrrrrre fir-
- Nope, it's Ocelot. I guess he can't leave this alone. We get into one more fistfight (dude's figured out how to counter CQC at last) and then it's one more turn with the juggle guns (which almost sounds like a Tom Waits song).
- We're really going to finish this with a shell game? I wasn't paying attention to which revolver was which. He put them behind his back! That's cheating!
- Needless to say, I picked the wrong one. The bullet was a blank anyway. Ocelot was just giving us a hard time before obligingly leaping out of the plane so it was light enough to take off. Thanks for stopping by, guy. Thanks for breaking my cow lamp.
- Oh right, the MiGs. Turns out they have missiles as well as bombs and we're in their airspace. Looks like this is it. You know, Eva, I... I never got to say this, maybe I was too shy, but... holy crap was that escort quest annoying. You couldn't have brought a snack with you?
- The MiGs go away. Khrushchev's orders. Remind me to buy that guy a vodka. Wait, he's not the Russian Premier that was a raging alcoholic, was he? No wait, that's all of them. (I'm so sorry, Russian readers. Prosti, pozhaluysta.)
- They're letting us save again? Isn't this the end of the game? I mean, it could be for NG+, but I get a sense we have way more cutscenes to sit through. I mean, uh, enjoy. Enjoy the rich tapestry of this piece of... master. Masterpiece! That's almost certainly not too strong a word!
- Well, finally (finally!) Snake's ready for make-out times. A sizzling love scene between a ruggedly handsome, bearded renegade and a lady wearing a partially zipped-down jumpsuit throughout. Why, that sounds oddly familiar...
- She splits before Snake wakes up. Turns out the pretty blonde spy had been working for the Chinese all along. Figures?
- And she's one of the Philosophers. Kidnapped as a child to serve the Chinese branch of the Philosophers, specifically. Well, that makes more sense.
- So is the next game about stealing this Legacy blueprint back from China?
- Meeting the Prez for a medal, a handshake, a ham, a plaque, a discount coupon book and his own personal thumbs-up. Wait, who's that outside the window? Is that... Vamp?!
- Nah, it's Ocelot who gets the role of "inexplicable ending cinematic cameo" this time. A Spetsnaz agent in full CCCP uniform standing outside the White House doing his little shooty hand gesture to the room that the President's in. I wish I could say it was the greatest failing of the US Secret Service in the 1960s, but...
- Ha ha, no handshake for that other guy. You suck, four-eyes! Director of the CIA? More like direct your attention to that sick burn.
- So wait, if Snake became Big Boss by killing The Boss, wouldn't that make Solid Snake "Bigger Boss"?
- Oh jeeeeez. This bit about The Boss and her actual intentions at the end. Absolutely brutal. He once had to dig a bullet out of his dick with a fork, but this has to be the most painful thing Snake's ever been through.
- She's a hero. A true goddamn hero, and a patriot. And I threw Liquid Snake at her as a distraction (hey, I was getting pretty desperate with that fight, all right?). _;7
- Ending song's a real downer too. But hey, it all works out for the best for Big Boss in the end, right? He gets to sneak around in a box with a bikini girl on it in the next game. Chin up, champ.
Either way, that is the end of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. Thanks for joining me on... wait a second...
- Ocelot's talking to a mysterious voice. It's the traditional mysterious voice revelations post-credits scene!
- Eva took a fake! Ocelot had the real Legacy all along, and handed it over to... America! You rascal, Ocelot. Looks like the American branch of the Philosophers won after all. Or should I say... The Patriots?
Okay, that's it for real. Thank you all for reading, and I absolutely appreciate everyone's comments and suggestions. I'm sorry I didn't quite find the time to explore all the cool secrets, but then there's always Drew's visit to Tselinoyarsk (or YouTube, should it come to that). Maybe Dan will prod him towards some of those Easter eggs I missed. I'll be looking forward to watching that series either way, of course.
There's nothing left to say, so I guess it's time to... wait, Doc Brown?
"Mento! You've gotta come back with me!"
"Back to the future!"
Whoa, wait a minute, Doc. What are you talking about? What happens to Big Boss in the future? What, does he become an asshole or something?
"No, no, no, no, no, Mento. Well, yes. And dead. But... it's his kids, Mento! Something gotta be done about his kids!"