By Mento 12 Comments
Kept you waiting, huh? Like a whole 24 hours almost. Welcome to Part Three of my foray through the forests and fjords of this... fuckin'... fing. Alliteration may have failed me, but so far this game hasn't. Besides that one time when I almost quit. Let's not talk about that though.
Instead, I wanted to talk more about the camouflage system, since it's the game's big new feature and surprisingly in-depth. As I've stated before, there's numerous facepaint and uniform types that Snake can switch between on the fly to suit his immediate surroundings. Occasionally, this'll even mean switching while in the same area. Drastically increasing or decreasing your "camo index", which is to say the total effectiveness of the current camouflage worn as indicated by a percentage at the top right of the screen, will have a profound effect on how easily the guards can spot you. You're boned if you start moving while they're looking right at you, but beyond that there's a lot of leeway if you have a high camo index and are at least somewhat concealed. Conversely, they can see you from half a mile away if you're wearing a suit covered in ducks or cartoon poop or whatever. It's a bit of a hassle to be constantly jumping in and out of the camo menu to fix yourself up, much like it's a hassle to keep yourself fed constantly, fix your boo-boos or organize what's allowed to appear in your in-the-field trigger button menus, but I get the sense it's all supposed to evoke an old-fashioned approach to espionage and sneaking, devoid of the modern conveniences of the first two games. That said, if I ever put "Metal Gear Solid" and "verisimilitude" in the same sentence, I give you all permission to strand me in a jungle with nothing but a cigar.
Anyway, let's get on with the next update. I'm going to do something to help those who stumbled onto these observations and didn't want to be hit with all manner of spoilers by beginning each fresh new update with a vague description of the last thing I did last time. In this case: . It should be clear enough to anyone familiar with the game where I am, and vague enough to anyone who isn't that nothing will get ruined. (Oh yeah, and there's .)
The Pain and The Fear? Sounds like My Proctology Exam! Wackity-Schmackity-Doooo!
- Upon loading the game back up, I notice the "Snake Eater" video now plays instead of going straight to the start screen. It's a nice touch for them to only "activate" it once the player had begun the main mission. I guess they wanted players to see this vid for the very first time at the point where it would be thematically appropriate in a Bond movie: which is to say, right after the cold open.
- That said, it does remind me of a JRPG I played once where the opener movie actually changed depending on how far you were into the game/story, sorta like how some long-running TV shows regularly changed their intro montages to feature scenes from more recent episodes. I want to say it was either Wild ARMs 3 or Grandia II (maybe both?).
- Fun conversation about eating my own feces with Para-Medic. How's this romance subplot coming along, you ask?
- This cave system is quite extensive. I'm getting into the habit of checking the map for incomplete walls, because that usually indicates a tunnel I haven't found yet. So far I've found some Night-Vision Goggles, torches and a bunch of tasty subterranean critters.
- Oh. Remember when I said I'd end an update after defeating a boss? Well, it looks like the game pulled a fast one on me and threw the first Cobra my way before I could even escape the cave.
- The Pain, for those who remember me saying this earlier, was the boss that, conceptually, reminded me of a character from Ninja Scroll (mild spoilers) who could also control stinging insects, and who also forced the hero to hide underwater. While I was expecting a horribly disfigured guy surrounded with hornets, I didn't quite anticipate him having a Cobra Commander voice, pulling Star Wars Kid kung-fu poses and constantly yelling his own name. Not even Fatman was this one-sided, and he was a fat man.
- The Pain's fight takes place in a well-lit cave filled with water. Was Once A Man stands on a central island, and the goal is to use the water to escape his sight (he has a "bee shield" up whenever he knows where you are, which is the most Mega Man bullshit I've seen so far in this series), evade his bees (which will spot you eventually on his behalf) and try to get in as many shots while floating on the surface before he sees you and summons the hornets again. He'll also toss grenades in the water intermittently to flush you out, so I made sure to never dawdle.
- Overall, that wasn't a particularly tough fight. Swim around a bit until he yells tellingly about how "you can run but can't hide", pop up and hit him a few times in the head and repeat. After that he yells "The Pain!" a few more times and blows himself up. What a buzzkill.
- In case it wasn't clear, I'll be stopping at the next boss. I didn't think eight bulletpoint items was really going to cut it for an update. Dammit Kojima, space these guys out a little why don't you?
- Another nice touch I noticed in that boss fight: my camouflage was useless. Everything registered with the same visibility. I guess they didn't want that system interfering with a boss's pre-determined capacity to detect you?
- There's not much to say about the rest of the cave. I did spot a few bottomless pits, which seems a bit unrealistic, but then I did just fight a guy who had bees in his mouth and when he barked he shot bees at me.
- The next area is an aqueduct, so I put on my best water camouflage. This area has these weird Jetsons-like flying sentries, so I'm going to have to do a lot of diving under waist-high water to stay hidden.
- Found a passageway to the west, and it appears this little detour paid off. Found more stun grenades, extra suppressors for my tranq gun (gotta remember to take those off in boss fights) and a sniper rifle. Not that I'm going for kills, but hey, might be useful for spotting some of those Kerotans.
- Cutscene time. Also, man, does this game have a lot of scenes where the bad guy feels up a woman's chest. Usually belonging to Eva/Tanya. (Which I'm sure are the same person. Or identical twins.)
- What would you even call the sort of juggling Russian roulette stunt that Ocelot just tried? Russian craps? Russian Yahtzee?
- Oh! I've heard of this! SMAKA Alert... what, #6? The cutscene finishes with an introduction to The End, an elderly sniper prodigy, as he is wheeled through a warehouse by a bodyguard. I can take him out right here and now with the sniper rifle and save myself a tough boss fight later on, though I hear it's quite tough to pull off in time. It'll no doubt count as a kill too. Well, this is what save scumming is for.
- On reflection, I'm not sure depriving myself of a memorable boss fight in my first run is necessarily the best idea. I'm sure Dan won't prompt Drew into doing it - he'll probably explain after The End disappears that Drew could've shot him.
- Dammit, after hearing that Eva Codec that explains Ocelot's the kid of some mystery "legendary hero", I can't help but notice how closely he resembles The Boss in this scene they have together. I hope I'm off-base here. There's no reason he would've been raised in the USSR if that's the case.
- I spoiler blocked that last one in case I'm right. I daren't check to make sure.
- Anyway, the warehouse. Should be fun. Jungle stuff is neat, but I'd enjoy some more hiding behind walls and under crates. Can't believe I'm getting nostalgic about MGS 1; I only played it for the first time last year.
- I neglected to mention at some point during the above that I'm now being hunted by The Fear, the Cobra I know least about. Hoping for some sort of Arkham Asylum psychological Scarecrow boss encounter later.
- Moving through the warehouse. Found some Ramen. I mean, I guess there's no reason why a recently invented Japanese instant-noodle dinner wouldn't be in some Russian warehouse. Para-Medic said to bring some back for her. Want me to grab some Pocky and Japanese animes too, while I'm here?
- Forest. Nothing to pontificate on here, though it was once again filled with Vietnam-style booby traps. I noticed a dead scientist stuck to one of the swinging logs before leaving. Too bad for that guy! Where's your MacArthur Grant now?
- Anyway, this Graniny Gorki (sounds like the universal greeting from the Transformers movie) is the big lab area we think Sokolov is being held at. I'm having to sneak past fences and guards to get in here. It's fun. Lots of casing the joint for security weaknesses and vents and such. I guess this is more "general stealth game" content than what I've been experiencing so far.
- Ahh, you knock on the door to get the guy to open it for you, then you hit them in the face. I worked it out all by myself!
- This lab's a pretty big place, compared to these smaller outdoors areas. Three floors, guards on patrol everywhere, lots of places to hide if things go sour. I did get spotted a few times (the courtyard is a lot more exposed than I thought) but it wasn't difficult to elude everyone.
- These scientists are the worst though. It takes a split second for one of them to raise an alarm. Why can't you run around in circles and get picked off by Vortigaunts like a good little bunch of geniuses?
- Met Granin. He seems to be the bigshot scientist around here, and chewed my ear off about me running through tranq-ing all his subordinates. Then, a history lesson about... Metal Gear?!
- Wait, is that a portrait of Granin with an Emmerich of some description?
- This room is ridiculous. He has statues of Metal Gear RAYs and everything.
- Eventually, we're given our next destination: a giant fortress via another exit from that warehouse I passed through earlier. I gotta get back there, past a jungle and some mountains and then find an underground tunnel into the fortress, which is otherwise impenetrable. He gave us all the details because we complimented his shoes, apparently.
- Thanks Granin! Good luck with your giant walking tank idea! Nice guy.
- Instantly spotted by scientists again on the way out. These guys are going to be the death of me. Or it'll be my clone in twenty years. Either one.
- Before I walked too far back, I got jumped in that forest full of death traps just outside the lab. The Fear is yet another character I strongly doubt was ever hailed as a national war hero, what with him being a creepy snake man. Actually, this guy isn't so much a Ninja Scroll villain as one from the Golgo 13 movie (spoilers for this one too). I wonder if these are deliberate allusions? I figure if Kojima was ever big into anime movies, they'd be ones that he watched as a young man (Golgo 13: The Professional came out in 1983) that were also full of spy gadget shit and reticent protagonists.
- Anyway, The Fear is a Predator-style fight with an opaque opponent jumping through the trees (the name of the trophy I got for beating him, "If It Bleeds We Can Kill It", is a not-so-subtle nod to this). He fires crossbow bolts rather than bullets, and each one that hit home required some surgery to fix. I actually thought I was going to have a real problem with this guy, but then something weird happened.
- After dropping his health enough, he started hunting animals instead of paying attention to me. His routine was to kill something (I could hear the whizzing noise that occurred whenever animals turned into food) and then run down and eat it quickly. He's incredibly open during this entire process, even while invisible, and I was able to fill him with bullets as he kept trying to heal himself over and over. One time I even grabbed his prey before he could reach it.
- For those keeping score at home, that's one boss I beat by playing Marco Polo, and another I beat by stealing his lunch. I'm hoping the third boss fight will involve toilets and swirlies so I can complete the Grade School Bully Trifecta.
- So yeah, I'm not sure I feel good about this victory. I mean, screw the guy for being one of those asshole bosses that can heal themselves, but it went from this nerve-wracking El Diablo cazador de hombre business to kind of a joke mid-way through. Like The Pain, he also exploded at the end too. I wonder if that's a running theme? Maybe I wasn't far off with that Mega Man crack earlier...
Anyway, I did say I'd end it on the next boss, so here we are. We'll be heading back to the warehouse for the next part, and then onto the jungle and mountains after that. We've still got two (or three?) more Cobras too: The End, The Boss and possibly The Sorrow, if they genuinely think I'm going to have much luck shooting a spectre. Hopefully I'll find a Proton Pack sometime soon. See you all then.