By Mento 8 Comments
So I guess we're doing this again. Metal Gear Solid 4. I'll warn you, it gets rougher to read the further you go down, but since I always write these intros last I can tell you that despite what follows I'm actually enjoying this game, admittedly by a very loose definition of the term. I'm like Alex Navarro, inasmuch as my sense of humor is apparently powered by spite and ridicule. For as often as I take digs at the game and by extension its fans (as that's how it always seems to work whenever bad reviews show up), I want to assuage any concerns and say that I think it's perfectly acceptable to like this game from what I've played so far. Maybe even love it. Just, uh, be aware that I'm probably not going to be particularly kind to it, mechanically or narratively, in the near future.
While we're discussing the usual disclaimers: You guys shouldn't be reading this if you're unfamiliar with the game and/or haven't yet seen up to this point in the Metal Gear Scanlon video series, happening concurrently with this observational log style LP. I haven't seen any of those videos myself - I half expect Ryckert to run his mouth about something that shows up later in the game and immediately try covering it up by switching to Party Bill for fifteen minutes - but they're easily the best place to get the hours and hours of exposition that this game regularly throws at you for which I am providing only the barest summary thereof. I'd also like to point you towards Part One, Part Two and Part Three if you're just joining us. I know how new blog notifications tend to get buried.
The end point for today: The completion of Act 2: Solid Sun. Nice and succinct.
- Getting better at moving through areas now that I'm just finding somewhere small and concealed to hide, tranq-ing every person I see and tranq-ing everyone who comes by to check up on them. The ammunition I'm using is easily replenished with the money made from collecting all their weapons. As always seems to be the case these tranq guns are OP, but I'm not complaining. I'm really just here for the story; for as frequently as I mock it.
- Hey, I discovered a new control thing. Folk are suggesting I look to alternate ways to play to keep myself amused, and I found one: if you hold the movement analog stick very gently while crawling Snake starts moving extremely slowly while humping the ground. I'm sure that'll come in useful later. Maybe I'll need to press a button on the floor at some point without the use of my hands.
- I don't know what these boys are carrying, but I'm getting $12k apiece for them. Is it weird that I wish there were more items to purchase other than weapons? Like little figurines, maybe? (I already found one of those in the parking garage after the FROG soldiers, so I'm guessing they're boss trophies? Or maybe they're like the camos of MGS3 in that they only drop from non-lethal boss defeats?) Actually, I probably have enough weapons and ammo to buy without worrying about cosmetic extras I don't need. I mean... what was I really suggesting, here? Concept art?
- I'm finding that, after tranqing PMCs, the rebels run past and shoot them in the head. Hey, I'm not taking the blame for those. You make your own bed (so to speak) when you fall asleep on the battlefield.
- So the big base to the northeast is bad news, but the one to the west is considerably safer without all these mortars going off. I suspect I probably should've gone that way to begin with.
- I figured out that there's a difference between exclamation points in this game: a blue one says "I've been shot! There's someone out there!" and red means "Hey asshole! Those bullets you shot at me hurt!". Which is to say: Blue (or white) means that you haven't blown your cover but the dude is looking towards wherever the shot came from, while red means that they can see you. Spotting the blue exclamation point is super helpful for figuring out if your tranq hit them or not because they otherwise won't react at all until they eventually fall over.
- Also the Mosin Nagant is loud. I'm making sure not to use it in populated areas to take down distant enemies (like those in watchtowers) in case I get made by the noise it makes. Rather, I'm shooting them from remote areas outside of where they're gathered. It's sort of like how I used to clear out bases in Far Cry 3 and 4. Well, except for the part where I shot the locks off tiger/elephant enclosures.
- We're now at Vista Mansion. A bunch of arid grasslands seems like a pretty crappy place for a mansion. Especially now that a bunch of army dudes are blowing it up.
- Being in the mansion is better than being outside, I've discovered. The place itself seems empty, while there's PMC soldiers all around its perimeter that keep showing up. You have to wonder where they're coming from, but then there's just as many rebels pouring in from nowhere to help me out so maybe I should just overlook this.
- Who the heck is Akina Minami? I found a picture of her and Snake seemed super pleased. Well, not quite as pleased as he was with that girly poster he found in a locker that one time, but he still recognized her and his psych meter went up. Wait, are cheesecake photos all I need to get Snake's psych meter up? 'Cause I'm rocking five or six Playboys at the moment.
- After a crazy route through the mansion, happily devoid of enemies, I found the hidden research lab. Weird coincidence that I name-dropped the Spencer Mansion last time. I suspect I'm going to get an earful when I finally locate Naomi; provided I don't get a faceful from her guards first. Of bullets, I mean. Weirdos.
- Oh wait, it's just Naomi here. We sure built up a lot of suspense for nothing then. When we finally see her, we spend an awful long time looking at her cleavage (there's not even a prompt this time, like there was in MGS3) as she completes a phonecall and then gets hit with what looks like a non-fatal FOXDIE attack. I guess that's what she injected herself with earlier. Except she just injected herself again, so maybe this is to slow down FOXDIE? I dunno. I'm sensing there's going to be a tragic arc with Naomi, because that's how Kojima rolls with female characters.
- While we're talking about Otacon and Ocelot, I keep seeing glimpses of OctoLady with the L1 view. Boss fight!
- Well, no, long dialogue about what Dr. Naomi's been up to first, then boss fight. Vegetables before dessert, I guess would be the pertinent analogy here.
- Talking of pertinent, do we really need to keep staring at Dr. Naomi's chest as we're talking to her? It's odd how they portray Snake as both a sex-starved maniac and a suave action guy who's too cool to get involved with all the ladies swooning over him. I guess that never stopped the writers of City Hunter though. Now that's an anime Dan would be into.
- More nanomachine talk. Apparently, that affair that occurred at the end of Act One was Naomi and Liquid turning off everyone's nanomachines, which had up to that point been regulating their hormones and other brain chemicals. The sudden burst of post-traumatic stress and lack of emotional regulators caused them all to freak out like that. I'm not sure I buy it, given how much dialogue has been spent on how the nanos minimize war atroicities and other elements of combat that might scar a dude for life, but I guess those little bots can do some psychological damage after tinkering with one's noggin for so long.
- I also note that Kojima loves to wheel out this computer footage of soldier mugshots and little gauges everywhere. Presumably, this is how the Patriot AIs see the world.
- We get to hear a bit more about our old ninja cyborg buddy Gray Fox when Naomi eventually says this: "Until that point, war was like a game to them." Suddenly a list of all the Metal Gear games shows up in the XMB format. It'd be cute if it wasn't so blunt.
- I just refilled my psych bar with a sneaky upskirt glance. Turning this off.
So that's the end of our Metal Gear Solid 4 run. I'd like to thank everyone for joining me on this journey, and for all the advice and comments you've been providing with each new entry. As I consider the direction Metal Gear has-
- No, I'm just messing with you. Like Solid Snake and war, I've slowly built up a tolerance to the intolerable.
- We need to get naked now and there's no time to explain why. Naomi freaks out and starts crying as soon as she sees Snake without his shirt on. When doves cry, man.
- She mentioned that "70% of [my nanomachines] were lost through breeding or excretion." By "breeding", does she mean those nanomachines left via...? Which were then passed onto...? Wow. I think Snake has some difficult phone calls to make once he gets back home.
- Naomi confirmed that Snake's short lifespan is due to how he was genetically built, rather than something he contracted later in life. I guess this had all but been confirmed in the previous games but it doesn't hurt to make sure here. I also get to save the game, which isn't ominous at all.
- "How long do I have?" "Half a year." *psych meter goes down, makes a slide whistle noise.* I guess it was either that or the Price is Right foghorn.
- We have a bigger problem, it seems. The FOXDIE is mutating inside Snake's body, threatening to turn into super AIDSthrax and just murder everyone instead of specific targets like the DARPA chief. It'll be like Outbreak, which makes me hope that Drebin's creepy monkey will be the first to bite it.
- Oh, and the disease is likely to start spreading in three months. That's another slide whistle. At least he gets to have his cigarette. Can I get a psych boost for that?
- OK, so now it's the boss fight. After a few waves of FROG grunts, Laughing Octopus shows up and the real fight starts. This is our first proper boss fight! Yay! She's tough to hit when she's out in the open because she'll reflect most bullets with her tentacles. She does let her guard down when she's about to fire her SMG, so I'm using that to blat her with the Mosin Nagant and getting out of view. If she can't see you she can't block the bullet, so it looks like finding hiding places to shoot from is working out. I'm also dropping stun grenades when appropriate.
- She's invisible to both myself and the Solid Eye radar (though I admit to my chagrin that I forgot about the night vision), but she frequently taunts me which ghosts her position briefly on the radar. She's also way more perceptive than I am, so it's hard to get the drop on her. I'm actually finding it easier to just whomp her with the Mosin and hit her again when she recovers, though she will eventually curl up into an invincible ball, drop an inky smoke grenade and send some testicle grenade things floating after me.
- Now she's rolling into me. It's like fighting a psychopathic female Sonic the Hedgehog. (So Amy Rose the Hedgehog, then.) I also noticed my camo is doing absolutely nothing if its percentage is anything to go by, so I guess whatever advanced OctoCamo she's wearing can see through mine.
- Oh god, she was posing as the MRI machine and surprised me as I passed by. This battle is starting to unnerve me. I'm just going to try to brute force it before Snake's (and my) heart gives out.
- Found her that time. She was in a box, with her tentacles hanging out (ew). I guess she wants to play hide and go seek, huh? She was the simulacrum next (I wondered why that was here. Why else decorate Naomi's lab like it was a science classroom?).
- Otacon starts calling me. One check-in with the Codec later and... yep, that's not him. Nice try, OctoLady. I now recall that she's based on Decoy Octopus from the first game: the master of disguise and duplicity. Hey OctoLady guess what? I killed that dude without even trying, so what hope do you have?
- Ha, I didn't see where Otacon's voice was coming from. It was from a five-foot tall Mk.2, just standing in the corridor. I retract my "nice try".
- Wow, posing as the body of one of the fallen soldiers that time. Unfortunately, she was lying on top of another one, and I already knew where all the bodies were. Doesn't help her that she keeps killing their prone forms with her explosives (and I won't take the blame for those either).
- Okay, turning into Naomi isn't going to convince anyone. I saw her get carted out of here, and she wasn't wearing skintight leather. Though I suppose any excuse to depict her in same, right?
- Finally, I took her down. Actually not too tough: While she hid a lot, she also telegraphed her attacks a fair deal, making it easy to get out of the way of her gunfire. The arena with all its doorways and windows to hide behind helped too. It felt more like a tutorial boss fight that set the tone and meter for the rest to come. I approve - sussing out her hiding places and the spooky atmosphere set by this insane octopus lady was a lot of fun. There you go, I've said a positive thing about the game.
- I'm talking like I didn't expect there to be a second stage to this fight. She sheds her tentacles and reveals herself to be... Heather Mason? So wait... you're telling me this young woman was a squid now, and she's a kid now? She's a squid, she's a kid? Unprecedented.
- She's still crazy, and I don't think I want to go near her. She's coming in for the hug and I'm not having any of it. She's legit creeping me out even more than before just following me around with a static grin on her face. Also the whole arena just went grayscale and the BGM's gone super hardcore weird. Guys, am I dying? I mean in real life? Is that burned toast I smell...?
- Well, "Laughing Beauty" has a health gauge, so I'm taking out the Mk. 2 Pistol and turning her into "Sleeping Beauty" if it's the last thing I do.
- I took too long, so I got punished with a time limit and had my background privileges taken away. It's just white space now.
- She finally went to sleep, though it almost appeared as if she bought the farm with a very tragic and tearjerking death scene in which the camera spent 80% of its time staring at her shapely derriere. You might assume I'm being too gutter-minded about all this salacious camera work, but if it zoomed in any closer we'd be able to see her kidneys.
- Oh sweet, we picked up her FaceCamo. Now we can get up to some Mission: Impossible mischief. Well, after it gets adjusted to fit around a mustache. (The game just completely ignores this and lets you equip it in the very next sequence.)
- Holy crap, this backstory on Laughing Octopus. You're a sick guy, Kojima. Also it all reads like some terrible creepypasta: "everyone in her village was killed by cultists except for her and then they made her torture and kill her family even her dumb brother who still hasn't given her back her yu-gi-oh cards including the super rare mega-pharaoh card brent and then they made her laugh when doing it and then she saw the blood was black like octopus ink instead of red and laughed some more and then she became an octopus who laughed and killed people and then she found a haunted pokemon red cartridge that told her she would die in seven days unless she traded evil pikachu to another person with the link cable and then they would die instead also it said 'slendermon' on the title screen."
- Oh hey, so I got her FaceCamo and her face for the FaceCamo. Now I can walk around pretending to be her. The chameleonic mask's on the other face now, ain't it?
- Got in contact with Raiden again. He apparently became a tracking master since we last saw him. Dude's really made an effort to improve himself after the feedback he got in MGS2, wowzers. I like how he suggests Snake track the prints and Snake says "I'm not Big Boss, I don't know how to track" which is just one step removed from "This isn't MGS3 and there's no hunting and tracking mechanics. I'm going to need to visit GameFAQs for a map or something."
- "Ninja are the ultimate scouts." Yep, even after going up five levels in badass, our little Raiden is still the weenie we loved to love feeling ambivalent about.
- Haha, this Laughing Beauty mask looks super great on my muscly old man body. Oh boy the fanart this probably lead to.
- Anyway, enough funning around with masks and stupid Raiden. I gotta follow Naomi's trail to see where she was taken. Raiden said a whole lot about birdcalls and the wind, but it looks like I'm just following footprints. That knucklehead always has to make things difficult.
- Did I just find a crop circle? The dulcet tones of Colonel Campbell recanted his experience with a UFO (the AI rambling of MGS2, of course, which Solid Snake couldn't have possibly known about) as I checked around for alien weaponry. No zappers, alas. I bet they would've been worth a mint.
- "Naomi's footprints just vanish beyond this point. But just hers." That's because Jesus was carrying her at that point. I guess I need to look for a guy with long hair and a beard who has a habit of coming back from the dead.
- Yeah, yeah, Vamp grabbed her. I sort of figured already. Snake chose to shoot him in the same place Raiden did. Maybe he figured twice was the charm. Even with a hole through his head he finished a chat with Liquid on his mobile and took a nap as the chopper took off, just before hitting us with the brown note again. Is every Act going to end this way?
- Those mooing Rockette robots are back. Fortunately, Naomi gave me some syringes earlier to counter this nanomachine business so I don't have to fight them with the nastiest of hangovers.
- An oddly altruistic Drebin suddenly drives up to the chopper and caught Naomi. Apparently the goons in the back of the chopper (who also inoculated themselves) had no problem with this. Maybe Vamp never filled them in about how crucial Naomi was before his forty winks? Honestly, if I was a regular mercenary (well, a regular nanomachine-enhanced super soldier) I'd be sitting there wondering what the hell was happening too. My boss just got shot in the dome mid-phonecall, an old man in a musclesuit opened fire on my buddies and a monkey riding on an AFV just kidnapped the woman I'd rescued minutes before. Makes you wonder what was in those injections.
- Well, we all got in and escaped the Geckos. The monkey offered the nice doctor lady a cold beverage. You know he probably tampered with that can, right?
- The Act's still not over? We're being chased through all the prior regions now on top of Drebin's AFV. And, well...
- I decided to restart from the last checkpoint because I'd murdered people with the turret-cannon before realizing I had a strong enough tranq weapon to get past the power-armored dudes without despoiling my "no kills" rule. So I quit to the main menu, loaded up the auto-save and... there's no auto-save. I forgot that the people who made this game are living in the damn 1980s. So I'm back to just after the Laughing Octopus boss fight. Just gimme an hour to get back to where I was, and...
- OK, so back to the truck then. I think from now on I'm just going to ignore any comments that say anything along the lines of "the checkpointing isn't too bad. In fact it's probably too generous" because they're made by silly people who should go to a dungeon. That mountain trail area was just as huge the second time.
- Okay, so this region does have a checkpoint mid-way through that I didn't notice. All you silly people can be released from that dungeon now. I've got my eye on you, though.
- Drebin: "We've got an MGS on our ass." More like this MGS is ass. Yeah, I said it.
- Finally reached a marketplace where we crashed the truck. We're certainly taking our time getting out of the vehicle, given how those Geckos were mooing down our necks a minute ago. Ah well, out of sight, out of mind.
- Well, they're still hovering around, turns out. Then Raiden showed up and just one-shotted a whole bunch of them with his little samurai sword. Hey, game, even if you show me Raiden doing cool ninja shit it's not going to change a thing. Once a weenie, always a weenie.
- So the last part of this Act involves running past a bunch of Geckos to reach Otacon's helicopter in the town square. Those things were tearing the place up and spinkicking me to near-death whenever I got too close. Sure was exciting though. Too bad about all those poor civilians getting trampled, but as I've said a number of times before: That shit won't stick on me. I'm Teflon.
- Naomi got to the chopper and shared an interesting look with Otacon. What's going on with you two? Did you know he still wets the bed, Naomi? Or, more vitally, that all his love interests end up dead because drama reasons?
- Vamp's here again. He's doing little pirouettes under the Geckos. I really, really hate that man.
- He's going to torture Raiden, but stuff happens. I dunno. I'm inclined to skip anything regarding either of these two Todd McFarlane rejects. Let them lick blood homoerotically and do ballet dance choreography and talk about how they don't fear death all they want - I don't have to pay attention to any of it.
- Oh good, please say they just killed each other. That would make my millennium.
- No such luck. A half-dead Raiden's now with us in the chopper, and Vamp's going back to Liquid to presumably
write poetry about the full moon iceskate up a hill send his bat minions to knock Vinny Belmont down a pit over and oversearch for Big Boss's body. Try the MSX.
- Also I guess Raiden is a robot now. That's SMAKA #3, because there's no way I managed to completely avoid hearing about Revengeance. He's also vomiting up Bishop blood everywhere in the chopper; it looks like the War Boys have been through here there's so much chrome paint.
- We are to meet Raiden's boss "Big Mama" next. We're coming for you Martin Lawrence!
And that's the end of Act 2. The thlot is certainly pickening now, and the game's established a lot more in this Act than the previous one did. We now know that: multiple parties are looking for Big Boss's corpse; the nanomachines regulate emotions and can be used to mess with people; Vamp still looks like an extra from the rave at the start of Blade; Raiden's an androgynous ninja robot from one of Otacon's Japanese animes; Snake will kill the whole world in three months with his foxy virus; I'm quickly losing patience with any game that doesn't know how to save properly; the Beauty and Beast fights work by creeping me out with scary discordant laughter/screaming and then creeping me out in an entirely separate way by showing off so much squirming latex T&A that the Marquis de Sade would be embarrassed if he was caught watching it; Drebin's monkey still dwells within the uncanny primate valley; and finally, despite every impulse in my brain telling me to stop, I need to see what happens in Act 3 (which I only imagine is the last Act because that's how Acts are supposed to work).
Thanks for stopping by for this super lengthy blog today. I wanted to keep going until I saw that end of Act results screen and maintain this "two entries per Act" system I've got going on, but it turns out I had a lot to say about the first B&B fight and the madness before and after. Don't be too concerned with how quickly I appear to be burning out on this game: I'm in it for the long haul now, and I don't like quitting games (or blog series, for that matter) midway through. At the very least I hope my pain continues to be entertaining for you all. Apologies to anyone who actually likes this game; our love can never be, for our worlds are far too different.
Stick around for Part Five, where we'll locate Big Mama's house and get even more answers. Nothing but answers, you might say. Can you believe I thought the game would be cagey about revealing too much too soon? What series did I think I was playing?