Mento Gear Solid 4: Puns of the Patriots: Part Seven (Finale)

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All right, time to wrap this bad boy up. I've been given an ultimatum, of sorts, with Dan's UPF announcement that he intends for him and Drew to complete Metal Gear Solid 4 before the anniversary of the Metal Gear Scanlon feature on August 20th. That's actually a week and change, but they seemed adamant that they would ramp up the number of episodes per week until it was done, and it'll almost certainly conclude in some kind of livestream I'll want to be around for. With that in mind, I had little recourse but to finish the rest of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots with this entry.

As always, feel free to peruse Parts One, Two, Three, Four, Five and Six before jumping into this final Act summary. Possibly consider waiting until Dan and Drew have completed the game before reading unless you're already very familiar with MGS4. If the only thing that surprises you in the following bulletpoints is how exhausted I sound, then you're good to go.

  • Here it is, the last mission briefing. Will we see scrambled eggs today?
  • Actually, it looks like the briefing is on the USS Missouri. We apparently only got that establishing shot of the Nomad in case... uh, we wanted to see the Nomad one last time?
  • What is going on with the physical comedy between Mei Ling and her ship pointer? Why does she have a pointer with a ship at the end, for that matter? Was she really considered a comic relief character back in MGS1? I know her proverbs were goofy but I thought she was supposed to be some kind of prodigy instead of a klutz who falls over and shows her ass to people.
  • "People" in this case is Akiba, who gets a very withering look from Meryl after getting an eyeful. I guess those two lovebirds are fine but I don't see their two pals anywhere. Maybe they really did buy it at the end of the third Act. I'll miss you most of all, exclamation point mohawk.
  • Akiba just reached in for the butt grab as Mei Ling walked by. This guy's a member of the military?
  • Snake volunteered himself for a suicide mission, moving through a room full of human-evaporating microwaves to reach Liquid's GW AI. Psst, hey buddy, we can talk about this alone somewhere?
  • Apparently we got the scoop on Liquid's Outer Haven sub's defenses and layout through Naomi. She gave the ship plans to Sunny as well as a half-completed program designed to shut down GW (on that USB stick I talked about a few updates ago). Unlike her cancer, Dr. Hunter might not have been as malignant as she seemed.
  • From what I'm hearing, the last part of this game will involve travelling through an enormous amphibious craft with an insane AI and a climactic meeting with Liquid Ocelot. So right after the MGS1 nostalgia mission we have a MGS2 nostalgia mission? Are they going to give us a sword and have us fight an old man on the Federal Building? Nah, I just know they're going to ramp up the crazy somehow.
  • A brief Briefing. I approve. Here we go with Act 5: Old Sun. We get a little Michael Bay slow walk to the end of the ship because this game is a goddamn hacky movie. Oh, and Drebin's here too. He must've flown his AFV all the way over here.
  • Drebin's being extraordinarily weird right now, from leaping off a cannon to summoning fire with his hands. I guess we haven't been paying attention to him enough.
  • It's go time. We're all hooked up to catapults with no parachutes because who even cares any more. Campbell tells us that the Haven is indeed basically like Arsenal Gear but not quite, and that it'll be filled with Gekkos, Scarabs and tough PMC soldiers. He also tells Meryl that he loves her which, yeah, sure. Wait until she brings her new beau home. He and Rose can have an irritating-off.
  • Alright, Missouri vs Outer Haven was neat. "All hands, prepare for impact!" Smash cut to a full screen shot on Mei Ling's derriere as she braces. I don't doubt we'll get another dozen shots like that in the next couple of hours. This game is the Hubble Telescope of male gaze cinematography.
  • Haaaa, Akiba didn't make it and fell into the ocean. Too bad for that guy. Figures he'd be undone by something that didn't evacuate correctly.
  • We're on board and it's time to actually play the game again. We start off in a Caution state with troopers moving in on our position. Turns out an enormous catapult wasn't the most subtle way of entering the ship.
  • Drebin's prices are 50% off, that's cool. Too bad I don't need anything except ammo, though I suppose I should start considering mines and grenades and the like more often. I always get paranoid that I'm going to set them off myself somehow.
  • That was unpleasant. While on the deck, if you get spotted just once you'll need to remove all the enemy units before the alert goes away, at which point the alert status is moot anyway. That meant about 30 FROG troopers and at least two Gekkos. The way out is one of those airtight ship doors with the wheels that needs a button-mash prompt which you cannot complete if you're getting shot at, so I basically had to mow everything down. Guess it's finally time to start using all these health restoration items I've been stockpiling.
  • In the elevator now. Just remembered that I still have a Beauty/Beast fight left. The Mantis. Or, in accordance to how I fully expect this female antagonist to be portrayed by the camera, the Womantits.
  • (If anyone's getting irritated with these "female objectification" observations: I honestly swear that it's gotten so bad in this game that it's now impossible to ignore it. It's like Kojima felt like he got let off easy with the Eva boob-staring sequences in MGS3 and presumed he could get away with being even more salacious. Or he's been trying to get fired all this time. Or Konami pushed him to include more of it? This is Kon-"Erotic Violence"-ami we're talking about here.)
  • Nope, the game insists on being as obnoxious as possible. This really is an MGS2 callback Act. I have to protect Meryl as FROG units flood in from every direction, forcing me to stay out of cover to stop any of them advancing on Meryl's unconscious body. It's just like protecting Natalya at the computer in Goldeneye 007: one of the worst sequences in an action game that I'm able to recall. At least it's not particularly hard with all these healing items, and I can keep buying more with the dropped guns I collect. This would be an absolute nightmare on a higher difficulty setting though.
  • Talking of nightmares, it looks like the next Beast fight is upon us. Is that Psycho Mantis there too? I mean, it's obvious in retrospect that psychics become ghost psychics when they die, but...
  • Dang, Akiba comes out of nowhere like a badass and saves Meryl before she puppet-suicides. He's gone from Depends to dependable.
  • OK, those goons Snake just gunned down? They don't count. They'd better not.
  • Akiba's also immune to Psycho/Screaming Mantis's psychic controlling powers. I guess those are nanomachine-based too then. You know, it doesn't work to explain away her psychic powers as science when you've already established that the psychic ghost of her predecessor is floating behind her. You can't put the supernatural psychokinetic specter back in the bottle.
  • How does one switch a wireless controller to port 2?
  • All right, so I'll admit to being a bit clueless with the first part of the fight until Otacon reminded me that her powers involve using the victim's nanos to control them. I remembered the syringe during the Vamp fight not too long ago, so this is all on me.
  • Mantis will continue to toss enemies my way, including Meryl, until I remove her dolls. She can't be hit with weapons, but her two dolls can. They represent The Sorrow (would explain the ghost) who can manipulate the dead FROG soldiers - there's only the two that Snake killed in a cutscene though - and The Mantis, as in Psycho Mantis, who controls the living. By removing each one, I remove her capacity to attack me indirectly. She'll still teleport on top of me with her scythes though.
  • Now that I have the Mantis doll, I can turn the tables on her by throwing ghost magic at her and force her to play the "stop hitting yourself" bully routine. This is a serious modern military game everyone. Who am I kidding? It hasn't been that since it started.
  • That was immensely satisfying, throwing her around with the SIXAXIS. I just hope it didn't count as a lethal kill: her health and psyche bars went down simultaneously.
  • Time for the Beauty fight. Same old. She didn't retain her psychic powers this time, but then we've established it was all in the dolls. She looks like... Gozer the Gozerrian? Fitting, for a ghostly antagonist.
  • OK, here we go with the actual psychic again. Psycho Mantis takes over the Beauty's suit once she's down for the count and starts looking for my memory card. I feel like this sequence could replace the ghostly ambient music with a laugh track.
  • He did get the vibration working though. Hats off to the gasmasked mutant. Or rather, it would be kudos if he didn't just blow up his own suit from the recoil. Thanks for stopping by, Mantis.
  • Today's terrible tale of turmoil and terror involves the little girl version of Screaming Mantis being locked inside the body dumping ground of a makeshift torture chamber, listening to the screams of the torture victims every night and eating the bodies when the hunger became too... you know, this is some real gnarly Faces of Death shit. What even in the pluperfect hell is going on with this game's bosses?
  • Turns out Psycho Mantis was not only responsible for Screaming Mantis but for all the Beast fights. It's why they all acted oddly robotic when out of their suits. After hearing that he's been manipulating the actions of four very damaged women, the goofy vibration jokes seem a little less funny in retrospect.
  • Meryl's choosing to make her last stand here, sending Snake ahead as more FROGs continue to pour into this control room/overt boss arena. Farewell, brave rookie.
  • Time to run through the Identical Halls of Voiceover Flashbacks. The most important area of any colossal battle cruiser.
  • Hey, Akiba shows up and saves Meryl again. Turns out he doesn't have nanos because he hates needles and ducked out whenever they got the compulsory shots. Succeeding through cowardice. I gotta say, I've done a complete 360 on this character. Yes, that sentence was deliberate: I've gone from thinking he's a dumb dweeb, to a badass, to a dweeb again.
  • Apparently Akiba's really into women who beat him up and take his clothes. They just got engaged in the middle of a gunfight. What am I watching? You guys are shooting all the bridesmaids, you realize?
  • The empty corridors got replaced with some filled with Scarabs. Not an issue with this grenade launcher. Man, the cash I was making... almost sorry that the game eventually auto-ran me through the rest of the stage. Either I hit a boundary or the game got tired of my farming. Sorry, hideously expensive Tanegashima rifle, maybe next playthrough (pfffft, "next playthrough").
  • I lose all my health in a cutscene just as a bunch of FROG people appear. Well, we had a good run. No, literally, I just ran through like a mile of boring corridors. Dude should be in great shape, were it not for the whole "dying from the FOXDIE" thing.
  • It's... armless Raiden. With his katana in his teeth. Everyone's just barely scraping through, aren't they? The FROGs seem apprehensive about approaching him, despite the no-arms thing. That and the fact that they're all getting struck by lightning. I forgot Raiden was a Mortal Kombat character; the androgynous features threw me off.
  • Raiden volunteers for the radiation chamber of death but Snake insists on going despite any protests I may have because it's his "destiny". Makes me wish I had a Super Mutant buddy nearby I could ask instead.
  • Another split-screen, as Snake gets roasted alive by the microwave room, the Missouri is beaten to crap by all of Haven's RAYs, Raiden barely holding his own against a dozen FROGs and Meryl and Akiba getting some fresh new speedholes as presents for their upcoming nuptials (and, uh, Sunny finally getting her eggs right). This has been a really chipper game, guys. Cheers me up just playing it.
  • That trip through the microwave room looks to have destroyed the OctoCamo, the Solid Eye and what's left of Snake's health reserves.
  • Neat touch with the server room looking like graves. That's some overly dramatic computer design.
  • Otacon really left it to the last second to get that virus uploaded. Everyone is saved seconds before they're murdered by the FROGs and Scarabs and RAYs and whatever else Liquid had on that giant floating bucket of his.
  • Naomi programmed something else into that little gadget, and now JD's being erased too along with all the other Patriots AIs. She somehow fit a whole video file on there too. Did Sunny not catch any of that? You know, we could've uploaded the virus a lot faster without this video...
  • Like, it even has an apology to Otacon on there and a bunch of long dramatic pauses. Suspension of disbelief and all, but we kinda depended on this virus being delivered as quickly... you know what? It was codecs. I bet they have some mad video compression codecs in the future. Case dropped.
  • Snake finally succumbs to his injuries/illness after hanging on just long enough for Naomi's weepy posthumous message. Death by schmaltz, that's rough.
  • ...Yeah, like I'll believe that for a second. We still have an old Russian man with a magic soul arm to put in the ground.
  • Speak of the devil. He wakes us up with his best G-Man "rise and shine". He also gabs on about the Philosophers and Patriots for another few minutes. Kinda on the clock here, Liquid. You know, "The Big Clock".
  • Actually, he tosses a few more syringes my way and I'm apparently fighting fit again. That's not going to last forever, I imagine. Liquid says it was his plan all along to destroy the AIs with Naomi's virus, but I think he's just making that up. "That's, uh, that's exactly what I wanted to happen. Yeah."
  • All right, I guess we're scrapping. Two decrepit old men, one shirtless, fighting over a sub. It'd be a Bumfights video if not for the choreography.
  • Am I going to get to control any of this? I'm not asking to; just making conversation while they automatically beat the crap out of each other. So how's things with you guys? Looking forward to the games coming out in Autumn? I know I am.
  • This suddenly got a little... intimate? They just injected each other while touching their heads together (their regular head heads, please).
  • So this is the climactic fistfight. Both characters generate their own lifebars and then it's time for a duel that's straight out of the conclusion of MGS1. Fortunately Liquid isn't quite as annoying this time.
  • Oh, I get it. It's cycling through the games now. The perspective changed to something a little more dynamic and now it's being more cinematic whenever one of us is knocked down. The most telling thing is the music switches, which have little MTV captions to tell you which game they're from. Subtle.
  • Not to be a pedant, but this really feels like it was meant to be the very last game in the series. I'm sure I'll see more examples of this when the game finally ends, but having this kind of MGS medley fistfight is really driving home a sense of finality to the proceedings.
  • Yep, and now here's Snake Eater and the stamina bar. The combat's become more CQC focused and I'm able to counter grabs and throws as well as toss out my own when the prompts appear. Which they do for a milisecond at a time. Yes, I remember this combat engine well, and how I mostly ignored it for the tranq pistols because it was an undercooked crock of cack. Still looks cool though.
  • Did Liquid just... kiss me? I was hammering the wrong button because I figured it was the arm lock again, but the dude just put me in a headlock and gave me a smooch. I guess some of Ocelot is still in there...?
  • And now MGS4's combat engine, which isn't that much different from MGS3's except for the fact that they're both exhausted and just throwing haymakers with everything they have left in them. Time to finish this battle before Ocelot takes his pants off.
  • That actually kind of felt like the final Sephiroth fight at the end of Final Fantasy VII, and not just because my opponent was a shirtless silver-haired guy making advances towards me. More because it felt largely symbolic. I don't actually mind final boss fights like this, where the emphasis is put on the narrative reasons for the fight over the stylistic or gameplay-enforced.
  • Ocelot finally dies. Both he and Liquid. Snake's FOXDIE finally went viral it would appear. He gives us the whole spiel about light and shadows first, and how the US will fall into chaos without the AIs in control. I think the US is far less dependent on nanomachines for its industry than you are for your plot points, Kojima.
  • Sunny's FOXALIVE virus (I didn't name it) managed to save the infrastructure of the AIs while still destroying the Patriots' control over every aspect of the system. Then we just talk about the future a bit while wistfully looking at the sunset. You know how it is with MGS.
  • Oh boy, now to summarize an hour's worth of ending cutscenes. Strap in, everyone.
  • "Epilogue: Naked Sin". Oh, if only. If any game were to end on a porn parody of itself, it'd be this one.
  • So we start with a delightful scene where Meryl is putting on a wedding dress in the cargo area of a plane, presumably the Nomad. She has a gun holster on it so she can point a pistol at her father in a threatening manner for reasons I cannot fathom. We're off to a good start.
  • She puts the gun away and Mei Ling starts bawling tears of joy. How sweet. Well, either that or it's PTSD.
  • Exclamation mark hair and cool black guy survived! That's a relief. They were such important characters to this rich tapestry of a fiction. Akiba's white tuxedo is missing a conspicuous brown spot though. Really, dude? You're going to risk wearing white?
  • Sunny in her sun hat is adorable by the way. And Otacon dressed up for the occasion in a slightly paler version of his hacker trenchcoat. What matters is that you tried, Hal.
  • It's not a wedding without ol' Drebin! He runs down the couple and half the bridal party with his AFV and... no, he swerves at the last second. Darn.
  • He brought a bunch of flowers and summoned birds from out of nowhere. I guess now that the war economy is through, he's going to become a magician? Is the armored car still necessary, then?
  • Oh, the monkey caught the bouquet. How droll.
  • Raiden wakes up sans his robot parts just as Rose walks in with a tiny Raiden kid, who I'm tentatively calling Lil' Sparky until the game tells me otherwise, and then I'll probably still call him that afterwards.
  • Closure for this guy really isn't necessary. It's cool. No, no, we're all fine here. Let's see what happened to Snake. Whooop. That's my screenwipe noise. Whooooooop.
  • All right, him catching one look at the kid with the super rad spiky haircut and a sailor suit, rolling his eyes and then leaning over to ignore Rose some more was funny.
  • "Don't shut me out! I need you to listen to me!" Managed it almost the whole game so far, Rose. Why ruin a good streak?
  • "I thought you said 'miscarriage'?" "Nah, I lied. I had a boy. Remember how I lied for all the time you knew me? It's kinda compulsive or something, I dunno. Actually I'm lying, I just lie to you because it's fun. You should see how grumpy you look!"
  • Rose was loyal to Raiden the whole time it turns out. The Campbell marriage thing was a smokescreen to keep her and the kid safe from the Patriots. And so ends the opportunity for any more May-December relationship jokes. Damn it. I had a whole .txt file and everything... ah, but then I've used up most of my best material. All that's left is a few gross ones about enjoying Campbell's Soup.
  • All right, this scene's cute. I'm okay with it. "I'm done being a cool cyborg swordsman now. I'll stay with you two and we'll start a family. Unless that deal with Platinum Games happens, in which case 'smell ya later'."
  • Back in the graveyard with Snake, who is indeed still alive and strolling around in public. Presumably his FOXDIE is still going to set off at any moment and kill everyone? "Ah, who cares, I have to be in a graveyard for dramatic shit."
  • The graves he's looking at? The Boss's and Big Boss's. Presumably whatever's left of that smoky beef jerky got buried here.
  • "Wipe this meme from the face of the Earth." Man, how many times have I wished that on something?
  • Is he going to shoot himself in a graveyard? Sick, dude. Presumably I'm going to get a prompt to take the gun out of his... nope, he just fired. Today's going great so far.
  • Drebin reveals he was a... wait, we're having this scene directly after watching Snake kill himself? OK. Drebin reveals he was a former child soldier recruited by the Patriots. He was also ordered to assist Snake throughout this mission, as was (unknowingly) Rat Patrol 1 (and Drebin makes an unconvincing show that "Rat Pt 01" rearranges into "Patriot", sort of. Hey, I wrote the list on anagrams, don't insult me with this weak garbage).
  • Sunny's free now too, to live outside where the Patriots are no longer a concern. She also wants to give away a million dollar robot to some local boy. We'll... talk more about this in the plane, Sunny.
  • "When's Snake coming back?" September 1st, Sunny, I just checked. Oh, you mean the dead one? No idea.
  • That's it, roll credits. Thanks for... all right, I guess I sort of know there's more to come. Four concurrent cutscenes as an epilogue won't be nearly enough for this loquacious-ass game.
  • Is that a credit for the voice actor of... Big Boss? Because I'm pretty sure that shrink-wrapped skeleton didn't have a whole lot to say.
  • Snake isn't dead! I thought for absolute certain that the game would off its most popular protagonist with an off-screen suicide! This is incredible! How sincere do I sound right now! Very, right?!
  • Whaaaaaaaat? Big Boss is standing right there. He's gotta be like 80 now! And also a fried skeleton just previously! These are genuine exclamation points of surprise now. And confusion.
  • Just noticed he's holding The Boss's Patriot gun. I guess that's really him then. Only someone who survived MGS3 gets to carry that gun around.
  • They put their guns down and are talking it out. Neither seems particularly eager to recreate the ending of the two MSX games. I mean, it was thirty years ago. Also, maybe don't leave guns lying around where a kid might find them? Especially that Patriot. You could rule the damn playground with that thing.
  • Well, we've wrapped up one loose end already: the charred skeleton was actually Solidus. When you have a bunch of clones already established in the fiction, it's easier to get away with "I wasn't that burning skeleton you saw" plot twists.
  • Oh, wow, this is basically paving over every weird plot hole from the past three games. Ocelot wasn't really Liquid, but had psychotherapied himself into believing so to fool the Patriots and convince them that Liquid was behind the plan to eliminate them. It's all part of Ocelot and Eva's plan to destroy the Patriots and find Zero.
  • By the way: If this is an attempt to explain that Liquid taking over Ocelot's brain from the nanomachines inside his arm is impossible science-fiction, I'll refer you again back to "psychic ghosts".
  • Eva, for her part, created the fake "Big Boss" and reconstituted the real one from leftover Liquid and Solidus body parts (ew? And also Mary Shelley much?) and hid him away until he could become a big plot twist someday.
  • Zero, as is perhaps natural for a 110-year-old man (right? He was already middle-aged by MGS3's 1964), is a vegetable in a wheelchair. Big Boss apparently wheeled him here for dramatic effect.
  • We get a long explanation from Big Boss that Zero didn't intend for the Patriots AI to turn out like they did: the war economy wasn't anyone's ideal interpretation of The Boss's will. The Boss had High Hopes for everyone; whether they were Born in the USA or just Born to Run. To live their lives in a Lucky Town in Nebraska by The River, where life would be Magic and free from the terrors of war or famine or Darkness on the Edge of Town. Her intent was a Tunnel of Love meant to envelop The Wild, The Innocent and The E Street Shuffle.
  • Sorry about that last bulletpoint. It's been a long game and I just ate a big meal an hour ago. Big Boss is talking some weird symbolic math to make a belabored point about the significance of Zero's nickname and I'm mentally checking out. Just kill the shrivelled old man if you hate him so much, before he marries Anna Nicole Smith. Or Rose. Yes, got in one more!
  • He pulled the plug. Congrats on killing the last World War 1 participant, Big Boss. That's like killing the last dodo.
  • Talking of everyone dying all the time. FOXDIE is killing Big Boss, like it did Eva and Ocelot. The old FOXDIE was only designed to take out FOXHOUND and Liquid, but the new one that Drebin injected into Snake was intended to remove the original Patriots that Zero (or rather, his proxy AIs) didn't agree with.
  • We carry Big Boss over to the grave of The Boss (and his own grave, which is kinda convenient) so he can be with her when he passes. I'd leave you with the Patriot gun too but... well, I figure I should get something out of this.
  • Before he goes he tells us that the new FOXDIE is successfully supressing the old, which must be a relief to Snake because he's out in the open presumably near any number of population centers. "Oh right, I remember why I wasn't to go outside now." The final sliver of hope the game leaves us with is that Snake will die of old age in a year instead of a plague in three months. Phew!
  • Wow, Big Boss is really hanging in there for a series of dramatic monologues. The same guy who once asked if there was a way to take his pants off while on a mission, or if he could eat his own feces for fuel.
  • And there passes the greatest soldier who ever lived, died, came back, died again, was kept inside some kind of AI-controlled stasis, brought back again reconstituted from clone parts, killed a fossil and then died again. Godspeed, John "Naked "Big Boss" Snake" Snakeman.

And here passes my coverage of MGS4. There might be another post-credits scene but I'll be darned if I let this game continue to Return of the King me for another hour. Thanks everyone for sticking with me to the very end of this adventure, and I hope to see you in chat whenever Drew and Dan inevitably decide to livestream this finale themselves. I'd tell you how well I did, but the game's crashed on the final credits twice now, so let's assume it was an animal comically unsuited to sneaking. A peacock, perhaps.

What did I think of MGS4? Well, it's hard to quantify. It's the most recent in a series of games that each builds on the mechanics and ideas of those that came before, so it wouldn't be fair to judge it comparatively purely on its technical merits. It's obviously going to excel in functionality where the previous three didn't, especially as Kojima - for all his faults - always aims for the stars (only to hit a passing comet or four). I feel secure in saying it was probably the best one in terms of controls, the stealth (both in terms of camouflage and for feedback on where enemies were, though I missed the Soliton Radar and its vision cones something fierce), the weapon assortment and the number of stratagems it offered for choosing one's own means of passing through an area. For the 50% of the game where that open tactical approach was applicable, at least.

In terms of story, I'd rank it second to MGS3 for quality and also second to MGS2 for sheer lunacy. It went to some very odd places, bringing everything and everyone together from the past few games for a big ol' grand finale. I stated earlier that it would've been a safe assumption that this was the last MGS game Kojima ever intended to make, and that ending would certainly corroborate that inference. Yet it also had some major issues too, like the non-sequitur Beast and Beauty fights which seemed to exist purely for fanservice, to have an excuse to write overly macabre and heavy-handed anti-war backstories like some fourteen-year-old author trying to prove himself a serious writer, and for that whole plotline to amount to nothing more than some zany controller-moving Psycho Mantis antics at the end. That enormous script could've used some editing and paring down too, maybe scrapping a few of the less critical peripheral storylines - though I suppose which of the side-stories were more or less important than the rest is entirely subjective. Maybe a huge number of people really wanted to see that one guy who keeps pooping his pants come back and redeem himself, I couldn't say.

It was also one of the least appealing in terms of set-pieces. While the general stealth was fine, it fell into some of the worst excesses of MGS2 and 3 with sequences that I was forced to complete in a very specific way: sequences where I had to protect someone from attackers in all directions, or tail an idiot through an area filled with soldiers, or shoot from a moving vehicle, or fight my way through waves of enemies with the stealth element - usually so instrumental to the series - removed for the sake of a cool guy action scene. The first two areas were big open spaces filled with too many guard patrols to figure out and shit exploding everywhere rather than something a bit more tactical and enclosed like the original Shadow Moses Island or the Big Shell, but looking back I much preferred those opening two Acts to what followed.

Speaking of Shadow Moses, that whole fourth Act definitely squandered its location, making nearly every room empty besides for those annoying search droids and Gekkos. MGS4 easily had the worst boss fights of the series too: as well as having little importance from a narrative perspective, the Beauty and Beast fights were largely plot-free rehashes of what had come before - as per the game's heavy emphasis on nostalgia and the past games' events - and not particularly engrossing as a result. Octopus's little hide and seek game was cool, but the rest just felt superfluous: quietly waiting for Raven to fly past so I could shoot her from that tower over and over; running across a huge snowfield looking for any trace of Wolf so I could whittle her health down a fraction before she ran off again and her endless army of spotters converged on me; madly trying to aim for a tiny doll model when taking on Mantis, hoping like hell that Meryl wouldn't break her damn neck getting tugged around like a puppet and force an instant game over I'd have little means of preventing. The Liquid fistfight and Metal Gear mech battles were more perfunctory than anything: an extension of the bitter animosity the two shared rather than any well-considered boss fight. As for Vamp, well... let's not talk about Vamp. Ever again.

I would therefore rank MGS4 in third place overall. MGS1 > MGS3 > MGS4 > MGS2, for the record. I could've made it a lot more difficult if I felt that the lack of a challenge was an issue, but it really wasn't: while I waltzed through a number of areas and fights, I was very happy that I turned it down to Naked Normal (or whatever the second easiest was) just because of how annoying certain sections would've become had the difficulty been higher. I wouldn't say I was disappointed with the game either - I've had more than enough time to ruminate on what I appreciate most from this series, and it's usually not the gameplay, so that I was underwhelmed once again doesn't perturb me in the slightest. But, like always, I am at least glad I got to see the madness for myself first-hand.

It'll be some time before I play Metal Gear Solid V, I think, but if I ever do I'll be sure to write about that as well. Maybe I'll find something to appreciate in its open-world design and emphasis on attaching balloons to everything to enhance my home base - I did like the idea of looking around for valuable weapons to earn Drebin bucks for better gear, though maybe it's the RPG and open-world game fan in me that wanted something more varied from the rewards than just guns and ammunition. It's unlikely I'll try any of the spin-offs unless Dan and Drew insist on LPing those as well.

So for now, I'll sign off for the last time, and thank you all again for struggling through what probably amounted to a lot of old man complaints about a game you really, really like. Hell, "old man complaints" is the central conceit of the game too, so I figure it's apropos enough.