Mento Gear Solid 4: Puns of the Patriots: Part Three

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I think Metal Gear Solid is unique in that I feel Pavlovian shivers every time I reach for the controller to start playing it, and yet I find I can't put that controller down for several hours once I begin. I mean that in the figurative sense, of course, as I'm frequently putting it down to watch the 80% of this game that is cutscene, but there's always something about the bizarre otherworldly logic behind the way this universe works and its "half overheard from Syfy Originals, half overheard from WarGames"-style world-building that forces me to keep watching to see what happens next, because I lack the imagination for even a fraction of the revelations it throws my way. It's like the video game equivalent of a Mexican sci-fi soap opera; doubly so, when you consider how few words I can make out.

For that reason, I cannot ever claim to "hate" Metal Gear Solid. Not even the second one, for as often as it would test me with its terrible escort and platforming sequences. Not even the game's series-long aversion to proper saving/loading/checkpointing protocols and defying what I consider to be the prime detective of all video game design - don't waste the player's time. Equally, I can never profess to "love" these games either, for as uncomfortably attached as I find myself to seeing how they pan out.

I'm sure there's a name for this kind of "hate" and "love" relationship, but I'll be darned if I can think of what that might be. Instead, let's resume from where we left Snake. Oh right, he was a quivering mass of jelly because a bunch of nanomachines pooped in his brain. Let's resume from slightly after that:

(Today's disclaimer for where today's update will end: After a power plant, and a corpse-related power play. If you aren't familiar with that part of Act 2, please wait until Drew and Dan have caught up before reading. Here's Parts One and Two.)

  • Act 2! Let's do this! And we get another Nomad briefing scene with Sunny, her eggs and her numbers song. I don't remember that one from Sesame Street. I really hope this doesn't turn into Mercury Rising with the autistic kid (and holy shit did the title of that movie get funnier/more depressing in retrospect thanks to those anti-voxxer idiots).
  • Olga photo in the kitchen. Guess that confirms that. Hey Otacon, don't lose this child genius as quickly as you did the last one.
  • Kid burned the eggs and then got burned about the eggs. Dairy wasn't the only thing getting served. *Z-snaps*. (I'm saying this briefing scene is like a bad sitcom so far.)
  • We're talking about Naomi now, and I guess if Otacon had to run a DNA trace on the syringe she was holding he wasn't watching through his robot when she did the whole "standing over Snake and talking to him" bit, which would've been slightly more telling (but then who even knows with nanomachines). I suppose the Mk.2 was getting all nano-sick too off in the corner somewhere.
  • Naomi apparently Skyped Otacon at some point after we fell unconscious. As she's explaining FOXDIE and nanomachines too a webcam that keeps swinging around, it somehow manages to accidentally point at her open cleavage a couple times. Subtle.
  • Hey, we just got a note about Mei Ling helping us out too. The whole gang's back together. How long's it been since Shadow Moses? Around nine or ten years?
  • Where the hell is the Colonel broadcasting from? The Pope's office? Spencer Mansion? Looks expensive as heck. Also, I'm not sure who's skulking around in the back, but I'm sure there's going to be another five minutes of explanations soon enough.
  • Haha, okay I love that. The Colonel's talking about how Liquid's base, where we're heading next now that Naomi's given us the coordinates, has "a regime backed by the PMCs, and a rebel army fighting to overthrow it" nearby. He then pauses with this kind of half-smile and then nods slightly as if to say, "Yeah, we're repeating the first bit again. Deal with it, wuss."
  • Pieuvre Armement. That's the French PMC from before. Maybe I was a little off with the FROG comment earlier. I'm sure the Pieuvre Armement's special soldiers are called the C.E.S.M. (and kudos to anyone who deciphers that joke).
  • And yes, I did notice that the first PMC had a mantis-based name/logo and this one has an octopus-based name/logo. And that there's five PMCs in Liquid's control. And that there's five mysterious female badass cyborgs. And that there were five members of MGS1's FOX-HOUND group that wasn't Snake. It's this "recreate Shadow Moses" AI meme shit again, isn't it?
  • These flashbacks don't really add a whole lot, given how indistinct they are and how it's dawning on me just how much of a bad idea it would be to make Metal Gear Solid 4 your entry point to this series. But the game gives me bonus Drebin bucks for viewing them, sooooo...
  • Briefing's over. We're off to South America. Replacing the adobes with favelas, huh? I didn't expect this game to be so Call of Duty-y. It does also have an old guy with a cool mustache though.
  • That peeg totally got ate by that snake. Make sure no-one lets Brad play this... oh, he reviewed it? Peeg's out of the hutch now, then.
  • What the hell is Snake doing? It's either some kind of super stealthy belly crawl or advanced calisthenics to keep his old ticker in check.
  • We're at the base and... no. No! That Anne Rice reject is back! I thought I kille- yeah, I'm not going to assume that's going to mean anything. Octopus lady is here too, and has a bad case of the buttersnakeface. I don't even want to imagine why she looks like Solid Snake, though I have a horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach that Vamp coaxed her into the idea before whatever they were about to do got interrupted by the rebel attack.
  • She sure is crazy as shit though. It says something when Vamp is the least insane psycho person in the scene. She told the surviving rebel goon to "remember her face". Uh, he's probably going to remember the rack too, and it doesn't look like Snake's suffering any gynecomastia in his old age.
  • "That was Vamp! I'll never forget his face." Specifically the fangs, right? Or the bullethole scar on his forehead? Or how he looks like he's waiting for Kate Beckinsale's Underworld character to swipe him on TinderVania? Otacon's talking as if Vamp wouldn't be memorable if not for the stepsister-murdering.
  • After more complaints about Vamp (Otacon, baby, I'm right there with you) and how my OctoCamo isn't quite as unique as Snake had hoped, I finally have control again. I need to remember to turn the controller off between acts to save all that battery power.
  • It also means I can buy that gun I keep talking about that I can't be bothered to look up how to spell it properly this time! Good thing the clock just ticked over to 12:30am Wednesday and I got the discount price.
  • Drebin also has a new porn mag? "Beauty and Beast". The boss squad's on the cover. So they're the Beauty and Beasts? (Before you wonder if this is something revealed ahead of time, I did notice that Vamp called the OctoLady by the name "beast"). So... the beast is the animal-like outer shell and the beauty's the crazy lady within? Sure, okay. I guess I'll find out soon enough.
  • Well, I managed to only accrue about a dozen alerts sneaking past a single village. Good to know my sneaking game hasn't gotten rusty in the months since I started this Act. What really did me in is how people are marching across the map every few seconds, picking a route I cannot seem to ascertain ahead of time. I was sneaking up a guy and about three or four them ran up behind me. Mind jogging somewhere else? You're biting my style. And also shooting my style, repeatedly. And by "style" I mean "ass".
  • So that's who the woman in the background was in the Colonel's mission briefing video call. I had a horrible suspicion after seeing that haircut, but I'd managed to convince myself otherwise out of sheer optimism. It's Rosemary, a.k.a. Rose, a.k.a. "Please be quiet about our relationship troubles for five minutes, I'm trying to save the President". Hearing she's a psychologist these days doesn't fill me with hope for the United State's mental health care system.
  • Snake and Colonel begin to converse about her and her background like she isn't even there while she sits in the Codec's viewscreen fidgeting nervously. I'd make a "shoe's on the other foot now" joke about her discomfort but she's suffered enough. I mean, she's had Raiden's baby. What a beautiful, bullied kid that little nipper must be.
  • Rose specifically trained in the psychology of soldiers, PTSD and the effects battlefield stress. I'm guessing after MGS2 Raiden didn't speak to her for six months. "Shell-shocked from his mission, clearly," she probably thought. I notice he hasn't shown up yet.
  • Rosemary's married to the Colonel?! What? You sure can pick 'em, boss. And Rose, not to be crass, but are you sure the Colonel's famous purple stuffed worm can still do a raw blink on your Hara-Kiri Rock at his age? Also, yeah, I guess that means Raiden's been out of the picture for a while then. Probably laughing it up on a tropical island somewhere surrounded by busty women who aren't the least bit concerned about putting away some money to buy a house together. Or being a pissy little baby in a VR training facility somewhere. I dunno. I'm not his day planner.
  • So what I thought was my stamina bar is actually a "psych" bar. Presumably it drops whenever I see a spoooooky ghost. Did they seriously implement a sanity gauge into this game? Or is it more that it's actually a stamina bar in all but name, but it just so happens that Ms. Psycho Mantis will be able to drain it with weird brain shit as well?
  • If the psych bar is low, I won't be able to shoot or move around as effectively, similar to how low stamina effects you in MGS3. The game suggests that the best way to boost psych if it's getting low without using expensive meds is to call Rosemary on her line. Talk about your Morton's forks.
  • All right, in this new area now. The rebels are creating distractions but it was hard going with all those narrow valleys. Hopefully this power plant area's a bit more open.
  • Oh yeah, we got a mysterious phonecall from Deep Throat. Nah, not really. For some reason, Snake thought it was Jack (i.e. Raiden, a.k.a. Blond Weenie), despite the fact he sounded bass-y and almost kinda Caribbean. Either they upgraded the voice actor or Snake's hearing is going.
  • I snuck around back, hoping to find a way in. Instead I find Drebin and his cigarette-stealing monkey.
  • He's going to tell me about the B&Bs (Beauties and the Beasts, I'd assume) but first a dig at my age, which apparently drops my psych gauge. Am I really going to get penalized for age jokes? You'd think a legendary soldier like Solid Snake would shrug off insults from a guy wearing zebra print camo.
  • Yeah, Drebin's confirming what I pretty much already ascertained about this boss group. Well, except that they're all victims of war atrocities that went insane from their PTSD. I didn't expect Kojima to use that to create his bunch of expendable villains. Maybe in MGS5 I'll get to kick a guy in a wheelchair down a hill (no, I already know what's in 5 and it's even worse, though still along a "women and battlefields don't mix" theme. This is the same series that had The Boss just a little while ago, right?)
  • "They [The Beauties/Beasts] all think that if they kill Snake, their minds will be freed from all the pain. From all the fury. From all the sorrow. From all the... wait, which is the one that jumped around the trees?" "The End?" "No, no, he was half-tree. I'm talking about the Ninja Scroll knock-off." "They were all Ninja Scroll knock-offs, you'll have to be more specific." "The damn snake-y tree guy with the poison darts! Remember, everyone yelled at you for not feeding him rotten food?" "Ah yeah."
  • Raven, Octopus, Wolf, Mantis. The SNAKEHOUND unit. They aren't even trying with these unit names anymore, are they? At least make them MONGOOSE. That'd be slightly easier to backronym with military jargon you damn hack.
  • Also, I said "five animals" earlier, to go with the five PMC groups, and we've only been told about four B&Bs. We're one B&B short of a tourist brochure. Who's left? Please say there's an Ocelot too. One that Liquid Ocelot has taught how to cat growl, like in the good old days. If there isn't a cat lady cyborg causing Old Snake and/or Batman trouble, I'm calling foul.
  • Drebin's switched topics to the Patriots AI. I guess we kinda let them be after MGS2. Old Skullface Campbell's still out there, determining the rules of the world. I think his most recently implemented one is that all cutscenes need to be five times longer and full of barely comprehensible exposition, as per the precedent he himself set at the end of MGS2.
  • That monkey needs a nicotine fix and Drebin's having none of it. Poor little guy. Actually that monkey creeps and irritates the crap out of me in equal measure. Maybe the next time I stop by I'll bring some "bad dates".
  • Didn't get really get a chance to explore the power station. Unfortunately, while we were talking, the repels were rebelled... wait, that's... nah, forget it, let's keep moving. So anyway, I've had to sneak around a bit more without the distraction to help. I did find an area full of stuff, but it meant blowing up the plant's power station first. Good thing I found all this C64 in the nearby room.
  • Oh cool, it's my old friend the Stinger missiles. Given the amount of palaver required to reach them, I'm hoping I don't have a Hind D fight coming up. All the same, that's a nice piece of kit, and if I find any more I imagine Drebin's going to pay me a premium for 'em.
  • I like how, if you're moving around in a crouched position, Snake always arcs his back straight up to reload his gun. It's stealthy, is what it is.
  • So, as soon as we hit a new area we're hit with even more exposition. Sure, it's been almost ten minutes, what do you have?
  • Raiden tells us he's been out digging up bodies. Big Boss's to be precise, on the orders of a "Matka Pluku". Apparently, whoever Big Boss was in life, he caught the attention of the Jedi Council and they want to give his remains a proper funeral so he can rejoin the Force.
  • Actually, it means "Big Mama" in some language neither Raiden nor Snake felt like telling us. Hmm. I have a suspicion I know who this is too, though only because we're running out of major female characters from the last three games who haven't already made cameos.
  • Of course, if there's Raiden talk to be had, that means another long chat from Rose about failed relationships and Raiden becoming emotionally distant and oh god why did you let her pursue a counselling degree, Colonel? That's like giving a pyromaniac nitroglycerin. She's weaponized talking about her feelings now.
  • I've been given the advice to talk to my Codec contacts more often, but it doesn't seem like there's any point. They're all calling me every couple minutes to see what's up anyway. Maybe they read somewhere that you have to regularly talk to seniors to make them not die. Or maybe that's plants. My only options are Nerdlinger and Clingy anyway. I think I'd get more productive conversations introducing myself to enemy soldiers.

That's about all I can stand today. I have a psych meter too, you know, and it's bottoming out something fierce with all this Raiden and Rose business. When I next join you all, we'll be heading through a confinement facility (why not "prison"? Or does it confine something else? I'll guess I'll find out when I accidentally shoot at it and discover it's nuclear material) and possibly meeting up with Bellend Lugosi and a chuckling Cyborglapod (that's a good portmanteau, right? I'm pretty tired).

I've appreciated all your comments, and I'm still reading them and taking their advice on board. For that reason, no spoilers. Also, don't expect me to gymnastically waltz through this game either: I'm not particularly proficient in any game that gives you a thousand commands to memorize (I tend to panic and forget all of them except for the "go into the foetal position" button) nor am I the most patient player when it comes to stealth games - though I am now getting used to being spotted constantly and running off to hide somewhere instead of anything more drastic. "No Alerts" wouldn't be nearly as restrictive were it not for the game's awful checkpointing, so as it is I'm just going to drop any illusions of subtlety. I'll stick with the no-kills thing for as long as I can though, as I can at least conveniently buy ammo for the two (yep, I bought the Mosin Nagant) tranq guns in my possession whenever I need to.

Thanks for stopping by and I'll see you soon for more of Act 2's Solid Shenanigans.

(Parts Four, Five, Six and Seven.)