Mento Gear Solid V: The Fandom's Pain: Part 1

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A.k.a. I try to piece together the Peace Walker storyline by playing MGSV and picking up context clues. Welcome to the newest, and almost certainly last unless I develop a taste for pachinko, Metal Gear Solid blogging series wherein I jot down all my observations and reactions as they occur and toss the resulting word salad onto the Giant Bomb word processor for other folks to figure out. Be sure to get all caught up with previous episodes of Mento Gear Solid, and Metal Gear Solid itself to an extent, by perusing the many prior times I've decided to do this dumb thing:

I've yet to really figure out how to approach this game in particular, which I suppose is an oddly noncommittal thing to say after getting several hours into it. Once you get past the intro, the game demarcates all its content into individual missions that may or may not have some strong ties to the story. I'll probably be spending a lot of time spinning brodies in jeeps and looking for rockin' 80s cassettes too, and I won't talk too much about the game's optional silliness except to remark that it's there. The MGSV blogs will probably seem a little scattershot and unfocused, more so than usual, and I can't guarantee there won't be some long delays between entries if I've been doing filler missions or have chosen to spend thirty hours Fultoning a bunch of bears or something in the interim. I get distracted easily.

As for Peace Walker, well... I figured I had three routes I could take there. I could just play Peace Walker instead - it's part of the HD Collection that I used to play MGS2 and MGS3 - and write a whole reactions series for that and save MGSV for another day. I could also just watch the all-cutscenes MGS: PW video that Dan and Drew put up a year or so back before they embarked on V. Or I could just not know anything that happens in Peace Walker and be more confused about the game's plot than usual. Something tells me the last option will be the most amusing for the purposes of this feature, if perhaps not the optimal choice for any insight into the larger canon of Metal Gear Solid. I mean, who creates a series that requires you play a spin-off first to understand the story of a main entry game? Besides Kingdom Hearts? Ooh, I wonder if I should do a reactions blog for that series next...? (Wait, I've already played the first two. Damn.)

Oh right, there's Ground Zeroes too. Well, apparently it's not part of the core game, so let's hope they summarize that shit in a menu or an audio log somewhere. Man, this is a lot of homework for this particular MGS game. It's almost like no-one cared if it made any sense. Imagine that.

(There will be spoilers for all of MGS V as we go on, but I barely get past the first two missions in this particular update.)

Part 1: Mento Has Come To (Realize He Sucks at Metal Gear Solid)

  • We get our pretentious video game "opening quote from a philosopher" from Romanian essayist Emil Cloran: "It is no nation we inhabit, but a language. Make no mistake; our native tongue is our true fatherland." Probably sounded better in its native Romanian, I suppose.
  • Some Bowie on the tape player. "The Man Who Sold the World." Nice. I guess this is setting up the ubiquitous 80s soundtrack aspect. At any rate, all we can do is look around blurrily in this hospital ward until the title screen appears.
  • Let's make this SMAKA ("Shit Mento Already Knew About") #1 for this playthrough: I know very little about Ground Zeroes besides how it ends, because it apparently involved vagina bombs and folks had a lot to say about it at the time. An operative of Big Boss's Outer Heaven mercenary group was booby-trapped by a villain and exploded close to Big Boss's helicopter before she could be saved, causing the chopper to go down with ol' grumpy still on board. Phantom Pain begins with him recuperating, not unlike Snake Eater right after its Virtuous Mission prologue.
  • SMAKA #2: I already know that Master Miller and Revolver Ocelot are part of Diamond Dogs too. Again, hard to escape a lot of this stuff in the massive lead up to MGSV. I have no idea if they were part of the organization as far back as Peace Walker, but there's a good chance. Oh, and Diamond Dogs is what Big Boss and Kaz formed after getting disillusioned with the US military after they forced Snake to assassinate his mentor, The Boss, except it was called something else in Peace Walker. Wasn't Ving Rhames's character in Con Air also called Diamond Dog? Missed a trick calling the bad guys Cipher instead of POE (Private Offensive Elite).
  • All right, let's start this thing for real. "Prologue: Awakening". Right, because I'm waking up. Doctor asks me my name and DOB. I see, I get to make up an alias to elude my enemies. "B I G B O S-" oh, whoops.
  • I like how they brought back the old PlayStation text input thing for this, the one that works the same way as a phone instead of a full keyboard. Pretty 80s of you guys.
  • Nine years in a coma huh? I hope I don't get a "wiggle your big toe" scene. Or really any of the Kill Bill sexual assault coma stuff.
  • I've also got hell of shrapnel up in my dome. And my left arm is missing, but I had to find that out on my own after the doc told me to look down. This is perhaps the worst doctor ever, or maybe the best camera movement tutorial ever I haven't decided. Funny, I don't recall any of these amputations being a factor with older Big Boss, but then I'm not used to seeing him post-MGS3. He seemed all right during the end of MGS4 (besides the dying thing) but you know how it is with nanomachines.
  • Oh, and I changed my face too. Can't be too careful, I suppose. There's no way I'll be targeted by a mysterious assassin with all these measures in place.
  • Ah, a mysterious assassin just showed up. She killed the nurse and doc and turned on me. She looks a lot like Quiet actually. Am I supposed to know about her yet? Either way, we manage to set her on fire and she falls out the window (she started it, so I'm not ashamed of my words or deeds as of yet) which means I guess we can stick a pushpin in that problem temporarily. Time to make a daring escape with my new pal Ishmael here.
  • Through the power of UI omniscience, I now know that I'm in Cyprus and that it's the 1980s. I guess we're in for some stranger things from this MGS game, then?
  • "I'm not going to be crawling this entire game," he thought ironically, knowing full well that he's going to be crawling the entire game to stay unseen. C'mon Naked Snake, we all heard the thing the doc said about massaging your legs fixing nine years of muscular atrophy. Just stand up already! They thought of a plot thing for why it would work!
  • Well, the elevator just exploded and Ghost Rider stepped out. Like this is the first time Big Boss has ever had to tangle with a supernatural fire demon. Wake me when a unicorn shows up.
  • Whoever these military guys are, they're certainly being thorough with killing all the patients here. If not particularly observant with regards to me or my buddy.
  • We finally get a gun and... man, these MGS firearm controls are going to take some getting used to again. Something really off about the over the shoulder business in this game, though there's a handy iron sights view that I've immediately forgotten the button to use. Hopefully I can get some more practice in later. I'm likely to just stick with the first good long-distance tranq weapon I'm allowed to have, knowing how I play these games.
  • After a few more close-calls and more encounters with our efreeti buddy (he sort of reminds me of Volgin? Something about his posture and physique. I'm-a just call him Volcanogin for the time being), Ishmael and I finally leave the hospital to start what I don't doubt will be a whole serious of obnoxious Moby Dick references. Pequod, Queequeg, Starbuck, just give me all of them.
  • Only he vanishes after a chase in the ambulance, after seemingly getting killed by chopper gunfire. I'm sure I'll meet up with that guy later, though his head was bandaged the entire time so who knows what his true identity was. Instead, we need a hero. I'm holding out for a hero 'til the end of the night. Isn't there a white knight upon a fiery steed? Well, there's a fiery steed chasing me (a unicorn, go figure), and I guess Ocelot will have to do for the white knight part. This has been a very rough prologue for our hero, and needing to be rescued by Ocelot is adding insult to injury.
  • End of Episode 0. I apparently scored well enough to earn the intimidating animal rank of "Chick". Hey, I had one arm, no idea what I was doing and a fire man was after me. I'd like to see a baby chicken survive all that.
  • I also earned some heroism for limping out of a burning hospital while other people rescued me. All right. I take it this is some kind of upgrade juice?
  • All right, Episode 1: Revenge. That's a concept I can get behind. The first few minutes of this is getting caught up to speed by Ocelot - the Soviets have invaded Afghanistan and there's nary a John Rambo around to stop them. They've also taken Master Miller, and the clock's ticking to rescue him before the Soviets torture him to death for all the information they could ever want about Alaskan rats. The resulting ten days to get there gave us all the time we needed to figure out how to shoot with one arm and get all that muscle mass back. Just going to guess that the ship we're on is a cargo ship carrying a whole lot of protein bars.
  • We get the scoop from Ocelot after we arrive. Kaz is being held in a Soviet operating base in an Afghan village and we need to spring him within three days. We're also told, via captions, that Ocelot and Kaz are wearing J. F. Rey glasses. They're in season, I guess. Ocelot then bails on us, leaving us to complete the rescue mission alone, despite the fact he explicitly told us he was hired by Kaz to rescue him after picking up Big Boss from the hospital. Glad to see that little punk's not changed much in twenty years.
  • All right, gameplay time. A lot of this game, at least at this early point where I imagine game-wide important aspects are getting drilled in, involves recon. That's marking things via the binocs and quietly infiltrating areas without raising an alarm. I don't have my tranq weapons yet, so I'm going to try and stay low as much as possible.
  • Oh right, I have a horse too. D-Horse. I'm terrible with horses in games; I spent most of The Witcher 3 running around on foot because I kept forgetting about Roach. Actually, that goes as back as far as Ocarina of Time. From what I can tell of the map, there's a few heavily fortified locations that'll be the crux of these missions, and a scattering of guard posts that'll require I get on foot and stealth my way to victory. At any other time, I'll make sure to keep on de back of D-Horse.
  • Getting into the swing of things. By some amazing miracle, I wasn't spotted at all in the first village where I needed some intel to tell me that my princess was in another castle.
  • My side-arm is a tranq handgun, I found out a little later, but its effective range right now is about the same as a water pistol so it's only for when I get spotted. If I get close enough, I can do the takedown instead - the takedown, like in previous games, stuns the enemy for what feels like seconds but not if you go full E. Honda on the guy by spamming the attack. The tranqs last long enough though. Lethal ammunition would last a lot longer, of course, but I might as well take the bonus for not killing too many people if they stay down long enough to not be an issue.
  • Time for that aforementioned practice with the game's controls. I don't quite do the Drew panic dance of going through all the buttons in an order not entirely of the designer's intent, but I've gotten close a few times. L1 readies my weapon, R1 shoots, R2 changes to iron sights view (when I have the gun readied) or switches to binocs (when the gun isn't readied). R1's also the takedown, which works whenever I don't have a gun out. L2 gives me a menu of verbal commands I can use, like calling over D-Horse. In combat, it's not always easy to remember that I gotta go L1 -> R2 (for aiming) -> R1. I suppose I should be grateful that CQC doesn't require a Zangief-style 360 motion to pull off.
  • Oh, and D-pad (not to be confused with D-Horse) changes my active weapon. I accidentally did that and didn't realize I had grenades out for a few minutes. That could've been messy. X is for changing between crouch/prone/standing, Triangle lets me vault over things (game calls it "contextual action"), Square lets me change weapons while I'm readied in case I accidentally switched to grenades (hypothetically speaking of course) and Circle reloads and picks up junk. Oh, and Start brings up the "iDroid" map but I'm not sure if it also pauses the game. Select definitely pauses the game. Pays to get all this down before you start wandering into guard patrols.
  • I neglected to talk more about all the junk I'm picking up. Diamonds and materials and plants and whatnot. I'll probably save that for a future update when I know what it's all for. Similar to the currently-empty "Mother Base" tab on the iDroid. Gosh, I wonder if this game has base-building in it...?
  • The second village, Gwandhai, looks like a fortress compared to the last one. It's built up the side of a hill, so it's going to require a lateral approach. So many guards wandering around...
  • This is the first MGS game with a "restart from nearest checkpoint" feature! Rejoice! Not that I needed to use it, or anything... (It drops the overall mission rating, but I imagine it preserves the stealth bonus if you reload to before you got caught, so that's probably a net positive.)
  • All right, springing Miller wasn't so tough. I did get spotted, but there were toilets nearby to hide in. It's a good thing none of these Russian soldiers are T-rexes. The issue, then, would be these freaky Hellghast zombie things that ambushed us before we could evac. Those guys are fast! I couldn't see any way of avoiding them seeing me, but then maybe that wasn't the point. The game sure is laying all its supernatural cards (tarot?) on the table right from the offset.
  • We get what I think is a flashback to Ground Zeroes. Some bald kid blew up and took down the chopper we were in, leading to Snake's coma and the dissolution of his private military force through hostile forces. Red Skull was there too, yukking it up.
  • First trip to Mother Base revealed some of the game's base management mechanics. Fultoning, managing recruitments, calling in supply drops and the basics of CQC too since it's been a while. Looks like I can start attaching balloons to people. Finally!

Anyway, I'd better call the first update here just as the game's about to open up. I dunno how future updates will look - I'll obviously be covering every "story significant" mission in detail, but I'll probably quickly summarize others and talk generally about the game and how it functions as I continue. Specifically, how I feel the additions and changes to the gameplay have improved or diminished the overall experience; there's no real reason to robotically reiterate any more tutorials given that anyone reading this will have already beaten MGSV and knows far better than I how the game works.

Until next time, remember to not touch your gigantic head shrapnel or else you'll get hallucinations. Save that fun for 420 - or as we say in the military, "0420 hours". Dismissed!

Mento Gear Solid V: The Fandom's Pain
MGSV: Part One: Missions 0-2.MGSV: Part Two: Missions 3-6, 10.
MGSV: Part Three: Missions 7-9, 11-12.MGSV: Part Four: Missions 13-16.
MGSV: Part Five: Missions 17-25.MGSV: Part Six: Missions 26-31.
MGSV: Part Seven: Missions 32-40.MGSV: Part Eight: Missions 41-47, 49.
MGSV: Bonus Tapes Edition
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