By Mento 6 Comments
Outer Heavens to Murgatroyd! Welcome to part six of an increasingly confused account of the events of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. When I last left you all, we learned of a virulent parasitical disease that had spread throughout Mother Base, caused by an as-yet-unknown assailant (though it's probably Cipher) for an as-yet-unknown purpose. Whatever it is, it's killing the Diamond Dogs fast, and we need to get to the bottom of it.
This update will be a bit shorter than usual, partly to make up for the marathon last time but also because I've hit something of a critical point in the story. At any rate, you'll want to be all caught up with whatever snippets of plot I've deigned to cover in-between griping about missions and discussing the game's many, many mechanics and systems. Essentially, a nasty skull man doesn't like Big Boss or his mercenary outfit very much and has made our lives difficult every step of the way. There's also a horse that poops on command. There's other details too, but I think we have all the relevant points covered here for now. Here's Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5.
Part 6: More Code Talkin', Robot Walkin' and Chode Mockin'
- Mission #26. Because of this epidemic, we're in mode: ll issions. No stopping until we hit the part of the story where this killer disease can get the flip off my base. I'll admit to having some amount of luck for mission #26, not too dissimilar to how Mission #21 went more smoothly than I could've optimistically predicted. My task is to extract/eliminate a human trafficker, but the mission is made more challenging by the fact that the target is on the move from the moment I begin. As an added challenge, he is taking a surreptitious on-foot route that avoids the roads, meaning he and his bodyguards could be anywhere on the large expanse of the Angola map that comprises the mission's limits. You can sneak into Ditadi Village - the one from the walker extraction mission (#15) a while back - to find a piece of intel that narrows down his route, but it also requires some searching and you're burning time all the while. Once you have the path he's likely to take, you're then on the clock to find him before he reaches another outpost - Kiziba Camp, the difficult-to-stealth-through open location from the "rescue two intel members" mission (#17) - from which it'll be considerably harder to extract him. Not only did I luck out on finding the intel tent in Ditadi quickly, but I managed to ambush his entire group a few hundred meters away from Kiziba. Sub-fifteen minute completion time and a perfect stealth bonus meant another S-rank I just kinda fell onto. AND I somehow managed to catch eight Honey Badgers with my traps (I guess they didn't give a shit about getting caught), netting another 400k GMP. Pretty lucky all round, though I'm sure the many soldiers back at base puking their guts out don't feel the same way.
- Mission #27. Another intel member to rescue, this time up in a mountainous area close to the mines. I'll admit the last mission was lucky, but this one was pure skill. Well, it was easy as hell, but I'm still taking credit for putting on a clinic. The wrinkle with this mission, because we can't just have simple prisoner extractions any more, is that the prisoner escapes on their own almost immediately as you get to the guard post, hijacks a vehicle, causes it to crash because they're half-dead and then there's a tense sequence where you need to get the now injured prisoner away from the crash area and to the LZ before all the local guards come to inspect the loud noise and plumes of smoke. I didn't do any of that. I just shot the prisoner with a tranq as he hobbled towards his escape vehicle and carried him to the LZ before anyone spotted us. Four minutes and eighteen seconds, which is like GoldenEye level fast. Before anyone cries foul, by the way, the game actually has a bonus for you snatching your friend away before he gets into his accident, so they clearly knew folk who reloaded (like I did) or retried the mission would know to prevent the crash at all costs. Add that to another perfect stealth bonus and that's another instant S-rank. I better not let any of this get to my head; I know there'll be some trickier shit coming up soon enough. I suspect the game's just being easy on me for now because of the stress generated from frequent "this many people just died while you were gloating to the internet about honey badgers" updates.
- The intel from the last two missions points us towards a possible origin for the disease from deep within the jungle and an old man named Code Talker who might help us cure it. That's who mission #28 concerns. We're going to the last location in Angola that I've yet to see: Lufwa Valley, which appears to just include a big mansion. The briefing tape intimated that there's two enemy forces to be concerned with: the PF that is guarding the location, and another force nearby that the intel gatherers have been unable to ascertain. This Code Talker seems important, and given that he also has an alias I'm wondering if it might be someone making a return from MGS3. I guess I'll find out.
- Mission #28. Right, so the other party we had to worry about? Skulls. Got the intro-credits tip off, and it wasn't long until four female Skulls showed up, all of which looked like the bald computer lady from Cybermorph. Without even asking me where I learned to fly, they beat the crap out of me with a combination of uncanny sniper shots and stealth camo. Fighting one is about as tricky as fighting Quiet - in fact, these gals seem to have a lot in common with her beyond a penchant for not wearing clothes - except now they have three friends helping them out. I had a friend too, and she helped me take down two of the four before she took too much damage and had to bail. It wasn't easy taking down the rest, and I could've saved some time and ran for the mansion serpentine-style - not called Snake for nothin' - but I was incensed that they took down my buddy. Lufwa Valley's mansion was no joke either, with a dozen two-man teams wandering around the corridors. I found the old man in the basement eventually - he's a Native American WW2 Wind Talker, which I should've figured except there's no real reason why Sandro would bring one halfway across the world except to add some vaguely racist mysticism from an entirely different culture to what we had in Africa already. Everyone was on full alert as we exited the base, and after a protracted game of hide and seek on the route out, I managed to avoid all detection and got away with an A-rank I can be proud of. Between the Skulls and the amount of stealth involved, this was not a freebie like the last two.
- In our conversation with the Grampa from Prey, he explained what I'd already sorta guessed: the parasites infest the larynx and are sound-activated, multiplying with the sound of words spoken in a specific language. We saw the victims in Ngumba with headphones stuck in their windpipe, and the intent was to teach the bugs various different languages to latch onto. English being the one exception, for reasons as yet unknown but possibly related to the fact that - in every encounter with him so far - Dry Bones spoke nothing but perfect English to us. I think. He might've said something to that dying patient in a different language? I guess we'll find out why us English-speaking types get to be the lucky ones later. There's more too, of course: the cure will render all of us infertile, which sucks for those at the base who had planned on having kids without going the easy cloning route like Big Boss. We also discover that the gnarly eyeshadow power used by the Code Talker and certain Skulls (and Quiet) is due to a different parasite that replaces the skin (really? The whole skin?) and allows for camouflage. Sure.
- All right, I didn't exactly choose this next mission, it chose me. Before I can complete the extraction of Code Talker, I have to fight off a bunch of Skulls who refuse to let us leave with him. The game does an unusual thing here: though the mission occurs directly after the previous, pretty much as we're heading back, the game lets you continue the game as normal instead of forcing you to begin the next mission right away. That is to say, it lets you go on side ops, play other missions, free roam, etc. Presumably it doesn't want to drop two difficult missions on you back to back with no means to raise funds or manpower, develop new gear or change the loadout to what you might need for "part two". That's actually an appreciated case of ludonarrative you-know-what, and rather unexpected coming from Kojima who usually maintains an iron grasp over how his narrative should be delivered and when. Would've made Final Fantasy Tactics a bit more palatable if it had something like that after the Velius fight.
- Mission #29. "Metallic Archaea" (metal spiders? Did Jon Peters produce this game?). Unlike every other mission in this game, I cannot see a way to do this one with non-lethal weapons. The Skulls that attack you are the armored kind from Mission #16 and know exactly where I am, which means I can't escape and that my zero-penetration tranq guns are pointless here. I also need to "kill" all four armored Skulls before my spare Pequod shows up (I guess we had a Pequel?) and I can complete the original mission. I think if I'm going to do this, it's about time I moved up to the heavy stuff: RPGs, grenade launchers, shotguns, mines and my little neglected buddy D-Walker. I'd love to find out if there was a way to beat this mission with stealth or non-lethal means, but I suspect I'm not going to find it because when those guys rock-up they're impervious to small arms fire. However! I am done with it being clobberin' time, and that means growing some stones, getting a little boulder with my approach, and not taking my explosive weaponry for granite.
- You know, something occurred to me while watching the following cutscenes of the vocal cord parasites being neutralized by Code Talker's cure and everyone on the quarantine platform recovering. The parasites in this game almost caused the deaths of hundreds of my recruits, but it also confers fantastic abilities on the Skulls and Quiet. I then realized that, if you were looking to find a biological and era-appropriate equivalent for nanomachines, it'd be microscopic organisms that turn you into a superhuman.
- We get another to be continued after Huey spills the beans on a secret facility further up the road from the Afghanistan Base, and our job for Mission #30 is to... assassinate Geoff Peterson? This seems kind of final. Why do I get the sense that this mission won't proceed quite as anyone expects?
- Right, I forgot about the 30+ minutes of recordings that the last mission dropped on my lap. It's quite a lot of backstory behind the parasites and the metallic archaea substance we collected after the last mission which somehow enriches small amounts of uranium sufficiently for the purposes of atomic weaponry, leading to the universal proliferation of nuclear devices via cheaply sourced and shipped low-grade nuclear materials. This is some cask-strength Kojima conspiracy nonsense which I'll almost certainly have to dissect in a future update, though I haven't heard anything yet that might explain a wormhole to a zombie dimension. For now, though, someone has to put Murray the Demonic Talking Skull in his place...
- Mission #30. I think this is the pivotal moment where MGSV remembers it's a MGS game, because we start with a very suspenseful stealthy infiltration of a multi-part base, and then game essentially takes over for about twenty minutes of exposition while Snake just sits there looking scowly and confused. Skeleton Warriors finally spills the beans on his ultimate plan: in order to spite Zero and those like him who seek to control the world through a universal lingua franca, he has developed a version of the vocal parasite that will attack - dun dun DUN! - English speakers! (I'm half-curious if that revelation changes depending on the language the player chose to play the game in, but I somehow doubt it. Like anyone would miss French speakers. Je plaisante, je suis désolé.) We're no closer to figuring out who Morte actually is, though he knew us back in our CIA/Snake Eater days and was learning under Zero at the time. This whole sequence is told on a journey back to the power plant from the start of mission #12, and ends with our enormous metal friend Sadiehawkinsdance going nuts thanks to Sidekick Mantis and Ignus (wait, is this game the true sequel to Planescape: Torment?) and the mission ends with another climactic "to be continued". Despite my perfect stealth, I apparently took too long to reach Skullomania, so I only got a B-rank this time. That's going to be a very difficult S-rank to get later on given how many guards I had to sneak past. Maybe there's a better route besides belly-crawling for ten minutes?
- Mission #31. Well, now we have to escape the enraged Sonnyandcher before it can stomp us to paste, like it seemingly did to our good buddy Jack Skellington (and I hope he's dead, for no other reason except that I'm running out of talking skeletons to refer to him as). Miller changes the mission parameters, however: we need to destroy the mech, since it can't be allowed to roam free with a nuclear arsenal. Easier said than done, perhaps, but fortunately Cipher left a lot of tanks around for us to borrow. I also made the smart decision to immediately quit the mission and jump back in with an RPG strapped to my back. When you aren't trying to hide from it, Sallah-el-kahir's size actually works against it somewhat, giving you plenty of room to avoid its attacks - who gave this thing a Balrog fire whip? - and a couple of obvious weak points to aim at. For all its build-up, it's a typical Metal Gear fight: use rockets to attack the weak point, try to not get immediately killed by its many weapons designed to take down tanks and armored vehicles and are thus overkill for a scruffy man with an eyepatch. I also liked that you could hit its "pilot", the junior Psycho Mantis (until anyone tells me otherwise), when it briefly goes into reflex mode. If a floating kid in a gas mask ends up being the true antagonist of this game, I'm going to have some words with Kojima-san. It was a surprising S-rank, though perhaps not given that they just hand the perfect stealth bonus to you, but my favorite part of the end results screen has to be the "Neutralizations: 1". Yeah, but it was a big "1". Still, we have one last thread to tie up...
- Spooky Scary Skeleton is where we left him, trapped under a big collapsed girder bleeding to death. To remind us that Big Boss is a future bad guy, we decide to blow off three of Boni's limbs to speed up the exsanguination as revenge for all the pain, phantom and otherwise, he's caused us for the last decade. To punctuate this, the duo of Snake and Miller momentarily resemble their past selves, hatred flashing across their faces. So glad I chose to play this game as non-lethally as possible, so that I could see my nonviolent temperament reflected in the characters I've grown attached to these many hours. Whatever, at least I'm not chowing down on hamsters in this one. We walked away from our "perfect revenge", only to have Huey show up and deliver the final blow for forcing him to work on his dream project of a giant bipedal mech. Dude, banned for kill stealing.
- And so the game ends (sorta?) with the triumphant team returning to Mother Base with our prize in tow: the suspiciously intact and operational Snackerdoodle mech. The stinger leaves us with an ominous scene of Eli being gifted with the last vial of the English-language vocal cord parasite by Lil' Mantis as the Diamond Dogs face an uncertain future without a vindictive rival to keep them in check. Roll credits.
Well, it's been a blast everyone, I hope you've had... wait...
|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|