Tuesday, April 28, 2009

DFB – “The Shadow Moses Incident” (Metal Gear Solid) – Part VII

No introduction, the damn thing is big enough as it is so let's jump right into it!

Just for reference in the examination sections:
BEO - "Bird's Eye Offense" - The detrimental process that the primary overhead third-person camera had with my experience regarding the Metal Gear Solid series.

*I suppose at this point the story summaries are here simply because they are therapeutic for me to type out beforehand. If you still want to read them though, feel free to knock yourself out.*

Story Summary ~ My Progress Thus Far

Snake wakes up not to long afterwards; he is strapped to some kind of table and there are blinding white lights above him. He can very hazily hear someone with a British accent addressing him. He then hears Sniper Wolf and Revolver Ocelot speaking to this person as well. As Snake finally wakes up completely, Ocelot notices and re-aligns the table Snake is strapped to so that he's facing them all. Snake now finds himself facing the squad leader of FOX-HOUND (whom his radio support has already warned him about), Liquid Snake. Not only does this FOX-HOUND member hold the same title as Solid Snake, but the only thing distinguishing the two apart are their skin tone (as well as Snake's purposefully dyed & cut hair so as not to be confused with him). Liquid begins to express an arrogant distaste for for Snake's presence and then has a conversation with Vulcan Raven via radio. He learns that the American government is not responding to their demands and boldly tells Wolf and Ocelot that they'll be launching the first nuclear strike in ten hours as planned. He then leaves the room teasingly addressing Snake as "brother".

Sniper Wolf then makes her way towards Snake and caresses his chest (Snake has been stripped down to his pants and all of his items have been confiscated). She lustfully tells Snake that Meryl is still alive and then departs to feed the resident wolves on the island. On her way out, Ocelot comments that she'll never quit hunting Snake now; she's even been known to fall in love with some of her targets before she kills them. Ocelot then tells Snake that it's time for them to get started and he proceeds to engage Snake in his other specialty, torture. By using a specially designed machine (the table that Snake is strapped to), Ocelot continuously runs a high-voltage electric current through Snake's body, causing immense pain. As long as it's only for a short time, it won't kill him; thus it's a proficient means for the sadist to effectively interrogate Snake (various questions regarding the nuclear launch). After his first session with Ocelot, Snake is put in a cell, and notices that the DARPA chief's corpse is there along with him. Oddly, his body looks and smells as if it's been decomposing for days. Campbell and Naomi then call Snake, informing him that the U.S. government has decided not to give into FOX-HOUND's demands.

Snake then angrily scolds Campbell for only telling him half-truths as far as his mission was concerned. Campbell knew all along about the specifics of the Metal Gear Rex project. Even after Snake specifically demanded to have complete disclosure at all times, Campbell still deceived him in order for his participation. After denouncing Campbell, Snake goes over the contradictory presence of the DARPA chief's corpse with Naomi. His body has been drained of all it's blood and he appears to have been dead for several weeks (despite only dying in front of Snake's eyes a few hours ago). Still remorseful from his deception, Campbell tells Snake that his top priority is to destroy Metal Gear, but first he has to escape the cell. While waiting for any opportunity to present itself, Ocelot calls Snake for second torture session.

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Solid Snake - Yoji Shinkawa

After a second round of interrogation, Campbell and Naomi call again. This time Snake and Naomi talk idly in order to keep Snake's mind distracted from his own torture-induced pain. She hesitantly relates her experience for getting into gene therapy, as she never knew her family and wanted to find out her own genetic legacy. The closest thing she had to a relative was a brother who wasn't even blood related to her. Thanks to her makeshift sibling, she was able to survive her otherwise harsh childhood and eventually found her way to America. Naomi then questions Snake about any meaningful relationships in his life. Snake replies that he only has two friends, Roy Campbell (who is shocked that Snake still considers him a friend) and Frank Jaeger. Naomi is somewhat stunned at the mention of Gray Fox, as she knows both he and Snake tried to kill each other during the Zanzibar Uprising six years ago. Snake relates that both he and Fox were just professionals on opposite sides and that the fact that they were at war with each other placed no strain on their friendship whatsoever.

Snake also tells Naomi another unknown piece of information, Big Boss told Snake that he was his father. Naomi is shocked that Snake apparently committed patricide knowingly. However, Snake's only response was that some people just need to be killed. They then leave Snake alone and while the guard's on a bathroom break, Otacon creeps in using his stealth camouflage. He can't release Snake (the guard carries the only key), but gives Snake food, a new keycard (for when he escapes) and a handkerchief, the latter belonging to Sniper Wolf. Otacon then unsuccessfully pleads that Snake not kill her when he finds his way out (Snake simply dismisses him a Stockholm Syndrome victim). As the guard makes his way back, Otacon switches his camouflage back on and flees. Snake then uses the opportunity to hide under the only thing in the cell other than the DARPA chief, a small bed. The uncouth guards storms in the cell thinking that Snake somehow freed himself; Snake then crawls out and knocks him unconscious. Snake then grabs all of his items and makes his way back towards the underground passage he was captured in earlier. Along the way, "Deepthroat" calls Snake and urgently informs him that there's a bomb in his items. Snake is able to toss it away just as it explodes. He knows that Ocelot placed it there and irritatedly states that the sadist will pay for it.

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Cyborg Ninja, Meryl Silverburgh, Solid Snake - Yoji Shinkawa

Snake then proceeds to make his way through the underground passage, but stops once he sees the puddle of blood that Meryl occupied earlier. While blaming himself for her capture, Master Miller and Mei Ling advise him that such emotions aren't going to help him right now. While Naomi is pursuing the topic of Meryl's importance to Snake, Campbell jokingly remakes that she must be predisposed towards her inquisitive conversation. Naomi then tells them about her grandfather who was an undercover agent in President Hoover's time. Master Miller then intrusively questions her before Snake decides it's time to carry on with his mission. Just inside the communications tower, Snake finds himself a rope, but is spotted by a craftily placed security camera. Snake is then forced to evade pursuit from dozens of guards while ascending twenty-seven flights of stairs to the roof of tower A. While making his way across to tower B, a Hind helicopter launches a barrage of missiles, destroying it. It resurfaces in front of Snake. who realizes now that Liquid is the pilot. Just as Snake is about to be shot down, he uses the rope he recently found to repel off the side. This places him in between the two towers and relatively out of the Hind's immediate reach. As he makes his way down to a second walkway, The Hind chases him into tower B, where he finds a Stinger missile launcher. Though, he's safe for the moment, Snake feels he has to make his way to the roof as Liquid can be heard circling the tower, waiting for him.

While scoping out the tower, Snake finds that the first floor staircase is destroyed, preventing him from further access. He makes his way back up to the seemingly broken elevator he passed and hears something shuffling boxes around. After pulling his gun on the source of the noise, he discovers that it's Otacon who trailed him. Otacon reluctantly asks Snake about the nature of love during a time of war, and Snake surprisingly sympathizes with him. Snake then requests that Otacon fix the elevator so he can make his way down and proceed across the snowfield, towards the underground maintenance base where Metal Gear Rex is being stored. Otacon informs him that he'll fix it while Snake makes his way up to the roof to deal with Liquid aboard the Hind. On the roof, Snake demands to know why Liquid continually addresses him as brother while Liquid angrily screams that he should ask the father he killed.

Using his Stinger missile launcher, Snake is able to successfully destroy the Hind and it crashes below. He then makes his way back down and Otacon calls to tell him him that the elevator started working on it's own. While in the elevator, the weight limit warning sounds out, and it starts to descend to the first floor. Otacon calls Snake again to relate how strange the elevator's earlier malfunction was. He summarily states that it was acting as if someone was intentionally holding it; Snake then asks if the weight limit went off when Otacon was inside. Otacon tells him him it did and states that he's only around 130 pounds. Snake observes that it would take at least five people to go over the limit. Otacon suddenly realizes what's happening and urgently yells at Snake that four soldiers who stole his stealth camouflage prototypes must be in the elevator with him. As he hangs up his codec, Snake can hear a guard tell him that it's too late, and they begin to open fire on him. Through some quick thinking within the closed space, Snake is able to dispatch all four of them just as the elevator makes it to the first floor.

While making his way across the snowfield however, Snake is shot by an unknown assailant. He calls Otacon to see if any more stealth prototypes were stolen, but Otacon tells him there were just four. Snake then surmises that someone is sniping at him in the middle of a blizzard. Otacon excitedly exclaims (much to Snake's distaste) that it must be Sniper Wolf. Just then, Wolf then cuts in to their transmission. She joyfully informs Snake that she's about to kill him and Snake angrily announces his vengeance for what she did to Meryl. The two then have a second sniper-duel in the middle of the snowstorm. Using the terrain as best as he can, Snake is successful in landing a fatal lung-shot on the female assassin. As he makes his way towards her, Wolf disdainfully announces her disgust with herself. She regards Snake as a hero and asks that he end her suffering. Otacon then appears and tearfully hands a dying Sniper Wolf her rifle as all the wolf-huskies surround them, supposedly responding to their master's imminent death. Otacon mournfully tells her goodbye while professing his love for her; Snake then shoots her in the head, instantly killing her.

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The Snowfield - Yoji Shinkawa

Snake tells Otacon to leave anyway he can, and makes his way towards the underground base. Otacon refuses and states that he wants to continue helping. He then calls to Snake asking to what purpose and end they're all fighting for (including Sniper Wolf). Snake is only able to provide a vague and hollow answer however, and Otacon yells after him that he'll continue searching as well. Making his way through the blast furnace and permafrost layer, Snake discovers Vulcan Raven waiting for him again; this time armed with a M61 Vulcan, a 20mm Gatling gun usually mounted on fighter jets. Using his explosive armament Snake is able to dispatch the giant soldier. As Raven falls against a door, he gives Snake the last keycard that he'll need in order to enter Metal Gear Rex's hangar. He also tells Snake something in order to help him.

The DARPA chief that Snake saw die was actually Decoy Octopus, a member of FOX-HOUND and specialist in mimicry. He even went as far as draining the DARPA chief's blood into himself in order to copy his appearance. Snake asks Raven why he's helping him and Raven responds that he's a creature not given birth to by nature. He urges Snake to go do battle with the "the boss" and summons all the crows to himself and they begin eating his flesh. As Raven is being devoured, he cryptically asserts that Snake will have no peace throughout the rest of his life. He goes on stating that the souls of all those he's killed will haunt him forever, and that his war-laden life will be eternal. Snake turns around to face him, but only sees Raven's gatling gun left, amongst a pool of blood. Snake then continues on past a bridge, heavily guarded by dozens upon dozens of gun-equipped security cameras. In the nest room, Snake proceeds down a corridor until he finally finds himself in front of the bipedal behemoth, Metal Gear Rex.

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Metal Gear Rex, The Hind D, The M1 Tank, and the Cyborg Ninja - Yoji Shinkawa

While making his way up the side of Rex via containment ladders, Snake discovers that Otacon is researching the secret behind the nuclear-launch override. Apparently, the PAL card that president Baker gave Snake has some sort of "trick" behind it. Otacon successfully hacks the initial security layers behind Baker's personal files and discovers some terrifying facts about the nuclear testing. As Otacon suspected, the nuclear warhead is designed to be fired from Rex's rail gun, but learns that the missile itself uses a propulsion system that doesn't technically classify it as a missile (therefore granting it circumventions around various international treaties). Also, Otacon learns that the missile is a stealth-type that will not show up on radar. This makes Metal Gear Rex a historically dangerous weapon. Otacon then tells Snake that the only testing data recorded was done in a virtual model. Both Otacon and Campbell relate the importance of recording such nuclear test data, but Snake informs them both that the disc given to him by Baker contained just that. Unfortunately, when he was being tortured, Ocelot took it from him so he no longer possesses it. Snake then urgently tells Otacon to keep searching for the secret behind the override and makes his way toward the hangar's control room.

Just as Snake makes his way towards the top, he hides in a corner and observes a conversation between Ocelot and Liquid Snake, who apparently survived the Hind's crash earlier. Ocelot tells Liquid that they're now able to launch their attack at any time, but Liquid seems more intrigued by the U.S. government's actions. When Ocelot suggests a Russian location as a target, Liquid instead suggests a remote Chinese location that can still be concealed from the public. This will serve as a sort of demonstration that will warrant other countries contacting them to make deals and arrangements (as well as tarnishing the United States' reputation). Liquid then relishes in their demands, one billion dollars and Big Boss' remains; both of which will be used to "cure" their genome soldiers. Ocelot then questions Liquid about something called "Foxdie" and they converse about how neither Mantis or Wolf were affected (while it killing Decoy Octopus and Kenneth Baker). Liquid then asks Ocelot about his comrade from Russia, Sergei Gurlukovich. Ocelot says that Gurlukovich is waiting to see how successful Metal Gear Rex's test launch is; in addition to using Rex to to grant Russia a new world order.

Liquid expresses his disdain for Gurlukovich's politician-esque approach, but Ocelot reminds him that it was Gurlukovich who gave them most of their heavy firepower for the rebellion in the first place (not to mention the Hind). Liquid begins to ponder on the effect that an alliance with the Russians will have. He surmises that since Psycho Mantis's death, the soldiers have started becoming anxious; he then proposes that allying with the Russians could help boost their morale. Ocelot states that they could all easily escape afterwards, but Liquid has made him his mind to stay and "dig in" at Shadow-Moses. Ocelot then suddenly realizes what Liquid's ultimate goal is just as Liquid exuberantly declares that he's now titling the facility, Outer Heaven.

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Snake and Metal Gear Rex - Yoji Shinkawa

Ocelot and Liquid then discuss the significance of Snake and his ability to stop them. They both arrive at the conclusion that Snake doesn't have the tools required for the deactivation and that Metal Gear is unstoppable at this point. Liquid also advises Ocelot to keep Meryl alive as their ace-in-the-hole. Otacon then calls Snake and informs him that he found how the override system works. Snake protests that he still needs two other keys, but Otacon tells him that he already has the other two, which is the "trick" Baker mentioned earlier. The connector pins in the PAL card are composed of a shape memory alloy and change shape at different temperatures, meaning that the one key Snake has is potentially three keys in itself. As Otacon tells Snake how to input the card in the control room's laptop terminals, Ocelot sees Snake's elbow from the doorway and immediately fires a shot, knocking the PAL card out of Snake's hand and into the drainage ditch below. Liquid arrogantly tells Snake that he'll enjoy watching him die and immediately raises an alert. Snake then proceeds down to the ground level and searches the nuclear-waste ditch until he finds the PAL key. He then makes his way back up to the now-abandoned control room and inputs the first room-temperature key into the laptop.

Now Snake must find a cold area to freeze the key, so he backtracks to the permafrost layer that he fought Raven in earlier, and waits for the card to freeze. After the card changes, Snake makes his way back and inputs that as well. All that's left for him to do is to warm the key and he'll deactivate the launch. As he's making his way back up to the boiler room, Master Miller calls Snake and asks him if he knows about something called FoxDie. Snake recognizes it as something Liquid and Ocelot were talking about earlier, but he doesn't know what it is. He then tells Snake that FoxDie is a type of retrovirus that kills it's victims by simulating a heart-attack. This makes sense of the otherwise mysterious deaths of both Decoy Octopus and president Baker. Master Miller has had continual suspicion against Naomi ever since he discovered she was lying about her grandfather's undercover government-position earlier. Now he suspects that Naomi may have given Snake an injection containing FoxDie (Snake suddenly remembers the shot for the nanomachines). Snake calls Colonel Campbell back and discovered that Naomi was just placed under arrest for sending coded messages towards the disposal facility.

Snake is shocked at this but resolves that all he can do is leave things up to the Campbell for the time being. As Snake finally heats the key in the boiler room, he begins to make his way back to input the last override code. As he's on the cargo elevator, he receives a codec call...from Naomi.


Snake questions if Master Miller's suspicions are true and Naomi admits that they are. She then relates her experiences throughout her life; this includes the identity of her "brother", Frank Jaegar. The closest person she had to a family member was the same man that Snake supposedly killed in Zanzibar. She also was also spared hardships in her life by the intervention of Big Boss (who Snake also killed). Naomi then tells Snake the scientific details of how FoxDie kills it's victims, and Snake morbidly asks her if she programmed it to kill him too. Naomi says that she injected Snake with FoxDie, but it wasn't due to her personal motives, rather that it was a part of the operation from the beginning. Just then, Naomi is knocked out and Campbell appears on the codec telling Snake that Naomi is not allowed to make any more transmissions. Snake angrily demands to know what she meant by his injection be a part of the mission, but Campbell refuses to let her talk and advises Snake to continue his mission. After making his way back to the control room, Snake inputs the last key in the terminal. As the last code is confirmed, Metal Gear activates and the launch sequence starts up (instead of deactivating as it was supposed to do). Snake is now stunned as he receives a call from Master Miller. Miller's tone has changed significantly and he mockingly expresses pity (as well as gratitude) towards Snake. Miller tells Snake that the terrorists were never able to learn the launch codes from the DARPA chief. Ocelot accidentally killed him during his interrogation and that they had no way to launch. He then humorously tells Snake that he was manipulated by them from the beginning in order to input the sequence to activate the launch process for them.

Campbell then interrupts the transmission and urgently tells Snake that Master Miller's corpse was just discovered at his home; not only that, but he's been dead for at least three days. Campbell didn't realize it as his link to Master was cut off, but Mei Ling advises them that this "Miller's" transmission signal was coming from inside the base. Campbell realizes exactly who Snake has been talking to just as Miller reveals himself to be Liquid Snake. Liquid then activates a mechanism which begins to pour gas into the room; the doors to the control room also lock, trapping Snake inside. Fortunately, with Otacon's help, Snake is able to get the door open just in time to see Liquid running towards the cockpit of Metal Gear Rex.

Snake furiously confronts Liquid, but then proceeds to question him. Liquid now pitying Snake, tells him that he's lost his individual will as a soldier and become nothing more than an expendable pawn. Elaborating on Naomi's half-exposed injection purpose, Liquid also tells Snake that he was purposefully injected with Foxdie as a way of killing the all the terrorists without any damage being done to Metal Gear itself (so it could be recovered later). From the beginning of the mission, he was nothing more than a carrier, meant to infect FOX-HOUND. Liquid does tell Snake however, that Naomi made changes to FoxDie's program at the last minute, but nobody knows exactly what she did. He then takes solace in the fact that because Snake's not dead already, the program hasn't been currently set up to kill him. Realizing what this means, Snake now knows that he and Liquid actually are brothers. Liquid then vaguely comments on Snake's genetic makeup, angrily addressing Snake as the "favorite" who was genetically altered to be the perfect soldier. Liquid distastefully exclaims that he was just leftovers from the experiment used to make Snake. Realizing that Liquid's motives are based around hollow revenge (much like Naomi), Snake prepares to shoot Liquid, but he's too late. Liquid has hopped into the cockpit of Metal Gear Rex and the machine starts to move.

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Liquid piloting Metal Gear Rex - Yoji Shinkawa

Snake then finds himself facing off against Metal Gear Rex. Luckily, he has direct access to the designer this time. Otacon informs him that in order to defeat Rex, he'll have to expose it's interior, which can be done by disabling it's radome from functioning. Once that's destroyed, the cockpit will force the pilot to operate on manual, exposing the interior of Rex. Using this method, Snake causes a significant amount of damage to the radome via his Stinger missiles, but is unable to disable it entirely. As it looks like Snake has failed, the cyborg ninja suddenly appears to help Snake. With his helmet opened, his identity is finally revealed to Snake. As he suspected, it's Gray Fox, who also admits to being "Deepthroat" as well. Fox then battles Metal Gear Rex one on one, causing enough damage to the radome to destroy it (forcing the cockpit open and expose Liquid in the pilot's seat). While briefly speaking to Snake in cover (hiding from Liquid now using only his eyes to pilot), Fox remorsefully reveals that he killed Naomi's parents and only raised her as his sister to soothe his own guilt. Liquid then spots their hiding place, and Fox leaves to continue to battling Rex. Unfortunately, Fox's arm is sliced off by Rex's high-energy laser and his torso torso is also severed in the battle. As Snake refuses to take advantage of an opening to destroy Rex (for fear of killing Fox as well), Liquid begins to crush Fox's body beneath Rex's feet. Fox's armor is still enduring however, and he tells Snake not to submit to becoming just a tool of the government. As Fox bids his best friend farewell, Liquid exerts all of Rex's force on Fox's exoskeleton, crushing him entirely and leaving only large pool of blood beneath Rex's feet. He then arrogantly screams at Snake that although Fox truly earned his codename, he was nothing more than a ghost begging for death now. He renounces Snake as not being able to protect anyone, including himself; he then continues to assault Snake in Rex.

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Solid Snake vs Metal Gear Rex - Yoji Shinkawa

Snake then continues battling Rex with it's interior exposed now. Using some spare ammo left to him by Fox, he's able to destroy the machine, leaving Liquid screaming as the machine explodes in a blazing inferno. The force of the blast knocks Snake into a wall, rendering him unconscious. Snake can just make out Liquid's figure walking towards him before he blacks out entirely...

When Snake wakes up, he finds Liquid waiting for him to come to. He also notices that they're both on the the head of the now-destroyed Metal Gear Rex. Liquid then angrily describes the entire process that gave rise to both their lives. The "Les Enfants Terribles" project, was a secret cloning operation preformed by the U.S. government in order to clone Big Boss, the greatest soldier in the world. Snake himself is supposedly the result in which all the dominant genes are expressed, with Liquid being given all the recessive genes. Liquid demands to break his "cursed lineage" by killing Snake, and unties him. Snake is then contacted by Campbell who tells him that the U.S. is going to try and cover up the entire incident by launching a nuclear assault on the island (using the cover story that the terrorists simply exploded a nuclear device by mistake). Just as Campbell attempts to confuse the chain of command in order to buy Snake time, he's subdued by soldiers.

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The Stakes - Yoji Shinkawa

The Secretary of Defense then picks up the transmission and smugly tells Snake that the only way he'll consider stopping the bombing run is if Snake brings back Rex's test data. Snake replies that he doesn't have it anymore and the secretary says that it's not a priority anymore regardless. He denounces both Snake and Liquid as an embarrassment from the 1970's and tells them to have fun catching up before cutting the transmission. Liquid then shows Snake Meryl, who is tied up near them as well. She's wired to a nuclear device set to blow up just as she dies. The two then engage in a vicious fist fight atop the head of Metal Gear. Snake just barely overcomes Liquid, knocking him over the side and supposedly killing him. He then proceeds to Meryl and as she comes to, Otacon calls Snake and informs him that he'll take care of their escape route. Snake warns him of the oncoming nuclear assault, but Otacon is content with his new-found peace of mind. He bids Snake good luck and and ends the transmission.

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The Final Chase - Yoji Shinkawa

On the way out, Snake and Meryl use a jeep to make their way towards the surface. As they near the end of the tunnel however, Liquid shows up once again trailing them in his own jeep. Snake fends Liquid back as long as he can, but just as both jeeps come out to the surface, they crash into each other. Snake and Meryl are appear unharmed, but are both trapped under the jeep. Just as Snake starts to look for his seemingly-immortal brother, Liquid wearily drags himself out of his own jeep, armed with an FAMAS. Just as he aims it at Snake to kill him, he suddenly falls to his knees in tremendous pain (similar to Decoy Octopus). Both Liquid and Snake know what this means and just as FoxDie claims Liquid's life, Snake realizes that he must be the next target of the virus. Meryl tells him not to think about it, and Snake notices that the bombers aren't anywhere in sight. Campbell then calls Snake and informs him that the Secretary of Defense was arrested and the bombing orders were rescinded. The colonel then expresses gratitude for Snake's successful rescue of Meryl. Snake then requests that Otacon be brought in safely and wishes to talk with Naomi about FoxDie. The colonel states that Naomi wished to talk to him directly about that and patches her into the transmission. Naomi informs Snake that she heard about Fox, but Snake glosses over the truth by simply telling her that Fox expressed his love for her and also that she should forget about him. Snake doesn't bear a grudge against Naomi for FoxDie, but asks to know when he's scheduled to be killed. Naomi simply informs Snake that he'll die when his time's up. She doesn't say anything else and then ends the transmission.

Snake and Meryl then make their way down the mountainside and find a snowmobile waiting for them (organized by Ca"mpbell). They find a bandanna laying on its sea and Snake comments that they should keep it as a reminder of how to live. After expressing his new found will to live a life for someone other than himself, Snake (revealing his name to be David) and Meryl ride off into the sunrise.

*After the credits Revolver Ocelot can be heard talking to an unknown person. He tells this person that he retrieved all the test data and that the DARPA chief was the only one who knew his true identity, and is dead (revealing that Ocelot did in fact kill him on purpose). He also relates to the man, that the inferior Snake was the victor after all (revealing yet layer in the "Les Enfants Terribles" project). He informs him that no one knows the mysterious man's identity as the third Snake, Solidus. He then thanks the man and finally addresses him as the president of the United States...*

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The End - Yoji Shinkawa

~End Shadow Moses Incident~

Sons of Big Boss - The Genome Army

I thought it would be appropriate to go through all the Solid games and give some sort of examination of the bulk forces within them. Since all of them have a "Sons of..." moniker, this seemed fitting enough.

All of the bulk forces in the Metal Gear Solid titles serve as the mass of individuality for general "play-engagement". For Shadow Moses, this meant the genome army. Composed of various special units, they're highly developed soldiers with little to no real battle experience. The AI surrounding the genome army was admirable for it's debut in late 90's mainly because how they operated in 3D space. As engaging enemies however, they were only a microscopic increment above the assailants in Zanzibar. Some could even argue the head-turning mechanic from Metal Gear 2 works more efficiently than this title's guards. So many things loop in and out of how the player experiences the genome army as well. For instance, the fact that the BEO (bird's eye offense) practically forces the player to play by the Soliton Radar, one could make it through the game experiencing these guys as nothing more than blips on their map. One of the first arctic patrols outside on the heliport offered one of Metal Gear Solid's few "Oh that was cool!" moments:

"Huh, whose footprints are these?"

Easily taking advantage of that, the player can virtually force the AI to run around in circles as if he's hooked onto their tracks. This title is also pressing to me becoming a bigger proponent of my "AI-Playdough" section from my previous Metal Gear post (part II). There's simply not a lot of guards during the playthrough on the island (and the communication tower chase is obviously respawn-hell which I can live with). The interaction the player has with the genome army is an overall hollow experience, despite the fact that the game plays it up so colorfully (which is the only thing that saves it). Snake even goes as far as calling them "video-game players" in the title's briefing videos. The way the guards act in Metal Gear titles tend to have them age into their idiocy being a sort of novelty for the experience overall. I suppose that's better than ragging on them all day, but it still irks me nonetheless. I could always use this to springboard into the whole AI debacle, but I think I said enough in the second N313 post. Thematically, the genome army's presence carries it's wait, it's just a tad unfair as the play tends to become dead-weight in hind-sight.

*Factoid: An early model for my Metal Gear Fan-dev eliminated all of the guards entirely. Instead, I supplanted their presence with twenty individually designed "bosses" so to speak, to wander around the entire base and can be encountered randomly by the player at any time (this includes the original title's four specialists as well). This would essentially make Outer Heaven a facility full of boss battles and nothing more. One game have already proven that sixteen successive boss battles can be an emotionally powerful experience if expertfully crafted (coughShadowoftheColossuscough).*

Twin Snakes Taintage

A lot of purists hate Twin Snakes. My feelings towards it never approached disdain because I knew what I was getting from the moment the trailers for it started being shown. Remaking old beloved titles is problematic from a fundamental point of view int he first place as games age very oddly. People fall in love with flaws and idiosyncrasies that get trampled in whatever re-visioning developers decide to put out. Let's take the Resident Evil Remake (which was also ironically for the Gamecube). It added new sequences and overhauled visuals, but it never touched or infringed upon the game's original appeal (which is why it's such an efficient remake).

The problem with Twin Snakes is that in many respects, Metal Gear Solid is a significantly flawed title. Despite all of it's hangups, it still serves as a blazing-hot light that many people latch on to this day. Retrofitting the game with MGS2's mechanics for example...need I say more? The game needed to keep the "harshness" of the original's appeal while still adding to it. It didn't do that however, it simply retrofitted it's own quality mechanics from a sequel. This is the equivalent of me taking a previous paragraph out of an earlier one of these blogs, and pasting it into this one without editing it to blend in.

The cutscenes are simply an admission of what the game is; as was the re-recording of the entire script. It's not so much of a remake as it is a skewed re-imagining of the original game (which isn't bad by any means). There absolutely needs to be a distinction no doubt, but Twin Snakes doesn't deserved to be damned. Instead, it should serve as a model for what truly lies between it and it's 1998 progenitor (as well as all the positive ideas that come from the juxtaposition of the two). Firing ignorant passion at such a title is just as damaging as it's perceived taint of the original work.


FOX-HOUND Field-Day

The first actual confrontation with FOX-HOUND filters into all the games around the franchise, so it's imperative that I address each individual member's relevance within the game. Figuring in the fact that the player faces off against various mercenary forces, Dead Cell, The Cobra Unit, and the B & B corps through out the series, this is the only time that Snake/The Player actually takes on the infamous unit. This is very likely why it's so special in the narrative's context. This is even to the point that the playtime composing them just simply becomes a footnote.

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Shadow Moses Regulars - Yoji Shinkawa

Tears of the Wolf

Sniper Wolf's battles are classic in that they occupy areas tailored for sniper duels, only Snake is at the disadvantage each time. There's something just off-key about having to hit her in position at the Communication Tower encounter. As for the snowfield fight, the only thing missing was more snow falling to help solidify the moment's cinematic play (part of why Crying Wolf was so enjoyable in MGS4). If Snake manages to get shot, resetting his position entirely is usually the most viable option (hence "quick-equip"), as she knocks the player's viewpoint away from her entirely. This is of course, assuming the player is using the PSG-1 to do battle with her, as there are multiple ways to kill Wolf (the second time anyway). That brings into question another topic which is in this post as well...if you're looking hard enough that is.

Spirit of the Raven

Raven is fittingly the most spiritual battle in this game (at least he was for me). This is due to the sound design, the introduction of his character, and the fundamental mechanic of fighting him. What's really fantastic to experience is having this fight without the radar on at all. Running around in the permafrost layer's maze-like layout can be tiring. This is wondrously exacerbated by the fact that Raven picks up speed the more Snake damages him. The sound design kicks in here as well; Raven begins huffing and puffing the longer the battle drags on and before I knew it I found myself trying to catch my breath along with him (in an experience I would never feel again until the entirety of Mirror's Edge ten years later). Granted that the dialogue doesn't put the player off, the whole Alaskan-Olympic metaphor Raven uses preceding the battle further sets up the experience:

Raven: "You jest but indeed ravens and snakes are not the best of friends.
Nevertheless you will make a worthy adversary. You live in Alaska
too. You know of the World Eskimo-Indian Olympics?"

Snake: "Yeah, I know it. You must be a real threat in the "Muk-Tuk"
eating contest."

Raven: "Yes, you are right. But there is another event that I excel at. It is
called the "Ear Pull". It is an event where two opponents pull
each other's ear while enduring the harsh cold. It tests
spiritual as well as physical strength."

Snake: "You want to pull each other's ears?"

Raven: "The form is different, but the spirit is the same. Rejoice, Snake! Ours will be a glorious battle."

Snake: "This isn't glorious. It's just plain killing. Violence isn't a sport!"

Raven: "Well, we will see if there is iron in your words!!!"

*fight begins*

Soul of the Psychic

You can see my description in the previous blog for why I think this encounter is highly-overrated. What the fight does excel in however, is the ability to make the player function within a "cinematic gimp". An example being the the nature of the First-Person View during the fight. Due to some sort of looping process from Mantis reading Snake's mind, the player views Mantis' first person perspective rather than Snake's the entire fight. All the other 4th person breaches are just icing on the cake.

Deception of the Octopus

This boss is one of deception and indirect influence. I consider it the worst boss encounter in the game (as it's all done in a scene), but I still consider it fight nonetheless. I have no problem with the scenes themselves, I just feel slightly cheated that I was offered no interaction at all with Octopus on any level. I like to have some special understanding of the scene I'm in and putting me in the room with his corpse just after FoxDie kicked in wasn't enough.

Venom of the Snake

This my personal favorite fight in the game due to the backdrop, prior two fight sequences, and simplicity of it all. Liquid's "actual superiority" over Snake kind of kicks in tremendously during this battle as his blows are devastating (playing it on extreme makes things really intense). Maneuvering around and finding openings to hit him exposes the actual game's technical limitations, but it didn't hamper the experience for me. In fact, by the time I made it to The Boss in Snake Eater later on down the road, I appreciated that encounter tenfold. I like the emphasis the games begin to place on meaningful simplistic battles. The CQC sequences are debatable for most, but they're usually where I find myself in complete sync with the game.

Agility of the Ocelot

This is actually my least favorite "traditional encounter" in the entire game. I knew exactly why once I played Twin Snakes, it was the BEO. The top-down view has some effect on the battle overall that agitates me to no end. By the time Twin Snake's came around, the encounter was gimped and became easy for it's own good while not actually fixing anything. If I'm to enjoy the first Ocelot encounter, core changes would have to be made to the overall gameplay or animations (i.e. Snake getting shot would actually have to carry more weight).

Malicious Machines

Three pain in the ass boss encounters...all of them worth commenting on.

Tussle against a Tank

Another victim of how the BEO assaults the MGS experience, The tank encounter for me was only saved by Raven's preceding introduction. The act of actually throwing grenades on the top of the hatch is satisfying, but I like a sense of scale in this type of fight and I never really got it until towards the end of the game (see "Rumble with Rex" below).

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Roughs regarding the Tank encounter - Yoji Shinkawa

Hounded by a Hind

The Hind encounter is classic, and it interestingly avoids the BEO by the nature of how the Stinger missile launcher works. The weapon forces Snake to stand stationary in First Person view. That coupled with how a skilled person can use the tracking mechanic, makes this fight just above amazing. There's even major breaks in the pacing of this battle offered by Liquid launching devastating missile attacks once Snake has done significant damage. One thing I actually preferred more in The Twin Snakes however, was how Liquid's dialogue was read before and throughout the fight. As much as an action junkie as I am...I could have done without Snake missile-surfing (it taints the character's image for me).

Nastasha Romanenko: "...shove a Stinger missile up his butt!"



Rumble with Rex

This is something the 1998 version nailed and also something that the BEO actually helped establish as a gift for me to experience. The scale of Rex is still amazing to me in this fight, as it looks almost exaggerated as the camera cuts between a traditional third person view and the top down perspective (which makes Snake look like an ant). If the player proceeds past a certain distance away from Rex, the camera switches, showing the huge bipedal monster that's been played up throughout the entire series. This fight is also magnificently sandwiched in between Gray Fox's epix demise. Not only that, but having Otacon on hand to explain the machine's capabilities are a big plus here as well. When Rex stood up in 1998, I felt it.



4th Wall Constant

Metal Gear Solid marks the beginning of where the franchise made the 4th wall breaches an almost constant presence (wait until we get to Metal Gear Solid 2...). Not just spectacle sequences either (e.g. the Psycho Mantis encounter), but the small bits of dialogue such as everyone describing Snake's interaction as if he's holding the controller himself. Master Miller/Liquid has some subtle force in this game in particular, as he's constantly talking to the player as if he/she is Solid Snake and vice versa.

Virtual Visceral Vicariousness

This is not as exclusive to Metal Gear Solid as it is to games in a very general sense. Particularly ones that color their own worlds to such an extent, there's a hesitance to embrace that child-like-purity styled by imagination. For Metal Gear Solid, I'll use the flooring in the tank hangar's overwalk. Master Miller describes in detail over the codec, telling Snake exactly how to "stalk". After Snake admits he can't do it, Miller advises him to just crawl on his stomach instead (or wear socks of his shoes, heh). Now, the player does avoid sound detection by doing so, but at that particular moment in the game, the requirement to use it is close to none (as is the rest of the game). I still did/do it anyway as it offers a hook to immerse me more in the experience itself. It's not too unlike how I describe my OCD tendencies towards the simple act of jumping in Video Games as Art 1-4. It's certainly not necessary, but at the same time it is...

Sounds of Shadow Moses

Metal Gear Solid's OST isn't as fleshed out as it's successor's scores, but it cements itself as the most atmospheric for me with how it merged it's predecessor's "synthy sounding" limits with it's oncoming title's "orchestral overhauls". Every track in this game commands attention for its respective scene or sequence (The player will KNOW when Mantis' Hymn stops playing). I don't think any gamer (fan or not) will be unable to recognize Rika Muranaka's "The Best is Yet To Come". The way that the moody chills of "Rex's Lair" combine with Otacon's rapid-fire hacking updates are things that will always stand the test of time. If one game boasts the weight of a game's admirable attempts at merging all of it's amalgamated strengths it's this game.

My personal favorite?
17. - "Escape" – 3:11

With the way this game is paced, the climaxing track conquered all the others in my eyes. Both in the second Rex Fight (after Liquid crushes Fox) and the high-speed tunnel chase out of Shadow Moses Island. When the cherry on top of the cake is given some sustenance, it can become special too.



Hand-Drawn Handsomeness
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Generations are being supplanted more and more each day. More and more people who've grown up on video-games, cartoons, and animated stories. This is why it's becoming more and more common place for us to have such a response to games that use hand-drawn visuals to communicate their aesthetics. Everything from Guilty Gear to Wind Waker elicits such a response and Metal Gear Solid is in that category as well. After Sons of Liberty, the codec sequences were substituted for the actual game models on the radio/codec screen. I can see where the compulsion to go in such a direction comes from, but leaving behind the hand-drawn codec faces is a wound that I really don't think ever healed with the series overall. It's also another bullet point on why I still hold so much passion for this game.

Immersion ~ Disruption

As I described in the Ocelot Fight, as well as as the Tank scuffle, the third-person view serves as a constant disconnect for me in this game. Not simply because it actively fights the nature of being stealthy in the game, but because it hampers my own immersion within it. I can't "feel" the world from that angle at all sometimes. For my first playthrough, it wasn't such a big deal. The more and more I play this title, the more and more this issue ages for me. It's the equivalent to having a characteristic flaw on one's face. Removing it is troublesome (unless you're brash and vain), as it becomes a piece of the identity, and thus stripping robs that identity. This is why so many people argued for it as the series finally moved away from it in Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence. This is a game about war and ironically the BEO is constantly at war with the game's nature as "tactical espionage action".

Laudable Laughs

Whether the player is wandering around looking at genome soldier's asses, laughing at the constant 4th wall breaks, or staring at Meryl to make her blush, they'll always find themselves with a smile in an otherwise melancholic game series. This juxtaposition is part of what makes the franchise so beloved by many. The titles also started becoming infused with countless upon countless Easter-eggs as well. Metal Gear Solid showcased the beginnings of a more cinematic muscle when flexing in this area. Voice actors, and cutscenes can be used for good you know!

Evolutionary Engagement
Speaking of that dialogue, that aforementioned muscle was at it's peak when the illusion of engagement was experienced through the codec. It's all based around the context of the situation of course, but when talking to Snake's support over the codec, it taps into a section of enjoyment not many games can do at all. The multiple lines and amount of dialogue recorded for the title is admirable enough, but having the optional means to access conversations and statements is something Metal Gear Solid exemplified. Even having characters say the exact same things in a different way is helpful here (i.e. calling support multiple times throughout a boss fight). The tech here is also showcasing how once the veil between the player and the game is thickened, great things can happen. Example? Look at how obvious the room-dependant transmissions were in the 1987's Metal Gear. Even at the time, it was obvious what was going on (from a technical standpoint). Having Nastasha give one tid-bits on their chaff grenades can happen almost anywhere on Shadow Moses though. One shouldn't take that for granted.


Recurring Thechanics

Metal Gear Solid spawned quite a few of these as well, so let's take a look...

Screams of Failure
Having Snake's support yell his name over and over upon death became a trademark of the series that all are familiar with to this day. I define it as a thechanic because how it effects the player's perception of dying in a video-game. Of course, shit hits the fan once we get to "Fission Mailed"...but let's not put the chicken before the egg...or in this franchise's case, the owl. =)


Atmosphere
The development team at Konami actively recognized this in Metal Gear Solid 2, professing that the player would be able to "feel the air", but I argue that the dopes already nailed it with Shadow Moses. I felt the cold during my very first nine-hour-straight romp through the title (further merged with the fact that it was fucking freezing in the house that night). That in itself started the habit of me carelessly cranking up the AC at night when in front of any game now.

Estrogen Euthanasia

Three Women, three heads, three bullets. In Metal Gear Solid the Snake shoots Sniper Wolf in the face. In Metal Gear Solid 2, Olga is brutally shot in the head by Solidus, and in Metal Gear Solid 3 the player actually has to pull the trigger themselves, ending The Boss' life. I really wish the player was allowed to actually kill Sniper Wolf (helped by the presence of a sobbing Otacon & howling wolves), but that's a dangerous scene to touch. Of course The Boss's demise is up for argument (i.e. "you don't shoot her in the head!"), but I honestly figure to truly end someone's suffering, you plant one in their skull, plain and simple. The "angle amongst the lilies" lends a bit ambiguity to the moment though so I can't enforce my own perspective. Also, Olga isn't really considered a mercy killing either, but I could stretch that notion so that is. After her admitted betrayal to her "family" (the Gurlukovich army) for the sake of a captive infant-Sunny, she probably sought death in a sense as well. Of course, some people probably just saw Solidus as "bad" and Olga as "good", I feel sorry for those people...

Initial Rescue

All of the Solid titles (with the exception of Guns of the Patriots) have the player seeking out a scientist or person of some other importance to rescue and extract as a first mission objective. Ironically, they almost always get fucked over trying to do so. Guns of the Patriots kind of unintentionally acknowledges this as well, by sending the player to assassinate someone for once.

Snake + Metal Gear = Monster

Metal Gear Solid is the start of both the "the Snakes" and the Metal Gears being lent a visage of abominated nature. Rex, Ray, and the Gekko became "breathing machines", while the player was colored expertly with the shade of "you're a bad ass blue". The narrative condemning all of the "war creations" (Raiden included of course) places the the player in the midst of navigating a complex fictional infrastructure:

Raiden: "I look back on what I've done here so far and things like
training and sense of duty alone won't get you through a sneaking
mission like this."

Rose: "Jack, are you okay?"

Raiden: "You need something -- higher. I can't think of the right word,
but...it has to be pure will, backed up by -- by courage, or
ideals, or something like that. I'd stake my life on it. The
Solid Snake that saved Shadow Moses couldn't turn into a
terrorist."

Johnny Sasaki

Johnny is in all of the Solid games as comic relief and he made his debut as the guard Meryl stole genome-army fatigues from (his grandfather appears in Snake Eater). When Snake first sees him, he's actually in "the john", commenting on how attractive he finds Meryl. He then appears telling the Darpa Chief to shut up (he didn't know Snake was in the room talking to the chief at the time). He makes his first unmasked presence while nude, face down in a pool of spit, with his naked ass bared at the camera (with humorous censoring). Manipulating Johnny to break Snake out of captivity in both Metal Gear Solid and Metal Gear Solid 3 usually revolve around bad bowel movements. In Metal Gear Solid 2 his appearances are never "seen" but heard through directional mic sequences. It's always in the genes, even when you have to go number two. =)

I can't really see how this title has aged myself, I'm far too biased to even attempt it, so I won't try. I don't want to be overly critical of my favorite title of all time anyway so screw you. Even the way it concludes weaves two multiple endings into one (the Otacon ending is more fitting in tone). It's not without flaws and ironically things like the BEO will serve as testaments to the title's own accelerated aging process. Whether or not you're a fan of the series is irrelevant, but Metal Gear Solid was one of (if the not the most to current day) significant leaps in narrative-based gaming, EVEN when one takes into to context it's interactive sequences.

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Snake and Meryl - Yoji Shinkawa

Tuesday's Post: DFB – “The Tanker Incident & The Introduction of the Big Shell Occurrence” (Metal Gear Solid 2) – Part VIII

~sLs~

Monday, April 27, 2009

DFB – “The Shadow Moses Incident” (Metal Gear Solid) – Part VI

Doo...Doo...Doo...Doo Doo Doo......Doo...Doo...Doo Doo Doo Doo......

I actually ended up writing so much for this, that I had to scale it back drastically (I'm known for doing that kind of thing these days). I have to save some of it for next year I guess. There’s actually two layers of limits holding me back from going all out with these entries, so thank the forces of nature that will keep all of the Metal Gear Solid posts tempered to a certain extent. Today I’m going to begin talking about my favorite entry in the entire franchise (and personal favorite game of all time), the 1998 edition of Metal Gear Solid. Unfortunately, I still don’t have my own technical issues solved yet, so my music player is stuck where it is for the time being. I still have access to a scanner though, so I’ll continue scanning in my Shinkawa collection for these two entries.

As always, lets go ahead and get the story summary of my progress out of the way…skip on down if you’re not in the mood.

Story Summary ~ My Progress Thus Far

It’s been six years since the fall of Zanzibar. Solid Snake has retreated to Alaska, leading a solitary life as a dog musher. One day, he is approached by armed soldiers and is taken against his will to a submarine, The Discovery. While on board, Snake’s former commander, Roy Campbell approaches him while accompanied by an unknown woman. Campbell then proceeds to tell Snake that his military expertise is once again required to prevent a nuclear catastrophe. Snake is far from eager to accept this mission, claiming that he is no patriot and owes his country absolutely nothing. Regardless of this, Campbell continues on, self-assured that Snake will still help him. Just five hours prior to their meeting, a nuclear weapons disposal facility was captured. The assaulting terrorists have presented multiple demands; two priority ones being one billion dollars and someone’s biological remains. The remains in question belonged to the man known in his time as the greatest living soldier in the world, Big Boss.

In addition to learning of the dangers from the terrorists acquiring Big Boss’ genetic information, Snake learns another alarming truth…

The leaders of the rebellion are none other than Snake’s own former unit, FOX-HOUND. This unit is typically composed of a tight-nit group of highly elite and specialized soldiers. While Campbell is explaining all of this, the woman introduces herself as Dr. Naomi Hunter, a gene therapist and chief of FOX-HOUND’s medical staff. She then gives Snake an injection of nanomachines, which will have multiple uses in his upcoming mission. To further understand the sensitive climate of nuclear weapons, Campbell informs Snake that they’ve been assigned a nuclear materials analyst and weapons expert, Nastasha Romanenko (who will also aid via radio support). After going over the specifics and allowing Snake a brief warm-up time in VR-training, the submarine nears the disposal facility on Shadow Moses Island…

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Snake & his SOCOM - Yoji Shinkawa

After swimming his way towards the island (being spared the danger of freezing by a specialized sneaking suit), Snake begins his infiltration of the storage facility. His primary objectives are:

1: Rescue the chief of DARPA being held prisoner.
2: Investigate the nuclear capabilities of the terrorists and stop them if they actually have the ability to make a nuclear strike.

*Also, as a personal request from Campbell, Snake was asked to rescue a young soldier, Meryl Silverburgh. She is Campbell’s niece and was taken hostage when FOX-HOUND occupied the island.*

As Snake makes his way through the docks and heliport, he’s introduced to the inventor of his radio transmission system (The Codec), as well as his personal radar (Soliton Radar System), Mei Ling. After she instructs him on how to properly use both, Snake proceeds into the interior of the facility via the ventilation ducts. On the way, he is contacted by his survival expert during Zanzibar, Master Miller. Snake then continues on, making his way inside the tank hangar building. Soon after, he is able to locate the DARPA chief and uses the ducts to drop down into his cell. Unfortunately, the chief informs Snake that the terrorists do actually have the ability to launch. However, they first need passwords from both the chief himself and the ArmsTech president, Kenneth Baker. More bad news comes as the chief reluctantly tells Snake that the terrorists acquired his code already through Psycho Mantis. Mantis is one of the six members of FOX-HOUND and possesses extremely honed psychokinetic & telepathic abilities. Not only that, but Snake is also told how the terrorist physically plan to launch the warheads…

A new model of Metal Gear is being hidden on base, Metal Gear Rex.

As Snake prepares to extract the DARPA chief, something extremely alarming happens. The chief goes through a violent series of spasms and falls while desperately reaching out towards Snake. Upon checking his pulse, Snake learns that he’s dead. While asking Naomi what happened (she observes that it looked like a heart attack), he hears a scuffle in the next cell. A few moments later, the chief’s cell’s is unlocked and opened. Snake begins to make his way out with extreme caution...

As Snake peers outside the cell, he just makes out a nude soldier’s unconscious figure before feeling the barrel of a FAMAS assault rifle against his temple. Snake slowly turns and faces the stolen fatigue’s new owner, a nervous young woman in disguise. He reprimands her for her shaking posture and tells her that the safety to her gun is still on. Instantaneously, Snake draws his own SOCOM pistol and aims right back at her, creating a standoff. The young woman is now becoming noticeably agitated with Snake’s provocations, but before either can act any further, a swarm of soldiers flood the room. Snake begins to fire on them without hesitation, but the disguised woman continues to showcase a nervous hesitation.

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Solid Snake - Yoji Shinkawa

At Snake’s urging, the woman lets loose a round from her assault rifle, shredding through three oncoming soldiers, killing them. Just as they finish fending the off their assailants, the young woman hollowly thanks Snake and takes off down the corridor. Snake immediately tries to follow her (making note of how her rear-end wiggles in mid-stride), but the young woman turns around and spreads a round of cover fire, preventing him from further pursuit. Just as the elevator doors close, Snake witnesses a tall thin man wearing a trench coat and a gas-mask, apparently floating in mid-air. He utters one phrase before vanishing from Snake’s sight:

“Good girl, just like that…”

Naomi informs him through codec that what Snake saw was probably Psycho Mantis. As a side effect of Mantis’ telepathy, what Snake actually saw himself was a sort of mental feedback loop. Snake then continues on through the armory, making use of a clue provided to him by the DARPA chief (to locate Baker’s hidden location). As long as Baker doesn’t give up his password, the launch is still easily preventable. Snake finally finds the ArmsTech President, who is tied to a pillar surrounded by C4 tripwires. As Snake realizes the gravity of the trap, he’s able to just dodge a single bullet aimed directly at him from someone else in the room. The gunman then steps out and announces his identity, FOX-HOUND member Revolver Ocelot. Ocelot serves as the team’s specialist interrogator has an extremely alarming talent with gun-fighting (his favored gun being a Colt Single Action Army). As Snake battles Ocelot, a mysterious third party intervenes. Just as Ocelot turns to face Snake, his right arm is sliced clean off (still holding his favored revolver pistol). Horrified, Ocelot picks up his gun still being clutched by his severed hand and angrily flees the scene.

The cloaked figure then appears and can be described only as a type of cyborg-ninja. Snake proceeds to pull his gun on the oncoming threat, demanding its identity. The ninja then stops and while holding up its high-frequency katana blade, it replies:

“I am like you, I have no name…”

The figure then seems to lose control of itself. It makes it’s way from the room wildly screaming and randomly slicing the walls on it’s way out. Snake then helps Baker up (who was knocked clear across the room as the ninja severed all the C4 tripwires with its appearance). As Snake talks to Baker, he learns that there is an override for deactivating the launch. Unfortunately however, Baker gave the terrorists his code as well. This means that they now have the ability to launch a nuclear assault at will. Oddly, Baker tells Snake that both he and the DARPA chief had surgical implants in their brains to prevent psychic mind-probing. This contradicts with what the DARPA chief told Snake earlier, as that was apparently how his code was taken from him. Now faced with the failure to prevent the codes from being acquired, Snake is left with two options. He can either use the override sequence to deactivate the launch, or destroy Metal Gear itself. Baker says that he gave the override keys to a female soldier that was thrown in prison with him earlier. He also advises Snake to seek out Dr. Hal Emmerich, the designer of Metal Gear Rex.

Just as Snake concludes his conversation with Baker, the president goes into a similar series of convulsions that the DARPA chief did. Moments later, Snake finds himself staring at yet another dead body. Now overwhelmingly suspicious, Snake seeks advice from his radio support, but they’re all just as confused as he is. Cambpell then tells Snake to seek out the female soldier with the override keys (who they both now suspect is Meryl). Using an optical test data disc given to him by Baker, Snake is able to get in contact with the woman he met earlier, who is indeed Meryl Silverburgh. Using her help, Snake crosses the canyon towards the nuclear storage building where Dr. Emmerich is being held. As Snake makes his way across the canyon however, he receives an anonymous codec call from someone not using burst transmission (meaning they are somewhere on the base). This anonymous caller tells Snake that there are mines directly in front of him and there is a tank in front of his current position, waiting to ambush him.

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Cyborg Ninja - Yoji Shinkawa

Snake moves forth and meets his second member of FOX-HOUND, Vulcan Raven. A giant shaman, Raven seems to have a spiritual lust for battle and proceeds to assault Snake in an M1-Tank. Snake is able to blow up the tank using tactically thrown grenades and immediately continues across the canyon (though the durable Raven is still left alive inside). Inside, Naomi programs his nanomachines so that he’s not physically able to fire his own weapons. Slightly angered, Snake demands to know why. Campbell and Naomi inform him that he’s on the first floor of the nuclear storage building; any stray gunfire won’t cause detonations, but may cause serious nuclear material leaks. Snake then uses the elevator to proceed down to the second floor basement where Dr. Emmerich is being held. On his way, he receives yet another call from the mysterious informant (titling himself “Deepthroat”). He tells Snake that he’ll need remote controlled missiles to help him proceed across a gassed corridor with an electrified floor (used to prevent Dr. Emmerich from escaping). Looking around the building, Snake finds a nikita missle launcher and destroys the control panel giving electricity to the flooring. He then continues on towards Dr. Emmerich’s lab.

Just as Snake is outside the corridor leading to the lab however, he hears something disturbing. A soldier in the next room can be heard violently screaming before he’s silenced (with guttural cutting sounds being the catalyst for that silence). As Snake opens the door to the corridor, he’s introduced to a hallway riddled with bloody corpses. Snake makes note that they’ve all be slashed with some sort of blade and continues on down the hallway. Just as he’s at the corner, a young soldier lumbers around and eerily declares that he’s seen a ghost before falling down, dead. Snake peers around the corner and sees a soldier impaled on a sword, seemingly floating in mid-air. Suddenly the same ninja from earlier appears as his stealth camouflage deactivates; he slings the skewered soldier to the floor. Slicing the door controls he gently glides into Dr. Emmerich’s lab. Now presented with an obvious threat to the doctor's life, Snake immediately follows him in.

Inside, he sees Dr. Emmerich cowering against a wall, urinating on himself. The ninja then appears and demands to see “his friend”, just as the doctor notices Snake in the room. The cyborg then turns to face Snake and almost happily welcomes him to the scene. The ninja declares that he’s removed all obstacles for them to have a fight to the death. Emmerich then uses this opportunity to latch himself safely inside a nearby locker. The ninja happily welcomes him as a spectator and proceeds to fight Snake. As the battle drags on, Snake finds that he’s doing no damage to the ninja at all; he easily deflects all Snake’s projectiles with his sword denouncing him each time. It’s obvious the mysterious individual is simply toying with him, so Snake throws away all his weapons and fights the figure hand-to-hand. Happy with this change, the ninja also throws away his sword and the two continue brawling with each other in a fist fight amongst the lab’s equipment. When seems that Snake is finally gaining the upper hand the soldier asks Snake if he remembers him. Snake seems to recognize the moment as well as the man, just before the ninja loses control of himself again and flees the room.

Calling Campbell and Naomi, Snake immediately declares the identity of the Ninja, Gray Fox.

After calming down, an irritated Snake demands Dr. Emmerich come out of the locker and asks him where Metal Gear is being stored. Emmerich (advising Snake to call him Otacon), naively tells Snake that Metal Gear is a defense system used to shoot down missiles. Snake angrily grabs Otacon and holds him up, demanding that the machine was designed from the beginning for nuclear warfare. Realizing that Otacon was merely being used, Snake releases him and two go over the danger that Metal Gear Rex presents. After informing Snake that Rex lies in an underground maintenance base to the north, Meryl calls Snake. Snake informs her that the doctor is safe, but suddenly Meryl is spotted using the codec and abruptly hangs up. Otacon suggests that Snake search the women’s bathroom for her as she’s still in disguise. They also go over the only identifying trait she has, her wiggling rear-end. Snake then departs to find Meryl; Otacon uses the stealth camoflauge (that he designed as well) to make his way around the base safely without being detected.

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Environments - Yoji Shinkawa

Using the aforementioned clues, Snake locates Meryl and the two discuss plans to make their way towards the maintenance base in the women’s lavatory. She gives him a single key for the override, but Snake mentions that there should be three keys. Not realizing where the other two are, they have to take the only option left to them, destroy Metal Gear itself. As the two set off, they notice that all the guards have disappeared and an eerie tune that has been playing for a while has suddenly stopped. While making their way towards a commander’s room in their path, Meryl suddenly begins to act odd. Just as they’re inside the room, Meryl suddenly pulls her own handgun out and aims it at Snake. Naomi informs him that Psycho Mantis must be in the vicinity using her as a puppet. Snake then knocks Meryl out as a non-lethal solution. Mantis then uncloaks himself, as he was also using the same stealth camouflage as the ninja. He arrogantly demonstrates his power to Snake and the two proceed to fight. Snake is at a disadvantage however, as Mantis can read every move he makes, so he’s able to easily dodge any attack Snake executes. After a while, everyone figures out a “trick” to elude him and Snake uses the mechanic to hide his thoughts from Mantis. Snake is then able to easily dispatch Mantis and Meryl regains consciousness. As the two both talk to a dying Mantis, the clairvoyant soldier remarks on some disturbing similarities between him and Snake. He tells them to use a hidden passage to proceed towards the underground maintenance base. The overland route is blocked by frozen glaciers so the only viable path is the underground passage leading through the Communications Towers. He also uses his power to expose a hidden path in the room just before dying. Snake and Meryl then make their way through some caves. Just as they’re making their way through the underground passage, Meryl uses an image she received via Mantis’ earlier mind-control to navigate an otherwise cloaked mined area.

As the two make their way across the passage, Snake notices a red laser sighting crawling across Meryl’s body. Just before they can react, a gunshot announces the presence of the next FOX-HOUND elite, Sniper Wolf. Meryl is shot multiple times and immediately falls to the ground as Snake dashes out of sight. They’re both in a bad situation, as Snake has no way of fighting Wolf with his current weapons and she’s using Meryl as bait to lure him out. Snake then calls Otacon on his codec and Otacon very reluctantly informs Snake that a spare sniper rifle (belonging to Wolf herself) is back in the tank hangar. Telling a near-death Meryl to hang on, Snake leaves her and proceeds all the way back to the tank hangar he first penetrated earlier. After finding Wolf’s spare rifle, Snake retraces his steps and proceeds to battle Wolf in a sniper duel. As Snake seemingly neutralizes her, he notices not only has she disappeared, but Meryl has been taken as well.

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Sniper Wolf - Yoji Shinkawa

While proceeding towards the Communications Tower door, a handful of soldiers hold Snake up at gunpoint, catching him off guard. He then turns to face a beautiful Kurdish woman, Sniper Wolf; who happens to be aiming directly at him. She walks up to him and slashes him across the face, announcing (almost lovingly) that she’s left her mark on him and won’t forget Snake until he’s dead. She then signals to the soldiers holding Snake up, and one of them hits him on the back of his head, knocking him unconscious. They then drag Snake away from the Communications Tower as Wolf watches on.

*To Be Continued*

Where Is Solid Snake?

Where does the player end in the Solid series?
Where exactly does Snake begin?

This can be said for any video-game with a strong integral narrative-heart really, but where is the art, so to speak for any character in such a game? We have clearly defined lines for every other medium. Is a "game's haze" here more proof of its versatility or has the medium just not taking such forms yet? Is there is there possibly an outright limit to characterization in games altogether?

As an example:

Film & Theater - Most of the the art lies in the actor's ability to communicate dialogue, mannerisms, and certain idiosyncrasies that can't be grasped elsewhere to convey things such as emotion. Collectively, they all hold up whatever overarching narrative the story is attempting to tell. As an ideal this side of entertainment is meant to give visual sustenance to the audience.

Literature & Books - The unfair muscle with books is that they showcase the most intimate form of the thought process and can communicate it with ease. No other medium will probably be able to naturally have that talent that written literature does, because written word is as sensual as any narrative or or character can communicate from within. It's why films, music, and even games (no matter ho haphazardly) are built on such constructs as scripts.

Music & Sound - The only other thing able to compete with written word is sound. Music and sounds are the color of reality as we know it, and it has evolved throughout the times with the same consistency and power that even books maintain to this day (albeit with a tad more style).

There's clear cut facilities for these three big mediums. Three areas that the audiences can plug themselves into in order to to experience certain aspects not only individual to them, but integral to the respective medium itself. Video-games are an amalgamation of such strengths, so when an enjoyable character such as Solid Snake presents himself, it shows lightning in a bottle. The flaw however, is that this also shows the withered condition of the bottle itself...

I've seen the conflict since I first laid hands on the game, and I wonder about it each time. Some people don't really see "Snake" per say, they see a character who is being voiced by David Hayter, or they see some character built on cliche Western standards that at best only equate to a B-level action movie. I've noticed quite plainly that very few people actually effing see...Snake. The character within the space of the world. It's a given that we take advantage of in all of our other mediums, but we are quick to damn certain portions of games like Metal Gear Solid that are the closest thing (to it's own true world) we have right now.

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Meryl Silverburgh - Yoji Shinkawa

Even in tandem with Shinkawa's artwork (which didn't begin until Metal Gear Solid), Snake has gone through plenty of changes. As gamers, we've all been forced to roll them all up into one being to enjoy. Snake has become so irrevocably tied to certain visages and images for fans that it's ironically the amalgamation of of his makeup that we hold dear. What I'd really enjoy to hear is the opinion of someone who loathes Snake that still enjoys his presence in the game, but I doubt I'll get that lucky.

Scene-Slice
I'm not going to go rambling on about cutscenes as I did that in the 1-4 section of my Games as Art posts over a year ago. I'll simply say why I exclude the MGS series in my current disdain for the use of cutscenes. Simply put, it's not trying to be anymore than what it is (or "was" given your stance on the finality of "Metal Gear" with Metal Gear Solid 4). From the beginning, the Solid series seemed predicated on it's use of scenes in order to convey it's story. It's not using them as the crutch most games use cutscenes for now, it's just simply a convenient coincidence most people use to trash the franchise these days. I'm all for tweaking certain sequences in the game, but let's not pretend that the Metal Gear Solid series is the mother of malice when it comes to a video-game's cheap-shot cutscenes. It's actually one of the few games actually "using" them rather than "relying" on them. There is a difference...

Massacre Manipulation

Tying right into the above section, this part is a little messy and contradicting as well, so forgive me.

Prior to the Genome Hall Massacre, if the player flattens against the wall to the right after stepping off the elevator in B2 of the Nuclear Weapons Storage building, they'll see Otacon pacing back and forth in his lab. For anyone that has played the game before, they know all the ensuing trigger points:

A - Just after the air-cleaner the player will hear a soldier yelling "freeze!" just before being viscerally butchered...

B - Just past that room, the player will be greeted with the corpse-laden hallway...

C - Further procession down the hall shows the player a terrified and mortally wounded soldier, who claims that he's just seen a ghost.

D - A cutscene depicting the aggressor, Gray Fox, skewering an impaled genome soldier.

E - Snake/Player is allowed to enter the door to Otacon's lab.

This is not so much of a rant as it is a question to anyone:

Where does the offense of cinema here lie most?

One can't strip moments like these without greatly compromising what makes the game so special in the first place. Things like actually being able to use the corner view to watch Gray Fox slam the impaled soldier down; is that an addition or a detraction? Also, going back to retrofit any game is a fickle and insecure process that I don't greet too warmly myself (it doesn't do the game any justice either).I just wanted to provide the observations while posing questions.

What lies between the aforementioned sequence of events (other than the pragmatic answer: gameplay). Could they be tampered to temper the spatial context of the moment? Pushing that further, could instances like my 4D rant earlier this year be messed with in a positive way (e.g. if the above trigger points disappeared entirely)? Even little details like Otacon sneaking around through the base in stealth camo ties in here. He does show up later to help snake from that position, but what if the player was actually able to run into him or contact him in such contexts (other than the scripted sequences of course)? Those latter ones are all no doubt technical limitations, it's a simmering thought however, nonetheless.

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Character Cards - Yoji Shinawaka

Gene

The major Metal Gear Solid themes typically revolve around specific cultural evolutions (Gene:MGS, Meme:MGS2, Scene:MGS3, Sense:MGS4). Metal Gear Solid is a bit aberrant here though. It's theme is more dictated from a biological contingency whereas all the others lean more towards cultural (MGS4's "sense" might be the most evenly divided of them all). Everything from the briefing, to Snake's abduction in Alaska, to Liquid Snake's rant about the asymmetry theory and Super Baby Method; they're all built on biological fictive constructs. It's interesting when a game can generate it's own fiction like that, as opposed to just throwing extreme radicals out left and right (e.g. omfg something mutated to mask variation in game mechanics!). It has to be managed in such a way that can actually cause the player to question whether or not the game is making a real reference on something and to question the extent to which it does. If fiction doesn't lead one to embrace non-fiction, of what worth is the fiction? I also described this in my Xenogears playthrough, but when a game earnestly generates it's own world, there's almost nothing else more important (for a game telling a story anyway...). It's not about creating a realistic world or a simulation of our own. It's simply about creating A world, plain and simple. Ours is merely a template, and a broken one at that.

Damn the Discrepancies!

Why do fanboys argue about the passion for particulars? I won't preach as if I don't still do this myself, but of what worth is it? It has to be some spiritual form of masturbation (e.g. "nerd boners" and what not). Sometimes, gamers let these tiny little details destroy their perception of games they claim to love. They will in turn ruin their own experience by blindingly shooting off passion where it has no place. Two examples of this are the natural color of Snake's hair and irises. Not even Kojima himself will convince me now that Snake's natural hair color isn't blonde, so crazed fanboys forming laws from worlds that step on their own toes left and right won't sway me either. It's not too unlike the beauty of science itself, which is built of known laws and observations (which can be destroyed or subverted in the blink of an eye). I tend to hate scientists who swing their "e-penises" around there as well. Calm the hell down and enjoy what's yours.


The Worst Metaphor Ever

For this section, I'm going to perversely enforce a metaphor and beat you over the head with it...

Let's pretend for a second that Metal Gear 1 & 2 are collectively Big Boss. They possess fundamental gifts for initiating the mass of the mainstream game industry towards "stealth" (which in the game's context means opening the military's interest in the profitability of a soldier). This eventually culminates in the the outright clone of the game/soldier's potential (Metal Gear Solid/Solid Snake). The creation of a perfect synthesized soldier is apparent now, just as Metal Gear Solid is far from a perfect game. However, this is one of the many realizations I've had when figuring that this entry in the series is the subjective zenith of the entire franchise for myself and myself alone (perhaps some people share my opinion as well).


Make Me Feel It by ~Snake-Link-Sonic on deviantART
I even stuck one of my little doodles in today.

Solid Snake may not have technically been the best clone per say (even more so during the game's end), but he's by far my favorite one and was in a sense the most accomplished of them all. The title is so forceful, that it oozes context not only towards it's inevitable sequels but it's predecessors as well. the continuity here is obvious. However, what MGS does to it's prequels is apparent most when the game begins to center around Big Boss and Solid Snake's direct relationship, or Solid Snake's confrontation with Gray Fox. Metal Gear Solid purposefully applies more context to the first two Metal Gear games to further aid to it's own.

Some Examples:

1 - The player doesn't actually witness Big Boss' "revelation" to Solid Snake in Metal Gear 2, but learn so through this title.

2 - The entire confrontation between Snake and Fox in B2 of the nuclear weapons storage building, as well as Snake's reflection on the event later in the game.

3 - Various overlapping historical references to further establish the game's fictional world (i.e. Liquid Snake citing the Gulf War).

To "seal off" this horrible metaphor, I'll quickly interpret the three sequels to this game (or clones if you prefer).

Metal Gear Solid 2 - a simulated (yet "true") experience of the prior game's conflict, echoing Raiden's purpose within the game itself.

Metal Gear Solid 3 - An underlying truth of matters that flourish anger and distaste by it's end for the player. This of ourse, would be echoing Liquid Snake's treatment throughout his entire life.

Metal Gear Solid 4 - A righteous wrath against the Patriots with no exceptions. This echos Solidus' will in Sons of Liberty, as his goals and ideals are far from what can be considered "wrong" or even immoral to an extent.


Refrencing Rail-Guns
I've traced over this many times in this blog without confronting it directly. I won't continue on with a long-winded observation, but I will let this bit of dialogue speak for itself.

Snake: "A rail gun you said?"

Emmerich: "Yeah.It uses magnets to fire bullets at extremely high
velocities. The technology was originally developed for the SDI
system and later scrapped. We were successful in miniaturizing it
in a joint venture between ArmsTech and Rivermore National Labs.
The rail gun is on Rex's right arm."

How many games still do that kind of thing, even to this day? Hell, it's even hard to name five JRPGs that do it, and the amount of earnest "world-building" is a prerequisite for those titles.


Overrated Psycho

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Psycho Mantis - Yoji Shinkawa


"And each mind that I peered into was stuffed with the same single
object of obsession. That selfish and atavistic dsire to pass on
one's seed... it was enough to make me sick. Every living thing
on this planet exists to mindlessly pass on their DNA. We're
designed that way. And that's why there is war. But you... you
are different... You're the same as us. We have no past, no
future. We live in the moment. That's out only purpose. Humans
weren't designed to bring each other happiness. From the moment
we're thrown into this world, we're fated to bring each other
nothing but pain and misery."

- Psycho Mantis

Psycho Mantis is an overrated encounter. No doubt that the fight is loved by myself and even forces a quick smirk whenever I witness things like a black screen with "HIDEO" in the upper right. I've seen this touted as one of the best battles in any game, and I don't even hold it in that high of a regard for this title alone. People's awe from it are so contingent on it's 4th wall breaks and the quirky physical interactions the player has to make to compensate for fighting FOX-HOUND's psychic soldier (it's silly to pedestalize it for those reasons alone). He definitely has some of the best quotes in the series though...

Mantis: "I've seen true evil...You Snake...You're just like the Boss... No, you're worse. Compared to you, I'm not so bad."

Even quotes like that directly effect the player because it's yanking along their own persona that has been integrated into Snake's (provided they're playing the game that way). That in itself is an allusion to the intro topic for this blog.

Recurring Thechanics

Jackassedtry Pitfalls
This is one of the few actual in-play allusions that Metal Gear Solid makes to it's predecessors. These damn pitfalls became an overwhelming presence in the first Metal Gear game, and they appear in Metal Gear Solid as well. I only know of them in the armory of the tank hangar and just beyond the permafrost layer outside the underground base. Yes, I have the game's map built into my fucking head at this point. A more sad fact is that I passively recited (from memory) the entire game's dialogue over PalTalk to a group of awestruck people once.

Ocelot Yabber
Plenty of the Metal Gear bosses talk during their confrontations with Snake, but Ocelot is distinct. He is usually heard uttering excited phrases that can be taken humorously into sexual context. In both Metal Gear Solid and Snake Eater, he can be heard expressing an almost sensual exuberance to his fight with Snake. It ties into the game itself as it centers around the act of his reloading, and that's the most significant weakness he has as an opponent.

Revolver Ocelot: "there's nothing like slamming a long silver bullet...into a well greased chamber..."

Recreation of Shadow Moses
Even the game's own narrative expresses the importance Shadow Moses had in the context of the series' overarching story. It constantly references and uses information that's crucial to certain situations; all because they stem from the Shadow Moses incident (e.g. Rex's appearance in Metal Gear Solid 4). Let's not forget what Metal Gear Solid 2 virtually is as well...

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As Snake's only friend, Otacon's presence in this series is necessary. His reappearance in all the Solid games except Snake Eater is a testament to that (and even in Snake Eater his ancestor's plans clearly seen). What's really interesting is that the non-canonical ending for this game in which Otacon is saved makes more sense than the canonical one (going off the tone of what carries on into Metal Gear Solid 2). One can't kill certain people without creating TIME PARADOXES though (*coughMerylcough*)...so damn the discrepancies...once again.

Level Up!...Kinda!
Snake still kind of levels up in this game as his ammo/item capacities and health bar are increased with each significant boss encounter. It's far more subtle than the previous titles as well, as more emphasis was required on running around and wasting vast amounts of resources in the Famicom games. Such is a curse for the games made in 1987 and 1990 I guess. At least 1998 showed growth in indirect areas such as these, which made the title far more accessible to the mainstream gaming populous.

Friday's Post: DFB – “The Shadow Moses Incident” (Metal Gear Solid) – Part VII

~sLs~