Friday, May 8, 2009

DFB – “The Conclusion of the Big Shell Occurrence” (Metal Gear Solid 2) – Part IX

No talk, just go.

Plot Summary = Skip if Necessary
All Artwork = Yoji Shinkawa, The Art of Metal Gear Solid 2

Plot Summary ~ My Progress

As Raiden proceeds to make his way through the flooded core, he encounters Vamp waiting for him once again. Vamp then begins to fight the young soldier, using knives and shadow-binding techniques to hinder Raiden from attacking him. To make matters worse, their current location is within an area that uses microbes to clean the water, thus given it a lethal lack of buoyancy (if Raiden falls in he will instantly drown from being unable to stay afloat). Vamp is also detecting all of Raiden’s movements through careful observation of his muscles, which give away any action he’s about to make. Despite all of these disadvantages, Raiden is miraculously able to overcome Vamp, knocking him into the high-oxygen content pool and hopefully killing him. Raiden then continues to scour the first basement level of the core and eventually finds Emma Emmerich hiding inside of a locker. Though she is initially hesitant to join Raiden, she relents after hearing of her estranged brother’s presence alongside Solid Snake. Unfortunately, Emma is aquaphobic due to a dramatic childhood experience; in addition to that, she was injected with drugs that numbed her legs to prevent her from escaping. Raiden aids her by having her clasp his back as he swims back through the flooded core.

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Raiden: "I have a question for you. How do you feel about heights?"
Emma: "I can't say I like heights... though water's higher on my phobia list. Why?"
Raiden: "Well... we have to go down a ladder."
Emma: "How far down?"
Emma: "Why do I feel like we've had this conversation before? How little is little?"
Raiden: "...About 130 feet?"
Emma: "..."


As they’re taking a break in the area that Raiden earlier fought Vamp in, Raiden questions Emma about The Patriots. She informs him that the GW system (which she designed) is meant to function as a gigantic filtering system for worldwide data. The Patriots have become unnerved by the amount of unfiltered information floating around in spaces like the internet. They decided to act on this possible threat by effectively censoring out information that may be unbeneficial for them. Emma also informs Raiden of some disturbing truths illustrating The Patriots' already manipulated bits of information. These include the actual composition of the human genome and a subsystem secretly put in place by The Patriots in response to the Y2K problem. Raiden then speculates this in correlation with Solidus Snake’s plan which he overheard earlier; this includes a high-altitude nuclear blast above Manhattan in order to burn out its entire system (thereby crippling the global economy). Raiden also hands Emma the disc given to him by the president before his death and Emma acknowledges it as her own; a sort of worm-cluster meant to disable GW, Arsenal Gear’s AI system.

Given that Raiden cannot take the partially-disabled Emma with him along the dangerous route he used to get the core (scaling the Big Shell’s exterior), he decides to descend a nearby strut and cross an oil fence on the surface of the water. The bridge isn’t sturdy enough to support them both however, so Raiden tells Emma to cross first on her own. Raiden then receives a codec transmission from Snake who advises him to provide sniper fire providing Emma with some cover as she crosses. As Emma makes her way across, Raiden listens to her make her way around pillars via a directional microphone. He hears her run into a seemingly harmless soldier with bad bowel movements. The soldier advises her to leave the Big Shell immediately, as it’s about to sink. The solider then runs off to the bathroom, giving Emma his name (Johnny) before he disappears. Raiden continues to survey Emma as she’s crossing, but is caught off guard as Vamp turns up yet again taking her captive. Already keen towards Raiden’s concealed location, he holds Emma while menacingly staring Raiden down. Reacting quickly, Raiden is able to shoot Vamp in the head, flinging him off the bridge and into the ocean. Snake is able to arrive on the other side of the oil fence and catches Emma just as she’s about to fail into the ocean. Unfortunately, Snake calls Raiden and informs him that Emma was stabbed and the wound looks pretty bad. He then urgently tells Raiden to get back over to Shell 1 so Emma can upload her virus into GW before she’s unable to.

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In addition to the Old Boy and Chinaman origins, Vamp was originally intended to be a female...

Raiden quickly retraces his steps and meets back up with Snake and Otacon at the computer room in Shell 1. Luckily, everybody is boarding Arsenal for its oncoming launch, so there are no patrols for them to deal with. However, just as Raiden arrives, Snake quietly informs him that Vamp most likely punctured some of Emma's internal organs, as they cannot seem to stop the bleeding. Raiden gives Snake the disc and they upload it into the nearby computer, but just as the upload reaches 90%, it stops. Nobody can give an explanation for this, but Otacon speculates that the disc may have been altered after it left Emma’s hands. Otacon then quietly reconciles with his sister, as she hazily suggests romantic feelings for him (they weren’t blood siblings but very close in their childhood). Just as she finishes telling Otacon to look at her as a woman, Emma falls limp her brother’s arms, dead. Snake and Raiden look away as Otacon has an emotional breakdown. Otacon admits leaving Emma when they were children because her mother (his stepmother) had a romantic relationship with him. This in turn caused Otacon’s father to commit suicide when he found out about them and Otacon then left Emma with her mother as a result. Raiden and Snake then quickly go over their plans in order to deal with Solidus and Snake advises Otacon to evacuate the rest of the hostages aboard the Kamov. It’s obvious that Otacon is still heartbroken over Emma’s death, but advises Snake and Raiden to take out Solidus and his troops, as destroying Arsenal Gear itself is a near-impossibility. Snake then offers Otacon a consoling hug and urges him to rescue the hostages before the Big Shell sinks. Otacon then leaves them, but breaks down once again when out of their earshot as Emma’s pet parrot (that he took along with him) continually calls his name.

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Otacon: "Right. Listen, the two of you won't be able to destroy that thing. Eliminate the enemy, that's your only option."

Meanwhile, Raiden contemplates on whether or not Otacon will be able to save all the hostages, but Snake assures him that Otacon is a lot tougher than he looks. While Raiden eagerly contemplates how to get aboard Arsenal, Snake calls forth the cyborg ninja. He then tells Raiden that it’s his “bedtime” and Raiden immediately responds by reaching for his gun. He’s stopped by the ninja who then causes a translucent flash across his…or rather her face, the ninja’s identity is Olga Gurlukovich. Raiden angrily questions Snake’s loyalties, but Snake only replies that he never recalled being on Raiden’s side in the first place. Olga then swiftly uses her sword to hilt-strike Raiden, knocking him out entirely.

When Raiden wakes up, he finds himself strapped to a table as he listens to Solidus have a conversation with Ocelot. Ocelot raises the table so that he’s facing them and Raiden notices that he’s nude and stripped of all his possessions. Solidus then elaborates on prior statements to having seen Raiden somewhere before. He has remembered that Raiden was one of his star child-soldiers in the 1980’s. He expresses distaste that Raiden has turned into a puppet for the Patriots and leaves Ocelot in order to help prepare a demonstration-attack of Arsenal’s weaponry. Ocelot very smugly describes the events as nostalgic (also informing Raiden that he’s currently aboard Arsenal Gear). Olga then enters the room. Sensing the still-present air of dissent from her presence, Ocelot departs from the room. Olga then speaks to Raiden, informing him that her presence as the leader of the Russian troops was nothing more than a deception masking her true motives. She was apparently sent by The Patriots to support Raiden in his mission. Her cooperation with The Patriots is due to them holding her infant child captive. She then tells Raiden that she helped Snake in order to further assist Raiden in his current mission of stopping Solidus as well. Apparently, it was thanks to the actions of Snake and Otacon that Olga and her troops were able to survive the tanker incident two years ago. She didn’t discover the truth of all this herself until just recently, as she engaged Snake in a fight when Raiden was helping Emma towards the Shell 1 core.

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Raiden: "What about Snake? I thought you were enemies..."
Olga: "He wasn't responsible for my father's death. Actually, we owe him
our lives."
Olga: "Two years ago, they were responsible for getting us out of thesinking tanker alive..."
Raiden: "So you were partners since the incident?"
Olga: "No. I only found out the truth shortly before this. When I confronted him here..."
Raiden: "You fought with Snake!? When?"
Olga: "Well... it was around the time you were holding hands with that girl."
Raiden: "Snake..."


Olga then tells Raiden that Snake is waiting in a nearby hangar with all of his equipment. She says she’ll soon release him and then punches Raiden in the stomach (to put on a show for the security camera) before leaving the room. Raiden then waits, and is contacted by Rose who is shocked by Solidus’ revelations about his past. Now just remembering the entirety of his past missions, he relates to her what went on in his child hood and how it affects their current relationship now. Olga then finally releases his restraints from elsewhere and Raiden is forced to sneak his way through Arsenal Gear while nude. While proceeding, something strange begins to happen with his transmissions. The colonel begins transmitting eerie and erratic messages to Raiden. Eventually he finds his way inside the hangar where Snake is said to be, and as he continues receiving strange messages from his CO, Rose calls him again. She stuns Raiden by informing him that she’s a spy for The Patriots, informing them of every inch of his personal life. She further adds to his shock by telling him that she’s pregnant. The transmission then suddenly drops and Raiden continues wandering around until Snake stealthily makes his appearance. He apologizes to Raiden for using him as bait in order to gain access to Arsenal Gear; he then provides Raiden with all of his equipment and also gives him Olga’s high-frequency katana blade that she used while disguised as the ninja.

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Snake: "Olga asked me to give it to you. Besides, I'm not a big fan of blades."

They then receive a codec call from Otacon who informs them both that he made it safely to shore with all the hostages. Raiden describes his strange codec transmissions to Otacon, and he says that he’ll try and investigate the problem behind it. As Raiden and Snake start making their way through Arsenal Gear, Raiden naively questions Snake’s motives for continuing to fight. Snake simply replies that their motives lie in a responsibility for future generations and Raiden exasperatedly questions Snake what he should believe in (to which Snake replies is his own damn problem to deal with). Just then, a military surveillance cypher sees them and raises all alerts, causing Arsenal Tengu soldiers to pour out, assaulting them. These soldiers are specially equipped with enhancing suits, giving them superhuman reflexes and advantageous use of their cutting-edge weaponry (which includes the same blade that was just given to Raiden). Along with Snake, Raiden is able to fend off the assault and the two proceed deeper into Arsenal’s interior. As they’re making their way along, Otacon calls Raiden and informs him that the source of the transmission signal from the “colonel” is coming from inside Arsenal itself. He then elaborates on this by telling Raiden an alarming truth; he’s been talking to an AI the entire mission. By manipulating his nanomachines, the AI was able to form realistic dialogues with him by using his own expectations and experiences as a means for subterfuge. Raiden then begins to have an identity crisis, but is granted a temporary reprieve by Snake telling him to stop jumping to conclusions. The two then continue on and come under attack from another assault force of Arsenal Tengu soldiers. Thanks to “Snake’s bandanna” both him and Raiden are able to successfully neutralize them.

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Solidus: "I've taken care of that annoying fly. What's the situation over there?"
Olga: "Puzzling. I saw a man dressed as a Ninja just now."
Solidus: "Ninja?"
Olga: "It's the only way to describe it. A kind of Cyborg Ninja, complete with a sword."
Solidus: "What?"
Olga: "Are you hiding something from me?"
Solidus: "Olga. Are you sure it wasn't a Arsenal Tengu?"
Olga: "Don't be a fool to think I wouldn't know the difference. I've never seen field gear like that ever."


As they finish fighting off the Tengu troops, Fortune arrives. Angered by the impression that Snake killed her father (Scott Dolph), she aims her rail gun directly at him. Snake tells Raiden to continue on, and engages Fortune in battle. Before he starts firing however, Snake makes a point of telling her that he had nothing to do with her father being killed. Denouncing his statement as a lie, she prepares her rail gun to shoot and Snake begins to open fire on her. Raiden leaves them both below and makes his way to the top where he finds himself overlooking the sea while on top of Arsenal Gear. He then hears Solidus reprimanding him for his expendability as a pawn for The Patriots. He describes that The Patriot’s S3 Plan stands for “Solid Snake Simulation”, a means to artificially reproduce Solid Snake’s amazing combat prowess, like Big Boss before him. As he finishes informing Raiden of this, Solidus decides that Raiden's usefulness has run its course and proceeds to unleash a horde of mass-produced Metal Gear Ray models for him to do battle with.

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Raiden: "Fortune..."
Fortune: "It's been a long wait, Solid Snake -- the root of all my sorrows."
Snake: "What?"
Fortune: "Two years ago, you killed my father. That was the beginning of hell for us. Everyone I love has been taken from me, one by one... and no matter how hard I try, I can't follow them. An endless nightmare... The only thing we live for is to see it end. Our wait is almost over."
Raiden: "You can't be serious about firing the nuke!"
Fortune: "Since no one can kill me, I may as well kill everyone I can."


Raiden is able to valiantly defend himself for a while (aided by Otacon’s help via codec) before he finally collapses in exhaustion, amongst the constantly surfacing Ray-units. Just as the Metal Gears surround Raiden and attempt to crush him, Olga reappears in order to defend Raiden. Raiden urgently demands that she not give her cover up, but Olga is stalwart in defending her child’s life and refuses to let Raiden fail his mission by any stretch. Solidus then appears in person, ready to take her life for using her units as a smoke screen. Olga remorsefully acknowledges her stance on betraying her unit, but is able to clasp solace at the fact that the means justified the ends (i.e. her child’s life). Just as she raises her gun to fire at Solidus, he raises his own P90 assault rifle, shooting her cleanly in the forehead, leaving her dead. Solidus then carelessly tosses her body aside via his newly-equipped robotic arms and proceeds to hold summon the remaining Metal Gear Ray units in order to kill Raiden. As this happens, they begin to malfunction and attack Solidus instead. Solidus however, is easily able to deal with the models and curses The Patriots for this turn of events (Emma’s virus is beginning to take effect). Solidus then proceeds back to Raiden, holding him up in midair while preparing to dispatch him in the same manner as Olga. Just as he realizes Raiden may still be useful to him, Fortune appears with a handcuffed Snake, placing him down in front of them all. Just as Raiden expresses surprise at the captive Snake, Solidus knocks him unconscious.

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Solidus: "I'm no philanthropist. Arsenal is far from impregnable. It needs other Metal Gears as guards, a huge payload of warheads, and full air, sea, and land support to function efficiently. Against a large attack force without support, Arsenal is nothing more than a gigantic coffin. Seizing Arsenal Gear was never the real objective!"
Fortune: "...What was your objective, then?"
Solidus: "A list of names -- of the Patriots!"
Fortune: "!?"


When Raiden awakens early the next day he finds himself handcuffed as Solidus, Fortune and Ocelot stand guard over him and Snake. Solidus idly chokes Raiden, while Fortune expresses dissent at his actions. As Solidus continues ignoring Fortune’s questions, she departs claiming she has business of her own to attend to. Solidus then recognizes this as her attempt to hijack Arsenal from him. She immediately voices her assumption that Ocelot sold her out. Solidus claims this is not the case and that it was in fact he who used Ocelot to suggest the possibility to her in the first place. He then tells her that he planned to give her Arsenal Gear from the beginning. Fortune suspiciously questions this further and Solidus then expresses his disdain for Arsenal Gear’s requirements in order to run efficiently. His exact description was a “gigantic coffin”, and Fortune realizes her role in his plan as he continues on expressing his wrath against The Patriots. In short, Solidus intended to use Fortune (aboard Arsenal Gear) to draw the Patriots' immediate fire, while locating the exact location and identity of The Patriots for himself. After doing so, he intended to kill each of its members systematically. Fortune doesn’t seem to care about being used as a shield and intends to launch the purified hydrogen bomb in order to loosen The Patriots grip on society at large. As she begins to depart, Ocelot begins to chuckle and Snake instantly observes that something is wrong. Ocelot then describes in detail that he’s a Patriot-spy and the entire setup of Raiden’s mission was nothing more than a massive training exercise designed as the true core of the S3 plan. Solidus was only informed that the S3 plan was soldier shaped by excessive V.R. training. That wasn’t the whole truth however, as the entirety of the Big Shell incident was conceived as an “orchestrated recreation of Shadow-Moses”.

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Ocelot: "Given the right situation, the right story, anyone can be shaped
into Snake
. Even rookies can fight like men of experience. An
instant creation of genius -- and this training kernel will
provide more than enough data to formulate such a program. You,
Dead Cell, Olga -- you're all nothing but pawns placed to create the perfect simulation."


Ocelot elaborates that Fatman was actually a Patriots operative, used to test Raiden’s progress beforehand. If the Big Shell had been blown up earlier, the experiment would have simply been scrapped then and there. Everyone else however, were merely tools placed to create the perfect simulation:

1 - Solidus was used as his relationship with Raiden mirrors the one between Snake and Big Boss
2 - Fortune and the rest of Dead Cell were used in order to replace the FOX-HOUND threat that Snake faced in Shadow Moses
3 - The Ninja’s appearance was the work of the Patriots as well (Olga).
4 - Emma’s GW-Corruption disc is the digital equivalent of FoxDie and was designed to eliminate The Patriot’s location and identity from GW.
5 - Ames nanomachines were used to shut down his pacemaker, thus simulating a heart-attack, and Ocelot killed President Johnson for no other reason than simulating Snake’s experience four years prior.

The only thing Ocelot seems to be confused about is the ACTUAL Solid Snake’s appearance. He wonders who sent for him, as everyone present takes in the scale of the situation.

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Ocelot: "You were being shielded by the electromagnetic weapons technology
that the Patriots developed. Your Dead Cell comrades loved your
father and husband -- we needed a pathetic wretch like you to
keep them focused. You've been our puppet all along -- just like
Olga. You were hamming it up as the tragic heroine thanks to the
script that the Patriots wrote for you. Pure self-indulgence --
you couldn't get enough of the drama."
Fortune: "...I could have died whenever I wanted to..."


Fortune is the first to react and in an impulsive burst of anger she readies her rail gun, aiming it directly at Ocelot. Ocelot immediately proves the validity of The Patriots project by neatly planting a shot from his revolver in her chest, bringing her to her knees. Ocelot simply states that her luck was merely the result of The Patriot’s electromagnetic weapons technology as well. Fortune then gets back up, briefly surprising Ocelot before he remembers that her heart lies on the other side of her chest. She fires two shots at Ocelot, but they both miss him in the same manner that bullets used to miss her. Ocelot then shows her the device that allows the invisible shielding from bullets. Solidus then wrathfully empties an entire clip at Ocelot with his P90, but all his bullets miss as well. Fortune begins to cough up blood cursing Ocelot as he climbs to the top of a nearby Metal Gear Ray unit. Solidus begins to fire missiles at Ocelot, but as they miss, Ocelot casually hops into the pilot seat and states that his only objective now is to clean up all the leftover material from the exercise. Solidus then unsheathes two High-Frequency katanas and deflects a round of bullets fired at him by Ocelot's Metal Gear Ray. In doing so a stray bullet strikes Snake’s handcuffs, partially severing them. As Snake begins to fiddle with his handcuffs, Ocelot prepares to fire missiles from the top of Metal Gear. Just as he begins to launch them, Fortune makes her way in front of them all. Holding her hands out and exclaiming her name, she stands her ground as the missiles make their way towards them all. Shockingly enough, every single missile is deflected from their position. Ocelot is flabbergasted at this and continues to fire other types of missiles only to have them deflected as well. Snake silently exclaims that Fortune actually is “Lady Luck” as everyone else watches Fortune, awestruck at her actual ability. Fortune then proudly exclaims that her name is Helena Dolph Jackson. She then peacefully falls to the ground, dead.

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Fortune: "My name is Helena Dolph Jackson. The daughter of a proud, noble soldier...I can... see my family... again..."


Ocelot expresses horrified anger at this, as his Ray unit is now depleted of ammunition. He then decides to use Ray’s hydro-cutter, but at the last moment, he goes into a fit of seizures again and appears on the top of Ray. This time however, it’s Liquid’s voice that almost exuberantly calls out to his "Brothers". Liquid then announces that he’s been using Ocelot's arm in order to explore his status as a Patriot-spy. Liquid then re-boards Metal Gear Ray and announces that he’s going to use the information that Ocelot knows in order to murder The Patriots himself. Just as Ray prepares to leap into the water, Snake snaps his handcuffs off and makes a break at the departing Ray unit. At the exact same time, both Ray and Snake dive into the water, creating a massive splash. Raiden calls out after Snake, but Arsenal Gear begins to move towards Manhattan, knocking both him and Solidus off their feet. Arsenal Gear continues, until it smashes into the city, halting as it reaches Federal Hall, throwing both Raiden and Solidus on top of the building. As the two get up, Soldius begins laughing at the irony of their situation, fighting for freedom on multiple levels atop the historical landmark building.

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Colonel: "To begin with -- we're not what you'd call -- human. Over the
past two hundred years -- A kind of consciousness formed layer by
layer in the crucible of the White House. It's not unlike the way
life started in the oceans four billion years ago. The White House
was our primordial soup, a base of evolution ---We are formless. We are the very discipline and morality thatAmericans invoke so often. How can anyone hope to eliminate us? As long as this nation exists, so will we."


Solidus then passionately details his motives to Raiden. His end goal is only to free the world from the Patriot’s grasp, nothing more. He also reveals that he killed Raiden’s parents when he was a child, giving only the reason to test the fallacy of his own legacy. He advises that Raiden to face him in order to confront his own past. Raiden then receives a call from another portion of The Patriot’s AI system, JD. Raiden is shocked at this, as the AI was supposed to have been destroyed, but it responds that only GW was damaged. The malevolent AI system then systematically tears down Raiden’s entire world view while revealing that that the S3 plan’s actual purpose was “Selection for Societal Sanity”. It’s an expansive and methodical plan, aimed at placing absolute control on human will and a consciousness; the AI’s reasoning here is that humans will only destroy themselves, even if it’s through information alone. Therefore, their sentient consciousness allowed them to seek out what they deemed as right, on behalf of the human race.

JD then mockingly orders that Raiden kill Solidus, their “creation”. Raiden initially refuses, but the AI reminds him that Olga’s child’s life depends on his success. It also informs him that Rose has been placed under similar circumstances. At this point, Raiden has been left as a shell of his former self, even questioning the existence of his girlfriend altogether. The AI then cuts the transmission and Solidus tells Raiden that clues to The Patriots location may still be inside his body, which is another benefit for Solidus wanting Raiden dead. He then tosses Raiden one of his own high-frequency katanas and it slices through his handcuffs. He warns Raiden to brace himself and the two begin a deadly swordfight atop Federal Hall. Throughout the battle, JD continually contacts him and oppressively provides Raiden with their reasons behind choosing him for the mission. Even his real name, Jack is nothing more than a tool they used in defining the image he created for himself throughout the years. Though these could have been no more than mere coincidences, the AI seemed to genuinely relish in the amount of anguish it caused him. As the battle draws to a close, Solidus dispatches his mechanical arms in order to engage Raiden more proficiently. This wasn’t able to prevent Raiden’s triumph though, as the young soldier landed a devastating blow along Solidus’ spine. Solidus then turns to face Raiden, just before reaching his arm out and collapsing over the side of the building. Raiden silently stands as the victor while Solidus lands on the ground below. Solidus is then seen venerably reaching up towards a statue of George Washington, as he lets out a final breath and dies.

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Raiden: "All you want is power -- at any cost."
Solidus: "Jack, it's not power I want. What I want is to take back from the
Patriots are things like -- freedom, civil rights, opportunities.
The founding principles of this country. Everything that's about
to be wiped out by their digital censorship. Jack, listen to me. We're all born with an expiration date. No one lasts forever. Life is nothing but a grace period -- for turning our genetic material into the next generation."


After the battle, Raiden makes his way down the street. Still left broken by the mission’s revelations to him, he questions his own identity. Suddenly, Snake appears besides him and offers him some solace in the fact that nobody really has such answers. He then gives Raiden a choice, which at first seems overwhelming to a young man that has had all his choices robbed from him throughout his life. Under Snake’s watch however, he tears his dogtags off (showing the player’s name) and throws them into the now-crowded streets of New York. Snake advises him to cheer up and that they have a lead on the Patriots location. Snake then pulls out the disc that President Johnson gave Raiden earlier. Raiden is shocked, as Ocelot supposedly took it from him when he was captured. Snake simply replies that the one they placed on him before boarding Arsenal was a fake. Snake informs him that once they analyze the disc, they should be able to find out where The Patriots operate. Raiden eagerly jumps to follow him, but Snake refuses. He advises Raiden to get his own life together first, to find and make some choices for himself. Raiden then sees Rose waiting for him in the street and he makes his way up to her. They both nervously greet each other and vow to start their life together; in addition to establishing some means of identity for Raiden himself. As Raiden turns to find Snake, all that’s visible is Emma’s parrot ascending alongside the skyscrapers of NYC.

After the credits, Snake can be heard talking with Otacon about the contents of Raiden’s disc. Otacon reveals that the name on the disc actually belonged to one of Philanthropy’s biggest contributors. Snake is perplexed at this, but Otacon reveals another bit of information that’s even more shocking. Otacon tells him that the twelve men named on the disc have been dead for nearly a century…

~End Tanker Incident & Big Shell Occurrence~

Catharsis Disallowed

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Between the Patriot’s GW system and Revolver Ocelot’s arm, there’s a lot of reproaching cynicism floating around regarding the ludicrousness of Metal Gear’s world. This is in itself ridiculous because those kinds of standards refuse to hold sway even in its 1987 debut. It’s not okay to damn Liquid Snake’s reappearance and then continue to praise Psycho Mantis’ own silly supernatural setup. In other words, if one’s going to have standard, for the love of God, stick to it. Using cynicism as a wanton weapon doesn’t weaken the game in anyone’s eyes, just your own. Not only does this unearned skepticism constantly pileup, it forms a barrier that will not allow certain gamers a catharsis on any level. When a world begins to function and “act on its own”, it serves as a test for its fan. Yes, there’s a line between this “acting” and just plain craziness, and most people would note at this point that it’s a very fine line. I however, think it’s a very big line…a HUGE ass line.

“No, there is not a thin line between love and hate. There is, in fact, a Great Wall of China with armed sentries posted every twenty feet between love and hate.”
---Gregory House

Networking Nation

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Metal Gear Solid 2 begins the phase of the series where the “A.I. Illusion” is started in earnest. The guards all have very rudimentary patrol routes, in addition to interacting with other guards. They notice downed bodies, can be held up for items, and also speak between each other (in certain areas) when constant radio-contact is imperative. Using the Ps2’s new-at-the-time tech, the developers were able to gently slide another layer over the starving area of stealth games. As simple as the mechanics were, a significant bit of relevance was added to the simple act of shooting a radio out. The further the series moves forward with scripted patrols however, I tend to wonder if they’ll begin to hit a wall with the puzzle-based obstacles that they present (more on that in MGS4 hopefully). The spontaneity that comes with the first two playthroughs of this title is still amazing in some areas. Video-games do age however, and MGS2 is not exempt from this. What will determine how the Metal Gear games age is what it’s tied so intrinsically to, its own technological constraints.

Technology is a rapidly expanding area for man, and most of our more significant endeavors are usually based around trial-and-error. An ever present “error” in my eyes is simply what’s left behind for what can be. Every time processing power doubles ("Moore's Law" I think?), very useful tools and playboxes are abandoned in the process. Fortunately, some of the slack has been picked up here by “amateur” fans, re-tooling their favorite games. It’s becoming easier (and at the same time more complex) for these fans to make their own renditions as the power for our games increase. I’m beginning to think however, that the weight presented by “official” development for games is going to become overbearingly heavy in the next two decades and it’s going to cause imbalance in this area for quite a while. I said this over in my Second Take as well, but I’m keen to three distinct “conversations” going on whenever games are made & played. This communication’s own version of a lexicon is incomplete though, and its not so much evolving as it is simply stacking ideas and skills on top of each other.

Veering back to the topic though, how does one produce the reality of making an “aware” system of guards and patrols? Of course we can’t overcome the enormous hurdles in the A.I. (at the moment anyway), but there simply has to be a way to look around the problem’s side so to speak. For me, my end game…my hypothetical end-game that is…becomes the result of which I think a game should meet before anything else, which is…

Spilt Milk

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The player has been a big part of producing this response currently, as it’s impossible to expect the AI to live up to our standards. What exactly are our standards here though?

In some wacked-out utopia, are we really talking about some sort of simulated sentience? Hell, it’s fine in games like MGS2 because the player can always see behind the veil. They see the game for what it is, so no bounds of personal morality are ever crossed. In today’s society it would be an issue if it ever were, and AI is the foremost first-draft-pick for what will present the issue (bringing morality into games). I talk about this concerning MGS2 because of the aforementioned networking topic. What happens when the patrols in Strut-B appear human? It’s a thinker because we’re beginning to weigh the heavy issue of interaction and enjoyment against what society’s feeble construct can support.

Will there ever come a time when the line is crossed between “downing code” and taking a life? I’m not necessarily speaking of some hostile A.I. revolt in our time, but where exactly do we draw the lines in this area as a race? It will happen with the gamers first (more accurately it SHOULD happen with the gamers first). As it is now, a headshot in MGS2 is the simple act of the “veil” being nearly transparent for gamers. This is not so unlike situations from centuries ago when humans from all over gathered to watch people slaughter each other in arenas. Our ethical guidelines tend to change and I’m arrogant to enough to state now that video-games will play some integral role in “our next shift”. As gamers, we tend to whine and offer our pseudo-criticisms about problems that when solved…just create larger issues; this is just one of them. The dead giveaway of this fact would be the baseless criticisms against the game’s ending sequence, in which the player receives a long-winded extremely condescending rant against humanity. I can certainly understand this from the context of having that scene become a bit disruptive (as a game). However, acting like the game’s script became silly or unintelligible at that point in particular is like saying a freshman philosophy course is too hard, because MGS2 merely acts as a primer for its narrative themes. Surely, it rams them down the player’s throat (you either like it or you don’t), but I’m sick of seeing that “criticism” in particular for this title.

Raiden: “I'll decide for myself what to believe and what to pass on!”
C0l0n3l: “But is that even your own idea?”
R0s3: “Or something Snake told you?’
C0l0n3l: “That's the proof of your incompetence, right there. You lack the qualifications to exercise free will.


Player’s Observation

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These are fundamental questions that anybody with a relatively large range of narrative experiences could answer, but how much should the audience be granted to see? Metal Gear is a series that constantly places the player within a Snake’s shoes, but then it gently corrupts that persona by giving the player a sort of “omnipresent perspective”. These are things that they shouldn’t see and sometimes could be stripped out entirely with no effect (or even benefit from the absence) upon the narrative. Examples include the player distinctly witnessing Ocelot’s observation of both Snake and Raiden during Shadow-Moses and the Big Shell. When Snake is listening to Ocelot and Liquid plot their future plans for Shadow-Moses, Ocelot is shown watching a security feed of Snake hiding in the corner listening to them. This same experience is stroked upon once again in Sons of Liberty when Raiden is talking to Secret Service Agent Ames. I suppose it’s there for a sort of cinematic questioning thing on the audience’s part, but they always felt weird to me. When one considers how topsy-turvy the plot tends to shift in these games, it would seem less diluted if the true situation came as a total shock (as opposed to seeing through “God’s eye”). I’ve always felt that tiny little scenes like that were not only unnecessary (in some areas), but also that the audience isn’t worthy of that perspective despite its brevity.

An observation I do stand for is witnessing the scale of the grounds. The player receives many shots of the Big Shell in this game in its entirety. It helps to establish that sense of place that Kojima was touting before the games release. In addition to the color palette of the Big Shell, this is one of the key movers in how the player “feels the air”. Also very helpful in this game, was the active battle being waged with the BEO (See MGS1 blogs). The FPV was granted more interaction in this game, such as being able to shoot, aim, and interact from Snake/Raiden’s eyes. Given that the game is still very much top down when it wants to be, it becomes a treat when one can look across from Strut E and observe Strut F. There is a flaw in that though and that’s witnessing the patrols from the distance as well (which the game doesn't let the player do). Dealing with them from that distance would give the player too much reach in their capabilities and end up unbalancing the game. Until MGS4 however, this was the only area I found myself embracing my surroundings in a sort of spatial awe. I had to experience things very differently in both MGS1 & Snake Eater, which is both a good and bad thing (considering that I like both of those titles more than this one).

Movie-Melding

The bitching of the cutscenes is probably the biggest complaint for Metal Gear games. Though it is a valid one, it does have its limits (also see MGS1 blogs). Metal Gear Solid 2 in particular started using the FPV specifically to engage the player in certain scenes (Raiden’s capture aboard Arsenal Gear for instance). The game certainly doesn’t approach Half-Lifeian levels, but it doesn’t “rely” on its scenes in the sense that I’ve described time and time again.



I have questioned the overall balance of these sequences though, and I’ve always wondered what certain scenes in particular would look like from the “the other side”. The example I’ll use is the video of the player’s unofficial introduction to Fortune, placed just above here from YouTube (when she’s engaging the SEAL troops on the BC connecting bridge). If the player wasn’t allowed the aforementioned “God’s-Eye” in this scene, would it be ruined entirely? This brings into question the fundamental argument against cutscenes and its opposing force in general. I’m not simply talking about giving the player the ability to peek around the corner and witness the events. I’m proposing that there is a way to make the same exact cinematics communicate from such a position. It’s a very different thing when one thinks about it. The mood of the scene is significantly compromised when giving control back to the player, but it’s maddening for me to accept that this is the only way for the melancholic introduction to play out. Even giving control back to the player would require certain restrictions because the typical gamer by nature doesn’t much like to stay in character…fucking idiots.


Sons of Liberty - The Gurlukovich Troops

The Gurlukovich troops in this game are definitely a step above the Genome army, simply because of the interaction that Snake and Raiden are allowed with them. Everything from shooting out their radios to holding them up directly presents the player with a far more personalized experience when “navigating soldiers”. I’m all for giving each one their own personalities, but I also understand that there are technical limitations. Even with that though, the game uses at least two or three different voice actors to voice the army and even then, some are scripted into humorous moments (the guard jamming out in the holds section of the tanker for instance). Sons of Liberty takes the first step in making soldiers a bit more than simply obstacles that Snake has to get by. If I did want to be nit-picky however, I could ask for original Russian dialogue with subtitles. I think it makes more sense from a personal or military-tactician's standpoint. People tend to slip into their original language when associating with people of their own nationality as well; it provides a sense of comfort. When weighed in a tactical sense, it’s better that the enemy not know what you’re saying, as it impersonalizes them and makes them far more threatening as the opposition. I think Sons of Liberty and Snake Eater specifically could have benefited highly from actual Russian dialects with the ability to toggle the subtitles on and off.

Recurring Thechanics

Devils & Monsters

Raiden continues the act of the player assuming the role of a "monster". In this game, Raiden serves as a simulation though, to which the player experiences to a certain degree as well. This is also what makes these games so special in my eyes (“to which the player experiences to a certain degree as well”). This is at least to the point where I begin to question the character in the game towards my own feelings. Not many games do that; a further addition includes how Kojima so conveniently places Solid Snake in the third person role for this title (nurturing the fan’s love for the character even more).

SoliDoss

In relation to Raiden, Solidus assumes the role of Big Boss, and his righteous rage resembles Big Boss’ even more than the other clones, which define themselves on ridding themselves of his image (Liquid’s anger and Solid’s moral compass). Though being the younger of the three clones, he looks the eldest (no doubt due to the same engineering as his brothers) and has his eye is taken out in this game, which is then covered by an eyepatch. Given that Big Boss’s physical form isn’t seen again until Guns of the Patriots, Solidus is as close as the player comes to his visage in the Solid series (in both Snake Eater and Portable Ops he was still in his formative years as a soldier).

Fox-Die

Not only does the player rescue two characters that immediately die under mysterious circumstances, but they’re also aided by a cyborg ninja who is brutally executed towards the end of the game (it gets pretty bad for the one who dons the fated outfit in MGS4 as well). The weakness in this thechanic is that it’s not much of a mechanic, as all of these take place in the cutscenes. Little details do add to their significance though. A prime example is that the player uses the directional microphone to seek out Ames’ pacemaker, which is purposefully used to trigger his heart attack.

Final Fight of Ideals

The Final Bosses in the Metal Gear Solid games are always one-on-one fights with someone that has every reason in the world to be fighting. The only one that even steered into a generally immoral arena was Liquid Snake, and I’d be pissed too if I was raised to believe I was the leftover in a scientific experiment (too bad he was purposefully lied to). Solidus’ rage is actually very well-founded. This is even to the point where the game almost steps on its own foot by thrusting the player a will not to fight. It does mask this however, by giving the audience the old “means-justifies-the-end” routine to sever the tie and deem his actions as immoral, needing to be stopped (or at least defending oneself).

The SMS – The Shadow-Moses Simulation

Metal Gear Solid 2 is an active reproduction of Metal Gear Solid in numerous ways. The game is so full of itself in the literal sense, that it makes pretentious people even more pretentious and the clueless people scratch their heads. Underneath all of this is the same exact story, wrapped within a different context. I think the most impressive thing about this game is that it does all of this without it becoming obtrusive to the player’s enjoyment of it. Anytime I witnessed a direct corollary to MGS1, I tended to state simply: “Well that’s just fucking awesome…” In an age where gamers are stupidly clamoring for something new every week, this game actually makes fun of that very desire.

Like I said, MGS2 isn’t my personal favorite in the series (it only beats out the original Metal Gear in my personal hierarchy), but it just might be the one I respect the most as a game. Just about everything in this title makes it a divisive piece of coding that will still stand out even twenty years from now. What’s even more intriguing to witness, is how this particular title ages. The most divisive aspect of this game was no doubt the replacement of Solid Snake with Raiden, and that collective idiocy---that mindset of “this guy sucks, I hate him!” has died down substantially. If anything, Raiden’s MGS4 appearance will hurt him in the long run, but that’s another topic for another day. I praise games when they take steps out on their own, and this title was the Metal Gear game that went the farthest out of "the gamer’s way” to do something for itself. That’s something I’ll always grant to it.

Monday’s Post: DFB – “The Virtuous Mission” (Metal Gear Solid 3) – Part X

~sLs~