Tuesday, May 5, 2009

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

MGS2 still remains the most divisive title in the main series today, this is mostly due to the story it attempted to convey amidst its significantly improved mechanics from MGS1. Though it’s not my personal favorite in the franchise, I love it nonetheless. I describe this as a “self-aware” title not only because of the AI program with in it, but its awakening to the massive forth-wall trick it’s pulling on the player the second the Big Shell chapter begins. There’s plenty of reason to admire this title, I just picked a few of my own today, making this a fairly short blog (I’m assuming most people skip my story-summaries by now).

As always, all of the artwork here is provided via "The Art of Metal Gear Solid 2", by Yoji Shinkawa.

Plot Summary ~ My Progress

It’s been two years since the Shadow-Moses Incident and Solid Snake has begun to work on his own, via NGO operations with Otacon (a.k.a Hal Emmerich). Between the two and various other Shadow-Moses contacts, they’ve formed “Philanthropy”, a group whose cause has unofficially become the eradication of Metal Gear machines. Over the years Snake and Otacon have destroyed numerous Metal Gear derivatives that have been created throughout the world. These newly emergent derivatives are the result of Revolver Ocelot’s actions after the Shadow-Moses Incident(he sold the specifications for Metal Gear Rex on the black market). Their newest tip has led them to a tanker, The U.S.S. Discovery. This marine-guarded ship is making its way along the New York harbor as Solid Snake successfully infiltrates it via Otacon’s stealth-camouflage.

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Otacon: "Don't you forget that you're a part of "Philanthropy" now---an anti-Metal Gear organization and officially recognized by the UN."
Solid Snake: "Recognized, but still fringe, Otacon."

Soon after Snake arrives, a group of unknown soldiers are witnessed seizing the ship and killing all of the patrolling marines on deck. Snake observes that these men are Russian, and Otacon begins to gather info on their identities. Otacon informs Snake via codec to make his way towards the bridge to see where the tank is heading. This allows Otacon the ability to draw some reasonable conclusions on the new model’s capabilities, as they have virtually no information otherwise. As Snake makes his way to the bridge, he discovers the tanker’s destination and a young female soldier arguing over the radio. As she finishes her conversation, Snake appears and attempts to disarm her at gunpoint. However, using a hidden gun-shot within her knife, the woman is able to elude being disarmed and proceeds to fight Snake. Using a his tranquilizer pistol, Snake incapacitates her as Otacon calls him to inform him of the identity of the Russian men’s leader, Sergei Gurlukovich. Snake immediately recognizes this name as one of Revolver Ocelot’s allies, who intended to join forces with FOX-HOUND after Metal Gear Rex’s failed test-launch on Shadow-Moses Island. The young woman he just knocked out is Gurlukovich’s daughter, Olga.

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Otacon: "We've ID'd the old man."
Solid Snake: "Who is he?"
Otacon: 'Sergei Gurlukovich."
Snake: "Gurlukovich...! One of Ocelot's allies?"

Snake then proceeds down towards the holds where the new Metal Gear is being kept under guard by a massive marine gathering. As he sneaks his way through the holds, Snake finally makes it to the last one where he sees Commander Scott Dolph finishing his speech. Dolph also happens to be standing in front of the new amphibious model of Metal Gear, Metal Gear Ray. Ray is unlike the Army’s Rex, and can maneuver far more efficiently, as well as cruising underwater. It’s technical composition is made up of highly advanced artificial muscle tissue that fundamentally mimics the human nervous system. Using a camera, Snake proceeds to photograph the new model, in order to place the photos online and expose its existence to the world. As he tries to upload the pictures to Otacon however, Ocelot appears and interrupts Dolph’s speech. As Gurlukovich men appear and begin to release Ray, Sergei Gurlukovich appears and holds Dolph up at gunpoint. While describing his resentment towards the U.S. military, Ocelot tells Sergei that he does not hold sway with his plan. Gurlukovich angrily denounces Ocelot and just as he turns his gun on the former FOX-HOUND gunman, Ocelot not only shoots him, but Scott Dolph as well, leaving them both dead. As all of Sergei’s men witness this, they too turn their guns on Ocelot, only to be shot down by his expert gunplay.

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"Among the other remarkable characters that make an appearance in
Romanenko's expose is another FOXHOUND commando, a revolver-virtuoso called
"Shalashaska" aka "Revolver Ocelot". One of the most controversial allegations
in the book deals with this figure's connection to a disavowed Russian militia
led by a Colonel Gurlukovich." - George Franklin's review of "In the Darkness of Shadow-Moses: The Unofficial Truth" by Nastasha Romenenko

Ocelot then detonates all of the C4 explosives that the Gurlukovich men planted throughout the ship. As the hangar floods, Snake leaves his hiding spot and pulls his gun on Ocelot, who is about to board Metal Gear Ray. As Ocelot turns to face Snake, something strange begins to happen to him. He clenches his newly grafted arm in pain and screams. The pain then seems to dissipate and he speaks to Snake using an entirely different voice; one he’s heard before, the exact voice of his cloned brother, Liquid Snake. Liquid observes (as Gray Fox did before him) that Snake has aged terribly. He also tells Snake that Naomi Hunter seemingly passed him over concerning the FoxDie program and that he himself is granted continued existence through Ocelot’s newly grafted arm (which belonged to Liquid’s old body). Liquid then hops into Ray and begins to operate it, knocking Snake out and leaving the now flooded ship in ruins as it gracefully leaps hundreds of feet into the air.
Ray then lands back on top of the ship and pauses for a moment as it watches Snake surface amongst the now-sinking ship. It then leaps into the harbor and disappears entirely. Snake however, has no way to flee the sinking ship, which drags him down along with it, supposedly killing him.

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"Metal Gear RAY is amphibious, unlike the Army's REX. It can cruise deep underwater, move in undetected and make its landing on any shoreline." - Scott Dolph

Two more years pass…

The Tanker Incident has supposedly caused a massive oil spill. This spill resulted in the release of toxins into the bay, causing a massive facility to be constructed on-site (in order to deal with the sunken tanker's serious environmental threat). Solid Snake has thus been labeled as the worst environmental terrorist in human history. This facility, known as the Big Shell, has currently fallen under attack by a governmental group that specializes in hostile threat for training soldiers. Organized by the previous U.S. president (George Sears), this group is known as "Dead Cell" and is currently composed of four members: Fortune, Vamp, and Fatman. It’s leader claims to be Solid Snake himself. A newly reformed FOX-HOUND has sent in a young rookie soldier, in order to deal with the sensitive situation. Dead Cell has taken many hostages, one of which is the 44th U.S. president, James Johnson, who happened to be on a tour of the Big Shell at the time. Dead Cell has also demanded 30 billion dollars, and if their demands aren’t met, they intend to fire a nuclear bomb directly at Manhattan. As the young Soldier (codenamed “Snake”) nears the facility underwater, he’s informed of his two objectives:

1 - Secure the President of the United States
2 - Investigate and eliminate the terrorist threat.

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Colonel: "And by the way Snake, we're changing your code name for all following
communication.
Raiden: "What's wrong with Snake?"
Colonel: "Just a precaution. You are now designated Raiden."

The young man then surfaces in a dock while proceeding towards an elevator. His commanding officer informs him that all further transmissions will henceforth refer to him as “Raiden”, and he makes his way on. While moving, he mysteriously encounters incapacitated guards and catches glimpse of another soldier making his way up the elevator as well. As he informs his CO of this, the colonel says that the only other operation going on is a SEAL team assault happening as they speak. Raiden then tells his colonel that the other intruder is simply one man, to which the colonel very airily disregards. The Colonel then introduces Raiden to a systems analyst that will record his mission data, Rose. Rose also just happens to be Raiden’s girlfriend, which leaves Raiden shocked at her participation in the operation. Her reasoning for partaking in the mission is that she’d rather be with him on his mission instead of being kept waiting in the dark. Raiden then begins to ascend the elevator, and removes his scuba mask, revealing a young effeminate male. He makes note that his codename was changed because Solid Snake is naming himself as the leader of the current terrorist unit. The colonel informs him that Dead Cell’s boss can’t be THE Solid Snake; further elaborating that the real soldier drowned in the tanker accident two years prior. Raiden then continues on and soon encounters a hallway covered in blood. Upon investigating he discovers some of the SEALs being assaulted by an agile man with super-human reflexes.

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"When he was just a kid, he lost his family to a terrorist bomb that went off in a church they were attending.His body pierced by a crucifix, Vamp was buried under the rubble for two days before he was finally rescued. During those two days,he survived by feeding on the blood of his family to quench his thirst." - Iroquois Pliskin

The man easily dispatches the SEALs and proceeds to drink their blood as Raiden looks on. As the vampire-like man notices Raiden’s presence, he attempts to attack him as well. Just as this happens however, another SEAL bursts into the room, urges Raiden to duck and opens fire on the agile man. This new soldier is caught off guard as well, and the vampire-man proceeds to hold him against a wall preparing to kill him. The man then sniffs this new SEAL and drops him to the ground, expressing a sudden shock. This man then receives a call from someone on his radio and expresses his desire to meet her in person. The downed SEAL then passes Raiden a clip for an assault rifle, but just as Raiden attempts to attack him, the man escapes. Raiden then questions the SEAL who just saved him, and the man introduces himself as Lt. Iroquois Pliskin. He informs Raiden of the earlier assailant’s identity, known as Vamp. A Romanian knives specialist, he’s a formidable soldier that literally has a disturbing thirst for blood. Raiden is highly suspscious that Pliskin is hiding something, but decides to trust him for the time being. Pliskin also gives Raiden his first weapon, a SOCOM pistol and tells him to continue onwards, keeping in contact with him via codec.

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"Listen, kid. I don't have the time to wet-nurse you or provide you
with a shoulder to cry on! You got a problem with your conscience, you take care of it! Don't bother me!" - Iroquois Pliskin

While on a connecting bridge, Raiden observes the SEAL team’s battle with the second Dead Cell member, Fortune. She earns her name by being a woman who is apparently untouchable in battle. All of the SEAL team’s attacks either miss or don’t explode at all. She then decimates the entire team with one shot from her personalized rail gun, blowing half the bridge away in the process. Vamp also appears, taking the President away as Fortune finishes dealing with the SEAL troops. Raiden then continues into the next building and he discovers an old man fiddling around in the kitchen. As Raiden holds the man at gunpoint, Pliskin appears informing that the older gentleman is Peter Stillman, a bomb-disposal expert. As Raiden and Pliskin converse with Stillman, they learn about the third member of Dead Cell, Fatman. Raiden has also received a call from the Colonel, informing him that C4 bombs have been planted throughout the Big Shell. Everyone surmises that it could only be the work of Fatman. Stillman, who was a mentor to Fatman, arms both Raiden and Pliskin with C4 sensors in order to detect Fatman’s planted bombs. He also supplies them with a special coolant that will prevent them from being immediately detonated. The two then set out on a mission to temporarily disarm all of these explosives, but along the way, Stillman notes that their locations are only something an amateur would think of; they also wouldn’t be effective enough in order to destroy the Big Shell entirely. Along the way, Raiden encounters a mysterious woman, who Pliskin identifies as Olga Gurlukovich. He also receives an anonymous call, warning him of hidden mine positions. The anonymous individual first names himself “Deepthroat” but as Raiden recognizes this as the same alias Gray Fox used during the Shadow-Moses Incident, he then changes his title to “Mr. X” instead.

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"Raiden... don't ever turn your back on that Olga woman. Olga Gurlukovich... Daughter of Colonel Sergei Gurlukovich, ex-GRU and former Spetsnaz commander...She's the leader of Colonel Gurlukovich's private army that's been wandering around the Big Shell." - Iroquois Pliskin

Pliskin, while following a request from Stillman, discovers a large amount of C4 planted at the bottom of a strut that is far more effective for demolishing the Big Shell entirely. As Raiden and Pliskin both finish freezing the “amateur bombs”, Stillman makes his way towards the C4 that Pliskin discovered. As he’s investigating it, he discovers Fatman’s trap. Not only were the large C4 bombs meant to activate once all the amateur ones went out of commission, but Stillman himself is trapped by a proximity trigger now. With less than thirty seconds, Stillman advises Pliskin to move as far away from his strut as possible. He also tells Raiden to be careful when freezing the other suspected stash of C4 at the bottom of a strut that will cause the Big Shell to sink if detonated. The bomb near Peter then explodes, killing him and knocking Pliskin offline from radio contact. Luckily, Raiden is successful in preventing the second bomb from exploding, but the first one has caused a significant amount of damage to the Big Shell’s second core. As Raiden continues with his mission, Fortune appears in front of his path, blocking progress. Raiden is unable to successfully land a shot on her, which leaves evading her Rail-Gun shots as his only option. Vamp then appears and informs her exactly what Raiden is also being told via his codec as well; Fatman has apparently gone rouge and is threatening to detonate an even larger bomb. As Fortune leaves Vamp to deal with her current situation, Raiden quickly fires a shot at her, which bounces off Fortune and directly into Vamp’s head and stomach. Vamp then slumps over as Fortune holds his body. Raiden uses her moment of grieving to delicately make his way past her and onto the elevator. He continues on and immediately rushes to confront Fatman, who has initiated a timed ultimatum for his appearance.

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Rose: "Luck. She was real lucky, like miraculously lucky. Wherever she went bullets curved away, and missions always ended in success."
Raiden: "Is that some kind of joke?"
Rose: "I thought so, too. But there is not a single record of her ever being
wounded. Not even a scratch."

As Raiden dispatches another bomb, Fatman makes his appearance. Decked out in a bomb-suit and roller blades, the eccentric devotee then engages Raiden in a battle, planting various bombs for the young soldier to freeze before they can detonate. Fortunately, Raiden is able to neutralize Fatman and as he continues his mission, a cyborg ninja appears before him. The ninja aids Raiden by not only giving him the details of the president’s location (or rather who knows it), but also a disguise in order to infiltrate the Big Shell’s core, where most of the hostages are being held. Using this disguise, Raiden is able to infiltrate the first of the Big Shell’s cores and makes contact with Richard Ames, a secret service agent. Ames apparently knows the president’s location and also informs Raiden what the Ninja also alluded to as well; a new Metal Gear is being developed at the Big Shell.

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"Fatman... Supposedly he's nicknamed after an atomic bomb, but to me
he's just a fat man. Something straight out of a sideshow. If he even has a bit of spare time, he spends it disassembling and assembling his Glock, over and over again. He can't stand to have his hands still. He's extremely vain about his hands -- keeps his fingers as slender and soft as a woman's. They say he's always looking at his hands, giving himself manicures." - Iroquois Pliskin

Ames informs Raiden of the president’s location, which is in the Big Shell’s second core. Just as this is happening, Raiden is able to listen in on a conversation that takes place between Olga, Ocelot, and “Solid Snake”. Olga holds contempt and suspicion at Ocelot for letting her father die. As Snake attempts to calm both parties down, Raiden continues talking to Ames, who also tells him that the president must be cooperating with the terrorists. This is because his own physiological data is needed as a password for the nuclear launch. As Ames finishes elaborating on the President’s situation, Ocelot appears and confronts Raiden, who is still in disguse. Just as Ames tries to help Raiden by preventing him from having to speak, Ames appears to suffer a massive heart attack and dies. Ocelot then forces Raiden to remove his disguise and just as he pulls his gun on him, he’s just able to move his arm out of the way as the ninja appears and attempts to slice it off. The ninja then continues to help Raiden by deflecting bullets as he escapes. Raiden then uses the keycard given to him by Ames to acquire new weaponry and make his way towards the Big Shell’s second core.

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Pliskin: "I'll let you in on a little secret, kid. The ninja that was publicized in the Shadow Moses incident no longer exists. The guy you met has no connection whatsoever with the incident."
Raiden: "And how do you know that?"
Pliskin: "Because I do."

As Raiden makes his way across, Pliskin calls him and introduces Raiden to his friend, Otacon. They then make use of a Kamov helicopter to make their way across the Big Shell, passing Raiden in the process. Just as Pliskin passes overhead however, Raiden notices the Solid Snake claiming to be the leader of the current terrorist’s actions watching them. He then steps out and proclaims himself as Solid Snake. Pliskin angrily acknowledges him as an impostor and assaults him from the chopper. The impostor-Snake then boards a Harrier fighter jet being piloted by Vamp, who apparently did not die from their earlier encounter. Grimly observing that their helicopter stands no chance against the Harrier, Snake tosses a Stinger missile launcher towards Raiden. Using Snake’s help, Raiden is able to defeat the Harrier, but just as the plane starts to fall into the ocean, Snake notices that something is surfacing. What seems like a massive creature then leaps forth from the water, catching the Harrier jet safely in its mouth. Raiden notices that the creature is actually Metal Gear Ray. As it peaks in midair, Ray launches numerous missiles into the air, significantly destroying the Big Shell and nearly knocking Raiden off the bridge he’s located on.

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"I'm the boss to surpass Big Boss himself...Solid Snake!"

As Ray settles back into the water, Vamp leaps forth, running across the water to an unknown location. Ray then drags the destroyed Harrier yet underwater, with Solidus safely inside it’s cockpit. As Raiden gains his ground back on the nearly destroyed bridge he confronts, Pliskin who informs him that he is indeed the real Solid Snake. Thanks to Otacon’s intervention, Snake was able to avoid being dragged down with the sinking tanker two years ago. The exhumed body that confirmed his death was actually Liquid Snake’s, who is a genetic copy of Snake himself (Snake and Otacon stole it to fake his death). Raiden then confronts his colonel about this, but is met with an angry response, which raises his suspicion. As Raiden makes his way across the connecting bridges, he finally enters the second core of the Big Shell. Inside, he observes Olga switching on an electric flooring to the President’s room. Using Snake’s advice, Raiden is able to locate a Nikita missle launcher, which he then uses the destroy the control panel powering the flooring.

As he makes his way inside, the President is shocked that he isn’t there to kill him and also by how little Raiden was told prior to his mission. Amidst a multitude of significant revelations, Raiden learns that the previous president is actually the leader of Dead Cell whom he just encountered aboard the Harrier, now being referred to as Solidus Snake. Not only that, but he also learns that Metal Gear Ray isn’t actually the new Metal Gear, rather what they’re currently standing in is the new model, Arsenal Gear. Arsenal Gear is a massive fortress, hidden beneath the ocean. This model isn’t a weapon in the traditional sense however. It’s actual function is that of digital control, effectively controlling the global consumption of information. This extreme project has been enforced and created by the Patriots, the true leaders of the country. The President reveals the existence of these twelve men as the actual supreme authority behind every political, financial, and military issue, leaving him simply as their figurehead. Nobody knows who the Patriots actually are, just that the highest branch consists of twelve men known as the Wisemen’s Committee.

The president elaborates that Solidus Snake’s plan is to wrathfully challenge the Patriots. He also remorsefully tells Raiden that his cooperation with the terrorists was simply to bargain his way into the Patriots ranks. After the president fills Raiden in on all of this, he demands that Raiden kill him before the next check of his condition; this will effectively disable the terrorist’s ability to launch the nuke. Raiden refuses, and the president proceeds to forcibly try and make him shoot. Just as this scuffle is happening, Ocelot enters the room and shoots the president himself, disappeared afterwards. This prevents th current threat of a nuclear launch but baffles Raiden entirely. Raiden then decides to continue on with his mission, as the president gave Raiden a disc before his death. The disc contains a means to corrupt GW, Arsenal Gear’s AI system, beyond repair. In order to do this, he’s to seek out Emma Emmerich, who helped design GW. As Raiden contacts Snake, he informs him of the president’s death and Otacon confirms that Emma is in fact his sister, which is why he’s currently along with Snake for the mission. Snake and Otacon also describe to Raiden that after the Shadow-Moses Incident, Snake became a hero in the public’s eye. The Patriots detested this and blamed the entire sinking of the tanker on Snake, labeling him as an environmental terrorist. They even went as far as intentionally polluting the harbor that required the Big Shell in the first place (to build Arsenal Gear), as the first tanker didn’t have enough pollutants to cause any real damage. In actuality, the entire Tanker Incident was simply a setup to lure Solid Snake in order to smear his reputation. The following construction of the Big Shell was nothing more than a massive cover-up for the development of Arsenal Gear.

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Between Raiden, Snake, and Otacon however, neither was able to figure out Ocelot’s exact involvement in the whole matter. He seems to be cooperating with and aiding both sides simultaneously (Solidus’ vindictive war with the Patriots). Not being able to waste more time with speculating on the matter, Raiden continues forth, in order to find Otacon’s sister, Emma Emmerich.

To Be Continued…

Meme

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MGS2 continues the series' legacy by placing forth its theme for Memetics. For those not familiar with the term, it’s a very simple concept(especially for those that spend extended amounts of time on the internet). Put simply, a meme is the cultural equivalent of a gene. It’s a concept meant to run analogous to the entire concept of genetics. Of course there are some flaws with the concept of a meme once one explores it past a certain extent (especially on comparison to genetics). However, it serves as an excellent key engaging ideas for a person’s individual thought process; particularly in the vast works of fiction. Why? Well it’s simple of course. Watching movies, listening to music, playing games, they’re all nothing more than social experiments proving and disproving certain constants within our own reality (see…opinion). Memes are everywhere and MGS2 makes note of this by not only completely smashing the forth wall by use of this thematic, but treating it as a title worth exploring with some rudimentary philosophical context.

A loose example of such wall smashing is the nature of the player’s familiarity with the series at the time they’re playing through the game. For us fans who got to the game immediately in 2001, it became an almost surreal experience, as the entire game is basically rehashing its predecessor, just not on offensive grounds. Certain flaws present themselves when the game starts to (on many occasions no less) assume that the player has completed the first Metal Gear Solid. This raises a lot of questions in itself, as there’s always an unofficial air to dissect a game individually on its own terms. Metal Gear Solid 2 breaks the mold by intrinsically tying itself into the series so that the player’s judgment will be compromised, ESPECIALLY if they’re playing the titles out of order or inconsistently. There’s countless statements phrased verbatim in this game, and it’s very obvious that they’re meant to stir up something on the player’s part.

The title not only generated some clever-as-hell manipulations when observed in conjunction with its story, but it offered some lighthearted moments as well. These humorous instances would later be turned into Internet Memes that still haven’t perished to this day (“I need scissors, 61!!!”). The title even makes some commentary on mainstream gaming media’s consumption of information. Example? Well, let me hit you with the most obvious one…Raiden. NOBODY except certain privileged journalists and lucky divulgants knew of his existence prior to the game’s release. This is intriguing, as games are still to this day standing on foundations which require previews and perception twists (and I’m not even talking about marketing either) in order to maintain interest or appeal for a game. These things run almost hand-in-hand with MGS2’s major theme of not only selective memetics for humanity, but the danger of its control as well.

Beauty and the Beast, Round 1

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Metal Gear Ray

I haven’t decided whether to address this in Snake Eater as well, or just skip it and loop back around to it with MGS4, but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. This section is meant to address the impact of how graphics have influenced the power of this title. It’s certainly arguable that Konami yanked the most out of the Ps2’s power, even by today’s ridiculous standards. Between the Zone of the Enders games, and the two Metal Gear titles on Ps2, it’s obvious that when coupled with some sound art direction *coughYojiShinkawacough*, these games can become even more than just pretty. MGS2 was also one of the first titles I’ve played that actually let the graphics filter into the gameplay; an example of this being the very first thing that happens once the player steps inside the tanker, they leave footprints. It forms a certain means of continuity that wraps around the preceding sequence outside on the deck. Given that the Tanker incident is relatively dark and stormy, it forms a dialect with the limit of the graphics, thus creating a presence that still holds up to this day. This is not unlike how Shinkawa’s designs meshed with the polygon models on the original playstation (e.g. Snake not technically having visible eyes and what not). If you own the game though, give it one of those five minute quickies (you know…where you pick up the controller for two minutes before becoming bored and switching the system off in confusion towards your earlier excitement *takes breath*), the Tanker Chapter in particular still looks outstanding to this day.

This helps the nature of a stealth game in many areas, most of which I’m too lazy to explore at the moment. It does lead me to question the following Big Shell chapter though, which takes place mostly in daylight. In plenty of ways, it’s a bold step to make a sneaking mission in daylight, and it’s further exacerbated by the fact that it’s set right beside the tanker prologue. The tanker uses a nice environmental veil through the storm taking place (which is a topic on its own regarding games in general). It also lets the player briefly operate in darkness, which something Metal Gear isn’t really known for doing prominently (that specialty belongs to titles like Splinter Cell). The Big Shell in contrast, uses an over-saturated color palette that is almost hauntingly memorable, but becomes an even more thematic presence as the game draws to its conclusion. The day itself seems to run analogously to the situation:

Bulk Big Shell Events = Throughout the Day
Making Way towards Arsenal with Emma = Sunset
Odd Introduction while Naked aboard Arsenal = Night Fall
Final Events = Sunrise atop Federal Hall

I also wonder now what the drop-off point for games will be in terms of visuals. Gameplay is more structured and therefore a bit easier to speculate, but visuals were highly contingent on technical limits then. What exemptions should this grant them, if any? I’ve seen many silly gamers assert that this drop off point is only twenty years. That’s moronic when considering that video-games are still very loosely in their late twenties to begin with. Besides, people only tend to truly grasp things once a significant amount of time has passed (and they’re allowed that hindsight that exposes their collective/individual idiocy). The truth is that not only do the mass of gamers NOT look at older titles in that fair light, but games aren’t even developed to be seen that way int he first place (a BIG pain in the ass if you ask me). This stands in conflict with someone like me, who makes it a point to look directly at something from fifteen years ago and grant it the same grounds of influence that titles of today have.

Narrative Technology

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Well when I first started contemplating this, MGS4 jumped out in my mind. The truth of the matter here is that the weapons-lock that was played up in Guns of the Patriots actually began here, in Sons of Liberty. This is relevant because it’s masking that age old question that gamers always ask when playing through these action games:

“Why can’t I pick up the bad guy’s gun?!”

No doubt that these issues stem from technical limitations, but let’s look at the total irony of the agenda here. By the time Metal Gear Solid 4 actually came around, the player could virtually pick up everyone’s weapons (finally). The catch was that an active mechanic was retroactively made out of unlocking the Weapon-ID. That’s funny and weird from five different angles if you ask me. Metal Gear Solid as a game is an obvious adjunct to the technical limitations it’s always had (Kojima recently revealed this himself at GDC 2009). The way certain mechanics like this play out further prove that problem-solving on a multitude of levels can produce a substantial amount of strength for any given title.

Interpretive Discombobulation

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Raiden

Games don’t lend themselves well to interpretation, whether or not the narrative in question has a debatable amount of quality within it in the first place. MGS2 is one of the many games that shows the audience this realization. Not only that but it further plays out that the mass of gamers only pick up a controller with the escapist mindset (which I don’t tolerate on any level if you’re not keeping up). Games that “preach” tend to get slammed hard for being overly pretentious or long-winded. Well, some of us like long-winded (the fact that my most recent DFB includes an expansive take on Xenogears is a big “duh” here); not only that, but it actually takes a pretentious person to call anything pretentious in the first place.

Any game that makes an active step towards establishing its own value despite the fact that it may not be worth it, is okay in my eyes. I only have problems with people fighting some righteous battle with titles like this. The same applies to movies, music, and literature as well:

Music: People’s excessive judgment upon other’s tastes in music is one of the most disgusting traits I’ve seen for any audience to partake in.

Movies: Look at how critics like Robert Ebert have “aged” over the past decade. People stepping up to analyze films often do not critique films as much as they try to validate their own opinion. I don’t have a problem with either stance, it’s when they try and do one while hiding behind the other that bugs the hell out of me.

Literature: The mass bulk of global education...I’m not going to say anymore there. I shouldn’t have to.

Fortunately, games are young enough for people to look past this. At the same time however, my earlier statement rings true; video-games are simply not equipped fundamentally to lock the audience’s mindset in such a way. People still cling to structure around mechanics or around what technically defines a game, and they offer rash judgments for any title that they don’t particularly like in order to badmouth it. I’d love to bad mouth the schooling of how games are made, but I have no association with such matters so I won’t fire my thoughts off in pure ignorance. I will however state that the obvious reality in teaching game-developers structure and logistics only get them to points A, B, and C. Cultivating ideas and nurturing passion in academics is not one of school’s strong points, it never has been (hence D-Z). Only a few people actually love learning, and they’re burdened with the curse of living around those that don’t.

To wrap this up, I’ll link you over to James Howell’s Formal Analysis of Metal Gear Solid 2. It’s of much more worth for a deeper Metal Gear Solid 2 discussion than today’s blog is, as I’m only concerned with some general things at the moment. Howell’s write-up further illustrates the fact that a game like Metal Gear Solid 2 is cesspool for thought as well as play. Sure it’s not the goddamned best, but WHAT THE FUCK IS?! Metal Gear Solid 2 is still one of the few titles that demands analytical interpretation to this day, not simply providing the player with “good time”. That entire mindset of play was old to me when I was a teenager, watching people just start to wake up to it now…it just makes me want to go on a shooting spree.

Recurring Thechanics

Recurring Thechanics for this game are very funky and weird. This is because Metal Gear Solid 2 is actually a simulation of Metal Gear Solid, plain and simple. I can name some of the more interesting recurrences here and there, but capturing them all in a a few blogs is a battle I’m not even going to try and engage in.

Niki-GO!
Also initiated by Snake in Outer Heaven and Shadow Moses was the use of a remote controlled missile launcher in order to make their way towards a VIP-Captive. The Nikita Missile Launcher isn’t really based on any real-life gun I’ve seen, but it just grazes the barrier of reality to make one assume that this is a weapon of actual use. Throughout its appearance in the MGS games, it in a sense “becomes real” because of the interwoven use it has.

141.80

This is a recurring use for the player as it remains the frequency of a helpful individual that gives survival tips to the player throughout the game. Not only that, but this frequency is also home (once again!) to a Snake masquerading as someone else. Some of the more humorous calls in Metal Gear Solid tended to stem from Master Miller’s tips for the player, just as Pliskin’s information usually garnered a laugh in MGS2.

Anonymous Warning
This is now the third damn time that a anonymous caller has contacted the player to warn them of mines in front of their position. Metal Gear Solid 2 escalated the significance of this moment by acknowledging it through the narrative for the player. Raiden and the player (assumed knowledge) express recognition for the alias Gray Fox used during the Shadow-Moses Incident. This presses the individual to almost exasperatedly change their name to “Mr. X” instead.

Dead Fox
Dead Cell is obviously setup in plenty of ways to mirror the Foxhound unit. The trick is that the player has to realize how exactly it’s happening. Dead Cell consists of three members (not including its leader), as FOX-HOUND-2005 consisted of five (not counting it’s squad leader as well). Fortune, Fatman, and Vamp all use slight homages to their five predecessors on Shadow-Moses Island. The game even uses some similar set-pieces as well (i.e. a blood-spattered hallway).

The New Bird
Metal Gear Solid 2’s big bird in the air this time was a Harrier being piloted by Vamp and Solidus. Using a the same Stinger Missile Launcher (tossed down by Snake himself), the player is then threaded a glimpse back to Shadow-Moses once again while being forced to deal with a new situation and threat.

Friday's Post: DFB – “The Conclusion of The Big Shell Occurrence” (Metal Gear Solid 2) – Part IX

~sLs~