Thursday, May 21, 2009
DFB - “Twin Suns” (Metal Gear Solid 4) – Part XVI
As Always: The Plot Summary is here simply to provide the reader with a loose grounding on where I'm at in regard to what I'm writing about (hence my apprehension at editing it at all), and also because it's very therapeutic for me to type out prior to hitting the subsequent topics. It remains an expendable part of the blogs, so please skip them if you're not into it.
Plot Summary ~!~ My Progress
After Snake is patched up, he and Otacon watch the footage from the Mark 2, which is covertly surveying a conversation between Naomi, Liquid, and Vamp. Just before the Mark 2 is found however, they’re able to gather that Liquid is making his way towards the only available nuclear warhead that is not under control of the SOP system. In order to completely destroy the Patriots, Liquid intends to fire a nuclear missile at “JD”, which is being disguised as debris floating debris in the planet’s orbit. Campbell then calls the Nomad and he, Snake, and Otacon immediately surmise that Liquid’s destination lies on Shadow-Moses island. Metal Gear Rex’s is still nuclear-equipped and its railgun is still capable of initiating an effective nuclear strike. Mei Ling then makes an appearance as well, calling Otacon while on board her Hawaiian warship, the Missouri. She tells them that the island is sinking but has otherwise been left untouched since Snake’s infamous infiltration mission. Otacon becomes distressed over the entire situation, but Snake offers him some consolation in that they’re not simply fighting to win.
Raiden, who is still having his blood filtered nearby, awakens and requests to accompany Snake. Although Sunny is extremely hesitant to let Raiden go, she relents. Snake however, tells Raiden that he shouldn’t join him and that he still has still has a family. Raiden angrily dismisses this, but his body isn’t fully repaired yet, so he's only able to slump down in exhaustion. Snake resolutely decides on not allowing Raiden to throw his life away by letting the young soldier follow him to a likely death. Raiden simply passes out in Sunny’s arms before he can press the matter any further. Snake and Otacon depart, and eventually arrive on Shadow-Moses Island. Before departing, Snake is handed a new robot that Otacon created, the Mark 3. Snake then proceeds to make his through the nuclear weapons disposal facility, retracing his exact steps from nearly a decade earlier. While releasing the base’s security in Otacon’s old lab, the two reminisce about past events (Otacon uses the video screen on the Mark 3) and discuss why Naomi apparently double crossed them. Otacon is particularly touchy about the subject as he and Naomi began a brief romance after her rescue in South America. Snake thinks there’s more to the situation, but neither of them have the time to reflect on the matter.
Proceeding forth, Snake finds himself being ambushed by FROGS in the same snowfield that he faced Sniper Wolf in nine years ago. In a twist of irony, the leader of the FROG unit is none other than Crying Wolf. Using her personalized railgun, she proceeds to combat Snake in the snowfield. Staying downwind of her attacks, Snake is able to overcome her as she breaks free of her armor and continues the tradition of attempting to strangle Snake. After being subdued, Snake takes her railgun and also receives a call from Drebin, who once again informs him that’s he’s laundered the gun for him absolutely free of charge. He then tells Snake that Wolf’s mental state was caused by the guilt she felt from killing her baby brother (and numerous other infants) while struggling from as a war-victim in Africa. Snake then continues to retrace his path, and finally makes his way through to Metal Gear Rex’s hangar. Mei Ling’s data was confirmed, as Rex still sat slumped against the side of the hangar, exactly as it was left nine years ago. As Otacon attempts to read Rex’ log, they immediately discover that the railgun has already been taken. Knowing that Liquid only needs to railgun to launch, they now need to confront him directly.
Vamp then appears alongside Naomi and engages Snake in battle. Otacon informs Snake that by using the syringes given to him by Naomi, he can suppress Vamp’s nanomachines, thereby preventing him from rapidly healing himself. Using this advice, Snake is finally able to bring Vamp down to the level of a “mere mortal”. As they’re about to continue their fight, dozens of Gekko swarm into the hangar. These models are specially equipped with bombs in order to self destruct themselves and the nuclear disposal facility. As a mass of them bear down on Snake, Raiden makes an appearance, slicing them apart. He tells Snake that Sunny finished repairing him and resolves to fight Vamp as Snake holds off the oncoming "Suicide-Gekko". In the mean time, Otacon will use this as an opportunity to boot up Rex so they’ll be able to escape. After a tiring confrontation, Raiden defeats Vamp and Otacon is able to get Rex moving. Naomi then appears and sorrowfully advises Otacon to continue injecting the nanomachine syringes into Vamp's body to prevent him from healing. Vamp greedily snatches the syringe however, and shoves it into his neck. Surprised with the reality that he can finally die, Vamp finally passes away. Raiden delivers a message from Sunny to Naomi and she responds by proudly shedding tears. Naomi also admits to being similar to Vamp, as she’s had terminal cancer for quite some time. Her nanomachines are actually the only thing keeping her alive. She offers Snake her condolences on the path he’ll have to take and apologizes to Otacon before she takes the syringe to her neck as well.
Otacon is immediately devastated over losing another woman in his life, but is able to pull himself together in time for all three of them to board Rex. Raiden holds onto the side of the cockpit as Snake takes the Mark 3 into the pilot's seat with him. Using Otacon’s instructions, Snake begins to move Rex out of the hangar, leaving Vamp and Naomi to die in the same place that her brother did during the Shadow-Moses incident. As they fight their way through the hordes of Gekko attempting to stop them, Raiden leaps from Rex’s side and flanks Snake to prevent any rear attacks. Snake is able to make his way out onto the docks of the facility. As they wait for Raiden to catch up, the Gekko all explode, causing the base to collapse in on itself. Raiden isn’t able to make it out in time and a large amount of concrete falls on top of him. Before Snake can return to help him, Liquid appears piloting Metal Gear Ray. He arrogantly proceeds to assault Snake and the two engage in battle using Metal Gear units. Despite assuming the role of the “inferior model” for a second time, Snake manages to best Liquid once again and destroys Ray. Liquid then leaps out of the cockpit and departs, as a massive fortress appears from beneath the ocean. Bearing the faces of all the “Snakes” Liquid reveals this fortress as “Outer Haven”. He then makes his way on board as an injured Snake collapses at the end of the dock. Liquid then attempts ram the entire fortress into Snake, but is halted as Raiden appears. Miraculously holding the enormous fortress back with his powered exoskeleton, Raiden was able to free himself from the debris by cutting off his entire right arm. He desperately yells at Snake to move out of the way, but isn’t able to hold the massive ship long enough. Raiden’s body then gives way and the fortress crushes his body, leaving his sword as the only visible trace. Suddenly Mei Ling’s ship, the Missouri appears, and launches missiles at Outer Haven. Liquid immediately laughs at the new arrival and retreats back into ship as it departs to position itself for a nuclear strike at sea. Snake is still trying to find Raiden, but passes out before he can even get to his feet. The last thing he’s able to witness, is Otacon’s helicopter flying above him…
End Act IV
1 - Old Gamer
Act IV is what exalted MGS4 as such a great game in my eyes. Not simply because it was an overwhelming mixture of pandering and nostalgia, but because it managed to actually transcend those things. I’m sure most people who hold the PSX original (or at least understand the affinity) in high-regard will instantly get where I’m coming from, but some of you sad souls need further explanation so here we go. Not only does this act of the game bring Snake back to Shadow-Moses, but it very roughly retraces the entire PSX game’s path within the single act (showcasing how easy and short MGS-PSX actually was). Amidst all the little correlations one can make with the game-to-player connections, it’s the age of the first title that makes this area so powerful. Snake Eater was by far the most heart-wrenching entry in the series, but Snake’s return to Shadow-Moses can instantly rival that experience in the same beat. The craft here was apparent as well, as the second the player steps on the heliport, the game makes it a point to start running “The Best Is Yet To Come” as background music. In addition to that, there’s a multitude of areas that Snake can stand on and trigger flashback-audio from the original title’s dialogue.
Furthermore, the game lets the player acquire a good deal of Snake’s same exact arsenal that he used in 2005 (or 1998 if you prefer). The game also manipulates Snake’s IPod here as well. Picking up the Tank hangar track IN the tank hangar is more than a coincidence and it becomes obvious that Kojima meant to pour it out thick but lovingly here. The game precedes landing on the island by letting the player play through the heliport-sequence of the 1998 original. Snake simply awakens and shrugs it off as a dream (Naked Snake dreamed in MGS3 too but about crazy cop-monster killing feral demons).
For all the visceral things that games have accomplished (i.e. actually being winded from playing Mirror’s Edge), Guns of the Patriots hit’s its pinnacle of "dialogue with the player" in this act by ludicrously enhancing the notion played up the entire game:
It makes the player feel old, no matter their age.
If I had to make a list of my favorite gaming moments of all time, watching the surveillance camera fall off and shatter against the ground would rank up in at least the top five. It became something more than simple pandering when I witnessed multiple people get the same sense of nostalgia from the act, DESPITE THE FACT THAT THEY NEVER PLAYED ANY OTHER METAL GEAR TITLE. It even induces homages to the PSX title’s scenarios (i.e. Vamp fighting Raiden on the head of Rex). There’s a separation between outright pandering the transcendental nostalgia that this act oozes , but separating them becomes such a choree that I just opted for the “Fuck it” route. I could go into how visually stunning this act is as well, but I’d rather avoid the aesthetics for right now. The mark of something truly ending is when the experiences of its beginning start to plague the mind. MGS4 audaciously devotes an entire chunk of this game to that age-old archetype.
2 - Slight of Sorrow
Like I stated in the last entry, Wolf beats out Raven in the way that she uses her environment to combat Snake. The area is by far the largest arena of combat in the entire game and Wolf herself is being aided by dozens of FROG troops. This means Snake has to spend the majority of the fight in hiding and I think I’ve made it clear how much I love that aspect of this game. The first time I actually played this, I spent an hour simply dragging out covert assaults on the FROG units. I honestly forgot Wolf was part of the fight, that is…until she shot me off the Communications Tower. Ironically enough, one of the better ways to effectively deal with Wolf is by using the sniper rifle. Anytime I lost track of her myself, I simply plopped down in the snow and quietly made my way across the huge field. Speaking of that…the conflict takes place during a brutal whiteout, which will continually dissipate and increase as the fight drags on. This enhances entire “harshness of Shadow-Moses” thechanic that made the original PSX game so lovely to play in the first place. I think the only weakness this fight has to be the variety of tactics Wolf uses on the player. She generally sticks to small number of key assaults and will usually run and find a position to shoot at Snake from with her rail-gun. I think playing up the visage of a mechanical wolf actively hunting Snake as the only thing that stood in the way of this fight simply being perfect for me. It’s definitely my favorite encounter with the Beauty and the Beasts Corps., even if she isn’t my favorite Beauty and The Beasts member.
3 - The Phantom Limb
I said this towards the end of my Metal Gear Solid 2 posts as well, but I’ve always been partial to Raiden in the series. I’m proud to say that even in the stupidity of my youth, I recognized his purpose and role in Metal Gear Solid 2. The game caters to making him likable by turning him into basically a digital version of Snake/Gray Fox. I’ll admit, he definitely has his enduring moments in this game, but there’s an odd disconnect between his newfound solace at the end of Metal Gear Solid 2 and his distraught state in this game (despite the fact that the game even addresses it). I always felt oddly attracted to just the character’s presence and I generally felt that the game should have allowed the player at least a little playtime with him. Even if it was just him aboard the Nomad, I would have been satisfied. I don’t need to put my hands around the “badass ninja visage” that’s being used, but as the title of this section admits, the game creates a sort of makeshift phantom limb syndrome. I actually felt like “he’s there me to enjoy” despite not being a part of the player's grasp at all. Given the note this act ends on, I thought making some clear statement that him and Snake are the only two playable characters in the in this time period of the series would instantly boost his appeal. As it stands now, I see more will on Konami’s part that simply opted for “coolerizing” him up for some quick appeal. It doesn’t totally govern the perception of his character over the course of the game, but it is noticeable to an alarming degree nonetheless. His entrance into the game is one of the better moments of the entire title, but it’s the key suspect of how Raiden dances with his owns great flaw in this game. His appearance in Metal Gear Solid 2 is what I’ll remember, and that’s what will probably age better in my opinion.
No Thechanics Today...last post tomorrow. Thank whatever the fuck it is you worship.