Wednesday, May 20, 2009

DFB - “Third Sun” (Metal Gear Solid 4) – Part XV


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.

Me downplaying the first two entries/acts serves as my own little statement, can you figure out what that is?

Also be sure that you're aware with Guns of the Patriots OST on my music player. Guns of the Patriots's score isn't my favorite, but it is excellent nonetheless.


Plot Summary ~!~ My Progress

As the Nomad makes its way towards Eastern Europe, Naomi, Otacon, and Snake discuss the means of Liquid’s goal to seize the SOP system. They learn through Naomi that Snake and Liquid aren’t “strict” clones of Big Boss, while Solidus was the only perfected “project”. This is the reason behind Liquid being the only one to succumb to Fox-Die on Shadow-Moses Island. They also learn that Liquid will need Big Boss’ actual code in order to completely take control of SOP. By using Snake’s and his own blood, Liquid was able to perform successful experiments to confirm this (e.g. the incident in the Middle East). Despite the injuries that Snake himself gave to Big Boss, he learns that his “father” is still alive, serving as a “brain-dead” corpse. Liquid intends to use the blood of Big Boss’ body to seize absolute control of SOP. Raiden already informed Snake that he was the one who retrieved the “corpse” for a resistance leader in Europe, known as Big Mama. Raiden is slipping into autotoxemia however, and also informs them that the equipment needed to clean his artificial blood is located in the same location. After the Big Shell incident Raiden drifted away from his pregnant fiancé and ended up helping secure Sunny from the Patriots. In return for her location, Raiden was asked to retrieve the corpse of Big Boss. He succeeded, but was captured in the process, suffering torture and experiments under the Patriots. This included removing his head and spine from his lower jaw, placing them in his current exoskeleton (making him more machine than flesh). Upon finally escaping, Raiden was aided by an ironic figure, Dr. Pettrovich Madnar, a specialist in cybernetic technology and the designer of the TX-55 and Metal Gear D.

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Sunny Gurlukovich

Naomi and Sunny decide to take Raiden to Dr. Madnar (who lives in the same vicinity) as Snake embarks to meet Big Mama. As Snake arrives in Europe, he uses Laughing Octopus’ face camo to make himself appear younger as this will let him avoid suspicion from people would recognize him otherwise. He’s also greeted by Meryl and after unsuccessfully trying to convince Snake not to pointlessly put himself in harm’s way, she harshly and trenchant insults him, leaving him to his mission. Meryl resolves simply to find Liquid before Snake does so he doesn’t get himself killed. Using his “Young-Snake” disguise, Snake is able to successful trail a nearby resistance member leaving to meet Big Mama. Inside a church, he swiftly disarms the younger resistance soldiers and finds himself face to face with Big Mama. All of the soldiers then leave them in privacy and the two begin discussing more pertinent matters, starting with the revelation that Big Mama is the mother of Solid and Liquid Snake. Snake then quietly listens as Big Mama recounts her story to him. She starts by stating that the person they’re all fighting against is Zero, the founder of The Patriots. She remorsefully admits being a founding member as well and also relates to Snake that her, Big Boss, Zero, Para-Medic, and Sigint were all the founder members. One other founding member was also left behind in the Soviet Union during the Cold War in order to serve as an informant, Ocelot. Big Mama reveals herself to have taken part in operation Snake Eater under the name EVA. She unsuccessfully attempted to acquire the Philosopher’s Legacy and was exiled from China for her failure. Naked Snake, who was now Big Boss, met her in Hanoi and enlisted her in what would become the beginnings of The Patriots.

The goal of The Patriots was to honor the last will of The Boss, who was revealed to have been assassinated (through manipulating Naked Snake) by the CIA due to her charismatic and overwhelming influence on the world around her. Big Mama notes that had The Boss survived, the 21st century would be a radically different place. The Patriots wished to honor that legacy in order to unite the world under one banner. Zero, the founding member, chose to make Big Boss the organization’s idol, since he was the last “Son of The Boss”. By manipulating the global perception around Big Boss, Zero began to fall prey to his own lust for control. This in turn sparked Big Boss to actively split away from him, as he felt Zero wasn’t honoring The Boss at all. The final straw in Zero and Big Boss’ relationship came when Zero enacted the “Les Enfants Terribles” project. Through Para-Medic’s expertise and aid, they fertilized her Japanese assistant’s egg with the necessary cells. EVA then voluntarily acted as a surrogate mother to both Solid and Liquid Snake, giving birth to them in the same way any other child was born. Driven to a righteous extreme by Zero’s actions, Big Boss established both Outer Heaven and Zanzibar Land outside of Zero’s control, where he was thwarted twice by Solid Snake, his own son. Big Boss chose to never acknowledge Snake as his son however; he never wanted him and asserted that human life should not be manipulated in such a fashion. After the fall of Zanzibar Land, Zero lost all faith in humanity and his obsession with global perception-control ran well-beyond his reverence for The Boss’ sacrifice. Big Boss was now a vegetable under Zero’s watch and he also instructed Dr. Clark (revealed to be an alias for Para-Medic) to engage in experiments on Frank Jaegar---Gray Fox.

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The Irving, otherwise known as The Gekko

EVA and Ocelot were the only members left that recognized any remaining will left behind on The Boss’ behalf. Zero was consumed by obsessive control, and Para-Medic along with Sigint served as nothing more than subordinates to Zero. Big Boss was forever changed by what happened to his maternal mentor and was left as nothing more than toy for Zero now, who recognized that he had lost his close friend in Big Boss. Ocelot however, idolized Big Boss and resolved to free him from Zero’s grasp. EVA followed suit, as she loved Big Boss herself (hence her willingness to give birth to both Snake and Liquid). During the Shadow-Moses incident, Ocelot pretended to accidently kill the DARPA chief during torture. The DARPA chief was in reality Sigint and by eliminating him; they removed one of Zero’s subordinates. Ocelot and EVA had also enlisted Naomi Hunter to aid them and with her help, they freed Gray Fox and used him to murder Dr. Clark---or Para-Medic. Given that Dr. Clark’s death preceded the Shadow-Moses incident, the only person left to contend with now was Zero himself. EVA reveals however that they suffered a lost amidst all of their actions; Ocelot was lost to Liquid Snake’s will. Given that Ocelot’s father---The Sorrow, was able to channel spirits of departed soldiers, Ocelot ended up being overtaken by Liquid Snake’s consciousness. During the Big Shell incident, Liquid Snake anonymously manipulated Solid Snake into coming into close proximity of Ocelot, as Snake’s presence strengthened his ability to overtake Ocelot’s body.

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Big Mama A.K.A. EVA

Given the goals of Liquid now they now intend to move Big Boss’s corpse into hiding. Showing Snake the body, she asserts that Big Boss isn’t technically brain-dead per se, just that his consciousness is being locked away by his own nanomachines. The two then depart on Big Mama’s (who now requests to be called EVA) motorcytcle, as Otacon calls to inform Snake of incoming FROGS, PMCS and Irving moving on their position. Along the way, EVA and Snake come under attack from Raging Raven, a member of the Beauty and the Beasts Corps. Raven causes the decoy that Snake and EVA are guarding to crash. After making sure that EVA is alright, Snake procees to the top of a nearby buildingto deal with Raven. After causing enough damage to the furious woman, she sheds her armor and attempts to strangle Snake in the same manner that Octopus did, before also curling upon the floor in a similar fashion. Drebin then calls Snake and informs him that Raven was “created” through the anonymous violence of needlessly capturing and torturing children. After Raven escaped, she too had relinquished complete submission to psychosis. Drebin then launders Raven’s customized grenade launcher for free and in return requests only that Snake let him have when he’s finished (Drebin now regards it as a collector’s item). Snake then takes EVA into an underground sewer system where they meet Liquid waiting for them. After diverting their attention the nearby remains of the actual boat holding Big Boss’ body, EVA collapses in anguish. Vamp then appears with Naomi who Otacon informed Snake of mysteriously vanishing earlier. Ocelot then coolly tells Snake that Naomi informed them of everything.

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"Liquid Ocelot" & "Old Snake"

He then quickly beats Snake in a bout of CQC and uses Snake’s own stun knife to stab him in the shoulder and shock him repeatedly with it. EVA desperately calls out to “Adam” but Liquid only responded by crushing an apple EVA was carrying with her with his bare hands. The group then departs his own boat, leaving Snake and EVA lying on an underground dock. As Liquid makes his way across the Volta river, he’s surrounded by a massive horde military forces being led by Meryl. As she gives the order to fire on his boat, Liquid arrogantly makes gestures with his hands, simulating him firing a gun. By using the body of Big Boss’ Liquid now has control over GW, one of the Patriot’s major AI systems. EVA revealed earlier than the Patriots exist as massive networks of computers created by Zero. Not trusting anyone after losing Big Boss, Zero only placed faith in the AI’s he created himself. The major AIs are a digital Mount Rushmore with the names TJ, AL, TR, and GW with a mother-AI known as “JD”. Liquid just recently revealed to Snake that Emma Emmerich’s virus only managed to shred GW into pieces which he reconstructed himself. With Big Boss’ code, he now has full control over military’s force and plans to eliminate the remaining AIs himself. Meryl’s assault force aren’t even allowed to pull their triggers thanks to Liquid’s newfound control and Liquid proceeds to slaughterer them all, simply using two of his own FROG guards. He then turns his attention to the boat Meryl is aboard (who just picked up Snake and EVA as well). Launching cannon-fire on Meryl’s boat, it goes up in an explosion as Meryl and the rest of her Rat Patrol unit is knocked into the river. Liquid then tells Vamp to toss Big Boss’ body back to Snake, as they no longer need it. Vamp throws the corpse onto the boat, which is at this point no more than a mass of floating flames. EVA impulsively leaps into the flames as well and Snake jumps in to stop her. Liquid then shoots what’s left of the boat, causing it to explode.


Liquid Ocelot reveals the "Guns of the Patriots"

Snake is just able to pull EVA away as the boat explodes. However, he’s horribly burned in the process and the left side of his face is completely charred as a result. Snake calls for Otacon just as the Mark II robot camouflages itself---jumping onto Liquid’s boat for further reconnaissance. EVA was also badly burned and utters a few cryptic phrases of lamentation as she dies in her son’s arms. Akiba also just barely manages to resuscitate Meryl from drowning nearby; the entire military force was either killed or left gravely injured. Drebin then appears b a near-unconscious Snake and removes the stun knife still jutting out of his shoulder. He musingly speaks to his pet monkey as they bring the horribly injured Snake back to the Nomad.

End Act III


1 – Phickle Physical Phorce

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Act Three in this game takes Snake back to roots he never really had. What the best part of this mission accomplishes is putting Snake in touch with stealth-mechanical motifs he’s never really been in touch with (i.e. more of a Splinter Cell feel). It straddles more a stealth-sim border but it makes note to never cross it directly. The flow of this act stems around following a lone resistance member as he makes his way towards a safehouse to meet Big Mama in the dead of the night. There’s actually a few paths that the guy will take and they generally alter the direct effect that the player has on the moment. An example would be the resistance member being caught as he tries to unsuccessfully sneak past two guards. Snake will be forced to intervene and free him somehow, and although his path is generally set, it can subtly shift in direction from small interferences. If anything, I could argue that this act is the best in the game as it very lovingly takes place at night and it’s a rough solitary experience (as opposed to the first two areas of the game). Though the subsequent act blows it away entirely in my eyes, act 3 manages to encapsulate the stealthiest portion of the game. It creates a sort of physical entanglement on the player’s part when having to judge whether to cross a street not; as they know a PMC hummer may pass by on a patrol route at any given moment. The Pseudo difficulty of navigating an area is at its finest in Europe. My only complaints are extremely fickle and they would be to make the area even bigger and make the response from getting caught far harsher. Luckily the AI limitations don’t really bother me as much and I think Konami realized that themselves with Metal Gear Solid 3---good for them.

Seeing character models rendered in real-time has a substantial yet very subtle effect on how the player grasps the stake of the situation. This in turn adds to the finality of the game itself. The biggest example would be the appearance and interaction that the player has with Naomi Hunter. She’s only appeared in Metal Gear Solid 1/Twin Snakes, and her in-game model was very sparse, apart from briefings and shots of the submarine used to launch Snake onto the island. The briefings in Metal Gear Solid 4 however, fantastically allow the player the choice between watching and interacting with the scene directly. If anything, the consciousness of the player’s own will manifests itself in the Mark II during these scenes and it almost plays out to state to everyone aboard the Nomad:

“Hey I’m playing the game and I’m part of the mission too!”

Usually, If I’m not watching the scene, I end up following Sunny around the ship, as it the player can still distantly hear the scene play out while they fool around. There’s almost a poetic carnally to the briefings in this game due to very minute attempts to engage the player. The scenes themselves also do this by offering the flashback moments and L1 scenes offering both first person perspectives for Snake and visual citations whenever references from a previous game is made. Within the first ten minutes of the game, a flashback sequence lets the player familiarize with Snake’s situation by showing him saluting Big Boss’s grave in the same manner that Naked Snake saluted The Boss’ grave at the end of Metal Gear Solid 3.

2 – Whims of Pseudo-Gods

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In addition to the next Act of the game, this one starts out by giving the player means to make Snake look younger. It doesn’t start questionably overflowing until Act IV, but the Otaocamo face acts as a preview, letting the player mentally warp their own nostalgia around for nothing more than a whim. It’s ironic because it’s an extremely small thing meant to be forgotten the second that Snake finds EVA and she explains the scope of The Patriot’s origin. Interestingly, the game also make note to actually force Snake into his default Octocamo setup for that scene specifically. In short, they force the player to don the visage of "Old Snake" in some areas where in most others, they allow masks and outfits to remain equipped.

My big point of contention is that sometimes these games make the mistake of introducing areas like the church to the player without allowing them means for spatial sense. The heading picture on my last Snake Eater post is actually a painting, taken from the church that EVA explains everything to Snake in. This act then launches into a high-octane action sequence as if to make one forget the preceding area (that they had no “true interaction” with to begin with). It’s almost as if the game is constantly bouncing back and forth between acknowledging the player as a “god of the world” while tempering them with the humility that they are still just a player. It’s maddening, yet very impressive at the same time.

3 – Flight of Rage

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Raging Raven presents the most spectacled fight in this game. I initially resolved to say “environmentally enjoyable” but I think Crying Wolf beats her out in that category by far. This fight is centered on ascending or descending a tower being bombed by Raven. I typically ran up to the roof to fight her, but she can pretty much get to Snake anywhere in the building. The tower itself is constantly falling apart from a constant barrage of explosions being pressed upon it as well. The visual imprint of Snake running up the crumbling and exploding building while she screams at him furiously is only a slight exaggeration (some would argue that it’s not an exaggeration at all). A good portion of this fight can be spent watching Snake’s ragdoll fly across the roof as Raven launches grenades at the player. This fight also capitalizes on my main flaw concerning the encounter with Laughing Octopus, and will sometimes lean toward Raven being clueless to Snake’s location. One of the best moments I’ve had with this game was hiding inside the building only to have her bomb it in fury. The game turns making her angry into a mechanic to make her engines overheat. This makes her land temporarily and she can be dealt with on in a more direct fashion. The game begins tacking on so much regarding these encounters; it drives one to desire them being longer. This is a good sign, as it’s more becoming to make those gimmicks more than they are. Making the player want to see all the “choices” if proof that the illusion of choice becomes resolute past a certain extent. There are plenty of wars to deal with Raging Raven specifically and her battle is the pinnacle of how the title actually makes its own situations, in the truest sense no less.

Recurring Thechanics

1 - Green Beret Evolved
The entirety of Act III is nothing more than the ultimate homage to a big humorous gimmick that made its appearance in Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake. Trailing a lone soldier was a big humorous instance in the Famicom game due to how the music meshed with the green berets tendency to turn around. Ironically, MGS4 evolves by not only by making the sequence a bit more serious, but still clinging to that same big of humor seen in the famicom title. Best example? Well, when the resistence member in MGS4 turned around on a dime to pee on a statue, let’s just say I was glad to have Otocamo on, I just happened to be the statue.

2 - Vehicular Mayhem
MGS1, Snake Eater, and Guns of the Patriots all feature high-octane chases centering around Snake manning the a turret or gun, while they’re being vigilantly pursued by some oppressive force. Guns of the Patriots lays the glamour on here thick, with some slow mo jumps and crash flips that would make even Michael Bay wet himself.

3 - Cigarettes Cardboard and Cigars
Every single game has had at least the cardboard box. The cigarettes only dropped out of site in Snake Eater due to Big Boss’ preference for cigars. Liquid even acknowledges Big Boss’ affinity in Snake Eater, blowing cigar smoke Snake’s face and hitting him his Solid Eye with it. The whole thematic of the game acknowledging the age of the times is presented during the first act in the Middle East, when Snake finds himself looking a decrepit cardboard box and the new and rather more useful oil drum.

4 - First Person Playtime

Every game since Metal Gear Solid has done something special with it’s FPV and it’s been a slow burn, but special nonetheless. The ascending summits are as follows:

Lhotse – Metal Gear Solid 1 – Being allowed to simply look in first person was big for it’s time and was the only defense the player has against playing the entire game by radar and combating the BEO (Bird’s Eye Offense).

Kangchenjunga – Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty – The ability to shoot from first person was added and along with it a far more effective way to engage the enemy and further combat the enemy.

K2 – Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater – The small narrative moments to view scenes through Snake’s eyes was added and as small of an addition as it was, it significantly made the game a more powerful experience. Also the BEO was destroyed with the release of Subsistence so it because a privilege to use rather than an incessant necessity.

Everest – Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots – Continuing on the rail with specialized FPVs during the scenes, flashback instances are added and they further link the four Solid games together. I really commend them for using the original PSX shots for their scenes. MGS2 honorably did this as well. Oh, let’s not forget that the ability to move in FPV was added for this game and it significantly helped people like me who are constantly begging for further engagement.

Pseudo-Weather

All of the Metal Gear games tend to frame cinematic scenes around the time of day and weather. This is unlike most games desires that request they play out in real time. Sometimes I find myself sighing at this reality, other times I just end up loving how it’s used, period (Sons of Liberty and Snake Eater specifically).

~sLs~

Thursday’s Post: DFB – “Twin Suns” (Metal Gear Solid 4) – Part XVI
Friday’s Post: DFB – “Old Sun & Naked Sin” (Metal Gear Solid 4) – Parts XVII & XVIII