Thursday, May 28, 2009

Imprint ~ Impress


Remember how joyous gaming as a child was? It seems as we grow up and face life, more things get comprised for the sake of growing up. That's just the way it is, there's no way to stop it, unless you're rich and stuck in an ivory tower (even then the psychological constructs will begin eating away at it anyway). I think it's interesting how the dissemination of people's passions tend to "dance" along with what they prioritize in life. Isn't the average gamer still in their twenties? Let's operate off that assumption for a second and continue.

Most of us were literally imprinted with the ritualistic act of gaming in our childhood. During that time, the mind works very wondrously, allowing us to take in a rapid expansion of knowledge, habits, and concepts. The older we get, the more this tends to wane. If I'm not mistaken, it kind of falls off in a person's early-twenties. This allows us to establish self-fortified senses of identity and perception, which we can then turn back onto the world.

For gamers, this creates a wicked antinomy, especially when one considers how games are built. From the ground up, on rules of code and technical constants, games ironically strive to achieve the abstract on the stool of rationality. Being "raised" on that that kind of entertainment often instills a sense of pragmatism on people. In short we're subconsciously programmed by programs themselves to not necessarily believe in them.

Main Entry:
im·print·ing Listen to the pronunciation of imprinting
Pronunciation:
\ˈim-ˌprin-tiŋ, im-ˈ\
Function:
noun
Date:
1937
: a rapid learning process that takes place early in the life of a social animal (as a goose) and establishes a behavior pattern (as recognition of and attraction to its own kind or a substitute)
"imprinting." Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2009.
Merriam-Webster Online. 28 May 2009


When I say belief, don't let your mind run off to that same haven pragmatic-gaming tends to nurture. Instead, remove all that religious crap that usually accompanies the perception of belief. Now analyze exactly what you have left.

Main Entry:
be·lief Listen to the pronunciation of belief
Pronunciation:
\bə-ˈlēf\
Function:
noun
Etymology:
Middle English beleave, probably alteration of Old English gelēafa, from ge-, associative prefix + lēafa; akin to Old English lȳfan — more at believe
Date:
12th century
1: a state or habit of mind in which trust or confidence is placed in some person or thing
2: something believed ; especially : a tenet or body of tenets held by a group
3: conviction of the truth of some statement or the reality of some being or phenomenon especially when based on examination of evidence
synonyms - belief, faith, credence, credit mean assent to the truth of something offered for acceptance. belief may or may not imply certitude in the believer [my belief that I had caught all the errors]. faith almost always implies certitude even where there is no evidence or proof [an unshakable faith in God]. credence suggests intellectual assent without implying anything about grounds for assent [a theory now given credence by scientists]. credit may imply assent on grounds other than direct proof [gave full credit to the statement of a reputable witness].
synonyms see in addition "opinion"
"belief." Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2009.
Merriam-Webster Online. 28 May 2009


Instead, adopt some of the credence from my favorite book (yes I adore the dictionary). Gaming for me is all about about the abused concept of belief. To take or perceive something as true and grant it confidence is not as hard as people make it out to be. This is not the main driver behind most gamer's "gilded-memories" but it definitely holds some significant sway influence over the concept. I've constantly seen people address their titles as escapism and nothing more. Carrying that further, I don't regard escapism as the word it is, but rather the moniker of "drug" and nothing more.

Main Entry:
1drug Listen to the pronunciation of 1drug
Pronunciation:
\ˈdrəg\
Function:
noun
Etymology:
Middle English drogge
Date:
14th century

1 aobsolete : a substance used in dyeing or chemical operations
b: a substance used as a medication or in the preparation of medication caccording to the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act
(1): a substance recognized in an official pharmacopoeia or formulary
(2): a substance intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease
(3): a substance other than food intended to affect the structure or function of the body
(4): a substance intended for use as a component of a medicine but not a device or a component, part, or accessory of a device

2: a commodity that is not salable or for which there is no demand —used in the phrase drug on the market
3: something and often an illegal substance that causes addiction, habituation, or a marked change in consciousness
— drug·gy also drug·gie Listen to the pronunciation of druggie \ˈdrə-gē\ adjective
"drug." Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2009.
Merriam-Webster Online. 28 May 2009


People often feel the near-endless effects of games---those experiences that tend to shift their consciousness. Thus, they seek out to recapture that first high (which they'll never get by the way). Once they reach their twenties, they don't allow themselves the belief games demanded from them in their youth (rejecting the "passion-program" in the process). When they seek out to recapture that glory, they tend to perversely bathe in nostalgia and nothing more. By this point however, they're addicted and they know how melancholic their position is (with nowhere to turn either). To truly honor what they claim to love, a great deal of gamers are going to have to let go of what they cherish so dearly. Knowing one has a problem is only the first step. It's about time some of you people actually started "walking".

Escapism is a perceptive disease, and I'm the cure. ^_^

The Afflatus of This Post
1 - Observation of Cody's exchange with Leigh on her latest Blog
2 - Spiteful malevolence directed in the comfort if writing a blog that won't be digested by a buggy site *grin*
3 - Zombrows turning me onto the Silent Hill section of my music collection, specifically this track.
4 - Dollhouse's Alpha, the only character on the show I actually like.
5 - Watching this little debate flare up
6 - Watching a clip on a certain Facebook fanpage.

~sLs~

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Apprehension ~ Explore ~ Expectation


I've been pretty outspoken on my apprehensiveness for a new Metal Gear for a while now. With Kojima going all "carrot-stick-tease" on us, I've been a little miffed, mostly because I don't know what the hell to expect. I tend to get apprehensive towards this specific kind of reveal as it's a direct allusion to the industry as it is. Catering to the whims of gamers and fans, even by announcing another sequel which I'm sure to love, just rubs me in all the wrong places. With the experience developers are crafting (especially ones such as Kojima & co.), some of us need refractory periods now. Watching everyone push the hype-boat along just tends to make me even more angry than I am and I end up hiding it behind apprehension towards a game I have no fucking clue about in the first place.

Here's a quick list of things off the top of my head concerning this "title", just so people are clear where I stand.

1 - Raiden - I've enjoyed his presence since Metal Gear Solid 2, so if this game turns out to star him, I'll be optimistic for it. However, I will become more skeptical if the game sets things to occur later in his life (e.g. after the Big Shell Occurrence). Ideally, I'd love to see a game portraying his relationship with Solidus during the Liberian Civil War. He was the captain of the "Small-Boy Unit" and known as the "The White Devil". If the game uses this as the grounds for it's new setting, I'd be humbled. If Kojima has enough balls to turn a child soldier into the main character of another of his war-themed games, it could cause a lot of ruckus that I'd enjoy looking at (let alone play). Though the child-soldier thing is highly unlikely, it's still a possibility at this point.

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2 - Grey Fox - Fox is another character I'd love to see in his younger years. Being that most of his talents and ideals were formulated by Big Boss, he's a crucial character in the franchise, despite only being prominently featured in one game (Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake). All his other roles relegated him to a minor and novel presence (i.e. Portable Ops, MGS-PSX, iconic legacy used as visages in all the Solid games as the "cybernetic ninja"). Yeah, that's a debatable topic in itself, but this is my page so fuck you. I'd also like to see more focus on his visual makeup. In my opinion, he's one of the coolest looking characters in the entire franchise, period (German-American & Vietnamese parents). I'd be interested to see if the development team could push a character like him in the starring role without it devolving into a typical hack-and-slasher (as he's always been more of ninja-like agent). After all, apart from Big Boss, this is the man that taught Solid Snake everything he knew.

3 - Make It You Jerks - I want to know exactly who is working on this game and how involved Kojima will actually be. Not simply because I want to offload judgment on anything, but because I want to know where to place my expectations. That's not such a bad thing is it? I also want to know who will be driving the art direction because as far as I know, Guns of the Patriots was Shinkawa's swan song as being the creative director. Knowing whether or not if Kojima is simply supervising or actually helping to develop the game (HYPOCRITICALLY-FOR-THE-FOURTH-TIME) will allow me to start putting pins on my map of expectations for this game.

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4 - Big Boss - Generally speaking, Naked Snake is the most important character in the entire franchise, despite only being the main character in one game. If this new title manages to properly flesh out his back-story while keeping everything else in perspective, well what can I say to poo-poo that? This is the most plausible direction that the franchise could go in, because there's simply too much room in Big Boss' life, making him a well that's far from running dry. The effect he had on everything he came across was surpassed only by The Boss herself, and she should remain nothing more his maternal icon. Being that he ultimately failed to honor her will (which Solid Snake had to help his sorry ass with in the end =p ), the possibilities are endless for what can happen regarding his story. The only clone that really measured up to being an outright duplicate of Big Boss was Solidus, and placing him in a leading role would be odd unless Raiden was significantly involved as well. The best part about Big Boss' back story is simply the freedom of establishing the past that the prior games so cleverly exalted beyond belief.

5 - Fake-Out-You-Fuckers - What I'll forever honor Kojima for is if this is all one big ruse pointing the media and gamers in one direction, while he pops an entirely new IP out of his ass. I share in other's sentiment of wanting another ZOE. Given that I'm set to play Snatcher for the first time in the coming months, I'm sure I'll be blessed if this turns out to be a new entry into that world as well. This is personally where my hopes and desires lie for this title, but we'll see how it turns out next week.

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As long as Metal Gear doesn't turn into Kojima's blatant cash-cow, I won't be forced to hunt the man down and kill him myself (Some creators just need to know when to stop working on their own shit). Like I've already stated across over the internet today, if I ever meet Kojima in real-life, I'm going to kick him in the damn shins...

~sLs~

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Pensieve-Post #1 Game Difficulty Paradigms ~ Ikaruga


[This marks the first of new series of posts inspired by Albus Dumbledore's pensieve from the Harry Potter franchise. This blog is serving as a mental-memory receptacle for myself and others to retrieve at will (in a third-person context nonetheless).]

Okay, so I'm sitting here, and I'm watching three separate conversations take place:

1 - Presently Observing - RedSwirl and Bip1up regarding the Mega Man Franchise

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2 - Past Conversation - A past conversation with Dustin Rodgers, stating his desires regarding difficulty in games

Y3N24 (7:47:59 PM): I would really like to see a detailed series on difficulty, and challenge in games. What games do what to increase the challenge/difficulty. Does fun increase or decrease with challenge? At what point in different games does something become too hard? Why is it too hard? Does too much difficulty always equate to frustration? What types of games have to be hard? Basically examining difficulty differently through different games.


3 - Perpetual Thought Conflict - The thunderstorm of tirades that at least three facets of my own personality are screaming at each other (regarding Ikaruga). Also, take a peak at an old post written by Jeffrey Rousseau on 1UP.

The spark of inspiration for this post came from simply listening to Hiroshi Iuchi's "The Stone-Like - Final Chapter" from Ikaruga's OST.

How do games manipulate their own difficulties? The process for tempering them is no doubt a tedious yet necessary cause (i.e. playtesting), but where do we draw the line? A game like Ikaruga's main appeal for me IS its own difficulty, plain and simple. Not simply because its a hard game to beat, no...no...no. This unique appeal is because of the game's innate and consistent forte of establishing a sort of gamer-spirituality. That has to be a hard to do, and most older Shumups (is that the term?) are best at this. Typically, problem with anything this difficult is balance. Plenty of games simply don't know how to create their own equilibrium with their own generated context. Ikaruga isn't the exemplar of absolute balance, but it does stand to prove my point.


The aforementioned track, "The Stone-Like - Final Chapter"

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The game speaks in a minimalist tone on a plethora of levels, but at the end of the day, it's not an easy game to excel at. Don't get me wrong, I've certainly played harder, but this title is no push over by any stretch of the imagination. It welcomes a sort of individual presence and I think that's what most people respond so positively towards. For me, my "threshold jack-in" was the music. It became an active part of the game play and I wouldn't have been able to pull off the feats I've done in the game without it. Using the music, I was able to actively impart world 5-3 of my own GaA entry on to this title.

When a game like this can expertly craft an amplified sense of time with it's own difficulty, it's an automatic masterpiece in my eyes. Gaming is a highly visual and auditory process so when a gamer reaches their perceptive limits, a phenomenon is caused in which they can experience time on a different spectrum (I guess the hipsters would say "in the zone"?). In a sense, this is what gave rise to the now-cliche use of slow-motion in films and games, that phenomenon.


Ikaruga, Chapter 4, My personal favorite.

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Of course, a third party will see nothing more than someone playing a game. The person lucky enough be operating on such a spectrum however, will be granted a temporary state of gaming-godhood though. Again, Ikaruga is not the best at this (or maybe it is, what the hell do I know), but it is by far one of the better examples I can think of at the moment. It seems that game's versatility even allows an extension into how their audience can perceive them---as opposed to just playing.

You escapist assholes...

So if I'm going anywhere with this I can pose the question:

Is a game's "admirable-difficulty" simply a by-product of expert development?

Or,

Is it an active field of creative output that can be manipulated more and more as the technology of the medium increases?

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More Ikaruga artwork can be found here.

~sLs~

Friday, May 22, 2009

DFB - “Old Sun, Naked Sin, and Naked Son” (Metal Gear Solid 4) – Parts XVII & XVIII


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 ~Old Sun~

After Snake comes to, he’s equipped with an oxygen tank and watches over a briefing concerning the Missouri’s oncoming confrontation with Outer Haven. It’s settled that although Outer Haven will reach its perigee long before they can catch up, it still needs time to prepare its launch. As it's opening the opening its hull to expose the rail-gun for fire, an assault will be launched in order to upload a worm cluster into GW’s mainframe, destroying it. A problem is presented when it is noted that the path to GW’s control room is guarded by microwave emitters, but Snake jokingly states that he’ll take care of it (at this point his “death-wish” is serving as an unfunny comic-relief for everyone). Otacon and Mei Long also note that Naomi left them the plans for Outer Haven, which will help immensely in the oncoming fight. Otacon voices that Naomi only came back to the Nomad to get close to him, but ended up turning to Sunny instead. Using Sunny’s help, she was able to finish the worm cluster that they’re about to use in an attempt to destroy GW.

As Snake and Otacon leave to prepare for the attack, he questions Otacon about Raiden. Otacon states that though Raiden was able to survive being crushed entirely, his mechanical body is in no shape to help them with their current mission. Drebin also makes an appearance, revealing that he’s backing them from an arms standpoint; mainly because Liquid’s partial-SOP-seizure has created the first worldwide ceasefire in human history (meaning they’re the only ones who need guns at the moment). Drebin also turns their attention to the human catapults that are setup on deck. These will be used to launch Meryl, Johnny, and Snake (with Otacon backing him from the Mark 3) aboard Outer Haven. Since Liquid took control of GW, many soldiers have entirely lost their nerve and some are suffering from the lack of “the system”. This means that the only people Snake can count on for this mission are Johnny/Akiba and Meryl. The three then position themselves on their catapults, as the Missouri catches up to the massive fortress. The hull of Outer Haven then opens up, revealing Rex’s old rail-gun, which is now in position to fire.



The catapult launch successfully propels them towards the ship, but unfortunately Johnny hits the side of the fortress, falling down into the ocean. Meryl lands inside, but hurts her ankle. It seems that Snake was the only one left unharmed. As he and Otacon make their way inside the floating base, they discover Meryl being guarded by numerous FROG troops. After Snake dispatches them, the fourth and last member of the B&B Corps makes her entrance, Screaming Mantis. During the ensuing battle, Snake observes that he has to shoot her puppets, which seem to be helping manipulate the nanomachines in surrounding bodies. Despite having to save Meryl in a similar situation from nine years prior, Snake is able to defeat Mantis. When the young woman exposes herself, Snake deals with her in the same fashion as the others and she’s left curling up on the floor as a result. Suddenly a familiar voice greets Snake and he recognizes it as Psycho Mantis. Mantis tries to impress Snake using his powers once again, but fails as Snake has equipped “new hardware” to prevent it. Mantis’ spirit then disappears entirely and Snake is contacted by Drebin once again. He tells Snake that the young woman he faced was nothing more than an “empty shell”. As the result of a war in South America, she was left trapped in a basement with corpses for an extended period of time. After submitting to hunger, she began to feed on the dead bodies and filthy water puddles…but only the male ones. After she was freed, she was completely consumed by psychosis and was left as nothing more than a tool for the military to manipulate, which they did. By implanting the old persona of Psycho Mantis, they enabled this beast to synthetically emulate the special abilities of both The Sorrow and Psycho Mantis. Though Snake doesn’t recognize The Sorrow, he’s granted an encouraging last phrase from The Boss’s former lover.

After getting Meryl to her feet, Snake apologizes to her for getting her involved in their current situation. Snake then departs down the corridor as Meryl resolves to guard the door behind him. Snake continues running down the corridor but is halted by a sudden onset of seizures caused by the SOP system attempting to interfere with his nanomachines. Unfortunately, Naomi’s syringe has lost its potency and doesn’t give Snake and reprieve he needs. As FROG soldiers descend on him with machetes, Raiden suddenly makes an appearance. Though his body is totally armless, he uses his mouth (likely aided by his synthetic jawbone) and feet to provide Snake with the cover he needs to proceed. Raiden requests that Snake let him continue down the microwave corridor as his body can take it, but Snake still refuses to let Raiden throw his youth away. Snake then continues forth as Raiden thanks him and proceeds to assault the FROG force bearing down on them. After Snake is in the microwave chamber, he tells Otacon to lock the door behind them. Snake then painstakingly drags his evaporating body down the corridor as Otacon desperately encourages him along in the Mark 3. Near death, Snake stumbles into the control room for GW, which resembles a virtual graveyard. As Otacon begins uploading the virus into its mainframe with the Mark 3, Snake defends him from oncoming drones. Just as Snake becomes overwhelmed with them, the upload completes and all the machines begins to deactivate; most of the opposing soldiers lose their artificial senses that are driving them to fight.



Otacon discovers that the virus isn’t just eliminating GW however, it’s actually deleting the rest of the AI proxy systems as well, including “JD”. As the virus continues propagating, a hidden video feed of Naomi is triggered. She explains that Sunny finished this new virus that she was working on prior to being rescued. The new virus is titled “FOXALIVE” and acts as a diametric opposite to FOXDIE. Sunny actually constructed the virus so that it would leave the world’s “stem” intact. Crucial constructs of modern day industry were all preserved by Sunny, allowing the world itself to reboot without any control from the SOP system or The Patriots. Naomi also reveals that the proxy AIs had fully intended to extend their nanomachines to extend control into the civilian population as well, which would have brought the entire planet under their control. Knowing that she was recording the video just prior to her death, she leaves a sentimental goodbye for Otacon. Naomi then turns her attention to Snake and tells him that he’s earned his right to rest now. With the destruction of The Patriots, Snake is released from his own birthright. Snake begins to relapse into convulsions once again as he listens to Naomi cryptically addressing what will be his end. Snake then passes out, but wakes up on the top of Outer Haven. Otacon had apparently flown in to get him once he realized Snake’s condition. Otacon tells Snake to wait while he leaves to get help. As Snake peers off to the side however, he notices Liquid walking towards him.



Snake then awakens fully as Liquid rejoices over the situation. Snake tells him that he’s lost, but Liquid asserts that this outcome was exactly what he desired. He continues however, stating that him and Snake still have a score to settle. The two then engage in a brutal fist fight on the top of Outer Haven, constantly stopping to administer syringe shots to each other---the result of the lingering system still inside their bodies. As the battle drags on, Liquid tosses his coat aside, suspiciously revealing that Liquid’s actual right arm was replaced with a mechanical one. As the battle reaches his conclusion, Snake realizes that he isn’t fighting Liquid at all, but Ocelot and Ocelot alone. Just before Ocelot finally dies, he offers Snake an odd hand gesture; stating simply that Snake is "pretty good". Otacon then returns helps Snake to safety as he reflects on whether or not this outcome was for the best. He also acknowledges the irony of Sunny basically recreating the entire world in her own ideal image, while perhaps unknowingly taking vengeance for the fate that The Patriots subjected her mother to five years ago.

Plot Summary ~!~ My Progress ~Naked Sin~

Following the success of the mission, Johnny and Meryl are married. Johnny expressed his feelings for Meryl while she was defending the FROGS pursuit from Snake in Outer Haven (while saving her life in the process). It’s also revealed that Johnny was afraid of needles, so he never received an injection of nanomachines, ever. This accounts for him not feeling any of the effects of the SOP’s system (as well as his constant bouts of diarrhea for the past decade since the nanomachine would have suppressed his stomach pains). He was the guard that Meryl striped down for his fatigues in Shadow-Moses, and also the same guard put in charge of Snake's cell when he was captured. Campbell then appears at Meryl’s wedding as the father he never was to her; Campbell in actuality was only pretending to uphold a false marriage to Rose in order to protect her and her Son, John. Also, following The Patriot’s destruction, Rose meets with Raiden, who has finally had his original body grafted back onto his spine and head. Raiden thought Rose miscarried and she apologetically tells him that she pretended to miscarry and marry Roy Campbell in order to protect their family. Thanks to Campbell, they were able to keep themselves out of The Patriot’s eyes until Raiden’s mission was finally completed. Raiden is apprehensive, but finally welcomes his place in the family that Snake said he had all along.

Snake is then shown at the graveyard of Big Boss, pensively addressing the new state of the world and the recollection of the only mission he has left to accomplish. He then removes the clip of his gun and checks for the single bullet still left in the chamber. Putting it back into the chamber, he shoves the gun in his mouth, and a gunshot is heard….

Back at Meryl’s wedding Drebin has arrived bearing gifts. He then has a private conversation with Otacon while getting drunk. Thanks to the nanomachines breaking down alcohol (before the body is able to feel the effects of being drunk), Drebin appears to be reveling in the fact that he’s plastered. He then reveals to Otacon that he was knowingly an agent of the Patriots from the beginning, sent to help Solid Snake defeat Liquid Ocelot. Liquid posed a great threat to The Patriots, so they manipulated Solid Snake into dealing with him once again. Perhaps unwittingly, the Patriots didn’t predict that Sunny’s virus was set to wipe them out as well. Drebin also reveals that Meryl’s Rat Patrol squad was an collection of agents for The Patriots as well, though they were unaware of it themselves (he shows Otacon that Rat PT. 01 is an anagram for PatR10T). Otacon then watches as Sunny makes her first friend in the outside world; he tells her that she’s free to leave them at any time she wishes. Sunny doesn’t seem to be in any hurry regarding this, as Otacon and Snake are the closest thing she has to a family (despite that they both never eat the eggs she passionately yet unsuccessfully cooks). Sunny then questions Otacon about Snake, but he only responds that Snake was sick and left to get better. Though he tries to hide it, his thoughts on Snake’s tormented life brings him to tears. Sunny and Otacon then share a laugh at his failure to hide it (given away by the fact that his glasses are askew on his face).


Plot Summary ~!~ My Progress ~Naked Son~

Snake is shown sweating in the graveyard, as he couldn’t bring himself to kill himself. Suddenly, a voice calls out behind him, praising him for not going through with it. Snake turns around to find himself face to face with Big Boss once again. Almost instinctively, Snake pulls his gun on Big Boss as he walks towards him. Big Boss pulls out the gun of his mentor (a Patriot pistol) and aims it at Snake before letting it fall from his hand. He then instantly engages Snake in a quick bout of CQC to disarm him. After throwing his gun away, Big Boss simply holds Snake, telling him to stop fighting. Big Boss then remorsefully apologizes, as he explains how the AI’s simply inherited the will of Zero after he succumbed to a vegetative state. All of the founding members of the Patriots (including himself), bear the burden of allowing Zero to get as far as he did. Showing Snake an elderly man in a wheelchair hooked up to an oxygen tank, Big Boss reveals that this man is Zero, his commander during operation Snake Eater and longtime friend. He then disdainfully retraces his and the other founding “Patriot’s” mistakes in how they failed to honor The Boss’ will while letting the world fall under rule of a simplistic AI construct. He also reveals that although Liquid’s hand was manipulating Ocelot’s will during the Big Shell incident, Ocelot had it removed and replaced with a the metal one that Snake saw during their final fight at Outer Haven. Ocelot however, kept this persona, knowing that it would drive the Patriots to enlist Solid Snake to neutralize him once again (but still not knowing what Naomi and Sunny truly had in store for them). Using his own nanomachines, and hypnotic suggestion, Ocelot assumed the same personality that attempted to control him five years ago, and goaded Snake towards the eventual goal of destroying The Patriots for good.

Big Boss reveals that his body was simply reconstructed using parts from Liquid and Solidus’ bodies. Solidus, being a perfect clone of Big Boss, was used by Ocelot in order to gain control of the SOP system (therefore it was Solidus’ corpse that was actually burned in Europe). Though nobody ever realized Ocelot’s plan (included EVA), Big Boss was awakened when Ocelot succeeded and immediately located Zero. He then relates to Snake that all of the bad blood between them has been replaced by sorrow and he takes it upon himself to cut off Zero’s oxygen tank, killing him as Snake watches on. Big Boss finally delivers a final message from Naomi, stating that the old FOXDIE set to mutate inside Snake, has been replaced by the newer model implanted in him via Drebin in the Middle East. This will prevent Snake from turning into a walking biological weapon and although the new virus will take the same path as the older one, it will take years to reach the same critical point it was at previously. Since Snake only has roughly a year to live anyway, there’s no danger of FOXDIE becoming a global epidemic. Big Boss tells Snake that what actually killed Ocelot and EVA was this newer strain of FOXDIE. Big Boss then suddenly falls to the ground as it begins to claim his life as well. With Snake helping him, Big Boss requests that Snake carry him to The Boss’ grave (located near Big Boss’ own headstone. After they reach her tombstone, Big Boss stands up and salutes her grave as the virus continues to eat his body away. He then acknowledges what he now realizes to be The Boss’ actual intentions and collapses on her headstone. Telling Snake that he never thought him as a son, Big Boss states that he always respected him as a soldier and as a man (he also suggested that it be more appropriate to call him “brother” as opposed to “son”). Big Boss then begins to smoke a cigar as he tells Snake that despite he, Liquid, and Solidus fighting a bloody war for their own freedom, the only liberty they ever found was from inside their own restraints. Too weak to even lift his hand now, Big Boss drops his cigar, which is placed back inro his mouth by Snake, who helps him lights it. He then kneels beside Big Boss---Naked Snake, whose last words are:

“This is good…isn’t it?”




After the credits, Snake is heard finally giving up cigarettes. A shocked Otacon wishes to remain with him, but Snake tells him that he doesn’t have to. Taking Big Boss’ advice, Snake plans to live out what little time he has left alone, while seeing off the new age. Otacon then tells him that since he doesn’t have anything left to “pass on”, he and Sunny should play witness to Solid Snake’s final days. Snake relents at this point and Otacon once again voices his statement that he’ll stay with Snake until the very end and let everyone know who he was and what he accomplished. He also demands that Snake join him in suffering through Sunny’s eggs…

Ironically enough, back on the Nomad, Sunny is shown finally cooking her eggs successfully.

~End Naked Son~

<1 – Resist and Rebel
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This game’s experience is contingent on the player wandering back and forth between two opposing forces, making them simply a third party. It simulates a certain degree of substance while maintaining the same old espionage possibilities in-game for the player. It’s an indirect presence after Act II, but still adds to the experience (arguably even more so) after the player makes their way through Europe.

I won’t launch into an in-depth dissection of each, instead I’ll just present what I saw, you make up your own mind:

Act I - Middle East Rebels vs Praying Mantis
Act II - South America Rebels vs Pierve Armament
Act III - Paradise Lost Resistence vs Raven’s Sword
Act IV - The Player’s Memory (or lack of it) vs the Game’s reality
Act V - The Narrative’s Protagonists vs The Patriots

The most creative one in my eyes was Act IV, as it forces the player step outside of themselves and examine the surroundings of the entire act. Even if the player isn’t familiar with MGS-PSX, they’ll feel this suggested presence and have to act on it (in some fashion anyway). Not many games encourage one to tear their own sense of self in two temporarily. Act IV does JUST that, and it does it damn well to boot.

2 – The Final Run
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Act V hits up two narrative-based sequences where Snake and the player are being glazed with the scale of the situation. It first happens while running towards the microwave emitters, as audio-clips begin playing, retracing certain melodramatic lines near the beginning of the act. The emitters are probably what get the most attention in this category, as the player has to deal with a tiring series of rapid-fire triangle presses as Snake makes his way to GW’s control room. It’s ever so subtly imparting some of that pain onto the player as well. This game’s almost comical tradition of presenting situations where someone is surely about to die reach their head here. The player can also see the screen above, depicting all the characters in the game fighting, worrying, and in Sunny’s case, simply enjoying life. The “Phantom-Limb” rears its head here as well, serving as the intermission between the two. Narrative-wise, it wouldn’t be possible to address my previously mentioned hang up with Raiden here (see previous blog), and would end up being more trouble than it’s worth to deal with in the first place. The game’s use of the “Old Snake” is one of the more forced tracks in the game, but the “Love Theme” plays here and for the most part, it nails the scene while the player is actually struggling to make their way towards the end of the hall. It also runs in direct contrast to the electric floor from “Young Snake’s” romp to the TX-55’s chamber in the original Metal Gear (see part III of this series). An awesomely indirect effect of this fascinating moment comes when reflecting on how old, and beaten up Snake has become just over the course of this game alone, let alone the entire series.

3 – Superficial Glitz vs Production Value
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This is probably my only real hangup with the game, as there’s so much to both the graphical fidelity and technology flying around, it would be weird without it. This is the first game of the series in my eyes that actually indulges in itself. This is only a bad thing for fans not acting as strict devotees for the franchise. I certainly fall under that devotee category, but I can still notice something as glaring as this. Every piece of this game is constructed to showcase how well-equipped/skilled Kojima Productions was when putting their technical muscle into it. Product placement runs rampant in this game as well, usually centuring around Apple products (i.e. Snake’s iPod). Without them, the game wouldn’t be as enjoyable, but at the same time it makes no humble steps with its admittance of this. Though the game still manages to get away with it better than most do, it still managed to rub me in the wrong way for certain sequences. This is an area I won’t admit being fickle towards, but I refuse to be unaware at how something like this exposes some of the games faults as well. In the end, when I tried to conceptually tear this glitz away from the things I really enjoyed about the game, I realized that it just wasn’t the same without them. I had nothing else better to do at that point than digress…as I am now, heh.

4 – Scale of the Game
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The actual scale the narrative is simply a game itself, with Solid Snake as the star. Remember when I said in the last Snake Eater post that Ocelot was the diametric opposite player of the game, the “player” that they themselves couldn’t interact with? Well, this perfectly complements that imaginary theory I made up for myself. Snake was manipulated by Ocelot in the game’s narrative while the player uses him of “their own free will”. Ocelot still remains untouchable for the player, but remains the only character in the entire franchise holding a metaphorical controller from the other side of the screen (it turns out he was a protagonist as well). When Big Boss admits that Snake could have changed things had he been in his place during operation Snake Eater, it was a full on integration of this mindset. On the top of Outer Haven, there was no other conflict going on than the two “Sons of The Boss” playfully (albeit deadly) assaulting each other. Ocelot is of course, the literal son of the legendary war hero, while Snake remains the only part of Big Boss that actually heard what she had to say and didn’t run off to establish rebellious nation to stand against Zero.

5 – Gallery of Shouting
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Screaming Mantis is my least favorite encounter in the game, and I very interestingly tied it to the visage that she uses to manipulate people. She appears to be literally holding people on strings in order to control them. This fight in itself has “strings” that personally control my enjoyment of it environmentally, nostalgically, and individually. The control room it takes place in is crafted as if it’s incisively meant to serve as an annoying set piece (between various rows of computers lined in one large circle). This is all while the reanimated corpses of FROG soldiers shoot at Snake (along with Meryl as well). Assaulting Mantis herself doesn’t do much and it’s far more effective to shoot her dolls, robbing her of her abilities, which is just another annoyance on my part. The “nail in the straw” is what the game plays up as a sort of bargaining chip for fans, Psycho Mantis. He’s the one actually controlling Screaming Mantis and was in fact controlling the entire B&B Corps to begin with. Personally, I’m not one of those people who nostalgically splooges over how great the encounter was in MGS-PSX and not even the “Hideo2” homage could save it for me. The symbolism of this runs full circle, when the game shows how tired Mantis’ tricks are in contending with the PS3 hardware. I only have a Six-Axis as well, so that means he basically did nothing when attempting to stroke the nostalgia-boner for my favorite game of all time (MGS-PSX). In short, I’m not saying this battle is bad or anything, I’m simply remarking how interesting it is to the degree that I hate it, as it’s personally set up for me to detest. The guys over at Kojima Productions catered to my hateful whims during this battle, bless them.

6 – Sounds of The Patriots’ Guns
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I’ve put the bulk of my favorite tracks on my music player (once again they’re on the right side of this page and I order you to listen to them). Though Guns of the Patriots doesn’t feature my most extensive list of personal favorites, it does have its own unique flavor to it. I assume this is because Harry Gregson Williams did most of the work for this game. I very much enjoy HGW’s work (especially the “main” Metal Gear Solid theme), but Hibino was more involved overall with the prior entries in the Solid series and his absence shows here, almost detrimentally to the game’s credit. They took away half the heart of the scoring and although that by no means kill it, it does make it a tad jarring in the end. As for the other aspects, I will simply state that the sound design for the game does a fantastic job, especially the general sound effects. My favorite thing to simply listen to in this game are the FROG unit’s “feet clink” and the mechanized chinks of equipment such as the guns moving around. As for my favorite title, I think I’d have to go with Laughing Octopus’s battle music. For some reason, the rhythmic pulse that the track repeatedly picks up soothes my soul. The songs, “Metal Gear Saga”, and “Here’s to You” were all very wonderful ear orgasms as well. Though I poo-pooed on “Old Snake” above, it’s use in the final battle of this game was probably my favorite moment of the entire game and it was used to amazing effect. The entirety of that final battle against Ocelot was generally just excellently constructed from a general musical-play standpoint, ‘nuff said.

7 - Sons of The Patriots
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The forces in this game are composed of soldiers not necessarily looking for Snake (apart from the FROG unit), but people fighting or looking for each other as Snake makes his way through them. The way the player can manipulate the SOP system is an interesting yet underused muscle. I In fact if anything, it’s the ironic unmanned units (A.K.A. IRVING) that impressed me the most. The way they animated and assaulted Snake is very unnerving, and despite the arsenal Snake can acquire, it’s very unlikely that he’ll be able to just walk over them. I initially intended to say that the game could have taken the game a lot father, but I conveniently disregarded the extended amount of playtime that I’ve already spent playing Metal Gear Online. It actually requires that the player learn some familiarity with the SOP as an actual mechanic, and it in turn makes them appreciate how the game’s own narrative treats its material. Most of my talking on this category should be stated in the context of what I enjoy about the game’s multiplayer, and that’s another story all in itself. Although, I did make a post about that already, and it’s located here & here.

8 – Talk To Me
I think something that would have quelled the collective bitching from so many people about the game’s cutscenes would have been to add a real-time codec. I actually was under the illusion that it would be in this game, but that didn’t turn out to be the case. I’m not saying regulate them all in-game chatter, but some of the more trivial and second-hand bits of knowledge would benefit the game much more while running down caution phases and idle play. The codec’s effect on the narrative was an amazing addition in 1998 (carrying on the famicom game’s text), as the voice over’s were something gamers weren’t typically used to. It did age as the series progress and something like carefully placed real-time codec sequences would have altered the perception and thickened the veil.

9 - Gun-Porn
Metal Gear Solid 4 is a game that encourages multiple playthroughs and this is one of the big motivators. All the guns and unlockables that can be acquired are vast an immense. Everything from humorous eater egg weapons to The Boss’ Patriot itself are in this game and are not simply cheap additions, but statistically charted items that have varying degrees on how they operate in combat. There’s even anesthetics in this game that induces soldiers to act on emotions inspired by the Beauty and the Beasts Corps That means causing enemy troops to go mad with laughter, crying, screaming, or fury. If you want a full of list of the gun porn, simply glance at this page.

10 - Recurring Thechanics
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At this point, I’m getting very annoying with typing this, so here are some rapid-fire Thechanics to close with:

1 – The importance of CQC’s relevance, even in the context of MGS-PSX makes itself known throughout the series.
2 – Octocamo, Camoflauge, Enemy Disguises, do I really need to elaborate?
3 – The Sons of The Boss (“Snake” & Ocelot) have an intimate rivalry throughout the entire series and it ends perfectly on the top of Outer Haven.
4 – After all the abuse that the franchise’s scientists suffer throughout the series, this game marks the instance where they really take an active role in fighting back. Whether it’s injecting Naomi’s syringe or rolling around in Otacon’s Mark 2/3, the scientists get their payback here, in the truest sense.
5 – This is Solid Snake’s saga and he’s the crux of the entire story rivaled only importance by Big Boss himself. This game wouldn’t nearly be as much fun to play if he wasn’t a compelling character to play as. We got him from all angles as well. Through the eyes of his biological predecessor (Big Boss) and memetic successor (Raiden).

The Metal Gear Solid series is a franchise of games that have proven time and time again that there is something congenitally special about video-games. As Kojima manipulated the versatility of the medium to make an interactive movie, he forcibly sculpted a perfect-looking hand on an otherwise untouched piece of clay, which is of course, the vast majority of narrative games. Simply one side of the most versatile medium to grace the race, Metal Gear Solid will remain a monument no matter one’s personal feelings towards it. If a game so reliant on its carefully constructed citation on Western Film can do so much to tell a story as a game, where the hell are we going to be at even ten years from now? Guns of the Patriots shows a game finally beginning to catch up with its own self-indulgent concept. Personal feelings toward that concept are irrelevant. What IS relevant would be the fact that WE HAVE A GAME CATCHING UP WITH IT’S OWN SELF-INDULGENT CONCEPT.

I spared everyone a lot of ramblings with this series, but I guarantee that I’ll keep going with these annually until I have absolutely nothing left to say about the franchise. That might take quite a while, so enjoy the rest of the year off from my perverse Metal Gear treatises. Anyone that knows how I write knows that I actually did more holding back for this crap than intended (it’s very subtractive experience I tell you…). Also, I do intend to edit these all throughout next week so they’ll be more friendly to those that actually felt compelled enough to read some (if not all) of these entries. If nothing else, I'll clean it up just to show appreciation to you crazy jackasses. I also intend to let these stand as sort of journals for my subjective take on the franchise and I may very well add to them for my own enjoyment throughout the year. Now, I’m finally going to shut up and play something else starting next week…

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~sLs~

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.

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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.

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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
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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).

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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
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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
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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.

~sLs~

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