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Topic: Mia Plays Metal Gear Solid  (Read 6958 times)
Permalink  •  December 16, 2015, 09:04:04 PM
Mia Plays Metal Gear Solid
« on: December 16, 2015, 09:04:04 PM »


Hi, welcome. Welcome to the first installment of Mia Plays. As discussed previously, the theme here is that I’ll be playing games I am mostly to wholly unfamiliar with, and writing about my impressions as I go. I’ll try to put my stopping points at obvious divisions between chapters or segments in the story, though that will necessarily be improvised. An important point here is, while I encourage discussion about the game at hand, please be very thorough in tagging spoilers! I want my reactions to the game to be as authentic as possible, so I don’t intend to read anything spoiler-y.

The first game I’ll be tackling is Metal Gear Solid - yep, the original, for PlayStation. Despite this game having been around for a long time and spawning many, many sequels, I never ended up playing a single title in the series. I’ll take a moment to share the extent of my prior knowledge about Metal Gear Solid:

-You play as an espionage agent named Solid Snake, who sneaks around and also sometimes shoots guns.
-The titular “Metal Gears” are giant robots of some sort, though I have no idea what their function is. Really I only know about them because they showed up in that one Brawl stage!
-Despite the series being heralded as a masterpiece for over a decade and a half, it’s I think over now because apparently the guy in charge of it got banned from ever making more video games.

I’m probably exaggerating a little on that last point, but still, seems like it’s about time I saw what this series is about.
Permalink  •  December 16, 2015, 10:36:25 PM
Re: Mia Plays Metal Gear Solid
« Reply #1 on: December 16, 2015, 10:36:25 PM »

FlexCapacitor Hey @Mia Kris how much do you know about the Metal Gear 1 and 2 story before MGS?
Mia Kris Nothing. So little, in fact, that I did not know there were stories before MGS!
Mia Kris Guess that's quite the oversight, huh!

Welp, um, keep that in mind too!

-Part 1-

From the first couple minutes, it’s clear that this game intends to be really, y’know, cinematic. The introductory cutscene that plays as soon as you boot up the game consists of shots of a submarine cruising through an expanse of darkened waters, intercut with brief views of our protagonist, Snake, inside a cramped mini-submersible that’s about to be launched from the sub. The cinematography here is really impressive, mainly because there are very few games this old where I’d even think to use the word “cinematography” when describing the opening. Maybe Ocarina of Time, but the fantasy setting there didn’t capture the feeling of watching a real movie; aside from the blocky polygons and textures, the opening of MGS feels like it could have been pulled straight from a classic spy film. I don’t mean to go too far in praising this, because a lot of modern games do too much to emulate movies and end up worse for it, but for 1998 (yes, I had to look that up) the production quality of this intro must have been quite impressive.

The story setup in the intro was a lot more straightforward than I expected. As Snake prepares to launch out of the sub, “The Colonel”, clearly Snake’s CO, gives us the rundown on the mission. A terrorist group is threatening nuclear war. Their demand is the “remains of Big Boss”; I expect that finding out who, or what, Big Boss is and how his/its remains are important will be a major plot point later on, but for now I’m cool with just knowing that that’s the important macguffin on the table here. Snake is being sent in to infiltrate a military base to determine just how much of a nuclear threat these terrorists (whose nationality was mentioned but I can’t recall it, dunno how relevant it’ll be) actually pose. The Colonel warns that they will at least pose a threat to Snake himself, as they’ve allied with FOXHOUND, an espionage organization of which Snake is a former member. The Colonel rattles off the names of five or six dangerous FOXHOUND agents, who sound to me like they’ll make a nicely rounded roster of boss encounters. Special emphasis is placed on Liquid Snake - the man with the same codename as Solid Snake!! - and honestly I’m looking forward to it. They’ve made it clear from the start that Snake has a history with the bad guys here, and if my hunches about how this’ll play out are correct, it’ll be very interesting to see all that backstory gradually unwind.

After this explanation, the gameplay proper gets started pretty quickly. Aside from the Colonel calling up to let Snake know he has a comms system in his eardrum, there’s no real tutorializing before we’re tasked with sneaking past a room full of guards. Like with the intro cutscene, the atmosphere here is great; the damp, secluded cave feels tense and imposing while still making it clear you’re in a secluded area where you can test out the basic controls without the risk of running into Ocelot or Liquid Snake or whoever.

Having been thoroughly an N64 gamer during the late 90s, the way the gameplay handles here was a little different from what I’d been expecting or had seen before. Since there’s no C-buttons or the like, camera movement is automatic and context-sensitive, which took me a bit to wrap my head around, but it’s not bad. The camera angles when you look around a corner, or the first-person view when ducking under an obstacle, always direct your focus to what’s up ahead; flailing a Lakitu-cam around in this setting would likely just give a lot of jumbled, unnecessary information. Your more general awareness is instead provided by a radar, which had just enough range to be helpful but not enough that you could play the whole game just by looking at it. I appreciated that a fine balance of watching the radar and carefully peeking around corners was necessary to sneak past the guards.

Once Snake makes it up the elevator and into the outdoors of the base proper (in an unexpectedly snowy mountain area), we’re introduced to two more characters. The Doctor (whose full name I didn’t catch) designed Snake’s “sneaking suit” (looking forward to more info on exactly how this suit is, uh, suited to sneaking) and makes multiple references to things like genome soldiers, gene therapy, and nanotech. This is the point at which it becomes clear that we’re not just playing a 70s spy movie; there’s gonna be some decidedly futuristic sci-fi elements in play, too. Gene therapy, whatever that process may entail, seems to be fairly commonplace in this setting, as not just Snake but also the enemy’s low-ranking guards have gone through it. We also meet Mei Ling, a technology expert, and her and Snake waste no time in flirting SO BLATANTLY, like, wow. Snake makes a couple such comments with the Doctor too, so like, we’ll see how that all plays out I guess? If I’m prompted to choose a “route” in this dynamic then the game will have become way sillier than even I expected.

The game then presents a brief segment where Snake does some basic reconnaissance on the outside of the base - it’s all auto-pilot, though it looks like I’ll have the opportunity to manually control stuff like the binoculars later. Truthfully I've barely played any stealth-focused games even aside from this one, so I don't have much to compare too, but I like that they're giving me a chance to thoroughly survey an area before sneaking into it, and providing multiple potential means of approach.

That’s all for now, though - this has been a pretty thorough examination of the intro. I look forward to the next bit of sneakery.
« Last Edit: December 16, 2015, 10:56:50 PM by Mia Kris »
Permalink  •  December 18, 2015, 12:06:57 AM
Re: Mia Plays Metal Gear Solid
« Reply #2 on: December 18, 2015, 12:06:57 AM »

-Part 2-

As noted in the edit above, it was brought to my attention just after my first play session that MGS ~isn’t the first Metal Gear game~ ...I really had no idea! I considered wiki-reading the story for the previous games, but y’know what, I think I’m just gonna keep rolling blind and see how much of this I can figure out anyway. Aside from dropping a couple terms I wasn’t familiar with, like Big Boss or genomes, there’s nothing too indecipherable going on with the plot just yet.

The next segment of the game is less concerned about painting the broad strokes of the plot, at any rate, and is more about getting down to business on sneaking into the base. Now, the first outdoor segment didn’t seem to me to involve as many options as the colonel suggested. Really the only way I found in was one stairway leading up to an air duct - I may not have been super thorough, though! This segment introduced a couple new mechanics. First are genome-enhanced guards, who I guess just have a slightly bigger vision range than the guys in the first room; they aren’t very much better about hearing my footsteps if I’m running around three feet behind their backs. I also encountered security cameras - getting spotted by these alerts nearby guards (and I think spawns extras?) to your location. Now, I did mess up and get caught a couple times on my way into the building. Luckily, the game doesn’t seem to send you back very far when you die, and gets you back up and running fairly quickly. That’s something I think I’m going to be very grateful for going forward!

It wasn’t too long before I got to the first air duct segment. The game goes into a first-person view as you crawl through the ductwork, and there are occasional grates that give you a glimpse of the contents of upcoming rooms, as well as occasional brief cutscenes where you overhear dialog between the facility’s guards. The ducts have a cramped, grim feeling, scoring points for atmosphere, but they aren’t a lot of fun to crawl through. There isn’t much interactivity besides peeking through grates (I kept hoping I’d be surprised by a headcrab that I’d get to shoot), and it feels like Snake crawls reaaaalllly slowly relative to how long some of the ducts are. Hopefully they spice up these bits later on.

After a little bit more weaving my way through cameras and guards, I managed to find my first gun. I initially thought that there might possibly maybe be first-person gun shooting, but shooting instead uses the same top-down view as basic movement; it took some (misadventurous) trial-and-error to get the hang of the controls, but it’s really quite simple. Even the starter pistol has laser sights and aim assist, making it easy to shoot guys down once I got into the swing of it, which then of course led to me promptly running out of ammo. Welp, lucky thing the guards still aren’t too tough to sneak past!

Eventually I made it to an elevator leading to a basement that’s some sort of prison block. Here they’re holding the DARPA chief, the rescue of whom is one of the main goals of my mission. It doesn’t take long to drop into his cell via air duct, which triggers a fairly lengthy dialog scene. The cheif explains to Snake that the terrorists are indeed a significant nuclear threat, since they have.... a metal gear!! Fortunately for those of us who haven’t played the previous games, Snake and the chief explain that metal gears are basically walking tanks capable of launching nuclear missiles. I was prepared for them to be like, EVAs or something, so they’re not quite that outlandish (though still very dangerous!). The chief reveals that the nukes the terrorists have are password-protected, which is why he and the president of [arms company whose name I already forgot] were kidnapped in the first place; their passwords have already been taken by the mind-reading Psycho Mantis, whose powers sound wild as heck and what is even gonna happen if I run into that guy. Soon after explaining this, the DARPA chief has a sudden heart attack which was almost certainly not a coincidence. This gets a reaction out of a mysterious woman who’s being held in the next cell; it appeared, as I called Mei Ling to save my game just in case my name gets written in a death note too, that the woman had actually broken out of her cell and was fighting with the guards! I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how that plays out, mainly because I have literally no other way out of this room with a dead guy, please help me.
Scrow Funk
  • wheres the beef
Permalink  •  December 18, 2015, 07:15:44 AM
Re: Mia Plays Metal Gear Solid
« Reply #3 on: December 18, 2015, 07:15:44 AM »

In case you haven't already, you should peep the manual! There's some good tips in there. http://www.replacementdocs.com/download.php?view.1185

Hentai Governer General
Lolicon Jon
  • Hentai Governer General
Permalink  •  December 18, 2015, 10:13:48 AM
Re: Mia Plays Metal Gear Solid
« Reply #4 on: December 18, 2015, 10:13:48 AM »

In case you haven't already, you should peep the manual! There's some good tips in there. http://www.replacementdocs.com/download.php?view.1185
:yeah!: :yeah!: :yeah!:

Quote from:  Jon's deaf friend
I may not know english can good but meet me at sign class and I woop your ass at sign language
Permalink  •  December 20, 2015, 10:44:35 AM
Re: Mia Plays Metal Gear Solid
« Reply #5 on: December 20, 2015, 10:44:35 AM »

-Part 3-

That idea about perusing the game’s manual sounded just fine to me, so I did so. I think the only gameplay-related information I didn’t have already was how to do melee kills (which is really handy), but mainly it was a good way to brush up juuust a little on the story from the previous games. I learned about Big Boss having been the, um, boss of the original FOX-HOUND organization but also secretly being a super bad guy. The first two games essentially focused on foiling his plans to use Metal Gear for nefarious purposes. It’s still unclear why his corpse is important enough to Fox-hound (not really sure I wanna keep capitalizing that) that they’re threatening a nuclear attack over it, but I have a little suspicion it might be related to all the gene-splicing wackiness all these military organizations are using. The manual also gave me a handy refresher on the names and backgrounds of most of the major characters in the current story.

Getting back to the game at hand, we’re quickly introduced to the young lady who’d been in the prison cell next to the now-deceased DARPA chief. Her introduction to Snake winds up with both of them pointing guns at each other, the tension of which is only broken when the enemy guards open the door and begin pouring into the room. I’ll have you know that I went into this event with just under half HP and no rations, making the first couple waves of dudes very difficult since any of them could kill me in one shot! I had to restart like half a dozen times before I made it to the wave that dropped rations. So, um, conserve your health everyone!

Anyway, the mystery girl ends up getting away, while Snake is interrupted by a ~spoooky~ hallucination involving Psycho Mantis. We see- and by we I mean at least the player but I’m not sure about Snake? - someone being tortured for their nuke password and then dying, and then Mantis appears right in front of Snake and says something suggesting that he might be, like, manipulating the girl we just met? Mantis definitely seems like the character who’s gonna provide those surreal, deliberately vague plot elements I’ve become accustomed to in certain other Japanese media. I know how to handle that sort of scene, anyway - keep the information seen in the hallucination in mind, but don’t try to force reconciliation between it and known facts.

The next objective is to head into the sub-basement to try and find the ArmsTech president, Ken Baker, and it’s here that the keycard I obtained comes into play. Most locked doors have a number on them indicating their security level, so it’s not too much of a stretch to imagine I’ll be coming back to these places if I find higher-profile security cards in the future. After doing some Zelda-esque exploding of patched-up walls, I found Baker - and he’s in just a bit of a pickle! He’s tied up in an elaborate weave of cables all running to C4 charges, providing a unique arena for the game’s first boss fight, Revolver Ocelot. Ocelot does a whole bunch of talking about how freakin’ rad his Colt is, and then um, ended up being surprisingly easy to defeat. His bullet ricochet mechanic is cool in theory but he only hit me with it like once, and his breaks to reload were long enough for me to unload an entire clip on him. Oh well, he was still kinda cool while he lasted.

See, the game actually kinda teases Ocelot having more up his sleeve, but he’s ambushed by this absolutely nutso invisible ninja cyborg guy, who cuts off Ocelot’s hand and says some very vague things to Snake and then leaves. I’m kinda just remembering that Ocelot did manage to get away, so I’ll have to keep an eye out for him in the future. Once both of them make their exits, though, Snake gets to have a (nice, long) chat with Baker. He shares a lot of background information about the Metal Gear project and, um, the world’s nuclear weapons situation in general, a lot of which is interesting but I suspect kinda tangential to the mission at hand. He does confirm that the terrorists have both passcodes, though the DARPA guy is revealed to have had anti-psychic implants so he may have been lying when he said Mantis read his mind for the passcode, or maybe Mantis is just that good, who knows. Once Baker starts sharing stuff about the higher-ups in the U.S. government, though, he suffers a heart attack - and he seems to know the reason behind it, though we don’t get any specifics beyond him saying “Pentagon bastards!”. It’s clear there’s a lot going on here that’s being kept from Snake. Snake actually immediately calls Colonel Campbell out on that, and though Campbell claims to be in the dark also, Snake seems like he’s gonna reserve his trust in the man for the time being.

On the other hand, Snake does end up being trusting of his new acquaintance, Campbell’s niece Meryl, the “rookie” who broke us out of prison earlier. She’s supposedly only here as a bystander from when fox-hound originally took control of Shadow Moses Island, and is very eager to help Snake carry out his mission, though after the last conversations with Baker and Campbell I have to wonder if she’s not present here for a more specific purpose as well.

The next objective is to go rescue Hal Emmerich, an engineer who worked on the Metal Gear that’s currently in use, as he may know how to disable it. Hopefully he doesn’t also get insta-heart-attacked as soon as I show up!
« Last Edit: December 20, 2015, 10:58:29 AM by Mia Kris »
Permalink  •  December 21, 2015, 11:50:23 AM
Re: Mia Plays Metal Gear Solid
« Reply #6 on: December 21, 2015, 11:50:23 AM »

-Part 4-

So even though I’m unsure about the nature of Meryl’s involvement in the situation here, she does know her way around the base really well, and offers very specific instructions on getting to the building where Emmerich is being held. She opens up a hangar door on the ground floor of the building I’m in, but *look out*, there’s infrared sensors in there that will trigger door locks and deadly gas! I’m a little proud that it didn't take me much time to figure out the trick to seeing the lasers, and I like when games reward you for remembering small details from early on. I did still get killed in this room, though, because the motion of the lasers was a little hard to read at first. It’s an interesting touch how, once you’re locked in the room and the gas pours out, you get to watch your 02 meter slowly drain before you actually die. I guess if that happened, you pretty much would have one of those "wellllp" moments...

Anyhow, the next area hosts the boss battle with Vulcan Raven. It’s good pacing, really, to briefly transition from sneaking around in cramped corridors to having a loud, chaotic battle in a wide-open outdoor setting. Unfortunately, I went out there without having found the mine detector first, and as I was told multiple times this area is not exactly easy to navigate without one. After very quickly dying, I took a detour back into the first building and found the mine detector behind a nearby security door I hadn’t checked yet. Being better equipped to navigate the area (which it turned out only had like three mines anyway? uhh) I’m able to focus on battling Raven, except it’s more a fight with the big angry tank he’s hiding in.

It was during this battle that I really started to appreciate the Codec. At this point you’ve got a few people’s frequencies on speed-dial, and any one of them will offer a unique bit of advice about the enemy at hand. I realized that it’s really impressive that they not only wrote, but also fully voice-acted this quantity of context-sensitive dialog for a game in 1998. That is a really wild idea for someone like me who only had an N64 at the time!

Once I did figure out the fight with Raven’s tank, it was ultimately pretty straightforward - drop a chaff grenade to disable the main cannon, get in close, and circlestrafe the heck out of the machine gunner while wildly lobbing grenades up toward the gunner’s seat. The gunner himself was not so good at tracking me, though I did die once because I stayed too close to the tank and got run over a bunch, whoops.

After the fight, Snake runs off while Vulcan has a conversation with Liquid Snake, who we’re hearing for the first time. Liquid seems to hold Snake’s abilities in very high regard and cautions strongly against underestimating him - always refreshing to see a villain who understands that they’re up against the immense power of a video game protagonist. Raven says he’s still determined to defeat Snake, and Ocelot chimes in to say pretty much the same thing. While I'm trying not to anticipate too much, it does sound as though they're foreshadowing some sort of boss rush encounter later on. I will keep my notes on defeating these guys handy!
« Last Edit: December 21, 2015, 11:54:35 AM by Mia Kris »
Permalink  •  December 22, 2015, 12:17:09 AM
Re: Mia Plays Metal Gear Solid
« Reply #7 on: December 22, 2015, 12:17:09 AM »

-Part 5-

Ok, now I’ve made it into the second building, which is like the nuclear warheads storage facility. Dr. Hunter is kind enough to disable all my weapons so that I don’t accidentally shoot a nuke in here, I’m actually kinda surprised Snake didn’t raise more of a fuss about that, but I at least get the intention gameplay-wise. Not having a gun for a while wasn’t too big of a deal, as I’d already gotten some practice doing sneaking melee kills previously, and there were all of like three guys to get past in here anyway.

Upon heading to the second basement, we’re presented with a bit of an obtuse puzzle. There’s a room with both poison gas and electrified floors, and to proceed you need to remotely destroy the electrical generator. I did have to make a detour to the other basement level that I hadn’t explored yet to find the remote-controlled missile launcher, but that at least wasn’t super hidden. Those missiles were pretty fun to play around with, at least once I figured out how to use their first-person camera, which is a lot easier than controlling them in third-person view.

After that, I reached a tremendously spooky hallway full of dead guards. Snake helpfully observed that they’d been cut with a blade (the textures really weren’t good enough that I would have been able to notice on my own). This means, of course, that we’re headed for an encounter with Ninja Dude. Turns out he’s in the very next room, and has Dr. Emmerich cornered. Cyborg Ninja, whose name according to the titles is literally Cyborg Ninja, was actually just grilling Emmerich on where he could find Snake, and is more than happy when Snake arrives. After a comment from Emmerich about… *sigh* “the animes”, Ninja leaps into battle.

The fight with this guy definitely took some figuring out, but was a fun and rewarding experience. I’ll say this, Metal Gear Solid knows how to make its boss encounters all feel very distinct. We’ve gone from the quick-draw gunplay with Ocelot, through the explosive grenade-lobbing with Raven, to a pure hand-to-hand melee battle with Ninja. After a couple false starts with trying various explosives on the guy, I gave the cyborg what he wanted, and started throwing out punches and kicks. The first phase was straightforward, though in my opinion the hardest, as he lunges at you with flying kicks that have way-huge hitboxes and knock out a good chunk of your health. After you execute several precisely timed counterattacks, Ninja moves to, well, a hide-and-seek phase, where he stands around invisible and waits for you to punch him. That’s no exaggeration, by the way, he actually does want you to punch him. He was pretty easy to spot here, though it may have been because of my fancy uprezed emulator gameplay; the general visibility could have been much poorer on a 90s-era CRT.

After that the Ninja really starts to lose it and does this thing where he teleports around a few times, throws a super slow punch, and again waits for you to punch him back - and asks for more. Really, this guy just loves it when you punch him!! Once his health reaches zero, you’ve beaten-*BZZAP* oh okay he’s just gonna create a burst of electricity with his zero health that kills me and I guess I can do the fight over again, sure. I guess that last phase is just there to really underline that this guy’s body and mind are both extremely messed up.

The Ninja hops away, and Snake makes a call to the Colonel, to discuss the fact that that was clearly Gray Fox. Ahh, yep… sure was, I guess. Dr. Hunter explains that she did know a few details about this (and I’m sure that’s like the only thing she’s keeping from us right?), including the fact that Gray Fox truly did die as Snake thought, it’s just that gene therapy has reached the point where they can apparently resurrect corpses with it. Zombie Cyborg Ninja - available now on Steam!

With that out of the way, it’s finally time to meet Hal Emmerich. He and Snake don’t get off on the right foot at first, mostly because Snake really doesn’t want to believe that there’s another instance of higher-ups keeping their subordinates in the dark here, but it turns out Ken Baker really was hiding the whole “nuclear missile launcher” aspect of Metal Gear from most of the scientists on the project, Emmerich included. Emmerich- well, okay, I’ll start calling him Otacon since he asked so nicely - ultimately does offer to help Snake, and shows that he’ll be able to navigate the facility using invisibility cloak technology similar to Gray Fox’s. Umm, hey, I hope the story explains why Snake can’t use that! Naomi, are you sure you couldn’t have fit that into the sneaking suit? Mei Ling, you could build something like that, right?? Well, anyhow, right after that is a conversation with Meryl. which is very quickly cut off when she’s cornered by some guards. I hope I can help with that!
« Last Edit: January 07, 2016, 10:56:55 PM by Mia Kris »
Permalink  •  December 25, 2015, 04:35:02 PM
Re: Mia Plays Metal Gear Solid
« Reply #8 on: December 25, 2015, 04:35:02 PM »

-Part 6-

Well, I ended up playing a bit more of the game than I intended to without doing any writing. After the Mantis fight, I said, “Ok, that was kind of a brief chunk of the story all things considered, so I’ll just play a little bit more.” Things ended up being quite a wild ride after that! Basically I’m saying this is gonna be a long one, folks, so I’ll just tackle one thing at a time.

It did take me some backtracking and running around, but I eventually found Meryl. Unfortunately I didn’t know it was her I’d found, rather I thought I’d just found myself a guard that would be easy to eliminate and… yeah, well, at least you’re given a game over screen very quickly after making that mistake. The second time around, I was able to recognize the visual and audio “tells” indicating which of the guards is actually Meryl, apparently I had been too quick for any of that to even happen the first time around.
Following Meryl into the restroom (th-thanks for the hint, Otacon) triggers some rather lengthy dialog between her and Snake. I say that the dialog sequences in this game are “lengthy” because really, they are for a video game, and there were probably a lot of people who were bored and frustrated by this stuff at the time. But y’know, I don’t mind, because it does give the game a unique feel. I’ve been skeptical for a long time about the idea of games as “cinematic experiences”, because there are a lot of games, especially these days, that use lengthy cutscenes to compensate for barebones gameplay. This game, though, is very fleshed out in terms of both its interactive and non-interactive narrative. And really, it’s just a pleasant surprise when a game whose subtitle is “Tactical Espionage Action” puts this much effort into character development!
To speak about the character at hand, Meryl’s conflict is that she’s at a point where she’s doubting the legitimacy of her own desire to prove herself. For years she’s been eager to see real combat and validate the near-lifetime she’s spent in training. Very quickly after getting into the current situation, though, it becomes apparent that she was not psychologically prepared for the realities of battle. It’s a common enough trope, the soldier who realizes too late that war is not glorious, but it works well for her interactions with Snake because he’s been living with that understanding for years. Snake confirms Meryl’s doubts with such utter cynicism that it practically forces her back into being the optimist of the two, ultimately redoubling her resolve to see this mission through because it’s the right thing to do, even if she is setting aside her idealistic notions about becoming a brave and noble warrior.

Meryl leads the way to the commander’s office, thinking that they’ll find information on how to get to the next building. Right before we enter the office, she suddenly gets a really splittin’ headache, and passes out. When she comes to like five seconds later she moves and sounds super weird, and um, yeah it’s a little implausible to think that anyone wouldn’t find this suspicious, especially “I don’t trust nobody” Snake. Regardless, we enter the office together, and it’s only a few too-quiet moments before Meryl truly gets weird. She tries to lower Snake’s guard with the least plausible sexual advances ever, and it thus takes all of two seconds before it’s revealed that Psycho Mantis is controlling her. Mantis then takes the more practical approach of having Meryl point her gun at Snake. This time around I succeeded in not completely murdering her, as I did remember that I had plenty of stun grenades that I hadn’t had a chance to use yet (I mean, the common guards really aren’t a problem to just avoid!).
Psycho Mantis then reveals himself, and gives, as I’d expected, the most unique bit of dialog in the game thus far. There had been a couple very minor instances of fourth-wall-breakage earlier on, but Mantis cranks that to 11. After talking for a bit about Snake himself, Mantis goes into stuff like instructing me to put the controller on the floor so he can move it with his mind (did this like, use the rumble feature or something? Did PSX controllers even have rumble at this point??), or telling me that I’d saved the game frequently (of course I did!)
Then we get to the actual fight with him. Mantis’ attacks were not hard to dodge - almost all of the objects he levitates around the room can be avoided completely just by going prone - but it was also impossible to damage him because of his “mind-reading”. This one was puzzling for sure, as I tried every single one of my items with no success. After several minutes of this and a couple of deaths and restarts, I got a call from Colonel Campbell, who told me simply “Plug your controller into port 2!” I really had mixed feelings on this. I do honestly like how casual the game is about breaking the fourth wall. It’s fun and inventive without being overly hammy, as is the entire idea of asking the player to do something really different with their game console. However, unlike other puzzles like the infrared & cigarettes, this one was not intuitive at all. There was no way I was going to think to do that until the game explicitly told me. Thus, it didn’t have a chance to be an “ah-hah!” moment of cleverness on my part, it was just “ok, got it, that is the thing that I do”. And of course, after switching the controller to make Mantis vulnerable, the fight was not at all difficult - though it didn’t really need to be, as it was more about the left-field concept.
Oh, also I had to trip Meryl a couple more times. She came out of it ok.
After defeating Mantis, he used his bleeding-out time to have a big chat with Snake and Meryl. It’s pretty classic storytelling to have at least one of the villains repent on their deathbed, and I think it worked well here. We learn about Mantis’ background, how and why mind-reading drove him insane, and what he sees ahead for Snake and Meryl. The long-term predictions are quite vague, but the short-term predictions about how they’re gonna get to the Metal Gear are helpful.

The Cave
Unfortunately I did not pull off a “no dog violence” run. I definitely had to shoot some dogs. Well, maybe definitely, really “had to” is a strong term, but I made it past those dogs in the way that seemed best at the time. Sorry, dogs.

Sniper Wolf
With the next building (starting to forget which building it actually is) in sight, Meryl is suddenly shot down by Sniper Wolf. She’s not dead, but will be before long if Snake can’t help her. The only way to do so is to backtrack a bit to find a sniper rifle, and by a bit I mean a looong way, all the way back to the 2nd basement of the tank hangar, i.e. one of the very first locations we ever visited. Dang, I shoulda remembered there was a level 5 security door down there! The game has felt really well-paced up to this point, but this segment kinda botches that, as not only is it just plain tedious to fetch an item from such an early area, it also feels silly from a story perspective that Meryl is left laying there with bullets in her legs for that entire time.
Once I retrieved the sniper rifle and came back, fighting Sniper Wolf was not very tough. I mean, I do have some experience with this sorta thing, but I think she was maybe meant to be easy to beat becauuuse...

Gettin’ Captured
It turns out Sniper Wolf was only pretending to have been defeated. I mean, that does seem a little silly considering I shot her like half a dozen times, but on the other hand I know that whatever they put in the rations around here can really keep a person going. Her and a bunch of guards ambush Snake and, a few moments of predictably suggestive dialog later, he’s knocked out and dragged inside.
So I think this is the part where the game really gets weird. Well, I may want to reserve the right to say that again later, but I mean. Snake wakes up strapped to a table, with a number of badguys present, including Liquid Snake. Though this is our first time meeting Liquid, he doesn’t share a lot of information, aside from confirming his intentions to go forward with the nuclear attack, and casually referring to Solid Snake as his brother. Did… did we know that already? I forget if we knew that already. Soon after that, we’re left alone with Ocelot, who is not at all happy with Snake after their last encounter. Ocelot indulges in a little game, where he repeatedly electro-zaps Snake in the hope of getting, well, nothing really except some acknowledgement of submission. What this means for me the player is that I get to mash a button really fast, and if I don’t do so quickly enough there are “no continues”. Does the game really, like, erase your save file or something if you lose here? If so, that is really intense, but I didn’t get the chance to find out because I guess I’m really good at games today, and this event tested skills that Nintendo taught me long ago.
Afterward, Snake is thrown in a jail cell, and there’s not a lot to do besides talk to people on the Codec. We discuss Meryl’s status (not great, though alive) with Campbell, casually chat with Naomi about her backstory, and inquire ever-so-delicately about the lingering question of why Liquid Snake wants Big Boss’s remains, which makes both Campbell and Naomi suddenly very uncommunicative. I mean, it’s a DNA thing, right? That’s the only reason you’d want a dead body… except, uhh, we did kinda learn earlier that dead bodies can be revived in this universe, so. We’ll just cross that bridge when we come to it, though! Hey wait Roy, Naomi, you didn’t tell me how to get out of this cell...
« Last Edit: December 25, 2015, 04:39:34 PM by Mia Kris »
Permalink  •  December 26, 2015, 10:34:37 PM
Re: Mia Plays Metal Gear Solid
« Reply #9 on: December 26, 2015, 10:34:37 PM »

-Part 7-

Ok, so now it’s time to get to the serious business of getting out of this little jail cell. I mean, the stank off that mystery body that’s been dead way longer than it shoulda been is terrible!
So I started off by calling somebody who might be in a position to directly help me, and that’s Otacon. He showed up right away when the guard got sick and went to the restroom, but uh, only gave me a new card key and some weird food items. I then took Naomi’s more practical suggestion and hid under the bed as the guard was coming back; he panicked and opened the door and then it was all over for the poor guy. I really do have to question that Liquid and Ocelot would leave me in the sole care of literally the most incompetent guard on the entire island, but hey, however this needs to go down.
After getting my items back I found that I was actually not far from the prison block nearer the beginning of the game, kind of a nice touch.
From there it’s just a matter of getting back to the communications tower where I fought Sniper Wolf earlier. A brief cutscene plays where Snake flashes back to Meryl getting shot, and in a conversation with Campbell and Naomi, he basically admits that he does have feelings for Meryl, not exactly a surprise but it’s still good to know we’re moving forward with that. I mean, when I say he “has feelings for” her, it’s not in the “oooohhhh Snake and Meryl sittin in a tree” type of way; most of the dialog thus far has tried to make it clear that it’s unusual for Snake to have any sort of feelings about anyone, so it’s significant just that he’s concerned for Meryl’s well-being.
The comm tower itself is very quiet, and I am all sorts of prepared to get ambushed in the same place twice. It’s only a few steps inside before an unavoidable camera sounds an alarm that spawns infinite dudes, which really, is the name of the encounter here. It’s a looong trek up to the top of the tower, and there are guards with machine guns trying to dogpile me the entire way. I’m really glad that the tidbit in the manual about how to shoot and run at the same time stuck with me, or else it would have taken a lot more than two attempts to clear this.
Near the top, Otacon confirms that we’ll have to take a bridge on the roof to get from one tower to the other, which sounds super dangerous - but what part of Snake’s day so far hasn’t been?
Permalink  •  December 28, 2015, 11:30:36 AM
Re: Mia Plays Metal Gear Solid
« Reply #10 on: December 28, 2015, 11:30:36 AM »

-Part 8-

Now that I’ve climbed the first comm tower, it should, according to Otacon, be a simple walk across the bridge on the roof to get to the second comm tower. However, Liquid Snake was clever enough to anticipate that, and shows up in his helicopter. He immediately blows up the bridge, leaving me with only one way across - the bridge on the lower level. It’s only accessible from the outside, so I’ll have to rappel down with a rope. I wonder what happens here if you didn’t grab the rope when going up the first tower… does Liquid just kinda wait there while you go back inside to grab it?
Anyway, this brings me to the rappelling segment, and my biggest impression of it was that the controls are janky as heck. I’ve tolerated bits of awkwardness up until now, given that we’re navigating a complex 3D environment with just a D-pad, but regulating your hops and direction and speed while descending this tower just doesn’t handle well at all. Given that, I was thankful that the whole event was pretty short!
At the bottom of the tower, there’s some guards on the other side of the bridge who will tear into you with their rifles, and also don’t show up on radar so I had no way of knowing they were there until they’d spotted me and instantly took off more than half my health. Grr…
In the next comm tower, Otacon shows up to help with a mysteriously broken elevator. The mystery is how it’s broken when Otacon just used it like five minutes ago, hmm. He volunteers to help, but only after asking Snake some really awkward questions about whether Snake’s ever loved anybody and whether he thinks “love can blossom on a battlefield”. I’m trying not to assume too much about his intentions in asking, but jeez, dial it back a bit!
There’s even more dangers while climbing up the second tower, as a number of automated gun turrets are hanging on the walls around corners, the first of which again caused me to lose health without giving me any warning. This tower really doesn’t want me to have a lot of rations when I get to the roof, huh?
A few chaff grenades later, I do make it to the roof, and it’s time to fight Liquid’s helicopter. The homing SAM launcher I’m given is pretty nifty - the controls work well, and it feels satisfying to lock on and fire a clean shot. On the other hand, the helicopter also has really powerful machine guns, making it very dangerous to come out in the open when it’s facing you. There’s ample cover on the roof, so the core of this battle is patience. I was best served by being very patient and waiting for a clear shot when Liquid was turning, but unfortunately, Liquid was also very patient about creating such opportunities in the first place. After about a third of the helicopter’s health is gone, Liquid takes to circling around underneath the tower, where it’s impossible to shoot him. In my opinion this happens for way too long, since it’s “dead” time during the fight - neither party can harm each other - and it makes the encounter feel like a drag. On top of that, the safe windows where the helicopter is vulnerable get smaller and smaller, meaning that when you do eventually get a chance to take a shot it’s always risky. I did like the battle - it’s a truly epic setpiece, facing off on the roof of a tower against a helicopter piloted by the enemy leader - and the mechanics are mostly well-implemented, it’s just that the stop-and-go pacing of the fight is out of whack.
After feeding it enough missiles, the helicopter explodes and crashes to the ground, and I am 100% on the same page as Snake about allowing the possibility that Liquid survived anyway.
Otacon then calls and is like “Hey the elevator’s just suddenly working now lol”, and danged if I don’t trust that either. There’s still something fishy going on here...
Permalink  •  January 05, 2016, 07:11:06 PM
Re: Mia Plays Metal Gear Solid
« Reply #11 on: January 05, 2016, 07:11:06 PM »

[Sorry for the break here, I was out of town for a few days and that threw things off a bit!]

-Part 9-

Welp, I was right! I was very right that something was wrong about that elevator situation. Upon boarding the elevator, Snake notices an irregularity with the weight limit alarm, and Otacon provides a helpful “oh hey btw I’m missing like four of my stealth suits, uhhhhhh, maybe be careful in there”. It is of course at this time that four badguys pop out and start shooting at me. This is made manageable by the fact that they seem to be programmed to take turns shooting their guns; I was never really under attack from more than one or two at a time. It probably also helped that I spammed all the stun grenades that I have a tremendously large supply of.
Afterward, it’s just a short corridor full of easily chaff-able autoguns to reach a wide, snow-covered plain. This should be the last obstacle before reaching [building where Metal Gear is], but that danged Sniper Wolf has returned. This second battle with her isn’t really much tougher than the first; she has a wider area to run around in, but she’s comically bad at hiding behind trees, and though the mechanic where her shots become more rapid as the battle goes on is cool, it was easily counteracted by using the last of my Diazepam.
After shooting her enough times, there’s another cutscene of the “learning more about the character as they die” variety. I’d say that, though similar to what happened with Mantis, it doesn’t really work as well with Wolf. I appreciated Mantis being amiable on his deathbed because he was kind of a fun character to begin with, but Wolf doesn’t really have that going for her. The only reason we might have to like her is that Otacon repeatedly tells us we should like her, but as Snake understands, Otacon’s apparent crush on the lady doesn’t exactly balance out against what she did to Meryl. ...Although Mantis was kinda awful to Meryl too? I dunno, the only conclusion I can draw here is that, all things considered, Meryl has had a pretty terrible day.
The story Sniper Wolf tells as she dies is at least somewhat interesting in and of itself. She grew up as a, um, a Kurdish refugee of the Gulf War I think, I don’t really know anything about the real-life history of that conflict but I think this would have been at least kinda politically relevant in ‘98? Wolf was unfortunate in that she grew up constantly surrounded by warfare, and throwing her lot in with Liquid Snake was an attempt to get revenge on a hostile world, I guess. Her story is tragic and I’d say pretty well thought-out, but again, I don’t feel that she had enough weight prior to this to justify the amount of detail that’s gone into here.
Otacon sure has a tough time with all this, at any rate! His attraction to her was always unrealistic and somewhat immature, but then again, I bet anyone would feel that lonely if they were a highly specialized scientist in a secret government weapons facility, in Alaska.
After Wolf is finished, the entrance to the [building where Metal Gear is] is found, and… aw dang, shoulda known, it’s time to switch to Disk 2!
stake mistakes (dan deacon reference)
  • stake mistakes (dan deacon reference)
Permalink  •  January 07, 2016, 11:03:14 AM
Re: Mia Plays Metal Gear Solid
« Reply #12 on: January 07, 2016, 11:03:14 AM »

From what I'm reading the reason for this series' reputation is becoming a little clearer to me. The creators really did take steps to make the game world an interesting and at least somewhat prescient mirror of our own, exploring the psychology of how war and violence affect people's emotions and actions, and the sort of terrors we face as we enter a new century. Even where it falls sorta flat, like in Sniper Wolf's saga, there's clearly an intent to explore the complexities of the characters and the world that shapes them. Not too surprised that Kojima's fabled Horneyness attribute is on display at certain points here, but it seems to be minimal enough as to not interfere with the plot. From what I'm reading (never played any of these games) it seems like one of the biggest flaws is weirdness in the game's construction. Having to backtrack all the way to the beginning to get a sniper rifle while your friend is dying and could easily be picked off at any moment? Like, cmooon. The controls seem a little wonky in parts too. Maybe this is something they fix in later MGS installments? I mean, what with the addition of control sticks and all.

This is really good! I'm looking forward to more.
Permalink  •  January 07, 2016, 01:05:02 PM
Re: Mia Plays Metal Gear Solid
« Reply #13 on: January 07, 2016, 01:05:02 PM »

Thanks, glad you're enjoying this!

-Part 10-

Alright, we’re on Disk 2! I don’t know how much actual game is still left - it feels like we’re more than past the halfway point, but what the heck, I could be wrong.
Entering the new building here brings back something I’d been missing in this game for a while: Stealth! See, some power creep has set in for Snake over the last few segments. Being armed with three guns, two rocket launchers, four types of handheld explosives, etc, had coincided with a shift in focus to more action-packed encounters like the climb up the comm tower and the battle with the helicopter at the top. Stealth gameplay has gone by the wayside since around the time I fought Mantis, but the large and intricately designed area that kicks off disc 2 brings back the sneakins’. It’s some sort of industrial complex, with a bit of moving terrain, steam blasts, and an honest-to-goodness pit of lava that I have to not fall into, all while avoiding numerous heavily armed guards. Good stuff!
After exploring this area for a bit (and finding lots of ammo in the process), I hopped on the cargo elevator to the lower reaches of this building, as we’re supposed to be in a hurry to find the Metal Gear. There’s a segment where a bunch of guards jump onto the elevator with me, which is kinda intense but is really just a repeat of the the ambush scene - also on an elevator! - just before fighting Wolf.
As I’m nearing the bottom of the elevator shaft, a couple of strange things occur. A big flock of crows shows up, just squakin’ up a ruckus, and just as I’m pondering over that there’s a codec call from Master Miller. He’s very concerned that Naomi Hunter was in fact fabricating the backstory which she gave us earlier, with certain details like her relatives working for the FBI not adding up. Snake was already suspicious about the fact that Cambell and Dr. Hunter are quite clearly hiding some sort of government secrets, but I guess this’ll just make him, like, extra extra careful with her?
Upon finally reaching the bottom of all the elevators, we enter a large warehouse, and encounter Vulcan Raven again. He’s now ready to fight Snake directly as some sorta contest of honor and spirit, though by “fight directly” I mean he carries around a giant machine gun that can destroy my entire health bar from halfway across the room. This battle was a little awkward at first, though that's mostly my fault - I hadn’t conserved my health too well beforehand, and went into the battle with only half a health bar and no extra rations. After a couple attempts, where making even one mistake could be deadly with the way Raven’s machine gun stuns you, I did decide to try backtracking and found some body armor I’d missed earlier. Well that's certainly relevant to this encounter!
I talked earlier about a return to stealth gameplay, and the fight with Raven does in a way fit in with that. Due to the nature of his weapon it’s impossible to trade fire with him head-on, so you have to carefully position Snake in hiding within the corridors of shipping containers and use remote-controlled missiles or cleverly placed C4 to chip away at Raven. Even with the body armor, this fight is very unforgiving if you make a mistake and get caught in the line of fire, but I really enjoyed the cat-and-mouse gameplay. Good boss battle!
Once Raven concedes, he gives Snake a new keycard, and a hint about some of the trickery that’s been going on around here: the DARPA chief who died in front of Snake much earlier in the game was actually a fake. It was Fox-hound’s Decoy Octopus, who I think Campbell told us at the very beginning is a master of disguise. There was a nice little setup, back when Liquid and Ocelot had Snake captive, where Liquid mentioned seemingly offhand that Octopus had been killed by the cyborg ninja - and points to me for not believing it at the time! When someone gives you false information, dies suddenly, and then you run into their corpse again soon after and it’s clearly been dead for days, ya really ought to be suspicious!
Speaking of which, Miller calls and is absolutely certain that Naomi is a spy. Campbell hears about it, and seems inclined to believe Miller... yet is still hesitant to take any action against Naomi, saying something to the effect of "we won’t be able to finish the mission without her". Man, Snake is getting fed up with that kind of cryptic statement - if Naomi’s role in this is to resurrect a zombo Big Boss or create an army of Big Boss clones or whatever has y’all holding on to that corpse despite the circumstances, you better come out with it pretty soon!
Permalink  •  January 07, 2016, 10:51:27 PM
Re: Mia Plays Metal Gear Solid
« Reply #14 on: January 07, 2016, 10:51:27 PM »

-Part 11-

I have now reached the Metal Gear! It’s quite the impressive sight, towering up through a three-stories-high hangar with all sorts of catwalks and ladders surrounding it. Looks like a good place for some intense action scenes if I ever saw one. It’ll be a bit before anything like that happens, though. As I began climbing to the top of the hangar, Otacon calls, and Snake states what I’d been thinking - it's weird and wrong that aren’t any guards around here. Otacon has good news, though, which is that he’s hacking in to Ken Baker’s computer to find more information about how to deactivate Metal Gear’s nuclear launcher, which we’d last heard would require three keycards.
Things were even weirder once I got to the third floor, near the top of the Metal Gear. There was just a single guard patrolling around, and through my binoculars I could see Revolver Ocelot and Liquid Snake manning the broad-windowed control room. The catwalks I was running around on - not to mention my climb over top of the Metal Gear - should have been in plain sight to those guys! They better be setting up a heck of a trap to just ignore me as I stroll up to their command room, right?
Well, I did just that, and hid around a corner while the badguys loudly discussed key details of the final stage of their plan. Long story short, if the White House doesn’t hand over Big Boss’s remains as well as “the cure for FoxDie”, then they’ll blow up a nuclear testing site in China. This would simultaneously compromise the USA’s credibility and advertise Fox-hound’s power to any other nations who might be interested in allying with them, Russia being of particular interest to Liquid Snake.
During this conversation, Otacon calls again, and has all the details on how to stop the nuclear launch. Rather than there being three distinct keys, the control keycard that Snake has is temperature-sensitive, and simply needs to be inserted into the control consoles at three different temperature stages.
Ocelot and Liquid just keep rattling off their plans, and don’t even notice Snake until I guess he sticks his hand too far past the doorway, at which point Ocelot fires a shot that causes the key to fall to the first floor of the hangar. This may be a nitpick, but it just bugged me that these two highly experienced mercenaries-turned-terrorist who know that a hostile infiltrator is still creeping around failed to notice said infiltrator walking around in plain sight while they blabbed loudly about their plans. As far as I can tell, the lack of guards in this area wasn’t even part of a trap! When Ocelot finally does spot Snake, he sounds an alarm that summons all of like two dudes, and stopped completely as soon as I climbed down one stinkin’ ladder.
To top it off, after I took a guard-less trip down to the first floor, grabbed the key, and brought it back up to the control room, I found that Ocelot and Liquid were... not even there. Whaaaat? They know exactly where Snake is, this is where they’re going to need to finalize the nuclear launch soon anyway, what else could they possibly be doing right now?
Well, that makes it easy enough to enter the control keycard into the first of the three terminals, anyway. Next up is the terminal that requires that the card be cold, and Otacon suggests going back to the chilled warehouse where I fought Raven. Oh. *sigh* Okay… I get what’s going on here. It’s “Triforce Chart Syndrome”, where you’re making a big-budget video game and you’re almost done but someone involved thinks it’s not long enough, so you better cram some lengthy backtracking segments into the last act, the writers’ original considerations for pacing be damned. ‘Cause like, not only do we have to go back to the warehouse to freeze the cardkey (which involves… standing around in the warehouse for about 60 seconds), we have to then run it back up to the Metal Gear control room, and then run it even further back to the furnace area prior to the cargo elevators. Wheee…
There is one bit that spices things up at least a little, here, and it’s to do with the Naomi Hunter subplot. Colonel Campbell announces that he was able to confirm suspicious activity on Naomi’s part, and has now placed her under arrest. Miller comments that she’s involved with the “FoxDie” virus that Liquid Snake mentioned earlier, which is apparently an injection that kills with a heart attack after a very long delay. As he'd previously received injections from Naomi, Snake himself is likely carrying this virus, so heck, probably he’s going to need to barter with the Pentagon or whoever has the cure before too long.
Well, I’ve completed all the tedious backtracking (the only silver lining to that being that many health and ammo pickups respawned on the way back), and have a heated-up cardkey that I’m ready to return to the control room. We’ll find out next time if Ocelot and Liquid are going to put forth, like, any actual effort to stop me!
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