Wherein Dalisclock plunges into the Metal Gear series and madness ensues.(Update: Peace Walker)

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A year or so again I received the Metal Gear Legacy collection and MGSV: The Phantom Pain as a gift. And after a lot of life happening, I finally decided to buckle down and starting playing through the series. The idea of which has been daunting. The Eight main story games are accounted for here, minus Ground Zeros(which I'm not sure I need to bother with) form a daunting marathon over the next few months which is one of the reasons I've waited so long.

I've previously only played two games in the series: Metal Gear Solid on my PC in College and the NES port of Metal Gear when I was a kid. I have a general idea of the plot of the series from the internet, but for the purposes of really appreciating the series, I'm going to go through the main storyline games in release order, both to see the mechanics evolve and watch as the plot changes and gets retconnned as the series goes on.

First up....Metal Gear(?)

Starting at the beginning then, is the original Metal Gear for the MSX2, a console which apparently nobody outside of Japan heard of and thus, very few people played the game. Instead, most people probably played the NES port instead, which generally follows the same idea as the base game but executed differently, which occasionally I will touch on.

My first challenge was finding the damn thing, because when I popped in the game disc, I was presented with MGS3, MGS:Peace Walker and MGS2. The other disc had MGS4. Inside the game case was a code for downloading MGS and the VR missions from the PS network, but the original 2 games were missing. After poking around for a bit, I finally realized they were hidden within MGS3's main menu, because a previous version had them built in and that's the one in the collection. Too bad even the included manual doesn't say "Hey, go to MGS3 to play the original 2 games".

Having figured that out, I started playing. The game is fairly bare bones, much like the original Final Fantasy from the same era. There's no intro and half the games plot is described in the game's manual/Wikipedia page and pretty much boils down to thus: In the mid 1990's, a group of mercenaries, led by a living legend, form a rogue state/"fortress nation" called Outer Heaven, somewhere in South Africa. FOXHOUND, a US Special Forces Unit and the first of many colorfully named groups in this series, sends agent Grey Fox to investigate and he's promptly captured just after he sends a message warning about "METAL GEAR". So Solid Snake, a rookie on his first day, is sent in to find him and deal with Outer Heaven. Because if one of your best agents failed, sending the new guy is the next logical move.

From there on everything is pretty much as you'd expect. Snake rescues Hostages(including a scientist and his pretty daughter involved in the Metal Gear program) and eventually finds and blows up the Metal Gear, a Nuclear Armed Mecha. The big twist is that Big Boss, Snakes superior officer in FOXHOUND is also the guy running Outer Heaven, and Snake has to kill him(in the room right after Metal Gear) before escaping the facility before it explodes in a mushroom cloud.

The gameplay itself is fairly simple, though both annoying difficult at times when it's not surprisingly easy. There are patrolling guards everywhere with the spatial awareness of a particularly stupid pile of bricks. There are no hiding places other than behind pieces of wall(or objects such as tanks that are effectively walls), this is balanced out by the fact the banana guards only see exactly in line in front of them, so standing literally just off their line of sight renders you invisible to them. Sometimes this makes the game feel easy, except that a lot of areas have tight corridors with little way to stay out of their line of sight.

Them seeing you puts them in an alert mode, which sometimes turns off when you kill an arbitrary number of dudes (except when it doesn't) , sometimes turns off when you leave the room(except when it doesn't) and always turns off when you enter an elevator(which also act as save points). In some rooms, you'll trigger an Alert Automatically and have to either exit or kill everyone in the room. Also, guards pretty much respawn every time you enter a room, so clearing them out only helps you in the very short term.

The maps are laid out in a very video gamey fashion, in that they feel more like mazes then any places people would actually work. Keycards and objects are used to gate progress and keep you running around looking for items to open up new areas of outer heaven, sometimes doing a lot of backtracking. There is no RADAR like in later games to help navigation, most of the areas are distinguished mostly by the color of the walls and floor.

Hostages are sprinkled throughout the game, and rescuing them is key to a sort of character upgrade system. Snake starts at one star rank and with every 5 hostages recued, gains another star. Most importantly, this allows you to hold more ammunition for all of your weapons, more rations(essentially health kits) and gives you a bigger health bar. There's also two doors you cannot open(which contain vital items) without a 4 star rating. Constantly, killing a hostage instantly demotes you by one star.

Boss battles are here, but half the time it feels like you stumble into them. This game is where the original quirky metal gear mini-boss squad started, with straightforward yet videogamey names such as shotgunner, machine gun kid, flametrooper, etc. There's also other bosses such as a Hind Helicopter, Tank and Bulldozer at chokepoints that need to be taken down to proceed. Unfortunately, almost all of the bosses are almost insultingly easy. The Helicopter itself literally sits on the upper half of the screen and sprays bullets in a pre-set pattern, and there's a spot where you can just stand there, avoid all its fire and blow it up with a grenade launcher.

There are two exceptions. The last member of the mini-boss squad, Coward/Dirty Duck is hiding behind hostages. Killing him is easy. Killing him without killing any of the hostages is hard. Kill one hostage and you'll need to find more to rank back up to 4 star. Kill more than one might make the game unwinnable.

The reason for this because Metal Gear itself is basically a puzzle boss. It doesn't move or attack, but rather stands in its hanger while you attack it's only weak point: Planting bombs on its legs with C4 charges while lasers mounted on the wall try to shoot you. What makes this tricky is that you need to plant 16 charges in a very specific order(IE Left Leg, Right Leg, Right Leg and so on...), given to you by a rescued hostage earlier. Except the hostage doesn't remember the final step in the sequence, leaving you up to guess(giving you a 50% chance of getting it RIGHT on the first try, assuming you made no other mistakes). Mess up any part of the sequence and you need to restart the sequence, which means you don't have enough charges to win(you can only hold 20 charges at 4 star rank), so you might as well restart the battle. Even better, if you're 3 star rank, you can only carry 15 charges and you don't have enough charges to blow up the metal gear. Better hope there are 5 hostages left to rescue or you have save point further back before you fought dirty duck.

Strangely, this is still better than the NES port, where the Metal Gear never actually shows up in game. At one point you find a supercomputer (which is a giant CRT monitor) which you are told controls Metal Gear, so all you do to win is to plant a bunch of explosives on it before fighting Big Boss.

This is one of my frustrations with the game, where it felt like they make it unnecessarily difficult in order to pad out playing time. The fact one mistake earlier in the game can make it impossible to win, and it's an easy mistake to make, even if you know what not to do. There are others as well.

The game allows you to equip one weapon and one item at a time, despite the 5 or so weapons and 20 or so items you're carrying by the time endgame rolls around. Unfortunately, this means that you can't hold a keycard and wear a gasmask at the same time, or wear a bulletproof vest while holding a keycard at the same time. This isn't really a problem until you're running through rooms filled with gas, any exposure without a gas mask drains your health very quickly and these rooms are almost always locked by doors that require keycards. So to get out of the gas filled room, you need to unequip the gasmask to use the keycard.

This leads to the next major issue the game has. There are 8 different keycards you can and will need to find to finish the game. The keycards are numbered, but none of the doors are(nor is there any way to associate keycards and doors by looking at them). So if you come across a door you've never seen or opened before, you pretty much have to stand in front of it and cycle through every keycard in your inventory until the door opens. Even if the room is filled with gas which is killing you while you do this. Even better, there's no rhyme or reason for how the doors are numbered, so a 6 door might be behind a 1 door. Basically, it feels like this game wants you to make a map while you go along.

I was originally going to gripe about the fact Solid Snake is a rookie on his first mission inserted into hostile territory with nothing other than the clothes on his back, the codec radio and a pack of cigarettes, despite the fact he's supposed to be a member of a black ops Special Forces team. However, Big Boss kind of justifies this during his big scene at the end, flat out telling Snake he was expected to fail and presumably, that would satisfy the US government and they would have left Outer Heaven alone because reasons. Who knows what Snake was told during his briefing, but since Snake is a blank slate in this game it's really hard to hell.

In many ways, this game is very different then the later games in the series, but some of the series tropes are already present. The cardboard box makes its first appearance, though the banana guards are so thick that they only notice anything wrong if they see the box move(they'll walk right across it, hurting you as they do, if it's in their path).

The codec is here, but it's functioning is room specific and most of what you're told is fairly terse and not terribly useful. One channel can only be used in boss fights and will tell you what weapon to use to win. Another is used twice to open certain doors. The exception is near the end of the game when Big Boss calls you up several times and begins giving you orders that will lead to you getting killed. In his final transmission before you meet him, he tells you to abort the mission and turn off your console, marking probably the first 4th wall break in the series.

There's also a bit of weirdness at the end where you descend "100 floors" in an elevator to the Metal Gears Hanger to fight it, and then have to escape at the end by climbing a ladder(apparently back up 100 floors) before walking away from a nuclear explosion in the background as Outer Heaven self-destructs.

So after all that , while I appreciate Metal Gear for launching a series, as a game it's hard to recommend. If it hadn't been in the Legacy collection I probably never would have bothered with it. It's really only worth the play if you want firsthand experience with a piece of videogame history, but otherwise a few minutes with YouTube and Wikipedia will more than catch you up.

Next time....
Metal Gear 2: Revenge of Metal Gear

Good on you for making this thread! I'll be waiting for your next post, as it is rare to get a retrospective of the entire Metal Gear series.

As an aside, Ground Zeroes story section is not terribly long (about 2 hours) and it sets up some stuff for The Phantom Pain, so I'd recommend speeding through it for consistency, even if you don't stick around for all the variations and side missions that make up the bulk of it.

Gethsemani:
Good on you for making this thread! I'll be waiting for your next post, as it is rare to get a retrospective of the entire Metal Gear series.

As an aside, Ground Zeroes story section is not terribly long (about 2 hours) and it sets up some stuff for The Phantom Pain, so I'd recommend speeding through it for consistency, even if you don't stick around for all the variations and side missions that make up the bulk of it.

Yes to this, because your save also carries over some things to TPP. I really enjoyed GZ, so much so it didn't even feel like much of a hassle to 100%. And it was less forgiving than TPP for S ranks, but that's most likely because of the latter's level structure.

I was worried for a bit that my post was invisible to everyone but me.

I'm playing through MG2: Solid Snake(but not Snake's Revenge of the Solid Snake, because that was the other sequel). Not sure how long it's gonna take me but probably another week or so I'll be done and have the next review up.

I heard Ground Zeros is effectively a Demo for TPP, though the intro movie looks quite cool. From what I understand, it's story function is to bridge Peace Walker and TPP.

Dalisclock:
I was worried for a bit that my post was invisible to everyone but me.

I'm playing through MG2: Solid Snake(but not Snake's Revenge of the Solid Snake, because that was the other sequel). Not sure how long it's gonna take me but probably another week or so I'll be done and have the next review up.

I heard Ground Zeros is effectively a Demo for TPP, though the intro movie looks quite cool. From what I understand, it's story function is to bridge Peace Walker and TPP.

Correct, however it's still worth playing through if you enjoy the games, and plan on getting the most out of TPP. It has some cool Easter eggs as well. It's really a case of getting back what you put in though as far as what's carried over to TPP.

A list.

Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake

So after finishing the original Metal Gear, I decided I wanted to push through to the next game, partially because, unlike Metal Gear(which I'd played it's bastard Port for the NES years ago), I had little idea what to expect from this one.

Interestingly, this is actually the second Metal Gear 2 game made. After Metal Gear got an NES port which did reasonably well (and was likely played by more people than the actual Metal Gear game), Konami got a team together without Hideo Kojima to make a sequel to the NES port. It was called Snakes Revenge, though apparently was about the revenge of Big Boss(who, mind you, at this point in time, did not have the Naked Snake backstory). It also had side-scroller levels but apparently wasn't particularly notable. Presumably, Hideo Kojima found out about the game after the fact and decided to make the true Metal Gear sequel, so Snakes Revenge is effectively non-canon, instead being an isolated side game to the series. I haven't played Snakes Revenge, but felt it interesting to mention.

Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake opens with a pair of attention grabbers. The first is a brief animated credits sequence showing the schematics for a new Metal Gear like you're reading a set of stolen plans for the titular secret weapon. The 2nd gives brief rundown of state of the world since the previous game and gives a much better idea why Snake is here this time. Both feel like something of that late 1980's/early 1990's era of movies and video games, but they also do a good job of setting the tone that things are gonna be more serious this time.

The plot this comes across as timelier and more fantastic then the previous game. In 1999, 3 years after the Outer Heaven mission, the cold war is thawing (the game was made in 1990, so yeah) and the nations of the world have agreed to get rid of their nuclear stockpiles. At the same time, the world's oil starts running dry, threatening the world's economy. Luckily, Dr. Kio Marv has developed OILIX, a microorganism that can synthesis petroleum quickly and easily.

Unfortunately, around this time, the rogue state of Zanzibarland (somewhere between Russia, China and the middle east), founded by mercenaries kidnaps Dr. Marv and the secret of OILIX. They also raid nuclear weapons disposal sites around the world in order to become the worlds only nuclear power. And since this is a Metal Gear game, they're building a new Metal Gear, and are also planning on mass producing them. Snake, no longer working for FOXHOUND but taking orders from the US government anyway, is sent in to stop them, recover Dr. Marv and OILIX. You know, save the world type shit.

Refreshingly, and starting a trend for the Metal Gear series, the plot is more complex than "Save scientist, blow up tank, save world". The plot is now tied with the characters stories, and most of the major characters actually get developed this time. At the end of Metal Gear, Snake was last seen running from an huge explosion as Outer Heaven exploded (shown there as some kind of self-destruct after he blew up the Metal Gear). As of this game, it's been retconned that as Snake was escaping from Outer Heaven, NATO decided they weren't taking any chances and decided to hit the area with a massive bombing raid, destroying everything.

Unfortunately, they didn't bother to warn anyone or try to minimize civilian casualties, because those who survived the raid felt embittered and betrayed by this. The first boss you meet is a Ninja, who upon defeat, reveals himself to be the resistance leader from the first game who said Big Boss helped him, other members of the resistance and quite a few others(including a bunch of war orphans) escape from outer heaven and joined Big Bosses Army in Zanzibarland(hereafter known as ZL).

This is effectively where the legend of Big Boss enters the series. Where before he was just your CO who betrays you, now he's this legendary solider with a cult of personality who apparently takes in fallen enemies and war orphans to join his private army. Several people talk up how when they felt betrayed by others, big boss was there for them. Big Boss apparently also collects war orphans from around the world and they see him as a father figure(half the kids you find wandering around the base call him something akin to Daddy).

However, because this is Metal Gear, there's a bit of gray area. Big Boss, during his meeting with you just before you fight, involves a lot of pontificating on how soldiers are heros on the battlefield, but often dead weight once wars come to an end, so he plans to use the lack of oil and Metal Gear to continue the cycle of warfare(apparently in this version of the 1990's the world is in danger of going fully peaceful), so soldiers will always have value. He also plans on training and arming all those war orphans and making them soldiers for the next war(though it's unclear if he plans to use them as child soldiers who wait until they reach adulthood first).

In fact, all of the characters who get backstory speak of disillusionment, loss and betrayal. Even snake hints he's suffering from PTSD from the Outer Heaven mission in MG, implying that's why he's no longer with FOXHOUND.

The codec now shows you the characters faces and is generally more entertaining to use. Each character has their own speaking style and range of advice now, some extremely useful, such as how to fight the boss you're facing at the moment, while others are a bit more esoteric, such as the guy who will tell you about animals(which surprisingly comes in useful once or twice).

Some of the series regulars show up for the first time, such as Col. Roy Campbell, Snakes new CO, and Master Miller, who occasionally gives you some weird tips about drinking your own salvia.

Of the characters beside Snake and Big Boss, Grey Fox returns and arguably has the most interesting role. In MG, he's basically just the agent who preceded you, you rescue him and he disappears for the rest of the game. In MG2, he's now working for Big Boss, first calling up to give you veiled advice, before outright threatening you. Eventually he starts showing up piloting the Metal Gear and tries to kill you with it, but first lecturing you about why he's messed up and how only big boss was there for him. It's actually kind of moving, especially

The rest of the requisite Metal Gear Quirky mini-boss squad is less interesting, despite each one getting a small monologue introduction. While not quite to the gimmicky level of the later games, some of the new bosses include The Four Housemen(who appears from nowhere in an elevator and attack you), The Running Man(who runs away from you while the room fills with "Nerve Gas"), Red Blaster, Jungle Evil, Night Fright, etc. Almost all of them go down pretty easily, mostly due to level design and crappy enemy AI.

The most threatening Boss is another Hind D Helicopter, because it flies high above its battle area and you can't actually attack it without Stinger Surface to Air Missiles, which you have to go on a side quest to obtain. Once you get the missles, you can only see the shadow along the ground and a large blip on your radar giving you a clue where to fire your stinger.

The Metal Gear D is the new model, but hardly improved. While a step up from the previous games Metal Gear battle of "plant 16 bombs in a very specific order while dodging laser turret fire", this one involves staying out of it's path and throwing grenades at it's legs until it dies. So despite the better presence in the game, now being fully operational with a skilled pilot, it still ends up going down like a little bitch.

This is followed by a punch up boss fight with Gray Fox which is laughably easy and finally a final confrontation with Big Boss which is more tedious then difficult, which involves Snake using an Aerosol can and a lighter as an improved flamethrower(while Big Boss has a machine gun). So much for the legendary soldier.

Mechanically, the MG2 is a significantly improvement over the first game. The on screen radar is now a feature, and this is needed because the guards are a lot smarter and able then they were now patrol between screens. They now have 45 degree vision in front of them and hear you when you walk on certain types of floors and will immediately start searching. If they notice snake using the cardboard box trick, they'll walk up to it and start shooting. Ironically, there's now a metal mop bucket snake can hide under that does the same thing, but bullets won't actually penetrate the side of the bucket. Snake also has the ability to crawl and even call into vents and under tables and platforms now, which makes it easier to hide from the guards.

The level design is significantly improved and while it works like a video game, the buildings tend to look and fear more like actual buildings then the mazes from the first game. There are also trucks in this game with conveyors going in and out of them, and when using the box and jumping on the conveyor, the truck will act as a fast transport system to one of the 3 main areas(mostly to the middle one, but near the end game, a truck to the final building is unlocked).

The hostage promotion system from the first game is gone and has been replaced by a system where beating each boss increases your health bar and ammo carrying capacity and the game is all the better for it.

There are still some annoying problems and weird puzzles though, with all its improvements. There are 9 keycards to be found throughout the game which unlock the various doors and like MG, the cards are marked by the doors aren't. This is mitigated somewhat how now the keycards kind of correspond to what area of the game you are in, instead of feeling completely random, and late in the game you can find 3 colored(Blue,Red,Green) which effectively replace cards 1-3, 4-6, 7-9 and makes the "Try all the cards" a lot faster. Unfortunately, during the final boss fight you need to find them all again to get the weapons you need to fight Big Boss.

There's a recurring, kind of interesting puzzle using your rations (which act as health kits). Several points in the game involve having to use a type of food to lure an animal (and at one point, neutralize acid). Each type of ration is described as containing different food, thus different rations can be used at specific spots to proceed. It's the kind of puzzle you'd expect to find in an adventure game, not a console quasi-military game.

On the flip side, there's a swamp you need to go through to get a vital keycard, which consists of a hidden path and stepping off it for too long results in slow mobility and sinking into the swamp. There's no trick or item to allow safe navigation or to find the right path other than mere trial and error. Which makes it ridiculous because it's mentioned a few times that trucks routinely drive the windy the through the swamp and somehow don't sink or get bogged now.

There's also the tap codes, which are used a few times to discover needed codec frequencies. Described as being a way for prisoners to communicate using a letters on a grid system(wiki it), you're told "Check the manual". Sadly, the modern port doesn't come with a manual or tap codes, and checking Wikipedia actually doesn't work here because the game actually uses a different grid(5x7, whereas a casual search describes 5x5). So you pretty much have to google the answer directly to proceed. Presumably this was copy protection and Konami cheaped out on providing the proper manual page with the game.

Then there are the weird puzzles, notably the infamous "Owl Laser Fence" puzzle. Namely, the final area(the prison camp) of the game has the only laser fence you'll see in ZL. It's impassable when it's on, so you need to trick the guard into turning it off. For some bizarre reason, ZL has a policy of turning off the laser fence at night. And apparently there's a special bird called a ZL wood owl, which hoots just after dark, and it's so regular that people in ZL will trust the hooting owl over things like clocks and the fact the sun is still in the sky. Near the camp is a bio-lab with two eggs. One of them has a small snake inside, the other has a wood owl. Both eggs(which look exactly the same) will hatch a few screens after you pick them up(because they're genetically engineered, apparently). If you picked up the one with the snake in it, it'll crawl around in your inventory and eat all your rations. If you got the one with the owl, if you stand next the gate, it'll hoot and the world's dumbest guard will decide it's night and turn off the fence(which will stay off the rest of the game). It's stupid, it's weird and it comes across as one of those moon logic adventure game puzzles adventure games used to be known for.

All that aside, Metal Gear 2 is where the series starts to become what's it's known for, not only mechanically, but also in it's juxtaposition of serious and silly. It's a game that talks about soldiers feeling disillusioned to the point they only find worth when they're fighting, where international realpolitik ruins presumed happy endings for the characters and even the hero ends up abandoning the "love interest" without so much as a word. Kojimas sometimes melodramatic, overwrought dialogue aside, this is incredible for a game in 1990.

But this is also the same game where you trick a guard into opening a fence with an owl's hoot, fight a bunch of dudes with silly names, face a horde of ZL Poisonous Hamsters(it doesn't make any more sense in context) and kill the world's most legendary solider with an aerosol can and a lighter in a straight up fight. Oh, and there's actual dialogue where Snake and another character discuss the amazing MSX game console, made by Konami(which now feels like the most awkward bit of product placement in a game ever).

It's a pretty good game, all things considered, and perhaps the first "Real" Metal Gear game(Snake even gets his first "Metal Gear?" in the series). Which feels weird to say because the next game in the series would be the most famous one, and reset the numbering sequence.

I'm gonna take a few weeks off, mostly due to life stuff, then I'll do Metal Gear Solid: Attack of the Clones.

When my brother got a PS3 (as the PS4 was released mind you) I wanted my own PS3 game, s I got the MGS collection. Beat the whole thing in one relative go. Started with MGS2 though, then went to 3, Peace Walker, 1 and 4. Beat MGS4 in one sitting too, I mean, it took literally all day, but still.

I dont think MGS is as hard to understand when you play it all together rather than having to remember what happened years apart like people originally did.

I had a similar experience when I got the Legacy Collection on PS3. Never played a single Metal Gear in my life - except for a little bit of Snake Eater - so figured, let's do it in order. I've only played the original Metal Gear so far though. Story is silly and simple enough, gameplay is arcane as fuck (needed a walkthrough for a couple of parts of Metroidvania-ish what now?), stealth is easy to exploit (alarms don't carry over and reset between screens). Haven't played the sequel yet.

Dalisclock:

Starting at the beginning then, is the original Metal Gear for the MSX2, a console which apparently nobody outside of Japan heard of and thus, very few people played the game.

Actually, the MSX was also massively popular in Holland. It was my first computer/console but schools had them as well. I did play the original Metal Gear on MSX as well as Kojima first game, Penguin Adventure. All the early stuff of Konami, Compile etc was also on it. Activision as well and even back in early '80's their game were shite. I remember me and my mates laughing every time 'Activision' was on the screen before a game. A lot of the Japanese stuff was awesome though. I'm glad to have been there from the very start though it does make me feel old. :p

MGS: One of few games series deserving of a statue such as this.

Dalisclock:

First up....Metal Gear(?)

Metal Gear?!

Anyway, you've given the first Metal Gear more attention than I could muster. Can't really disagree with anything you've written, but my opinion is much lower. I know, it's the first game, but, well, it shows. I'll put it that way. Never got round to playing Metal Gear 2, but Metal Gear Solid...that's another story.

Hawki:

Dalisclock:

First up....Metal Gear(?)

Metal Gear?!

Anyway, you've given the first Metal Gear more attention than I could muster. Can't really disagree with anything you've written, but my opinion is much lower. I know, it's the first game, but, well, it shows. I'll put it that way. Never got round to playing Metal Gear 2, but Metal Gear Solid...that's another story.

I stuck with it more through determination then particularly liking it. It felt more like a chore then a game at times, but it's also fairly short and since I was going for "All the main series games" I figured I might as well do that one.

MG2 was more fun by far, fixing a lot of the problems MG had and setting the tone for the characters who would show up later/earlier.

I consciously (Mostly) avoided talking about later games in context to the current game, just because my knowledge of anything past solid is limited and because I'll be mentioning the previous games as I go along for comparison(especially any retcons that feel notable) However, MG2 and MGS feel similar in a lot of ways, but I don't want to go into too much detail until I replay Solid so I can better articulate how.

Especially the weirdness of knowing that this is Master Millers first appearance in release order and last appearance chronologically(apparently he was with Big Boss as far back as Peace Walker).

Saelune:
When my brother got a PS3 (as the PS4 was released mind you) I wanted my own PS3 game, s I got the MGS collection. Beat the whole thing in one relative go. Started with MGS2 though, then went to 3, Peace Walker, 1 and 4. Beat MGS4 in one sitting too, I mean, it took literally all day, but still.

I dont think MGS is as hard to understand when you play it all together rather than having to remember what happened years apart like people originally did.

I've already noticed a little bit of retconning and I've heard it gets worse the farther you go along.

Prominently, there's the whole thing about Zanzibarland being the world's only nuclear power with Metal Gear D and a bunch of stolen warheads from around the world, and the whole OILIX/the world is running out of oil soon thing. From what I remember in MGS, none of this is even mentioned and the world seems as full of nukes as it is in real life. MG2's weird end of the cold war background feels oddly isolated in the series lore.

Though the elephant in the room is Big Boss himself. Namely, the whole thing about Snake being a Clone of Big Boss/Big Boss is Snake's dad isn't even hinted at in MG2 at all. Big Boss talks for a while before the final battle, but mostly he's chewing the scenery about the nature of war and the value of soldiers. The relationship is that of rival, cynical vets who used to work together, not "BTW Snake, you're my son. Also, you have a brother. And another brother..."

The obvious answer is that Kojima didn't come up with the whole clone thing until he was working on solid and retconned it so Big Boss was Snakes Father all along. Either that or MG and MG2 are now considered imperfect recollections of what REALLY happened at Outer Heaven and Zanibarland.

There's also the weirdness of Big Boss being killed twice(but he was a cyborg the second time) but MGSV apparently already retconned that problem away so I'm not really gonna worry about it.

That aside, I'm still kind of surprised you finished MGS4 in one sittng, since it apparently has 9 hours of cutscenes, at least one of which lasts a full hour in itself. I'm lucky if I can binge watch 3 hours of something in a sitting.

stroopwafel:

Dalisclock:

Starting at the beginning then, is the original Metal Gear for the MSX2, a console which apparently nobody outside of Japan heard of and thus, very few people played the game.

Actually, the MSX was also massively popular in Holland. It was my first computer/console but schools had them as well. I did play the original Metal Gear on MSX as well as Kojima first game, Penguin Adventure. All the early stuff of Konami, Compile etc was also on it. Activision as well and even back in early '80's their game were shite. I remember me and my mates laughing every time 'Activision' was on the screen before a game. A lot of the Japanese stuff was awesome though. I'm glad to have been there from the very start though it does make me feel old. :p

I saw something about how it got a europeon release but didn't realize it was that much. I assumed that just meant "You can get it in Europe" rather then "It rivaled the NES in Europe" whereas in the US few people realized it existed.

Dalisclock:

I saw something about how it got a europeon release but didn't realize it was that much. I assumed that just meant "You can get it in Europe" rather then "It rivaled the NES in Europe" whereas in the US few people realized it existed.

The NES definitely took the crown in terms of popularity but I remember the MSX being a bit before that time. The NES was at the peak here I think from '87 to '92 and MSX from like '84 to '90. Commodore Amiga was also really popular in late '80s. I don't know how the situation is in the rest of Europe but computers/consoles(and pretty much any kind of electronics) seem to do really well here.

Dalisclock:

Prominently, there's the whole thing about Zanzibarland being the world's only nuclear power with Metal Gear D and a bunch of stolen warheads from around the world, and the whole OILIX/the world is running out of oil soon thing. From what I remember in MGS, none of this is even mentioned and the world seems as full of nukes as it is in real life. MG2's weird end of the cold war background feels oddly isolated in the series lore.

Metal Gear undoubtedly has retcons, but I think OILIX can easily be explained. Either:

a) Snake recovers the OILIX formula at the end of the game, so maybe vehicles in the Metal Gear universe are using it instead of oil.

b) The oil scare passes - there's actually historical precedent for this in that there was a similar scare in the 70s/80s concerning oil reserves IIRC. Oil is a non-renewable resource, but we have been able to uncover new sources over time (e.g. oil shale).

c) The problem isn't actually solved, leading to the state of things in Guns of the Patriots (a character mentions that "oil and fuel have become as rare as diamonds.") It's mentioned that war is the global economic pillar that replaced oil - it would fit thematically given the waste of men and material that the war economy represents, that in a world of scarce oil, it's still being used in armed conflict

Dalisclock:

Prominently, there's the whole thing about Zanzibarland being the world's only nuclear power with Metal Gear D and a bunch of stolen warheads from around the world, and the whole OILIX/the world is running out of oil soon thing. From what I remember in MGS, none of this is even mentioned and the world seems as full of nukes as it is in real life. MG2's weird end of the cold war background feels oddly isolated in the series lore.

Shadow Moses is a nuclear weapon disposal facility, hinting at the idea that most of the world disarmed their nuclear weapons at some point. The stealth nuclear warhead in MGS is important, as is the idea from MGS2 that anti-nuclear proliferation groups are important and powerful enough that they can provide Snake and Otacon with enough equipment to assault a tanker potentially carrying a nuclear weapon carrier. The fact that nuclear weapons aren't really a deal in MGS 4 also suggests that in the Metal Gear Universe, the world really did nuclear disarmament in the 90's and ZL's state as the sole nuclear power is pretty legit.

Gethsemani:

Shadow Moses is a nuclear weapon disposal facility, hinting at the idea that most of the world disarmed their nuclear weapons at some point. The stealth nuclear warhead in MGS is important, as is the idea from MGS2 that anti-nuclear proliferation groups are important and powerful enough that they can provide Snake and Otacon with enough equipment to assault a tanker potentially carrying a nuclear weapon carrier. The fact that nuclear weapons aren't really a deal in MGS 4 also suggests that in the Metal Gear Universe, the world really did nuclear disarmament in the 90's and ZL's state as the sole nuclear power is pretty legit.

From what I remember the Shadow Moses facility had a lot of dismantled warheads due to the START-agreements between U.S. and (at the time) USSR. No country with nuclear weapons would ever fully disarm but they would limit the amount of nukes. Actually the entire policy of detente is build on this principle. In MGS the disarmed nukes are actually a problem in itself as they are left unsupervised in an abandoned facility.

In MGS4 nukes actually play a significant role as well as they are the reason the world is engaged in a perpetual proxy war(and as such is the source of the 'war economy'). I remember in the opening there is a line somewhere ''..to avert catastrophy from weapons of mass destruction'' which is the same scenario in the real world where countries with nuclear weapons would never engage directly.

The threat of nuclear weapons remains very real though. Nukes in countries like Pakistan where they could fall in the hands of terrorists. Nukes in unstable regimes. Tactical nuclear weapons that lowers the threshold to actually use them etc.

Gethsemani:

Shadow Moses is a nuclear weapon disposal facility, hinting at the idea that most of the world disarmed their nuclear weapons at some point. The stealth nuclear warhead in MGS is important, as is the idea from MGS2 that anti-nuclear proliferation groups are important and powerful enough that they can provide Snake and Otacon with enough equipment to assault a tanker potentially carrying a nuclear weapon carrier. The fact that nuclear weapons aren't really a deal in MGS 4 also suggests that in the Metal Gear Universe, the world really did nuclear disarmament in the 90's and ZL's state as the sole nuclear power is pretty legit.

It's a disposal facility, but the game also establishes that nukes are still around. The plot heavily references the signing of START 3 (for the US and Russia to reduce their nuclear stockpiles), and Baker states that China and Russia still have nukes (albeit reduced in Russia's case), and it's indicated that like in the real world, India has nuclear weapons as well. This, along with the US also having nukes, per Baker's comment that "complete nuclear disarmament [for the US] is an impossibility." That REX can fire a stealth warhead is significant, but it's its stealth properties that are the game changer, not the nuke itself.

So, yeah. In fairness, Metal Gear 2 came out in 1990, depicting a 1995 world where the Cold War had ended, and got optimistic. Metal Gear Solid came out in 1998, depicting a 2005 world. That's eight years to demonstrate that not everything became hunky dory after the end of the Cold War.

stroopwafel:

In MGS4 nukes actually play a significant role as well as they are the reason the world is engaged in a perpetual proxy war(and as such is the source of the 'war economy'). I remember in the opening there is a line somewhere ''..to avert catastrophy from weapons of mass destruction'' which is the same scenario in the real world where countries with nuclear weapons would never engage directly.

You've got the quote right, though it kind of baffled me as to how that's the reason for it. I mean, I get why the Patriots create the war economy, but is that really the excuse people are using in the Metal Gear universe? I know that after MGS1, Ocelot sold REX's plans on the black market, leading to numerous Metal Gear knockoffs from various countries, leading the USMC to develop RAY as an anti-Metal Gear, but the war economy solves that problem...how, exactly? To keep the economy going? There's an incentive to keep the economy going regardless of whatever that economy is.

Hawki:

You've got the quote right, though it kind of baffled me as to how that's the reason for it. I mean, I get why the Patriots create the war economy, but is that really the excuse people are using in the Metal Gear universe? I know that after MGS1, Ocelot sold REX's plans on the black market, leading to numerous Metal Gear knockoffs from various countries, leading the USMC to develop RAY as an anti-Metal Gear, but the war economy solves that problem...how, exactly? To keep the economy going? There's an incentive to keep the economy going regardless of whatever that economy is.

Yeah, the impression I got when playing MGS4 is that the Patriot system propagated itself by keeping mercenaries(PMCs) profitable and in permanent business. After all, there is no shortage of global conflict. War is already big business and the Patriot system has simply taken it one step further by building an entire economy around it that the world has come to rely on. Similarly like fossile fuels before it.

I would like to say such a scenario is far fetched, but unfortunately it isn't. Military privatization is already a multi billion dollar industry with various activities(espescially security and high-risk) outsourced to these subcontractors. Not that this is a bad thing in itself but rather that profit is the prime incentive for their existence. Compare it with the privatization of prisons that now all need to be 70% occupied to keep them 'cost-effective'. There is no democratic supervision either as Congress don't need to mandate their budget nor do PMC's need to account for military deaths. As such that mercenaries have come to play a pivotal role in proxy conflicts is no surprise and will likely only increase with time. It's probably also kept more out of the media these days ever since that incident in 2004 or so in Iraq when a bunch of Blackwater mercs massacred those civilians.

Why is it that the human race has such a problem finding a functional balance to our existence? If it isn't soulless communism it's cancerous capitalism. We always go to extremes. Really, it's a pretty relevant point to ponder here as it's generally repeated one way or another as a cautionary tale throughout the series. Always falls on deaf ears too.

If it isn't a love of money screwing up the world it's a love of power; often one in the same. In any case we need to check ourselves as a species.

Hawki:

Gethsemani:

Shadow Moses is a nuclear weapon disposal facility, hinting at the idea that most of the world disarmed their nuclear weapons at some point. The stealth nuclear warhead in MGS is important, as is the idea from MGS2 that anti-nuclear proliferation groups are important and powerful enough that they can provide Snake and Otacon with enough equipment to assault a tanker potentially carrying a nuclear weapon carrier. The fact that nuclear weapons aren't really a deal in MGS 4 also suggests that in the Metal Gear Universe, the world really did nuclear disarmament in the 90's and ZL's state as the sole nuclear power is pretty legit.

It's a disposal facility, but the game also establishes that nukes are still around. The plot heavily references the signing of START 3 (for the US and Russia to reduce their nuclear stockpiles), and Baker states that China and Russia still have nukes (albeit reduced in Russia's case), and it's indicated that like in the real world, India has nuclear weapons as well. This, along with the US also having nukes, per Baker's comment that "complete nuclear disarmament [for the US] is an impossibility." That REX can fire a stealth warhead is significant, but it's its stealth properties that are the game changer, not the nuke itself.

So, yeah. In fairness, Metal Gear 2 came out in 1990, depicting a 1995 world where the Cold War had ended, and got optimistic. Metal Gear Solid came out in 1998, depicting a 2005 world. That's eight years to demonstrate that not everything became hunky dory after the end of the Cold War.

I started playing MGS and yeah, it feels wierd. There's dialogue that directly contradicts the idea that the world disarmed after the cold war, which is supposed to be integral to the background of MG2. Yet at the same time, several plot points from MG2 and the events in Zanzibar are directly referenced by the characters. So there's the awkwardness where MG2 is both required for the events of MGS(and the game actually summarizes the events of the previous games in the menu) but just kinda quietly asks you to ignore the setting of MG2.

I also find it wierd that "The fall of Zanzibar" is mentioned a few times despite the fact all Snake did in MG2 was kill Big Boss and his Lieutenants and blew up the Metal Gear before escaping. Unlike in MG, there's no mention of the place blowing up. Presumably it collapsed of it's own accord once Big Boss was gone. Then again, there's a plot point in MG2 about Mass Production of Metal Gears, which is mentioned like once or twice and never dealt with again(presumably because Kojima forgot about it or didn't have the resources to implement it).

It's wierd how into the plot of these games I've gotten, despite the fact they don't really line up between games or even make much sense sometimes(the whole FOXHOUND and the Genome Soldiers going rouge so they can hijack nuclear weapons is briefly commented on before being hand-waved with something like "The gene therapy made them brothers", which doesn't explain anything).

Metal Gear Solid: I'm ready for my close up, Kojima-san!

Metal Gear Solid occupies an interesting position in this series. It's the third game, made 10 years after the first game in the series, and yet, it's the first game in the series to get most people's attention. If you were aware of the series before Solid, it was either because you had access to an MSX2(being Japanese or possibly European) and played the first two, or you played the NES version of Metal Gear(which despite its flaws still felt much like the MSX2 original). It both borrows from and refines the systems set in place by the first two games, particularly MG2(which had already introduced the personal radar system and differing alert phases).

It also borrows (or steals, if you're not feeling charitable) a fair number of plot points, setpieces and tropes from the previous games (again, mostly from MG2). The structure is fairly similar (destroying a tank to go beyond the first building, fighting a helicopter with stinger missiles on a rooftop, fighting a robot ninja who used to be a friend of yours, a long running fight up a long winding staircase, a group of 4 enemies ambush you in an elevator, etc). It gets away this this because of the aforementioned relative obscurity of the previous games in the West, but coming off the previous two games in the last few months it does feel like Kojima was recycling his notes and knew few people would notice. Except this time, he decided he wanted to make it more CINEMATIC! And this is both a detriment and an asset, which I'll expound on later.

For the few people who haven't played this game or are aware of it's plot, I'll briefly discuss it. Especially to give context to some of my later points. It's aprox 2005, six years after Big Bosses death and the fall of Zanizibarland in MG2. Snake retired from FOXHOUND and is living alone in Alaska mushing dogs and presumably drinking a lot when he's abducted by the US government and forced(or "heavily encouraged") to go on one last mission. Apparently FOXHOUND(and an Army of Genetic enhanced "Genome" Soldiers) has gone rogue and taken control of a nuclear weapons disposal facility named Shadow Moses off the coast of Alaska. They are demanding a large amount of money and remaining tissue samples of Big Boss, what little wasn't burnt to a fiery Crisp by Snake. If the US government doesn't comply, the FOXHOUND will launch a nuclear weapon. They've also taken the head of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency(DARPA) and the President of a Defense Contractor ArmsTech, both of whom were visiting the facility, as Hostages. Snake's mission is to rescue the hostages, determine if FOXHOUND can launch a nuke and if so, stop them. There's also the fact FOXHOUND is led by Liquid Snake, who looks surprisingly like Solid Snake.

Over the next 10ish hours, there are a bunch of twists and turns that would take pages to go over in any detail, though a few stand out. Notably, Big Boss is now Solid Snakes father, and apparently he knew this when they met face to face in MG2, in contrast to their actual meeting in MG2 where they have a lot to say to each other, but the relationship is that of fellow soldiers who used to be on the same side(Grey Fox and Snake have a similar dynamic). There was no implication the two had any relationship beyond this, making it a blatant retcon.

This leads into the next big twist, that Snake was actually a clone of Big Boss, as part of a super solider programs(because Big Boss was a legendary soldier, who only incidentally dies quite easily to a man carrying a lighter and an aerosol can, apparently has a bunch of amazing "Soldier" genes.). Liquid Snake was also a clone, making him Snake's Brother and leading to a massive amount of Daddy issues on his part.

To its credit, MGS provides a lot more story then the previous games. From the menu, a summary of both of the previous games are provided and there's a Briefing option which allows the player to get additional information about the facility, FOXHOUND, and the situation, presented as if you're watching sections of a taped interview. It gives more context to the game but can be skipped without impacting the understanding of the story.

Instead of random mercenaries in the previous game, the 6 members of FOXHOUND (Pyscho Mantis, Decoy Octopus, Sniper Wolf, Vulcan Raven, Revolver Ocelot and Liquid Snake) serve as antagonists via boss battles throughout the game. In this case, almost all of them (other than Decoy Octopus, who doesn't get a Boss battle) get some sort of character development, and quite a few of them are interesting and/or sympathic, much more so then the "Hur De Dur, I'm Shoot Guy. Prepare to die" type of bosses from the previous games.

Unfortunately, FOXHOUND and a group of special forces genome soldiers all going rogue at the same time to take over a military base and take VIP's hostage opens the door to a lot of questions. Does anyone in the Metal Gear Universe do background checks? Is FOXHOUND a military Special Forces unit or a freelance/mercenary group? Why does everyone decide to commit treason at the same time when Special Forces are supposed to be screened and loyal?

The game offers scant answers to any of these. There's some handwaving about them all being "brothers" due to the gene therapy is thrown out there, but soldiers in general tend to feel strong bonds with their fellow soldiers, so this doesn't mean much. There's some mention of Pyscho Mantis affecting their mind but it's also mentioned in terms of keeping their morale up. The best hint we get is that some of those involved were formally Outer Heaven Mercenaries (presumably the few not killed by Snake or the NATO bombing raid) but it's not clear if this refers to FOXHOUND or the Genome soldiers.

Which falls back to: Does anyone run background checks in this series? Because FOXHOUND either missed the fact that Big Boss was both running the unit and Outer Heaven at the same time or just didn't care that the Legendary Mercenary was still doing his Mercenary thing on the side. If the Outer Heaven mercenaries were recruited for FOXHOUND, it makes one wonder why someone thought this was a good idea considering what happened with Big Boss working both sides. I suppose FOXHOUND actually being a Freelancer Black Ops unit that does jobs for the US government makes a little more sense, but still makes you wonder exactly who was running the ship considering how often agents going rogue/working for the other side seems to happen.

There's also the possibility it was all due to the Patriots setting up everything that way, but that strikes me as being yet another example of Kojima retconning the story as he goes (which is starting to feel par for the course by this point), since the Patriots don't enter the picture until MGS2.

Regardless, there are more pressing issues. Namely that this series that feels like it needs to follow the video game convention of having boss fights but unfortunately isn't really built around combat. As such, Bosses overwhelmingly tend to be insulting easy(due to being able to find an easily abused tactic or poor enemy AI) or tediously difficult. In previous games, the battles tended to be over quickly and with minimum fuss, with the bosses having fairly cheap gimmicks that are easily exploited.

In MGS, however, it feels like combat and boss battles are far more difficult, mostly due to the controls being fairly clumsy where combat is concerned. The overheard camera doesn't give you a very good field of view(far less than in the previous games, comparatively), so it feels like it's extremely easy to be spotted by guards and cameras without even realizing the guards are there(there are googles to help you look around but these aren't as easy to use as they should be). And once you're in a firefight (once you inevitably get spotted), aiming at the enemy and not getting hit is quite difficult.

Beyond this, boss battles using stinger missiles and a sniper rifle are made difficult by the fact you can't move around while aiming them, giving you little opportunity to avoid incoming fire while trying to line up a good shot, so you have to get really good at switching between a long range weapon. OTOH, at least this games fight with a Metal Gear feels like an actual challenge, in stark contrast to the previous Metal Gears(Metal Gear TX-55 isn't even active when you fight it and Metal Gear D, despite have similar attacks to REX, was a fucking joke).

MGS has a bit of a pacing problem. It's in love with its cutscenes and audio conversations so it doesn't hesitate to slow the game to a crawl so have to "appreciate" them. However, there's also the problem of the ever present backtracking and "nonlinearity" of this series. As mentioned with other games before this, this series has always been into making you explore and backtrack in order to gain new items to explore new areas. However, in MGS, this feels like it's gone off the rails just a bit. MGS actually feels like a smaller game then either of the previous games, but takes longer because of these issues.

The midgame, represented by the communications towers, is where this feels particularly egregious. Several hours in, Snake and Meryl have linked up, defeated Pyscho Mantis, make their way through a series of caves infested with wolf-dog hybrids (which is the only way forward because of the ice and snow). They arrive and a long narrow hallway, one end of which has mines buried in the concrete floor (somehow). Meryl helps snake find a path through, and then immediately is shot down (non fatally) by a sniper at the far end of the hallway. Realizing the sniper is trying to lure him out, Snake plans to deal with the sniper first. He's told he needs a sniper rifle of his own to fight back and that the closest one is in the basement of the first building.

So snake backtracks through 2 buildings, grabs the rifle and returns to the hallway when Meryl is now gone and bloodstains mark where she was shot. The mines have conveniently been cleared away as well, because they aren't there anymore and nobody remarks on it ever again. After a sniper duel with Sniper Wolf, Snake approaches the tower, only to be snuck up on by two mooks and sniper wolf (who has just taken several high powered bullets from snake, not that she acts like it). Snake is taken captive and wakes up in a torture chamber. where in the player needs to do a button mashing QTE to keep snake alive for multiple rounds, and possibly multiple sessions with at least one bit set in a holding cell after torture sessions.

Eventually Snake breaks out, and find himself in the basement of the first building, which means he has to go all the way back to the communication tower to finally begin traversing it. And in this case, traversing it means fighting/running all the way to the top(there's a door halfway up that can't be opened from the inside), being greeted by liquid in a HIND D attack helicopter(who tries to kill him and blows up the bridge between towers) rappelling down to the halfway point(while being attacked by the helicopter, where the sealed door and a bridge is, cross the bridge(and having to dodge fire from the helicopter some more), finally getting inside the other tower, only to find out he can't go down because the elevator isn't working and the stairs are broken 10 feet from the bottom. So snake has to go up to the top of the tower and fight liquid in the HIND to finally be able to finish this whole section.

What I left out is the numerous cutscenes and CODEC conversations that pop up throughout this journey, making it even longer. The endgame consists of a series of back and forth backtracking through the final area before a series of boss fights and a rail shooter sequence buffered by more cutscenes (some of which are smack dab in the middle of the Metal Gear Rex battle) and CODEC conversations. Egads Kojima, whatever happened to letting us fight the damn boss and then letting us relax and enjoy the cutscenes afterwards? Instead I get to listen to Liquid monologue for what feels like 20 minutes about his bizarre theories on genetics(For those who don't already know, DOMINANT GENES ARE "GOOD", RECESSIVE GENES ARE "BAD") and massive daddy issues before and after the Rex battle, to the followed by a fistfight battle And oh god, I got sick of hearing liquid's "banter" during the fistfight and finally had to mute it, which actually made the fight easier.

I keep getting the impression Kojima really wants to make a movie called Metal Gear, but since he works for a game company this isn't an option. I say this because how often the story tries to force itself in front of you, gameplay be damned. In particular, near the end of the game, it feels like you spend more time watching cutscenes and listening to mandatory CODEC conversations then actually playing the game, in one particular case when Snake finally reaches Metal Gear REX and has to climb up and around it to reach the control room. During this climb, Snake has no less than three CODEC conversations, followed by a cutscene which is then followed by another conversation. It also doesn't help that the dialogue has more of a tendency to be overwrought and melodramatic then MG2, so despite more dialogue, it doesn't feel like it's actually improved in many cases.

Lest you guys think I hated MGS due to all my griping, I didn't. There are plenty of bits I liked. The cinematic bits(such as the intro with Gaelic opera) that actually work, work very well. The members of your support crew are generally likable and quite a few of the characters throughout the game get a lot of character development, even if it's often ham-fisted. The plot is often engaging and even the drama at your HQ near the end of the game is a nice touch, especially when it gives the impression that important things are happening off-screen independent of your actions. I also liked the fact instead of 9 separate keycards, you just get one, which you upgrade as you proceed through the game and it opens all doors of that security level or lower. Even better, someone finally marked the security levels on the doors (it only took 3 games and 10 years to make it happen).

I particularly appreciate the revelation that Snake is basically being manipulated by both sides the entire time, and that almost nothing he was initially told about his mission was true. There are plenty of hints that something is off, not the least of which that his initial goals are that of rescuing the hostages, and yet how he's meant to extract them is never discussed(almost as if his superiors knew he'd never actually get them out alive). OTOH, the fact the game eventually makes it blatantly obvious that Snake is being manipulated (with snake being all but told that the DARPA chief was a fake and the terrorists never had the launch codes) makes it frustrating that the only way to proceed is to continue helping the terrorists indirectly. It justifies Snakes complete distrust of those around him and in a way, proves Big Boss right, that Snake is so damaged by war that he has a hard time functioning anywhere but a battlefield.

There's also the fact the game is trying very hard to talk about serious political issues such as nuclear proliferation, targeted bioweapons, gene therapy and designer babies among other things, something few games even bother with. The fact that Metal Gear REX is literally a giant metaphor for nuclear proliferation and the US government's attempt to subvert an arms reduction treaty is in keeping with this, considering the game is rarely subtle about what it's trying to say.

Metal Gear Solid is one of those games I have very mixed feelings about. On one, I really appreciate what it was trying to do and how ahead of its time it was as far as subverting the tropes of war games. OTOH, it feels like it stumbles and falls short as least as much as it succeeds. I remember feeling somewhat the same way when I first played this back in the early 2000's and a 15ish years later, I stand by that feeling. With this is mind, I'm both curious and apprehensive about proceeding to MGS2 in the near future, since I haven't played any games past MGS. So this will be interesting.

Next time: Metal Gear Solid 2: The series discovers its crack pipe.

Dalisclock:
Metal Gear Solid: I?m ready for my close up, Kojima-san!

It?s the third game,

Ahem:

http://metalgear.wikia.com/wiki/Snake%27s_Revenge

Yeah, it's not canon, but...liar! Liar I call thee! Keep your forked tongue behind your teeth!

Dalisclock:
Unfortunately, FOXHOUND and a group of special forces genome soldiers all going rogue at the same time to take over a military base and take VIP?s hostage opens the door to a lot of questions. Does anyone in the Metal Gear Universe do background checks? Is FOXHOUND a military Special Forces unit or a freelance/mercenary group? Why does everyone decide to commit treason at the same time when Special Forces are supposed to be screened and loyal?

FOXHOUND and the Next Generation Special Forces both operated under the US Army command structure. It's easy to see (in my mind) how they came to rebel, as:

-FOXHOUND itself (Liquid and the rest) all have personalities that one can see would lead them to rebel. Liquid has daddy issues, Wolf has world issues, Mantis is a psychopath, etc. They could all collude well enough.

-The Next Gen Special Forces are brainwashed by Mantis, but even that aside, it's explained that they have affinity for Big Boss (due to gene therapy), and many of them were former members of Outer Heaven and/or Zanzibarland forces, as the US government bought out their contracts. Now, in theory, mercenaries fight for money rather than ideology, but I can see many of them having loyalty to Big Boss's ideals.

Anyway, all this aside, it's a good write up. I will admit that I love MGS1 - it's the first Metal Gear I played (first I'd even heard of, thanks to the reasons you listed out). Takes my #2 Metal Gear game spot, and I replayed it not too long ago, and found that it mostly holds up, though as you point out, genes don't work like that (though on the flipside, as an adult, I could better appreciate how terrifying a weapon like Metal Gear REX would be in real life). I'm certainly sympathetic to the amount of backtracking being an issue. I will say that I agree with you about combat being clumsy, but I feel that it's intentional, or at the least, it isn't a detriment. The game wants you to avoid conflict, so while blasting your way through guards technically is an option, it's not the ideal one.

You spend a lot of time talking about the cutscenes. Personally, I'm a sucker for long cutscenes (well, mostly), but if Yahtzee has taught me anything, I can certainly appreciate people being disgruntled by how often Codec conversations come up at times. At the least, it might have helped if there was a "skip conversation" option. Without question, it's a story-heavy game. I love the story/characters/themes, but if someone isn't sold, well, the game is only partially accomodating for them.

But like I said, good read. Here's to taking a crack at MGS2, a game that is...interesting, I guess.

Hawki:
Takes my #2 Metal Gear game spot, and I replayed it not too long ago, and found that it mostly holds up, though as you point out, genes don't work like that (though on the flipside, as an adult, I could better appreciate how terrifying a weapon like Metal Gear REX would be in real life). I'm certainly sympathetic to the amount of backtracking being an issue. I will say that I agree with you about combat being clumsy, but I feel that it's intentional, or at the least, it isn't a detriment. The game wants you to avoid conflict, so while blasting your way through guards technically is an option, it's not the ideal one.

You spend a lot of time talking about the cutscenes. Personally, I'm a sucker for long cutscenes (well, mostly), but if Yahtzee has taught me anything, I can certainly appreciate people being disgruntled by how often Codec conversations come up at times. At the least, it might have helped if there was a "skip conversation" option. Without question, it's a story-heavy game. I love the story/characters/themes, but if someone isn't sold, well, the game is only partially accomodating for them.

But like I said, good read. Here's to taking a crack at MGS2, a game that is...interesting, I guess.

I actually liked the justification for Metal Gear REX a lot more then the previous iterations of the Metal Gears, being a mobile nuclear launch system with potentially untraceable and uninterceptable warheads(yes, I know the railgun system has it's own issues), but also as an end run around the upcoming arms reduction treaty(because it doesn't use missiles, it's not covered). Not to mention the theory(if not outright confirmed) that the entire operation was the white house and pentagon trying to bury a lot of embarrassing mistakes and loose ends.

The combat being clumsy wouldn't bother me nearly as much if more combat could be avoided(thus incentivsing sneaking over combat), but since certain encounters(the elevator, boss fights) require you to fight rather then sneak, the lack of good combat controls is often frustrating. Hell, the fight with liquid at the end is done as a beatem-up fistfight, except the controls aren't designed for this, so instead it feels like fighting with one hand behind your back(against a dude who just got blown up when you destroyed REX but somehow still is stronger then you). This was less an issue in the previous games where almost all non-boss enemies died with one or two bullets and even the boss enemies could often be easily cheesed. So the pendulum swung from "insultingly easy combat" to "frustratingly lethal combat", so replaced the problem of "disappointing" to "JUST DIE ALREADY SO I CAN FINISH THE GAME! No, Don't you start a second phase.....!".

The cutscenes and radio conversations kinda fall under the problem of they have a lot to say, and often it's interesting, but the timing and frequency is often maddening. When crossing the Metal Gear REX hanger takes 5-10 minutes because every few feet you have to listen a CODEC conversation(and you can't move while on the CODEC screen), the idea that Kojima needed an editor to sit him down and slap him a couple times comes to mind.

Like you, I feel the story and characters are strong and interesting and probably heads above a lot of other games from the 1990's(I honestly can't remember what else was out around the time at the moment), but the presentation really needed work to avoid breaking flow like it does.

Dalisclock:
Not to mention the theory(if not outright confirmed) that the entire operation was the white house and pentagon trying to bury a lot of embarrassing mistakes and loose ends.

I'm iffy on certain aspects, namely as to exactly how much influence the Patriots had, and whether they'd even been concieved by Kojima by then (it's possible, if only because of Ocelot's triple agent status being revealed at the end). But, trying to avoid spoilers, the main catalyst for the operation was Armstech bribing Anderson (and by extension, DARPA) to fund the REX project. The rest is kind of getting into spoiler territory (especially post-MGS2), but the incident is more based on opportunism than any grand plan to eliminate Snake himself. That would have been a bonus for Houseman, but that was a bonus at that point.

I can go into more detail, but a) spoilers, and b) I'm still vague on some areas.

Dalisclock:

The combat being clumsy wouldn't bother me nearly as much if more combat could be avoided(thus incentivsing sneaking over combat), but since certain encounters(the elevator, boss fights) require you to fight rather then sneak, the lack of good combat controls is often frustrating. Hell, the fight with liquid at the end is done as a beatem-up fistfight, except the controls aren't designed for this, so instead it feels like fighting with one hand behind your back(against a dude who just got blown up when you destroyed REX but somehow still is stronger then you). This was less an issue in the previous games where almost all non-boss enemies died with one or two bullets and even the boss enemies could often be easily cheesed. So the pendulum swung from "insultingly easy combat" to "frustratingly lethal combat".

Fair enough, but I feel the boss fights are well done for the most part. Every one of them requires different tactics to win, and as you say, most of the FOXHOUND bosses are interesting enough characters so that if you beat them, you feel good/bad about it. Liquid vs. Snake is a simple fight mechanically, but IMO, the emotional/narrative payoff of the fight and beating the bastard makes up for it.

Well, not that we technically beat him, since it's actually FOXDIE that does the work, but...shadup.

Dalisclock:

Like you, I feel the story and characters are strong and interesting and probably heads above a lot of other games from the 1990's(I honestly can't remember what else was out around the time at the moment), but the presentation really needed work to avoid breaking flow like it does.

Hard to say. Speaking personally, I know that games were telling compelling stories before Metal Gear Solid, but the late 90s is when narrative began to matter more to me and/or when I started getting games that presented it. Over the course of 98-99, three games were released that I played that impacted me in terms of narrative, namely Ocarina of Time, StarCraft, and Metal Gear Solid. At the least, I'd say this period of time deserves points for presentation, even if plots of comparable quality had come before. And there's of course Half-Life, which everyone loves to bring up (can't comment, only played HL2).

Hawki:

FOXHOUND and the Next Generation Special Forces both operated under the US Army command structure. It's easy to see (in my mind) how they came to rebel, as:

-FOXHOUND itself (Liquid and the rest) all have personalities that one can see would lead them to rebel. Liquid has daddy issues, Wolf has world issues, Mantis is a psychopath, etc. They could all collude well enough.

-The Next Gen Special Forces are brainwashed by Mantis, but even that aside, it's explained that they have affinity for Big Boss (due to gene therapy), and many of them were former members of Outer Heaven and/or Zanzibarland forces, as the US government bought out their contracts. Now, in theory, mercenaries fight for money rather than ideology, but I can see many of them having loyalty to Big Boss's ideals.
.

FOXHOUND being the villians of MGS is kinda interesting if MGS if your first exposure to the series, because all you're really given is some background files on the previous games and some information that FOXHOUND was snakes old unit. Without having played the previous games, you have no basis for comparison to the group turned traitor as opposed to the group when Snake was part of the unit, implying that they have a larger role in MG1/MG2 and that at least some of them appear as allies in the previous games. Which mostly isn't true. Campbell and Miller(kinda) make a return as support staff and Grey Fox was a hostage and then an antagonist, but none of the main squad are even mentioned before MGS.

Though apparently Vulcan Raven is stated somewhere to have been one of the Outer Heaven Mercs(who Snake never encountered, maybe he had the day off) and Sniper Wolf seems to be heavily implied to have been one of the war orphans from either Outer Heaven or Zanzibarland, considering her backstory is consistent with Big Boss collecting War Orphans, getting them to look up to them as a father figure before training and arming them to fight the next war(and it's interesting Snake never mentions this, since it's something Big Boss actually talked about during their one conversation in MG2).

One last thing I forgot to mention in the main write up is the disconnect between Liquid's(?) plan to use Snake to use the PAL key to activate Metal Gear REX and FOXHOUND's heavy insistence on killing him before he ever gets there(despite some two part battles). Even if we accept FOXHOUND was not really following the plan, Liquid himself is more then happy to try very hard to kill him with the HIND D, to the point Snake has to shoot it down to move forward. Gee liquid, imagine if you in your HEAVILY ARMED RUSSIAN GUNSHIP had actually killed him? How would you have activated Metal Gear then(especially if you'd blown up the PAL key)? And if you didn't need him at all, why bother leading him around by the nose for half the game?

Hawki:

I'm iffy on certain aspects, namely as to exactly how much influence the Patriots had, and whether they'd even been concieved by Kojima by then (it's possible, if only because of Ocelot's triple agent status being revealed at the end). But, trying to avoid spoilers, the main catalyst for the operation was Armstech bribing Anderson (and by extension, DARPA) to fund the REX project. The rest is kind of getting into spoiler territory (especially post-MGS2), but the incident is more based on opportunism than any grand plan to eliminate Snake himself. That would have been a bonus for Houseman, but that was a bonus at that point.

I can go into more detail, but a) spoilers, and b) I'm still vague on some areas.

You're probably right and I appreciate not spoiling MGS2 for me(though I've heard it gets quite Mind Screwy so it might not make sense even if you did). At this point, I'm more likey to believe the sequel explaining anything in the previous games much more likely to be a retcon then Kojima having planned anything out in advance(and I've read Kojima apparently wasn't planning on making sequels to most of the games in the series, then eventually changed his mind or making a prequel).

I might be reading too much into it, though it is convenient that FOXHOUND could be isolated and eliminated in a place that was already ground zero to a not so legal secret weapons project(REX) and contained evidence of another not so ethical secret weapons project(the genome soldiers), both of which were political liabilities. Snake was expendable(once FOXDIE was introduced, though it's unclear how contagious it was) and even if FOXDIE fails, nuking the island could be easily written off as "Stupid terrorists mishandled a nuke they were trying to arm, blew themselves up, so sad". And it's not a great leap to assume FOXHOUND was more a liability then an asset at this point, especially after what happened with Big Boss. Or FOXHOUND was considered expendable as well, and letting them go rogue so they can conveniently eliminated does play into the series theme of "Soldiers being discarded once their purpose has been fulfilled".

Doesn't really require the Patriots(which I've purposefully tried to avoid learning too much about before MGS2) but rather the US government(the President and SecDef in particular) trying to cover their own ass. Though I am theorizing here, trying to make sense of some of the stuff that happened near the end(and the Ocelot secretly working for POTUS along with it).

Dalisclock:
but none of the main squad are even mentioned before MGS.

I don't think the main squad even existed back then. We know that FOXHOUND was re-organized at least twice, once when Campbell took over after Big Boss's 'death,' and another when Liquid Snake became the field commander (he joined post-Zanzibarland). We know when Liquid took over the unit was re-organized into a smaller organization focussing on counter-terrorism (and he also reinstated the codename system), whereas the impression I got from the early games/wiki is that FOXHOUND prior to this was a bit more generalized. We do know that under Campbell FOXHOUND did take part in conventional operations.

Dalisclock:

Though apparently Vulcan Raven is stated somewhere to have been one of the Outer Heaven Mercs(who Snake never encountered, maybe he had the day off)

Outer Heaven's a big place. I can buy them not encountering each other.

Dalisclock:
and Sniper Wolf seems to be heavily implied to have been one of the war orphans from either Outer Heaven or Zanzibarland,

She could have been IN those places, but she definately didn't come from them, as Outer Heaven was located in South Africa, and Zanzibarland in Central Asia. Wolf's Kurdish, which is far removed from both those places.

Dalisclock:

One last thing I forgot to mention in the main write up is the disconnect between Liquid's(?) plan to use Snake to use the PAL key to activate Metal Gear REX and FOXHOUND's heavy insistence on killing him before he ever gets there(despite some two part battles). Even if we accept FOXHOUND was not really following the plan, Liquid himself is more then happy to try very hard to kill him with the HIND D, to the point Snake has to shoot it down to move forward. Gee liquid, imagine if you in your HEAVILY ARMED RUSSIAN GUNSHIP had actually killed him? How would you have activated Metal Gear then(especially if you'd blown up the PAL key)? And if you didn't need him at all, why bother leading him around by the nose for half the game?

Yeah...that.

I can try and explain it, but I can't deny it's effectively an elephant in the room. Especially Liquid in the Hind.

Dalisclock:

I might be reading too much into it, though it is convenient that FOXHOUND could be isolated and eliminated in a place that was already ground zero to a not so legal secret weapons project(REX) and contained evidence of another not so ethical secret weapons project(the genome soldiers), both of which were political liabilities. Snake was expendable(once FOXDIE was introduced, though it's unclear how contagious it was) and even if FOXDIE fails, nuking the island could be easily written off as "Stupid terrorists mishandled a nuke they were trying to arm, blew themselves up, so sad". And it's not a great leap to assume FOXHOUND was more a liability then an asset at this point, especially after what happened with Big Boss. Or FOXHOUND was considered expendable as well, and letting them go rogue so they can conveniently eliminated does play into the series theme of "Soldiers being discarded once their purpose has been fulfilled".

That wouldn't be too bad of a plot actually, though FOXDIE kind of nerfs it. If the powers that be wanted FOXHOUND and the Genome Soldiers removed, they could have just injected them all with FOXDIE using whatever kind of cover story they wanted (or a more efficient killer), not to mention that they clearly wanted REX retrieved, so nuking Shadow Moses was a last resort.

Come to think of it, the "soldiers being discarded theme" could work in the context of MGS1 if one subscribes to the theory that Liquid is either keeping his forces in the dark intentionally, or using them as pawns to convince Snake that there's nothing untoward going on. There's a bit of evidence for this in the aftermath of the tank and Vulcan Raven battles. Shows that he's no better than the people he's fighting against.

Hawki:

I don't think the main squad even existed back then. We know that FOXHOUND was re-organized at least twice, once when Campbell took over after Big Boss's 'death,' and another when Liquid Snake became the field commander (he joined post-Zanzibarland). We know when Liquid took over the unit was re-organized into a smaller organization focussing on counter-terrorism (and he also reinstated the codename system), whereas the impression I got from the early games/wiki is that FOXHOUND prior to this was a bit more generalized. We do know that under Campbell FOXHOUND did take part in conventional operations.

I haven't see that much about how FOXHOUND is organized, though I'll admit I haven't see the manuals or read the wikis for the games either. I do remember it being said that FOXHOUND got a lot smaller between MG2 and MGS.

Hawki:

Outer Heaven's a big place. I can buy them not encountering each other.

Though MG2 went with the "NATO leveled the place as snake was escaping" explanation for why your allies from MG joined up with Big Boss. Then again, Grey Fox and a few others survived the bombing raid.....

Hawki:

She could have been IN those places, but she definately didn't come from them, as Outer Heaven was located in South Africa, and Zanzibarland in Central Asia. Wolf's Kurdish, which is far removed from both those places.

Sorry, that's what I meant. MG2 has a big plot point about Outer Heaven(unseen) and ZL being full of refugees and war orphans(seen all over the place in MG2) Big Boss "Collected" from conflicts all over the world. Considering Wolf seems to imply she met Big Boss/"Saladin" when she was young, it's not hard to imagine she ended up in Outer Heaven or ZL at some point.

Hawki:

Come to think of it, the "soldiers being discarded theme" could work in the context of MGS1 if one subscribes to the theory that Liquid is either keeping his forces in the dark intentionally, or using them as pawns to convince Snake that there's nothing untoward going on. There's a bit of evidence for this in the aftermath of the tank and Vulcan Raven battles. Shows that he's no better than the people he's fighting against.

Hell, call up "Miller" after a boss battle and he'll talk about how weak they were. He doesn't seem to show any respect at all for his team laying down their lives for him. Then again, Liquid comes across as an entitled little shit with daddy issues so this wouldn't surprise me. As much as he talks about having a cause, he doesn't seem to act like it.

So heads up to those of you that are still interested in this thread(all 3 of you), I just finished MGS2 this morning, so I'm hoping to have my write up posted by the end of the week.

In short: That was wierd. Yeah, pretty wierd.

This'll be good, finally a game I actually remember playing! Looking forward to it.

I just played MGSV a couple months ago (it was free on the PSN Plus thing that I need to sub to in order to play Destiny) and I was floored. I'd never really played a Metal Gear game before; I can remember playing a demo for MGS1, way back when I was pre-pubescent, but I didn't get far into it.

But MGSV:TPP, man...it hits this unique spot where it's both inherently ridiculous - a core game mechanic consists of attaching balloons to people so you can abduct them - but still gets you right in the feels when you're not expecting it. Also, it's tons of fun. Balloon abduction is inherently fun.

bastardofmelbourne:
I just played MGSV a couple months ago (it was free on the PSN Plus thing that I need to sub to in order to play Destiny) and I was floored. I'd never really played a Metal Gear game before; I can remember playing a demo for MGS1, way back when I was pre-pubescent, but I didn't get far into it.

But MGSV:TPP, man...it hits this unique spot where it's both inherently ridiculous - a core game mechanic consists of attaching balloons to people so you can abduct them - but still gets you right in the feels when you're not expecting it. Also, it's tons of fun. Balloon abduction is inherently fun.

I'm really looking forward to it, but I need to finish the rest of the canon games first(all the games on the Legacy Collection....Sorry Portable Ops). The trailers for V look especially good.

OTOH, I'm starting SNAAKKKKEEE EATER this weekend, which I've heard is a blast.

Also, My write up is almost done and should be up in the next day or so. MGS2 is a difficult game to really talk about without it turning into an essay. The whole crazy ending thing isn't easy to summarize but at the same time, I can't ignore it either.

Metal Gear Solid 2: Mushroom Samba

I'm going to admit right off the bat, I was feeling some trepidation going into this game. MGS2 is by far the most controversial game in the series (followed by maybe 4). So I took a little time off before really tackling this. After faffing around a bit with Saints Row 3 and 4, I finally decided to get it over with.

This is going to be a difficult section to write, mostly because of how different this game feels to the rest of the series thus far. Mostly because plenty has been written about the ending here and my purpose is not to rehash all of it. There's also the fact I ended up reading through the fan comic The Last Days of FOXHOUND before and during my platy through and I have to try and keep the comic bits and the bits that actually happened in game separate from each other. If I slip up on something, that might be why and feel free to correct me. If it's just something I missed, again, feel free to correct me.

Anyway, starting the game, I was pleasantly surprised how easy it was to slip into. The tanker chapter hit all the right notes, introducing the new mechanics and catching us up on the story thus far.

Despite the "Riding off into the sunrise with Meryl/Otacon" ending of MGS, Snake apparently can't stay retired and is now working with the anti-metal gear group "Philanthropy", which may or may not consist solely of Snake and Otacon. Their goal is to oppose new Metal Gears, which apparently have sprung up all over the world like weeds since some mysterious Russian who dresses like a cowboy took the Metal Gear test data from the last game and sold it on the black market. Now word is that the US Marine Corps are developing their own version (Along with the Navy and presumably the Air Force, since REX was the Army's baby, it seems) and snake plans to get evidence on camera to publish on the internet. Presumably they plan to petition congress after that, since it's never made clear exactly what Philanthropy does to stop Metal Gears since that bit gets pushed to the backburner pretty quickly. Expecting only a USMC guard presence on a "Tanker"(actually a freighter disguised to look like a tanker), Snake drops in with a Traq pistol (a first for the series), only to arrive just before a group of Russian commandos board the ship and quickly take over. The Russian are led by the Russian Colonel Gurlukovich (mentioned in the previous game as being allied to the FOXHOUND rebels) and his daughter Olga.

From there on, the mission goes increasingly pear shaped. Snake finds the new Metal Gear, RAY (an amphibious anti-metal gear metal gear(?)), only to have Ocelot show up and true to his Chronic Backstabbing Disorder, kills the Marine Colonel in charge of the operation, betrays his Russian allies (including the Russian Colonel) and then steals RAY before blowing up the tanker and escaping into the open ocean. Snake is presumed dead and the ship is lost with all hands (except those later revealed to have survived. Also, Ocelot apparently now has the hand of Liquid Snake grafted onto his arm, which occasionally possess him. So that happens.

Flash forward two years and "Snake" is deployed to deal with another Terrorist situation. Dead Cell, a Naval Anti-Terrorist Training team, along with a group of Russian Mercenaries, have seized control of Big Shell (and the US President, who was visiting), a big oil rig-like facility in lower New York Harbor, built to clean up the "Oil Spill" from the destruction of the "Tanker" from the opening chapter. Seal Team 10 has also been deployed, but without the knowledge that a FOXHOUND operative would be there as well.

"Snake" is soon revealed to be a new character who is designated "Raiden", a light haired, light skinned rookie, aside from having done a ton of VR training because it's "indistinguishable from real combat". In tow are Colonel Campbell from the previous 2 games and Rosemary, who is both Raiden's data analyst(save point) and Girlfriend. It's not normal to have your GF act as your one of your mission controllers, and Rosemary goes a long way to showing why it's a bad idea, which I'll get into later because I have to special bit of grief just for her.

The structure of Big Shell, and the mission in general, bears more than a passing resemblance to MGS. There's 3 major areas, one of them bridged by a chokepoint and another has a Point of no return. Raiden, like Snake, does a water infiltration to an underground dock. A Harrier boss fight stands in for the HIND D in the previous games (MG2: Solid Snake also had a Hind D boss fight with Stinger missiles). There's a Cyborg Ninja who just happens to be there (and is actually a character met previously), though this once is not a boss fight. There are two important Hostages to try and save (which, once again, the protagonist fails at). The most notable similarity, however, is this games Requisite Quirky Mini-boss squad, Dead Cell(DEAD CELL?).

Not by coincidence, Dead Cell is the US Navy's answer to the US Army's FOXHOUND Freak Show (because apparently there's a federal hiring quota for wierdos in elite black ops units in the Metal Gear universe), albeit a bit smaller. They're quickly introduced to you over the first hour or so of playing as Raiden. First off, you meet Vamp, a weird crazy-ass nigh-unkillable vampire guy(honestly, I don't really know what is going on with him. He's the only one who really doesn't get developed much despite getting more screen time then most of the others). Then there's Fortune, a lady in half a wetsuit (like she got halfway through disrobing and decided not to bother with the rest) with an EM Railgun, a death wish, the ability to summon Sad Saxophone music and somehow repels bullets and explosives (later revealed to be a fancy tech field thingy that she apparently didn't realize she had).

Fatman rounds out the bunch. He's a crazy bomb nut who gets about about an hour or so of his own personal "Die Hard with a Vengeance" subplot where he leaves C4 bombs all over Big Shell, forcing Raiden and Snake to run around freezing the bombs before Raiden finally engages him in a kind of ridiculous(though entertaining) boss fight, even if the "twist" involved was easy to spot a mile away. Namely, that all of bombs are in places that make no sense if you're trying to cause maximum damage with a minimum of explosives. Turns out they're almost all decoys....and defusing the last one triggers the real bombs in spots that will do a ton of damage.

The surprise guest in this lineup is the leader of Dead Cell, Solidus Snake AKA the 3rd Big Boss Clone AKA "Mr. President" from the stinger of MGS. The former president of the US (and apparently resigned over the Shadow Moses incident), he led Dead Cell(and the Russian Mercs) as the "Sons of Liberty". He also wears a special US Army Power Armor Doc Oct tentacle suit, because why not. Notably, he's roughly the same sage as the other two snakes, but looks far older because of his Clone heritage (which apparently is meant to foretell what happened to Snake a few years down the line).

Apparently, there were meant to be two other members of Dead Cell who didn't make the cut. There was Chinaman, who was a Vietnamese diver and Special Effects Expert who got folded into Vamp (including his boss arena). Probably for the best, considering how.... unfortunate that name is. And then there was Old Boy, apparently meant to be a really old Nazi Sniper and was recycled for The End in MGS3(without the Nazi part).

Because this is a Metal Gear game, Snake shows up again, but not as the PC. For the rest of the game, he's posing(badly) as the last of Seal Team 10(after Fortune and Vamp quickly wipe out the others) under the name of Iroquois Pliskin(a nod to Snakes inspiration, Snake Pliskin), which I'm pretty sure fooled absolutely nobody other than Raiden.

The game introduces a few new mechanics, which are quite welcome. A first person (weapon aim) view is now mapped to the controller, which makes using weapons SO much easier, especially in situations where you can see beyond the range of patrolling guards. The Tranquilizer pistol (and later sniper rifle) makes pure stealth runs feasible for much of the game (except a few boss fights where lethality is mandatory). Finally, the tweaking of the guard response, where being spotted will result in an alert phase where attack teams will swarm the area and do room sweeps looking for you, gradually easing up if they don't spot you until a normal state of alert was reestablished. An added complication is that certain guards will check in every few seconds and if they fail to report in, a search team will be deployed to check for him. Knocked out guards will be reawaken and Dead guards will be replaced if discovered.

Admittedly, I tried to play the game killing as few people as possible, using the traq gun for almost all situations, which probably got me killed more times then I really should have. I probably should have also read the manual better, because I did not realize there was VR training for this game or realized there was a Chokehold move for unarmed takedowns. I felt even worse when I went back and realized MGS also had a chokehold move available and I never realized it (I didn't play the VR missions for that game either, despite knowing they were there). I don't know if that means I'm a shit MG player, I'm trying to go through the games too fast or that I'm constantly carrying over habits from the previous games with different mechanics (MG2 to MGS is particularly jarring). However, I'm quite happy with the gameplay improvements MGS2 made over MGS.

Now that I've covered all of that, it's time to get to the interesting part. MGS2, if nothing else, is known for 2 things (other than Raiden). The first is the introduction of the Omni-present conspiracy that apparently lurks in the background of the rest of the series, here known as the [unpronounceable Japanese syllables]....er, The Patriots. The other is the meta-fictional/post-modernist weirdness/soapboxing that pervades the final act.

About halfway through the game, after the bomb plot is dealt with and Raiden proceeds to his primary goal of rescuing the President, among other hostages. After an....interesting procedure for disguising himself as an enemy soldier, Raiden makes contact with Ames, a member of the secret service who finally talks about the Patriots, setting the stage for later on when the US President finally lays out kind of what's going on, with the Patriots and Arsenal gear. Essentially, the entire mission up this point has a bit a lie, and it turns out there was a hidden mission involving the Sons of Liberty trying to steal a new type of Metal Gear from a secretive cabal (who are totally not the Illuminati) who apparently control at very least the US government.

The Tanker incident was a farce, an excuse to build Big Shell covering up the construction of what's essentially a huge submarine/amphioxus assault ship, with it's own complement of deployable, unmanned Metal Gear RAYs. Amusingly, Arsenal Gear, as it's called, was built by the US Navy and it seems fitting that the Navy would pretty much built a giant experimental combination of two ship types and called it a Metal Gear (My initial guess was that the Navy just named a warship USS Metal Gear and called it a day). I can imagine the only reason we didn't hear about an Air Force version of Metal Gear is that it's difficult to make a tank light enough to fly.

Much is discussed about the Patriots, their motivations and the threat they pose, but what is known is that they are the true puppet masters behind the US Presidency (and Congress), were responsible for framing Snake for the Tanker incident and their true goal is to use Arsenal Gear as the core of a program to essentially control all digital information to prevent any threats to their power from getting strong enough to stop them. One of the more interesting facets of their masquerade is that anyone who knows enough about them to do anything is also prevented from doing so, by rendering them incapable of discussing them. In Japanese, their name renders in speech as syllables that don't exist (if I understand correctly) while an English speaker just spouts a bunch of nonsensical syllables that make you sound like an idiot.

Solidus, Dead Cell and a few others are aligned against the patriots, making it extremely questionable exactly who the bad guys are in this situation, though also becomes increasingly difficult to determine exactly who is working for who and for what at this point on. Numerous characters, including Rose, are revealed to be Patriots or Patriot agents (willingly or under duress) and near the end of the game, it feels like keeping track of who is betraying who requires a flow chart of some sort. Revolver Ocelot is a big factor in this, both working for and against dead cell and the patriots (it would seem), leaving it unclear exactly what he has in mind(or how he keeps all of this straight). It's a nice twist(s) but also a convoluted gambit pileup in the final stretch of the game.

At least it's somewhat comprehensible compared to the post-modernist slant the game really starts piling on towards the finale. I don't intend to rehash all the theories and arguments I've seen regarding what the hell is going on, partly because it's so difficult to talk about succinctly and this write up is already going to be long enough as it is. Suffice it to say, Raiden gets a lot of backstory revealed (in a manner that makes him a lot more sympathetic), which in turn goes hand in hand with the concept that entire game is a commentary on the series and sequels in general. The similarities between Big Shell and Shadow Moses are intentional, feeding into the idea that Raiden, presumably trained exclusively in VR (now revealed to be a lie, as his actual experience is much more tragic and brutal), in the same place as the player, pretending to be Snake and reliving his experiences. The previous games and even the opening chapter are implied to be simulations (or video games) and even in the present, the difference between reality and simulation is blurred, leaving Raiden (and the player) with a sense of emotional whiplash.

Or at least, that's the intent. Some of this works much better than other parts, and a fair bit of that is due to the fact I'm playing this in 2017 and not when it released in 2001, so a bit of the impact has been lost. Since then, Bioshock (and Infinite), the Stanley Parable, Spec Ops: The Line and Undertale have all played with post-modernism and speaking directly to the player. Some of which, including Spec Ops, have done it better and it's hard to really get past those other experiences that have played with this concept in the years since MGS2 to get into the same mindset that a player in 2001 would have had.

There's also the implicit knowledge that MGS4 released nearly a decade ago and apparently did it damnedest to try to put context to and explain all of this shit that MGS2 placed on the table, a perspective that a player in 2001 wouldn't have had as to how real any of this actually was.

It's my understanding that Kojima never had any intention of following up on the ending and having to explain what he, partially because he had a message he wanted to put out, partially (no doubt) that he was engaging his inner auteur without regard to what anyone else though, and to the best of my knowledge, he was doing his best to kill the series and move onto something else. I've also heard (but haven't confirmed) that the team was partially running on desperation and probably throwing shit at the wall to see what sticks.

Of course, the success of MGS2 and the fact MGS3 is considered one of (if not) the best game in the series meant Kojima wouldn't be able to get away with just letting people figure out what the hell happened at the end.

How do I feel about it? In some ways, it's fucking brilliant, using the entire game structure as a commentary on the series and sequels in general. However, it's also a total fucking mess at times, not helped by the fact quite a few scenes near the end were cut out due to 9/11, so Arsenal just kind of shows up in the middle of NYC so Raiden and Solidus can have a sword fight on a rooftop (despite the fact Raiden knows at this point that killing Solidus is exactly what the Patriots want him to do).

Regardless, I'm at least glad it tried something different. Especially in a world where so many series pop out the same iterations every year or so. Listening to Kojima trying to lecture you about meme theory and the influence of information manipulation on society for 15 minutes like he'd just read through a bunch of peer reviewed essays on the subject and desperately wanted to discuss them with someone is more noteworthy then Shoot the Dude in the War game #784 that tries to aw you with all the 'splosions with maybe a word of lip service to the idea that war is bad.

Kojima, despite his penchant for depicting larger than life character and/or circus freaks and bizarre plots, is fairly good most of the times of trying to tell stories with fuzzy moral lines. In MG2, characters who betrayed or opposed you had good reasons for doing so(at least to them) and even Big Boss gets a moment to shine. MGS makes gives it's villians decent, if not outright empathic, character development and MGS2 continues this trend. For all their shitty actions, most of the antagonists are depicted as not entirely bad guys, especially since when their opposition to and betrayal by the patriots comes to light. Solidus, who is revealed to be a fucking monster, makes some pretty good points about why he's doing what he's doing.

And then there's Raiden, who apparently was quite hated when this game came out, apparently because: 1.) He wasn't Snake, 2.) He wasn't revealed to be the PC for much of the game until after the game released (the trailers flat out lied about it) and possibly because 3.) He's not a manly cynical badass like Snake (at least, not at first). My feelings on him weren't nearly as cynical, though again, I had the benefit of not playing this at release and knowing he was going to take over for Snake early on. There's also the fact I recently played through MG and remember that Snake started out as a Rookie with no personality at all, so I figured they were doing a parallel with Raiden (though I'll also admit being occasionally amused by his slipping on bird poop and falling into the ocean like an idiot). Occasionally I was annoyed by how dense Raiden was, such as repeatedly being told that FOXHOUND has been disbanded for years by different people and yet never thinking to question why people keep telling him them, or near the end, suddenly realizing he's never actually met the colonel in person (it takes him a REALLY long time to figure out what's going on with that). The question if Rosemary is even real (the person, not the character she admits she was playing for him) seems particularly dumb considering it's already been established that him and Rose live together and are intimate. I know it's supposed to be him losing it and questioning just how much of his world is real, but that bit doesn't work well and I would hope Raiden can tell the difference between sex with another person and fucking his pillow.

Then again, the realization that he's pretty much been manipulated and brainwashed his entire life as part of a Grand Patriot Scheme (to accomplish what exactly I'm still a little hazy on, since the "making anyone into Snake" is apparently bunk), as well as the realization he was actually a particularly murderous child solider in his youth (courtesy of Solidus) helped explain a lot to me, as well as giving me more respect (and sympathy) for the character. While MG2 also touched on the subject, MGS2 is one of the few games (or media for that matter) which even talks about child soldiers and one of the reasons I'm willing to tolerate Kojimas other faults to a certain degree. The reveal that Raiden was unwittingly working for the Patriots the entire time and pretty much did exactly what they wanted(ensuring their victory) was a nice touch as well.

However, on the other hand, there's the subject of Rosemary, who was perhaps the most grating element in the game as a whole. I don't mind the idea of a Metal Gear game finally having a love interest for the PC, especially if it helps develop the character. The inherent problem with Rosemary (or Rose, as I'm going to call her from now on) despite acting as a vital party of your Mission Control team(and your Save Point), Rosemary spends an inordinate amount of time bugging Raiden(or Jack, his apparent "real" name) over the CODEC about the state of their relationship. Even at times it's really not appropriate or helpful for her to do so. It comes across as seriously clingy after a while and at one point I was desperately hoping there was a "Break up with Rose, bring in replacement" option so I could quit having to listen to her continually prattle on. It's made worse considering you have to call her to save and she's rarely content to let you continue on your mission once you have saved.

In the end, it ends up sabotaging part of what it was meant to achieve, because after a certain point I started skipping their relationship talks, stopping just long enough to scan and get the gist of what they were talking about because I really honestly didn't care anymore. There were far more interesting things going on in Big Shell and Rose breaking into his Raiden's room because she thought he was cheating on her wasn't high on my list of "Things I care about" at that point. Especially considering it's all supposed to build up to the revelation of Raiden's shitty past and brainwashing. The eventual revelation that Rose was/is a Patriot agent who was playing a role to keep tabs on him only made me dislike her more (her "But I feel in love with you for real" to the contrary) because not it feels like she's purposely trying to mess with his head and distract him the entire game. Unless that was the entire point, to add another element of stress.... However, I'm not sure that's what Kojima actually had in mind or if he somehow thought that this is an example of a good relationship (his attitude towards women is questionable at times, considering some of his other games).

The other bit of the game I was particularly annoyed by was EE's entire arc, which feels like a really bad joke at the expense of the player. Early in the game, it's established that Otacon is looking for someone important to him, his half(?) sister Emma, or as he calls her, EE. Later in the game, it's brought up that she's on Big Shell and a genius computer programmer or some such. Her skills are needs to upload a virus that will cripple the AI that controls Arsenal Gear. Getting to her is relatively easy (aside from a fight with Vamp). Getting her back to the other side of Big Shell is a massive pain in the ass.

First of all, due to some fun with explosives and a harrier earlier, the bridge linking the two sides of Big Shell has been severed and much of Shell 2 is flooded/flooding. When Raiden finally meets up with EE, he learns that due to some fairly disgusting character development for Otacon, EE is afraid of the water (despite once being a strong swimmer). This means you literally have to carry her through 2 underwater sections (and her O2 bar is a bit shorter than yours is) and it takes Raiden a fair bit of coaxing to even manage that (despite the fact the room she was in starts flooding, so her only alternative is to stay and drown). If that weren't enough, she has apparently been "injected" with something that makes her unable to walk, meaning you literally have to hold her hand and drag her along. To add insult to injury, there are bugs that look like roaches called "sea lice" (seen much earlier in the game) that suddenly appear directly in your way (with no way around), at which point EE starts freaking about because she's scared of bugs. Even past that, despite the fact it's mentioned several times that the guards should be evacuating due to Arsenals impending activation, some guards decide to start patrolling areas directly in your part where they weren't before. This is all complicated by the fact you are not allowed to hold a weapon and pull EE along at the same time, requires a lot of "Let EE go, select weapon, deal with threat/bugs, put weapon away, grab EE, continue". I was going to lose it if EE had said she was afraid of ladders and Raiden had to carry here when they have to descend a long one. At least she does that without pitching a fit, because I was seriously getting pissed about her constant whining about everything that she's conveniently terrified of that happens to be blocking the only path to the other side of Big Shell. The final run is sniper mission where she has to be protected while walking along a narrow path from enemy snipers, mines and armed drones that some out of nowhere, which at least didn't require her to be dragged because she finally realized she had legs and could walk it. And then Vamp pops out of nowhere and fatal wounds her, because reasons. Yep.

The whole sequence put a bad taste in my mouth. The abovementioned factors made it feel like the escort mission from hell. I didn't realize till afterwards that you can literally just smack her until she passes out and carry her past the obstacles, because that would have been preferable to listen to her whine the entire way. Not helping was the bizarre and disturbing revelation that young Otacon was apparently having sex with his stepmom which is why EE almost drowned and now has "hydrophobia", or having Rose accuse Raiden of creeping on EE if you talk to her during this whole sequence. Apparently because Rose thinks Raiden is into screwing younger women (possibly a teenager) he's just met while the Big Shell is on the verge of collapse (Once again, I was searching for the "Break up with Rose" option and was disappointed to find none). Honestly, I was kind of glad when EE dies at the end because it meant I was finally done with this whole ordeal (that and I found her obnoxious), I didn't even mind so much that Vamp pretty much made all the escorting her to that point pretty pointless.

Moving on to other things, I'm still kinda confused about the whole Ocelot/Liquid Arm thing. It's introduced during the tanker chapter and every so often, when ocelot shows up on screen it "acts up" and sometimes Liquids voice and (presumably) mind takes over Ocelots body. It doesn't really seem like anyone really notices it or finds it particularly strange. It just kind of happens and people just kind of accept it. Even for this series it's weird and there's not even any explanation (that I found) for WHY Ocelot decided to replace his severed arm with Liquids Arm. I knew about it before playing, but I was hoping for some kind of context. Presumably I'll find out in MGS4.

For those of you still reading, MGS2 is quite an interesting journey and often a fun one, but is often messy and even nonsensical at times. I can only imagine how this would feel if I didn't know more games would be released later to fill in some of the holes and provide context for what happened. However, I can keep those in mind because next up is MGS3: SSSSSSNNNNNNNNAAAAAAAKKKKKKKKEEEEE EEEEEAAATTTERRR

It's really interesting looking back on MGS2 for me because it was my first exposure to the series. I got the Substance version on Xbox and played through it with no knowledge of the first game except for the existence of Solid Snake. All the parallels to MGS went right over my head, as did the whole meta thing that came from it due to lack of expectation. Even with that I still really liked the game back then and managed to go through it getting every single dog tag on all difficulties except European Extreme. To this day I still have never played all of MGS, though I have played all of the mainline games since 2.

I look forward to your thoughts on the rest. They are all interesting and/or divisive in their own ways.

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