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Metal Gear

Metal Gear Report: Exercise in tedium

I grew up without any Metal Gear in sight (except for the VR training of MG:S), and generally avoided it altogether for no apparent reason, but it just got up to a point lately, possibly due to MGS5:TPP where I finally gave in and declared time to explore the entire franchise in a row. I wanted to start from the NES games — I stand corrected, as they were initially released for MSX2, even though a slightly modified version for NES does exist —, but I’ve been repeatedly told not to, so I started from MG:S.

As I keep playing through the games I’ll keep updating this post, my conclusions and reasoning, and as a wise man once said: “it’s not over, ’till it’s over”. So let’s get crackin’, but first, an image of NES MG, courtesy of wikipedia:

Metal Gear [NES]
Reminds me a lot of Rambo III, for reasons.


To avoid confusion: the order used to list the games (by release date) is not the order in which I played them. I played them in this order: Metal Gear: SolidMetal Gear Solid 2: Sons of LibertyMetal Gear Solid 3: Snake EaterMetal GearMetal Gear 2Metal Gear Solid: Peace WalkerMetal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the PatriotsMetal Gear Solid: Portable OpsMetal Gear Rising: RevengeanceMetal Gear Sold V: Ground ZeroesMetal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Take that into consideration while reading through.


Metal Gear Retro: Keep calm and knock on the walls

Original title: Metal Gear
Originally released for: MSX2
Year of initial release: 1987

After completing MGS3:SE I took advantage of the two MSX2 ports of MG/MG2 and rolled with it.

Loving the type of game, I had a blast with it, even though I chickened out and played in the easy difficulty. But remembering that it took me a few years to perfect Rambo III, I swiftly decided that I did not have to repeat the process, and just enjoyed the game for a change. It bears many similarities with game within the same genre:

  • map change through side scrolling;
  • key objects scattered through the maps;
  • creative gating system to restrict some zoning;
  • respawning mobs with zoning;
  • projectile patterns and other small details.

Metal Gear

The game is a learn and destroy, much more effective than its successors. Some boss fights can be quite difficult, until you figure out which weapon and method to use, and thus proceed with their annihilation.

The keycard system on the other hand is quite dated, being the first of its kind, and you will probably be forced to juggle through 9 different access level cards praying to hit the needed one fast enough, before waves of bullets tear you to pieces.

Overall this is some damn fine retro-gaming pearl, for all intents and purposes. I intentionally avoided the original mode for the game, and it shows (supposedly, but didn’t double check) when the item stocks and the health are maxed out every Nth death.

Regardless of the easy modes, or emulation procedures, I will award this game with

9 knocks on the wall out of 10

I found myself dumbfounded once too many with all areas clear and nowhere to go, to give it a 10/10. Just a tip for you though, should you decide to follow in my footsteps: keep calm, and knock on the walls.

Metal Tune 2: Solid Soundtrack

Original title: Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake
Originally released for: MSX2
Year of initial release: 1990

LISTEN TO THIS SOUNDTRACK, OH MY DEAR GOD! It’s fucking brilliant. And the game is better, and the soundtrack is so strong from the beginning, characters are better developed, and so many innovations compared to MG1:

  • minimap, showing adjacent map sections in a 3×3 grid;
  • crawling;
  • key grouping – to reduce the stress, every 3rd key card allows you to open a door in a specific section that packs 3 of them together: red (1-3), blue (4-6), and green (7-9);
  • given the visible 3×3 minimap, patrols now travel through multiple sections instead of single square one;
  • better graphics, UI, and item management;
  • bestest soundtrack;
  • creative use of food.

This game is everything I liked of Metal Gear, plus the techniques and tactics from Metal Gear Solid 1 & 2, condensed in a single isometric action game. It even features a prototype of ToD (see below), namely the Tower of Mild Inconveniences and Traps. Design, character development, soundtrack, areas, are so carefully designed that it’s a real pleasure to play. So far my favorite game in the series of the ones I played so far (Metal Gear up to Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater), with Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty on the second step of the podium.

An absolutely must play, scoring a whopping

10 OSTs out of 10

Two notes are necessary though.

  1. Campbell’s Frequency – Roy will change frequency mid-game, asking you to read the manual. Konami, being konami, didn’t put the reference anywhere on the Snake Eater manual nor in the digital one, so here it is: 140.66.
  2. Tap code – Just like the frequency, there is no sign of the decoding table which is required to progress through the game, so here it is:
1 2 3 4 5
1 A B C D E
2 F G H I J
3 L M N O P
4 Q R S T U
5 V W X Y Z
6 1 2 3 4 5
7 6 7 8 9 0

Encoding and decoding is done through number pairs, for example HELP would be encoded to (2,3),(1,5),(3,1),(3,5). In MG2:SS only numbers are used, and only for radio frequencies, so you can expect 5 groups of 2 digits each. Since the frequencies all range in the 140.00-99, you most likely only need to decode the last 2 digits, since the beginning will always be (6,1),(6,4),(7,5).

Finally, I’ll leave you with a little map, that I started using past the 3rd time in the swamps… ’cause ain’t nobody got time fo’ dat.

Swamp map path
Swamp map path, courtesy of Marco’s MSX page, slightly modified for better visibility from a distance.

Metal Gear: Dense

Original title: Metal Gear: Solid
Originally released for: PlayStation
Year of initial release: 1998

I’ve been warned about this title many times before starting this adventure, but the wrong reason has always been mentioned to me: “look, it’s old, it didn’t age too well”. I always proceeded to point that that yes, I know, but no, I don’t care, I played late the entire Deus Ex series, and I still think that Deus Ex is possibly the best game ever. What could a year and then some count in the big scheme of retro-gaming?

Boy, was I wrong or what.

You see, talking with my girlfriend we reached the conclusion that it belonged to an era when we had nothing better to do, where we could do yet another playthrough of FF7/8, like it was the best thing ever. Remember when draining 99 stacks of Fire/Fira/Firaga was perfectly acceptable? I shiver at the memories thought long lost. Metal Gear Solid is part of the culture, that I’m possibly simply too old to accept anymore, but let’s start from the beginning.

Submarine

MG:S starts with several set-up scenes, where everything is explained, the whats and whys, until you’re thrown to the field. Pretty standard, although I’ve claimed to my gf: “they’re lying, it’s all bs. I don’t trust any of them…”. History is condemned to repeat itself: in the money predictions since Alias, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, so on and so forth. But I’ll avoid further comments to reduce spoilers.

We play as Solid Snake, a super one-man-army soldier, who’s totally oblivious to his surroundings, and the unfolding of events leave him puzzled like a child dealing with first day of elementary school.

The maps are (mostly) well designed, the story telling is solid — no pun intended — and the game proceeds at a comfortable pace, until we reach the first boss. And that’s where the game falls flat on his face: the bosses are great, in-depth back story with just enough hints to keep you wanting for more, the combat is unique (and great) for each of them, but they suffer the same problem: huge health pool.

You figure out the mechanics of the boss fight, you try to find out the best course of action, you optimized it, and fail. The checkpoints are there, but “not enough”, and the first boss fight was particularly dull for me, because in order to get to him I had to C4 several walls, and each time I failed had to get back to him. In hindsight I could have possibly blew everything up, went backward and forward again to let the checkpoint proc, but anyway… So, now, you’re in your Nth run with the boss, and you shoot him. And again. And again. And again. I never really counted, but on a normal run it took an average of 10-12 shots to kill a boss, while on some tougher bosses it took a higher count and a longer time. Multiply it by the times you “almost got him” and then failed, sometimes due to a glitch, and the fun will be long gone. I didn’t hate it, but these sections of the game bored me to tears, past the first couple tries. The previous also applies whether you shoot them with a pistol, or with a fucking missile launcher. None can do it faster.

Radio
Radio communications (Codec, in-game lingo) are a fundamental part of the game, providing help, tips, directions and save mechanism. Oh, and the entire storyline.

It was during boss fights that I thought of it as an “exercise in boredom”. If you think of it, especially with all the interesting boss mechanics they have, it should be the opposite. A magnificent skirmish if you will, but it’s reduced to “oh, I hit him, so now he’s invulnerable, I better get over here until he becomes vulnerable again, so I can shoot him again and then run away”. Classic hide and seek, with guns trope.

But it gets worse.

A couple questions remain unanswered: who replanted mines in here after I swiped them all before the boss fight? And who installed new security cameras in here, where previously there were none? Why is the thing I need always in another sector? Why the hell must I let the wolves piss on me? I’m lying, that last part was fucking brilliant. “These are but mere annoyances”, I hear you say as I nod in agreement, but this is not all, let’s make a quick list:

  • you can’t move and shoot;
  • you can’t lock targets;
  • you can aim at targets, that are disposed in a 3D space, with questionable results;
  • the best course of action is to stand still and shoot, using the default auto aim hip fire;
  • you can’t choke enemies unless standing still;
  • failure to comply with the standing still choke rule, will send enemies rolling around, temporarily stunning them, resulting in a harder eventual kill;

Not too bad for an action game. I won’t mention the stealth part, because if you consider games like Splinter Cell it pales in comparison, at least with the mid-late part of the series I’m familiar with. “Still not enough”, you say? Ok, then, here’s the worst of all:

THE TOWER OF DOOM

Tower of Sadness
The tower of sadness and despair. Still frame of classical Solid Snake shooting the wall.

Near the end of the game you will need to run up a tower. A seemingly endless tower, with 48 ramps of stairs if I’m not mistaken. Two guards give chase, more are stationed along the floors. if you kill the two chasing you, two more will spawn, and whether you’re at the first floor or the 20th, it’ll take the same time to jump on your ass. You run desperately, killing ahead and behind you, while enemies in the middle of ramps will be nigh impossible to hit, thanks to Snake either being stunned, shooting a wall, or shooting the air around the enemy. Eventually you’ll get past him, until Snake blocks in place on certain sections with enemies poking holes through your whole body, consuming all the rations (health packs), and shortly leaving you for dead. After several failed attempts (do 30-40 still count as several?) I finally gave up and used the “official” method that someone looked up for me, where 3/4th in you just chain stun grenades and run for your dear life.

Stealth Ninja
Just a stealth ninja in his stabby-stabby action

Then we have the third to last boss, which is so very possible to be fucked up, missing key items, that they included a perfectly legit way of cheating it. And finally the last mega-iper-super-duper boss encounter with multiple phases (for a 40-50 shots combined, with a single life) where I have no shame in admitting that through means of emulations I cheated out, because at that point I already had enough of it.

Conclusions:

  • is it terrible to play? No;
  • are the mechanics unusable? No;
  • is it it impossible to complete a perfect run, given time and knowledge? No;
  • is it possible to kill every boss legitimately, without being hit? Yes;
  • is it fun trying to kill bosses? Not with this huge health disparity, where bosses can kill you in a few hits, but killing them takes for fucking ever;

If we don’t take Solid Snake’s stupidity into account, MG:S sports a good soundtrack, memorable characters, good graphical design, nice map design, great boss design, great storytelling. The shooting mechanics are not great, and the boss fights tend to be too long, but it’s still a good game in my book, which I had fun playing, except for that pesky tower. So all things considered, I give it a score of

A surveillance camera? out of 10

Actually, not Snake 2: Taking Liberties

Original title: Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty
Originally released for: PlayStation 2
Year of initial release: 2001

Yet another MG, yet another start with no inventory, weapon or equipment whatsoever. This single fact makes the starting of the game by far the weakest point in the entire storyline, especially if you have two of those condensed in a single game. Also, not knowing the trick to fast reloading weapons (double tap R2/RT) for a game (MGS) and a half (first half of MGS2), made it especially weird for me, being all to used to a reload button. But alas…

While only past the first boss, it seemed very clear from the beginning that this game suffers of the same mechanical problems of its predecessor, and then some. I’ve also badly digested the fact that they took my favourite part of MG:S and made a train-wreck out of it. I mean, just look at it! LOOK AT HIS FACE!

MGS2 Radio
Sons of Liberty codec. Oh gawd no ;(

But I took to great surprise that past the first boss, the main problems I originally had with the bosses are fixed, and new options are introduced. In (or starting from?) MGS2:SoL a non-lethal approach has been added to the bosses, which apply in very different way. Some require mostly/only melee combat, while others can be stunned with lethal weapons and then hit with tranquilizers and such, providing even better variety for the player. By using this approach, they were also able to turn the boss fights into more than just “enemies with a lot of health”, since now proper combos / properly timed attacks can take up to 20% of their health in Normal mode.

The story is still twisted, at times quite cliché and predictable, but it offers a good entertainment with just a tip of frustration. This game also features a ToD-like section, but it can be cheated out (or simply made easier) by good placement and a lot of auto-aimed shooting.

So when all this is said and done, all that remains is a good game if you can take it with a grain of salt, play it for the story and don’t go for the impossible routes (like Dog-Tags achievement in the HD remaster), unless you’re more akin to self-inflicted suffering than myself. I can thus now confidently award this game with a solid

Snake, you’re a legend! out of 10

Bear Grylls 3: Chameleon Eater

Original title: Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
Originally released for: PlayStation 2
Year of initial release: 2004

This has all the chances to be the worst game in the series, it surely is the worst so far. I was told that they went nuts with storytelling from the end of MGS2, but now I’m seeing it with “me own eyes”.

Throw away most of the previous gameplay elements, based around infiltration, as you are sent in jungle-areas, wearing different camos and face paints as you dash through unimportant mid-hubs with enemies shooting at you since it doesn’t matter anyway, kill/entrap animals and thus proceed to eat them, ’cause that’s going to raise your stamina and that’s how you heal. Every 5 minutes or so. Also, you now have to patch yourself up, using different (and limited) components, or suffer your health leaching out endlessly. You’d better also watch out, ’cause one or two of those animals are going to poison you, aside from the venomous ones.

They went from designing bosses for the game to cobble together some non-sense bosses ’cause the players are used to them, so that’s how they have to roll now.

Crocodile Cap

6 years, 2 consoles (not counting the HD remaster), and the aim is still broken, the auto-targeting is still broken, the detection system is ultra broken, but you can wear a crocodile hat, so everything’s ok.

I haven’t finished the game yet, and will update the events accordingly, but given the current trend I don’t fear evaluating this game as a

Crocodile cap out of 10

The highlight of this game have been Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2 (yes, the NES games) embedded in it, in the HD remaster. But I’m a retro-gaming fan, so it might account less than it should.

With this game completed, I can finally assess that the game design is totally broken. You can perfectly see what they were trying to do, but several bosses and encounters in general are so broken that there are, again, official cheat strategies, one of them being so bad that they even added a cheat code to make it less of a pain. I can’t describe it too much without spoiling it, so imagine three or four maps, the size of an average CoD:MW2 more or less, and the boss randomly picks a place to hide and wait. To the end of life, quite literally. There are also other bosses which are pretty much broken, not so much by design, where you “should” do it standing in “specific spots” which just happen to be of enough length to get out of the boss’ OP abilities.

To add insult to injury, every time you now save, you’re nagged about movies instead of interesting (if eventually misinterpreted) quotes. I usually talked extensively to all the characters available by codec/radio, but in this game (mostly) all of them got on my nerves, except for the Major, who’s mostly useless anyway. I totally want M.L. back, it’s a shame to see so many things I appreciated in the previous iterations destroyed to oblivion, piece by piece, at every new release.

And, lo and behold, do you remember how you could control the camera, just like any FPS/TPS of the past 20 years? Well, in the final boss fight you can’t, that camera angle is blocked for your pleasure. Oh, how I love thee, let me count the ways… done.

But still, abandoning the previous concepts of “what it should have been” and “this encounter is broken as hell”, I found relief in changing the playstyle from “action-stealth” to “WWE World Tour”:

So I really don’t feel like changing the overall rating for the game, but I feel in my heart I have to award the melee combat (LOL, forgive me father, for I have sin) a

U can’t C ME out of 10

Metal Glitch Solid: Not Quite Peacewalker

Original title: Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops
Originally released for: PlayStation Portable
Year of initial release: 2006
Naked Snake
They called him Naked Snake.

MGS:PO is one of those games, in the Metal Gear series, where general ops is mostly summarized with a “neh, just skip it”. And just as for MG/MG2, I had a blast with it. Sitting between SE and PW, with mechanics similar to the latter albeit rougher, this game offers one of the strongest storylines and ties up so many loose ends, it would be foolish to skip.

Soldiers Management
The predecessor of Peace Walker’s system, at times more interesting, quite less powerful though.

The visual style used for the storytelling is simply gorgeous, and I spent several hours admiring them every now and then. The maps are somewhat short and privilege sneaky infiltration. Oftentimes you could get in a map and out in a matter of seconds. Yet I never felt it as a problem, since deployment is fast and the few times you really are done in 20 second serve as a prequel of things to come. A reconnaissance, quite literally.

Cutscene Artwork
The visual style used for the storytelling is quite powerful and simply delightful.

With the exception of mechanics there isn’t much to tell, given the heavy story driven experience, so I can’t do anything but recommend it, maybe playing it at Easy if you’re in just for the plot. Anyway, all things considered, I think this game is well worth the

Why won’t you die? out of 10

Note: you might have more trouble with the last boss than you should. Given design choices it could be pretty demanding, depending on what you chose to do with it. If you went non-lethal, remember to bring Mosin Nagant, and that you can stop the reload animation if you clip the gun through walls or rails, allowing yourself to switch it off and move faster. You’ve been warned.

Metal Gear Salty 4: Salt of the Patriots

Original title: Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
Originally released for: PlayStation 3
Year of initial release: 2008

A NaCl inducing experience…

MGS4:GOTP marks the end of the Metal Gear timeline, and carries upon itself the weight of terrible and cringe-worthy designs and generally terrible life choices. From the beginning we are presented with the fourth (maybe fifth?) control scheme change, with a “find the hidden sequence” worst than the one in SE, with L1+R1 (LB+RB) weapon usage and L2+R2 (LT+RT) item selection (why? ç_ç), and with totally broken camouflage in certain points “because we have to”, “because super powers”, “because we couldn’t fix it”, “because fuck you, that’s why”.

Title screen
The title screen and the musical tune that’s coupled with it are quite pleasing.

This game, with its more than 8h 30m long cutsences (and the gameplay itself lasting way less than that), sports several nice locations along with terrible ones. Several of the story wrap ups are unfathomably dull, and by the end of the game I had a strong wish to slice through most of the main characters.

The game also suffers of the SE‘s “the gameplay sessions are only there to separate cut-scenes, so have this boss fight every now and then to make it look like a game”. 9 times out of 10 you can (if you can live through it, that is) run for the entire map, with enemy firing at you, fully under alert, but it won’t matter because reaching the target area triggers a cutscene that completely resets alerts and everything, including weapons load out at times.

Old Snake
Can you imagine this game’s starting setting? Yes, you guessed it right, after the cold war trope, here comes another Middle-East.

Oh, speaking of which, did I mention that this game has a tendency to start every time with lethal weapons, disregards what you equipped just 5 seconds ago, and constantly removes the weapons you bought and equipped yourself, only to be missing in the next fight? Bought a Mosin Nagant? Have fun re-equipping it 10 times or more during the game, since the weapon is removed to have a damned cut-scene consistency. And this pretty much sums it up:

the game, repeatedly, breaks the gameplay and feeling of the action in favor of the cinematics.

All things considered it’s a decent game, aimed to exploit people’s nostalgia over cutscenes and boss fights reminiscent of old games, with some rad elements, like the Mark III, and some really salt inducing sections, designed to be nothing more than glorified cutscenes with occasional actions to be performed by the player.

The worst part of Metal Gear series design, so far, are the game mechanic elements put there once “because we can”, but never fully developed. If you played MG:S you’ll know that after the last boss fight there was a little fighting session, which has a reprise in GOTP. So far so good, with the exception that it’s not really a fight and much more similar to the previous final phases of the boss fights, where by design only the Nth shot would hit. Without realizing it, I kept considering a fighting session as a fighting session, and losing as a consequence many times over, throwing my controller in uncontrollable salt and rage, until I gave up and, hell bent on shutting down the console losing all the previous sessions and boss fights, I passed the controller to my girlfriend, who oneshot the section as she predicted she would and already done in the past, while I kept watching the screen in dismay and disbelief. It wasn’t really a fighting section, it was just a mash R1 with occasional L1 until he’s forced to suck up hits because it’s scripted like that. And to think of it, it wasn’t the first time. Earlier there was an entire section in which, unless you wanted to fail miserably, you were supposed to actually, intentionally, not play and just wait for stuff to happen, while looking elsewhere. Like, do something every 40s-1m or so. Because that’s how we roll.

For all of these reasons I can give this game at best a score of a

Mark III out of 10

Mk III

Metal Gear Evangelion: Bombing for Piece

Original title: Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker
Originally released for: PlayStation Portable
Year of initial release: 2010

This is the first game in the series to depart from the story driven linearity into an operation approach. Probably due to its original hand held nature, but not diminished by it, the game is divided in multiple story ops, extra ops, and outer ops (the latter played by NPCs only). The main story sports 4+1 chapters, and sees the introduction of a (sort of) manageable Mother Base, where you handle mercenaries, send them to outer ops, research and develop weapons and equips, and then some.

Playing the game with a slightly modified GotP shooter control scheme, I find this game to be quite good, with a handful of exceptions. Gun play is solid enough, even though snipers tend to have a life of their own, and generally even melee combat is quite neat, offering additions and better control over SE. The new operation mechanic also fits well and solves a few of SE‘s problems and idiocies — carrying unlimited sets of gear and camos? That’s so 2004… — by providing a mission preparation in which the player can customize the loadout, picking up weapons, support items and camos to use for the specific op (with the exception of a couple curve balls here and there). It’s so well designed, that boss fights have a chapter of their own, for various reasons, but this grants a better enjoyment of the game because it enables you to bring non-lethal gear to deal with people and unleashing a nuclear holocaust on the bosses, if you so desire. Enrichment by reduction, also known as doing your best with what you’re given you brought to the fight.

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker
Many of the areas are jungle-y, much more enjoyable than Snake Eater’s counterpart.

Past chapter 4, which is what I consider the main ending, the game becomes quite the grind. There’s a reason for it, but you will basically have to play side ops to unlock an additional piece of story. When everything is said and done, and the chapter is complete, the game felt to me prolonged to its boredom. It also shows the weakest part of it all: the mother base.

Part of the game designed is developed around the concept of ops, of which just a part are main. In order to complete all of the extra ops (128 of them) and (god forbid) get S ranking for each and every one of them (not to mention the main ops and the outer ops), you will find yourself grinding. Hard. Asian style. Which is not wrong per se, but you will most likely complete the game with a third of extra ops completed, only a few of whom S ranked, and with more than half of research and development to be done. Which includes, of course, more mission grinding for ranks, more grinding to farm mercenaries, so on and so forth.

Still, if we only take into account the story driven experience itself, together with the other ops that naturally unlock through its progression, I can feel this game deserves none other than a

Banana (Rank 1, Level 3) out of 10

Banana Rank 1

Metal Gear Bayonetta: What is conveyance?

Original title: Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
Originally released for: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Year of initial release: 2013

Originally developed for a few years by Kojima and his friends under the name of Metal Gear Solid: Rising, the team eventually understood they were not able to complete such a game, and eventually in 2011 development and completion was given to Platinum Games, who revamped the game and, together with Kojima, changed the setting. While originally it was supposed to be placed between SOL & GOTP, to ease the work on Platinum Games they agreed and decided to set it years past GOTP events.

The game lets itself be played quite easily, although has a major, irrefutable problem: zero player conveyance (reference). You start the game missing key informations, reach the second chapter and boss, and hit a brick wall as a lot of informations on the fundamental parrying technique is missing or unclear. Through tries and maybe luck you manage to understand the basics of the fight and beat the boss. So far, so good.

Boss fight
The second boss fight.

Fast forward to chapter 6, dedicated to the second to last boss, and hit a brick wall followed by a stone wall, followed by a cement wall, followed by a ravine. And this is the biggest sin of this game. While the game has another major issue, which is the camera movement, by comparison it is still minor. Here’s how the parrying is explained while playing:

You need to orient the left stick in the direction the attack is coming from and perform a light attack.

Guilty of sword training I probably took it too literally, so while it made little sense if the enemy sword was slashing top left corner to bottom right corner of the screen, I used to parry aiming top left and hitting the light attack button. It didn’t help me understand that I was mistaken as oftentimes it perfectly worked. Even in the battle with the second to last boss it worked for 2 or 3 swings in a combo of 4. I then read/quickly skimmed this article which totally made sense even in my understanding of it, since an enemy on the right would attack from the right. Little did I know that even the graphical information were misleading and it all boils down to:

Aim the stick in the direction where the attacker is, and perform a light attack.

At this point I was already thoroughly annoyed, and on the same boss I could parry 11/12 when not all of his attacks, and I one shot it. While this is technically my fault, not once in the game did I stand corrected. Up to the second to last boss, I oneshot most of the encounters, without knowing the basics. Poor player conveyance at its best.

Free blade mode
With free blade mode the player can slash through the bodies and cut select pieces like left hands or spine cords.

But alas, conveyance aside, it’s a pretty shiny game with interesting mechanics and quite fun. Probably due to the misunderstanding I liked Bayonetta more, for the entire duration of the game or so, although I do quite like that this game is way more fast paced and with shorter down times compared to Bayonetta, and I intend to get back to it at some point, maybe just for the free DLCs. For the time being though, this game scores

3 parries out of 8

Metal Gear Solid: Repetition

Original title: Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes
Originally released for: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC
Year of initial release: 2014

GZ came out in 2014 with an insane price launch attached to it, and riot ensued. It’s a game sporting a single map, a single mission, 4 side missions (on the same map) and 1 extra mission on consoles: Deja vu (PlayStation) and Jamais vu (Xbox). Having spent 24 hours or so on it, for the mad desire of unlocking everything and checking (almost) every nook and cranny — to repeat what I said in the beginning: we are nothing if not thorough —, I can see why people would have been upset spending some 40 quids for it.

Nevertheless, as much concept demo as it comes, the game felt quite good, with the exception of the Hard mode which is broken as hell, with enemies seeing through walls, vehicles, and breaking your stealth infiltration without any way out.

Infiltration
No shit, Sherlock-san.

The change in mechanics played out well, and the Reflex mode — a system which avoid the Heavy Alert for the enemies, provided you neutralize whatever saw you within a short time frame — turned out to be more useful than not. In TPP (or so I heard), triggering Reflex will take away Perfect Stealth in favour of Stealth, but in my case, through several playthrough, I decided to keep using it just for the (several? few?) times enemies spot you when they shouldn’t have. Admittedly, when somebody spots you 200 meters away, inside a building, behind a concrete wall, there’s not much you can do, reflex mode or not, but it’s something.

If I had to judge this game on its own, considering that it’s the first title I played for PC (with great performances), and that I bought it after the price reduction and with a 75% discount attached to it, I can’t deny its value. Sure, it’s not much more than a tech demo, or a teaser if you will, but it featured many hidden easter eggs, a lot of ambient variation, and generally a lot to do. On the same map, repetitive as hell at times — to unlock everything and achieve a 100% you have to play every mission 4 times (at least), 2 in Normal mode and 2 in Hard Mode — but I feel I now have a better grasp of the game and its mechanics that will allow me have a better time with PP.

Hopefully.

That’s what this game/demo was about anyway.

Deja vu
Big Boss on PC, with PSX snow effect and Solid Snake camo, in front of a Ghost Babel logo. Your argument is invalid. You have no power here.

If there is a thing I really didn’t like though, and that I heard continued in PP, is the much darker tone it took all of a sudden. Yes, the game’s always been about nuclear holocausts, soldier kids, murder and betrayal, but I guess nobody really wanted to hear the audio diary, and whatever the hell they invented for PP. This game provides audio diaries about two characters, with one of those from the previous game, PW. The difference is shocking: it went from a tool to better define characters and their development, to a very detailed recording of torture, multiple rapes, abuses… I can, in part, understand why they chose this path, but for the first time I’ll be totally happy to ignore all of those records they put inside PP. If this is the content I have to hear, I’d rather skip it, thank you very much, it is not why I play these games.

Anyway I think that the scope of this game, its teasing and tempting intents, were fully exploited inside the Deja vu mission. And for this reason, and this alone, I award this game a

Snaaaaaake out of Liquiiiiiid

Meh Geh Seh Vee: Whatever

Original title: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
Originally released for: PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Year of initial release: 2015

The game nobody needed…

Mechanically refined over GZ, conceptually identical to PW, this game lacks everything:

  1. any sort of storytelling — pretends to have one for the first chapter, but the actual result is debatable —
  2. a chapter 3
  3. any kind of storytelling or whatever that should have been chapter 2
  4. some sort of customizable outer ops troop, which was possible in PW but made worse in TPP as per Kojima’s standards — The sequel shall be, in no way, superior to its predecessor. Remove perfectly valid solutions previously adopted where needed to prove the point —
  5. some actual sense in regard to deployment costs. I still have no idea why some weapons cost minerals, fuel or herbs, if not for the “it’ll have to make do”
  6. the possibility to kill the most annoying characters, as you’ll have to suffer their rants throughout the whole game — truth be told I took pleasure in knowing that I (or someone else) previously killed them all, but I still long an option to kill them as soon as the game started… —
  7. fully developed day/night cycles. The game switches ambient lights and shadows 4 times a day, every 6 hours, and that’s it. That’ll have to make do.
  8. the real possibility to avoid losing one of your buddies. FFS, I mean: really? That’s your fucking brilliant idea?

The game is fine as time waster go. You will probably end up around mission 20 (and side op 76) with enough entertainment. From there on out though, you’re in a world of pain. I’ve got the same feeling as one of the previous games in that regard: when is it going to fucking end. WHEN WILL THERE BE ANYTHING. Around that time, you will be introduced to the magnificent FOBs, the time wall will already be in full effect, and the Tedius Maximus is reaching alarming levels. Don’t worry, it’ll get worse.

Troops sent to deployments that will either take:

  1. 1 up to 3 ingame hours
  2. 3 days (real life)

Researches are no better either. You need to expand to forward bases — that are online only, so if you happen to drop connection, gg — where your resources can be stolen by other players — have I mentioned yet that 95% of your resources are online up for grab? Including everyone from your single player mode which might be kidnapped at random in PvP, possibly anyone that has not been put under direct contract —.

This game also takes places on 2 maps. For hundreds of hours you’ll be roaming through sections of two maps. I, at the moment, stand with a ~65% completion rate and 70 (fake) hours of gameplay, and I can’t stand it anymore. I still have a hundred side ops left, plus several challenges for each mission, several S ranks on main missions, and several collectibles.

The little storytelling it has is quite dull, the direction it takes make no sense, the beats — a beat is an emotion switch from a character, storytelling 101 — are being placed in cutscenes every so often, but they are so weak that the whole game falls apart as a consequence.

Think of this game as a flashed out GZ, except that is much less fun than that, but lasts a whole lot longer. It’s so bad it’s not worth a score. Yes, this bad.

And I’m not even taking into account the DLC costumes that don’t work, such as The Boss sneaking suit. Again, good enough to sink a hundred hours, grabbed with a 75% discount, and playing it like a “go there, do stuff, close game”. Nothing more.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll go back to the game to listen to the 2 hours and a half worth of audio tapes unlocked after finishing the game, that sort of represent what should have happened if they were able to finish the game, but they didn’t, so listen to these several hours of audio logs to get a vague idea what this whole fucking game was about. No, really.

Conclusions

It’s been 6 weeks exactly since I started playing the Metal Gear series without knowing what to expect, just with the hype of people around me. I found gems where people dared not look nor play, the most boring time of my life where people found adrenaline, and so quite a doubt was planted in my head: who’s wrong?

Playing these games shortly, after one another, can perfectly give you the feeling of what’s been happening over the years. As the games timeless progresses so did the technology, but at the same time the storytelling inversely progressed. The more it went on, the least storytelling, the most reminiscence. Remember the advent of Jesus Christ Psychomantis? Remember what happened in Metal Gear: Solid, *hint*hint* *nudge*nudge* *wink*? You’ll never believe what happened next. Over the years, Metal Gear became the Facebook of video gaming, with The Phantom Pain being its peak, but at the same time people was so invested in the previous good games that kept playing.

The worst opinion I’ve got to squeeze from one such players, was: “I didn’t feel bothered while playing, but that was it”, which strongly conflicted with the yelling I remember while they were playing through. But alas, such is the way of human brain, justifying the investments.

There are definitely great games in this series, and I’ll list them here in arbitrary order, in part according to my preferences:

  1. Metal Gear 2
  2. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty
  3. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
  4. Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes
  5. Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker
  6. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

Revengeance is last because it doesn’t fit the timeline a lot, but perfectly stands as a game of its own. Games such as Metal Gear are not in this list because totally trumped by other similar in mechanics but superior in design — Metal Gear 2 > Metal Gear, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty > Metal Gear: Solid —.

Several other games are decent as far as the equation (Time Invested)/Entertainment goes, but other than that are totally forgettable. You could probably watch cutscenes out of Snake Eater, and feel like you didn’t miss anything at all, and you’d be right.

The clock’s ticking, and I have to stand prepared for Legacy of the Void and Fallout 4, so forgive me while I take my leave. I’ll be seeing you in next posts, shall the koji-mob not take my life by force.

Cheerios _o/

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