Metal Gear Solid Noob Diaries #1: An Introduction
E3 proved to me that a trailer - just one (albeit very long) trailer - can sell a videogame. Hideo Kojima and his team undoubtedly hoped that their shiny E3 trailer for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain would rev up the engine on the ol’ hype machine, but I bet they weren’t expecting to hook people on to the series as a whole. With many long and complicated games in the series, Metal Gear Solid is a tough nut to crack for new players, but that’s what I’m going to attempt. Gary Oldfield and that E3 trailer has single-handedly convinced me to buy and play MGS.
So this diary is the tale of my journey through the series. For fans I hope it can be an amusing look back at it all, while for those sitting on the fence it could be a useful decision-making tool. I’m not too sure what to expect: I could easily love the experience or instantly regret it all. Either way, I’m committed to getting it done. My plan is to play the series from Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, all the way to Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes. I can’t say how long it’ll take or how regular the updates will be, but it should be an interesting exploration into one of gaming’s greatest entities.
Of course, you might be wondering why I’m starting out with the second MGS game, as opposed to the original Metal Gear games or even the first Metal Gear Solid. Honestly, and I know this might sound like blasphemy to some people, they’re a little too old. As good as those early games are supposed to be (well, MGS at least) I don’t want my first impression of the series to be jaded by archaic design and visuals. The more comfortable style of the PS2-era games is a much better place to begin my journey.
That doesn’t mean I’ve just completely bypassed the earlier games, however. I’ve done some reading on the original two games, mainly for the sake of understanding the story. Yes, I’m going to attempt to actually understand the story - crazy, I know. Here’s what I’ve picked up so far:
-There’s a guy called Solid Snake and he’s a bit of a bad-ass.
-He’s part of a team called FOXHOUND which is led by one Big Boss. Well named, I suppose.
-The Metal Gear is a bipedal tank thingy capable of launching nuclear weapons. Supposedly more dangerous than every other nuclear weapon within the past 70 years, for some reason.
-Snake discovers that Big Boss is actually a bit of dick, after he reveals that he’s been leading the bad guys all along. Drat and blast!
-Big Boss dies twice over both games, but death seems to be about as certain as English world cup victories in this series.
-The second game takes place somewhere called....hehe.... Zanzibarland. I’m not making that up.
-Snake’s nemesis/friend Gray Fox is a bit of a constant pain in the protagonist’s rear end.
-Our hero saves the world twice in a row and everything is merry by the time Metal Gear Solid swings around.
I am more than aware, however, that simply reading about a game isn’t enough to get a feel for the series. So before embarking on MGS2, I took the liberty of watching most of the cutscenes from the original Metal Gear Solid on PS1. My first thoughts: thank goodness I’m skipping to the second game. Sorry, I’m clearly more of a graphics whore than I even realised, but sweet jesus how did we ever feel emotion while playing games that looked like this? I’ll accept the reality of life and move on. The story was actually pretty cool to follow; it may be completely bonkers and hopelessly melodramatic, but there’s a level of detail here that most modern games falter with.
Oh and the deaths! I thought Assassin’s Creed had some lengthy deaths. Characters like Sniper Wolf and Psycho Mantis have some damned elaborate deaths and some great final words. Yes, I’m guessing they’re also not really dead, but they were great scenes despite the deep, deep layers of pure unadulterated layers of cheese.
Towards the end of the videos I was pretty well invested in the story, particularly the elements involving Snake’s history and, dare I say it, the hilarious but entertainingly 2D romances. Snake and Otacon’s love for Meryl’s eight-sided ‘butt’ was a particularly amusing highlight. In terms of the tale itself it was all a bit obvious, but I’m guessing that’s because I’ve heard bits and bobs about the game before. Oh and Snake’s voice - yeah, I’m having a few issues with it at the moment. I’m hoping it becomes a bit more... good.
I’m still a little confused by elements of the story. The links between characters were quite difficult to follow and a few details have gone right over my head. I’m not sure I’m totally on board with Gray Fox and Naomi Hunter's relationship - they’re foster siblings, I know that much. More points from MGS:
-Liquid Snake, Solid Snake’s clone brother, is a tricksy bastard who’s part of a team which is trying to clone the ‘dead’ Big Boss.
-Otacon, the designer of the Metal Gear weapon, was a double agent for the US president all along.
-Solid Snake is still a badass. His voice acting is still awful though.
-Big Boss is Liquid and Solid Snake’s daddy.
-Snake spends the whole game killing genome soldiers that are ‘kind of sort of’ brothers of Liquid and Solid Snake.
-Snake has a bit of a thing for Meryl Silverburgh. Aww.
Feel free to correct my mistakes or help me understand the story in the comments, any help would be appreciated. This looks as though it’s going to get confusing. I’ll be updating this diary as regularly as possible, and the later editions are sure to be much more specific and detailed as I write alongside playing the game itself. Stick around, who knows what’s going to happen? I bet even series fans have no idea! I’m pretty lost already.