Metal Gear Solid Noob Diaries #21: Exploring the past
Welcome to the Metal Gear Noob Diaries. This is the recounting of my experience through the MGS series from MGS2: Sons of Liberty all the way to MGSV: Ground Zeroes. I’ll be updating every so often with new thoughts on sections of the games and taking a look back at memorable and enjoyable moments. I’ve never played the series before, so for the fans out there it could be an amusing tale of one noob’s journey, while those as green as myself could well learn a little about the mad world of MGS. Enjoy!
Today wasn’t exactly a typical MGS session. I only spent half an hour or so actually playing proper gameplay segments, the rest of the session was devoted to listening to dozens of audio files. While starting a mission I discovered that I could access a huge collection of ‘tapes’ that contain conversations between Snake and the various in-game characters. This included just about every topic of conversation ranging from the flora and fauna of Costa Rica to that once-elusive background info on Kaz Miller. I know where they got that info now, sorry for complaining o’ spirits of gaming.
So I came across some interesting little bits of info and learned a lot about the game’s characters. Huey, who I’ve yet to mention, is the inventor of the Peace Walker and a bit of a spitting image of Otacon. I’m guessing that he’s an ancestor of some sort. There was some interesting stuff about his father working on the Manhattan project, a role that led to Huey’s inability to walk. The conversations with Miller were some of the best, detailing the founding of MSF and describing the principles by which it operates. It must be said that those principles are a tad questionable - I mean, the whole idea is that soldiers aren’t tied to the whim of a nation, but MSF is basically a nation by this point.
There were some other cool little things, including a bizarre little easter egg in which Miller constantly repeats, “Kojima is God!”. The reason is rather loose, so it comes off a bit awkwardly to be honest. Funny though. So after spending about an hour and a half (!) listening to almost all of the audio files I’d missed so far, I decided it was time to actually play the game for a little while. Glad I did, as I had one of the best sessions with Peace Walker yet.
The majority of my time was spent looking for an ID card with which I could gain access to the lab where the CIA are building Peace Walker. During that hunt I came across Cecile, the friend of Paz who went missing while recording that conversation between The Boss and a British woman. Only it turns out that while she did overhear their conversation and was imprisoned thereafter, she’s never met Paz before. Which is rather odd, and something the characters seem to avoid - so that’s sure to be a revelation in the making.
So I trekked around various areas of the game looking for the ID card, which is a good time to mention that Peace Walker does indeed feature the mapped sections of MGS2 and 3. The combination of the jungle setting and the differing contained areas gives the game a strong whiff of Snake Eater. Which I’m assuming is completely, totally intentional. If ain’t broken and all that. The card was a bit of a pain to find as it apparently appears in a random location (or at least the person who holds it), but it was good to re-explore the areas that I’d glazed over before.
Once inside the base, everything kicked off. Snake comes across the horrendously named Dr Strangelove (yes, I know it’s a reference but that’s what makes it so awful), the British woman from the conversation with The Boss. He also comes across The Boss’ horse! Yeah, The Boss had a horse. Sorry, never mentioned that, but it wasn’t exactly important. Dr Strangelove seems to know a lot about Snake and operation snake eater, she also seems to have an odd fascination for The Boss - claiming at one point that she loved her. Snake is forced to lie to her about the reasons for The Boss’ death, even though she clearly suspects that foul play was involved.
So ensues a bizarre but incredible scene in which Strangelove introduces Snake to an AI brain that she has created. It looks similar to the AI pods that are attached to the machines that Huey invented. The only difference here, and it’s a kicker, is that the AI has The Boss’ voice! So she’s dead; the dream that she was still alive is dead in the water. It’s an incredible scene in which Snake is overcome with emotion upon hearing the voice of his old mentor. There are plenty of direct references to Snake Eater, even an interactive cutscene set during the final fight of that game. They’re all awesome, and only help to keep the memory of MGS3 fresh in my mind.
Following the cutscene, I had to take on a Chrysalis (a.k.a. the flying robot thing) which had been popping up here and there throughout the game. The best thing about the Chrysalis is the spooky song that the AI pod sings every so often. A great little bit of audio design that goes a long way in creating tone and atmosphere for the game as a whole. The battle itself was fairly easy, even though I was a little under-equipped (blame my bad management of MSF), but was still pretty fun. The boss battles of Peace Walker are less structured than those in the previous games, but can be more fun because of this.
That’s where I ended the session for today. My lesson of the day: I need to sort out MSF. So I’ll provide a little more detail on that aspect of the game in the next edition.