Metal Gear Solid Noob Diaries #33: The Storming of Outer Haven
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!
I’m assuming it’s Kojima, but whoever is in charge of the general pacing and structure of MGS4 deserves a medal. It’s probably the greatest accomplishment of the game, and possibly the series in general. There are very few sections that feel drawn out, unnecessary or tacked-on. Everything has meaning, and much of that meaning is pure fun. That’s something I only really fully noticed while playing the final sections of Guns of the Patriots - a slight ‘revelation’ moment. The consistent pacing of stealth section/boss fight/action sequence/cutscene in a variety of orders is what has made the core games so very good. Just the simple fact that the PSP games didn’t implement this style was their biggest downfall.
Although what MGS4 manages, which the others don’t, is the combination and merging of different storylines. Sons of Liberty and Snake Eater largely focused on their respective protagonists and their personal journey through the game. While Guns of the Patriots obviously puts the spotlight on Snake, there’s actually quite a lot going on around him: Raiden’s rebirth and the weird stuff with Rose/Campbell, Akiba and Meryl slowly started to understand (and yes, love) each other, not to mention all the stuff with Otacon and Naomi. There’s more, but these are some of the key storylines that are coming to a head in the final moments of the game.
Today I played for a couple of hours and stopped just before the big finale - in fact, I think I stopped half way through the big finale, but ooooh well.
The mission briefing for Act V sees Snake, Otacon, Akiba, Meryl and Mei-Ling all in one place as they discuss how they’re going to take down Outer Haven and prevent Liquid from destroying the US control system GW (or JD, or one of them...). The overarching plot of MGS4 has probably been the weakest part of the story, as I’m struggling to really care about Liquid’s maniacal world-ending plans - perhaps because I highly doubt they’ll pay off, or it could just be the rather confusing way that part of the story has been explained.
Anyway, Snake, and the newly romantically involved Akiba (or Johnny) and Meryl plan to launch themselves onto Outer Haven from Mei Ling’s ship, and take down the nuclear weapon as well as the core AI programme that he plans on replacing GW with. So in a brilliant little scene in which the team slowly walk across the deck of the ship with dramatic music in the background, Snake says his final goodbye to Drebin (who somehow ended up on the ship as well!). There were a lot more cool moments within that final sequence on board the ship (in particular Campbell and Meryl’s reunification), making for one of the most emotional scenes yet. They then literally catapult onto Outer Haven as it surfaces to launch the nuke, so beginning the final stage of the game.
The game then moves into classic corridor shooter gameplay mode in which I had to take down a steady collection of Frogs and avoid a couple of Geckos. I managed to dispatch them in real style, testament to the fact that I’ve actually gotten pretty good at this stealth stuff over the course of all these games (huzzah!).
That was a brief section, however, which led into the long-awaited boss fight with Screaming Mantis, the final member of the Beauty and the Beast unit. It was a cool set-up in which she holds Meryl captive, dangling like a puppet from imaginary strings. The fight itself was, like a rather annoying number in this game, a tad too easy. I was hoping for a mind-bending showdown that would equal some of the fights from earlier games, but in the end it was a relatively simple affair. Shoot her puppets, use her puppets against her, then shoot her normal human form as with the other Beauties. There was a cool moment after this in which it’s revealed that Psycho Mantis from MGS was in control of her, and therefore the whole squad, all along. He tries to do his classic mind-reading schtick but supposedly the PS3 is too much for him to handle - so that ends rather inconsequentially.
The rest of the session was filled with a brilliant cutscene/interactive segment section that provided a dramatic conclusion to a lot of the game’s story paths.
While Snake makes his way towards Liquid’s central AI, Meryl and Johnny hold off waves of frogs in an awesome cutscene that sees the pair get engaged while pulling off bad-ass double team kills. Seriously, that’s not a misprint. It was actually one of the coolest scenes in the game; somehow managing to be both hilarious and emotional all at the same time. Meryl finally realises that Johnny isn’t implanted with nanomachines (hence his previous awfulness on the battlefield) and the two really hit it off. Which, over the dead bodies of hundreds of women, does seem a little psychopathic.
As Snake progresses towards the AI his nanomachines start to drag him down significantly - he’s still a ticking time bomb, remember. But this time it’s Raiden’s turn to save the day! He rocks up with his sword held between his teeth (no arms, remember?) and starts to take down a bunch of frogs, but not before sharing a few heartfelt words with Snake, knowing that it will probably be the last the time pair see each other (mini sob).
Which leaves Snake one more obstacle: a corridor filled to the brim with dangerous microwaves. It had to be a corridor! So in a scene that somehow manages to be terrific, I had to slowly push Snake through the corridor as the microwaves mess him up, all the while the top half of the screen cuts between Meryl and Johnny fighting the frogs, Raiden doing the same and Mei Ling and her crew fighting off the PMCs on board her ship. A wonderfully cinematic moment punctuated by Otacon’s encouragements; it’s moments like this that make the Metal Gear Solid games so damn good.
Snake finally reaches the room in which the central AI is housed, broken and bruised, at which point Otacon (with the Mk II which I’ve barely used) installs the virus that Mei Ling designed to take it down. But with the virus in place, a video emits from the AI in which Mei Ling explains that she designed the software not only to destroy Liquid’s AI, but to dismantle the entirety of the Patriots’ AI system. So GW, JD and all the rest are now out of action, leaving the world in a state of freedom from the control of the Patriots - for now at least.
That’s where I paused the session - I had to go to bed and I figured there’d probably be plenty more to come! So expect the next entry to be the final edition of MGS4. I have literally no idea what the hell could happen next...