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  • bowlisimo 7:58 pm on March 9, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: , , OMG FUCKING MASSIVE WALL OF TEXT   

    *If the Metal Gear Solid series is still on your list of games to play, kindly avert your eyes*

    @beige Ok, you asked for it. I don’t do walls™ often, probably because my writing style doesn’t hold up for more than two paragraphs, but you can’t capture this game in two paragraphs, it’s too dense. The best thing I can think to do is talk the insanity out, in inarticulate ramble form. Won’t you join me?

    First impression of MGS4 is that of Snake putting a gun to his mouth in the menu screen, an octopus biology lesson, and FMV of black and white ninja ladies flying toward each other while helicopters explode. I think right there, you just kind of *know*.

    The whole tone of the game is much more depressing than any of the others. Snake’s a rapidly aging old clone with only a few months left to live. He’s got a mutating strain of FOXDIE in his body that’s a few mutations away from a pandemic. The world is under the boot heel of the Patriot’s system, and Liquid Ocelot looks like he’s trying to wrest control of the world for himself. On top of that, people keep busting Snake’s balls about smoking (let the man smoke, for god’s sake!).

    Whatever, you’re Solid Snake. You’ve got a badass octocamo muscle suit, Otacon, Campbell, Rose (the real one), Olga’s daughter, Drebin 893 and a monkey in a diaper. Eye. Have. You. What could go wrong? Yeah, your back hurts when you crouch for too long, and you land a lot harder than you used to, but dodging PMC’s and crawling through firefights is second nature. Metal Gear?! they’re everywhere now. Geckos especially, fortunately they’re dumb.

    So you do some globetrotting on the tail of Liquid. There’s a ton, A TON, of fan service, self aware video game remarks, and loads of characters from the past. Meryl is cool, and leading her own unit, with a guy who has an exclamation mark mohawk and… the guy who had terrible gastroenteritis in MGS1 + 2? Raiden is a kickass Grayfox ninja now (did people hate this change? I thought it was alright), who stabs it up with Vamp (surprise, he’s still not dead). Naomi Hunter is a hot mess, and it’s still impossible to tell whose side she’s on, but she gives you a magical syringe that you have to stick yourself with to tame the nanomachines every so often. And, of course, there’s a Fox Hound / Dead Cell-like group called the B&B, which are a bunch of psycho gorgeous women that you have to go up against. I hope you like jiggly boobs and copious skin tight butt camera close-ups. Japan.

    Europe! Guess what? Eva is an old lady now, and she’s Big Momma, also, she’s a Patriot, also, the Patriots founding members were all your codec people in MGS3 (what?), also, Zero and Big Boss had it out over The Boss’ final will, also, Zero is the guy who started all this controlling AI shit, also, she has Big Boss’s remains, also, Liquid needs his DNA to take over GW, also, he’s like 5 minutes away from crashing your party. I liked the call back to the previous game here. The aiming control during the motorcycle ride was still terrible, however, seamlessly transitioning from first person to cutscene at will, was a nice touch.

    In one of the longest game cinematics ever, all the good guys get their asses positively kicked, and Liquid, in control of SOP, finger guns all the helicopters out of the sky. Awesome. I feel confident saying Ocelot, in whatever form, is my favorite character in this series.

    INTERMISSION

    Inevitably, everything leads back to Shadow Moses to stop Liquid from getting the rail gun and an un-ID locked nuke from Rex. This chapter was amazing, and I can imagine it being super nostalgic for people who hadn’t been there in about a long time (as opposed to three months prior in my case). All of a sudden you’re inside MGS1 at the famous heliport, controls and everything (!!!), and then Snake wakes up and you’re dropped off in the snow, with your sick frozen moustache, to go face your past. Again, just a ton of fan service and great call backs to the original MGS.

    You fight an interesting boss that can smell your scent in the wind where you killed Sniper wolf, and then not long after that you find yourself up against Vamp, killing him over and over again, knocking him out over and over again, until you proudly realize, “nanomachines!” and syringe his ass. They give you a rail gun to fend off suicide geckos in split screen while Raiden and Vamp duel with knives, but you can’t really watch it because there are a million geckos to shoot. Hey, it’s Naomi again, she reveals she’s being kept alive by nanomachines, uses the syringe and dies all dramatic-like from the fastest moving cancer I’ve ever seen.

    Naomi who? We’re hooriding fucking Metal Gear Rex out of the base through hordes of geckos! I blew this thing up years ago, and it still has a chain gun, cluster missiles, and a laser beam? Wait, what does “special move” do? I guess I’ll find out later. Time to go stomping, and shooting, and blowing stuff up all the way to the surface. Where’d Raiden go? Eh, he’ll be fine.

    “BROTHAHHHH!” Oh god, here comes Liquid, he’s flying out of the water piloting Metal Gear Ray! It’s on! Time for a good old fashioned mech fight. Rex is hurting, but it still packs a wallop. LASER BEAM! SPECIAL MOVE! *Rex picks up Ray in his mouth, body slams him and then pumps him with missiles* This fight was one of my favorite moments in MGS4, only to be outdone by the one later in the game. Here I feel like Kojima finally made good on the promise of making a series around mechs. This fight needed to happen.

    Anyway, Liquid gets away, and escapes on to his ark “Outer Haven” which is a modified Metal Gear Arsenal submarine-battleship that he’s going to pilot out into the open ocean and blow up the J.D. satellite with, but not before attempting to run over Snake who’s on the dock all beat up and broken. Armless Raiden saves him, but gets crushed in the process pushing back the ENORMOUS SHIP ALL BY HIMSELF. It was a valiant sacrifice, or so I thought.

    Mei Ling shows up captaining the USS Missouri, in a sort of Battlestar Galactica like turn, being so old it’s the only thing left in the world that can still fight against Liquid. It gives chase, the good guys join her and, with some posthumous help from Naomi, plan to board it and take out G.W. Mei Ling does her death star speech (even Snake makes a Star Wars reference), and everyone prepares for the final assault. Cue cheesy scene where Mei Ling makes the classic war movie “Everyone is afraid” pep talk to a fellow officer. Snake believes this is his last mission and has one last smoke. I’m psyched.

    Outer Haven surfaces, the Missouri charges in through a storm of gunfire, slides up next to it and catapults our heroes into the open hull without so much as a parachute. They get separated and Snake is, as always, on his own. Many Frogs and Geckos later you’re up against the last B&B Corps boss, Screaming Mantis.

    I know I’m not the only person who plugged the controller into player 2 almost immediately, but then got a great call from Campbell, who’s like, “Snake! Good try, but that’s not working! Shoot the bust!”, and Snake’s like, “Colonel, there is no damn bust!”. After syringing yourself and Meryl a couple thousand times, you shoot the puppets away and use them to six-axis the shit out of the boss. Then Psycho Mantis’s ghost shows up, can’t find your memory stick, and gets destroyed by The Sorrow from MGS3, who then tells you “The spirit of the warrior will always be with you”. (T_T)

    Meryl stays behind while Snake pushes toward the G.W. server room. She gets saved by Johnny, and they have some awkward but cool John Woo gun porn scenes, right around the time I’m mowing through dwarf geckos with Snake, and he’s yelling like an action hero as the bullets are flying. You make it through that only to get incapacitated by those damn nanomachines acting up again. Armless Raiden isn’t dead! He saves Snake (with lightning powers?) and wants to go into the microwave hall, but gets talked out of it. Raiden is still young and Snake has to do this.

    In an amazingly great, tense scene in video gaming, another split screen, Snake desperately staggers through the microwave hall, getting shocked, burnt, and dropped to his hands and knees, while scenes of the struggle outside play out. Raiden’s losing against the frogs, Meryl and Johnny get shot, the Missouri gets boarded by Metal Gear Ray, Mei Ling’s on the bridge with dwarf geckos swarming all over the glass, and you’re hammering away at the controller with everything you’ve got just to get Snake… to crawl…a few…more…feet. So good!

    But you make it to the server room, which looks like The Boss’ graveyard. The Mark III starts uploading the Emma/Sunny’s worm and the room floods with dwarf geckos that Snake fights off as long as he can, but he just doesn’t have the energy. Just as he’s being smothered, just as Raiden is about to be stabbed to death, just as Meryl and Johnny run out of bullets, the worm works its magic and everything shuts down. *Sigh of relief* Naomi’s delivers a final posthumous message saying that not only is G.W. destroyed, but the worm “FOXALIVE” destroyed all of the other Patriot A.I.s as well.

    Liquid drags your unconscious body up to the top of the conning tower of Outer Haven as the sun is going down, to set up the best part of the entire game. “BROTHAAH, the war is over, but we still have a score to settle!” He sticks Snake with a syringe full of nanomachines (or whatever?) so they can fight. Then it goes into this just brutal cinematic where Snake and Liquid are CQC wailing on each other. At one point they both dropped syringes, and I just knew they were going to stick each other, and they did, and it was great!

    Then, the camera pulls back to a fighting game perspective, the MGS1 style life bars load up, the music revs up, and I start holy-shit-freaking-out. It’s a brilliant fight scene spliced with cutscenes. Like you punch each other at the same time, or you get Liquid into a CQC slam and punch his face against the ground, or vice versa and a variety of other things, all the while so much emotion, so much pent up shit over 4 games is finally getting out. I start to notice that Liquid is slowly transforming back into Ocelot, and the music is changing to the different themes, like Snake Eater, and I realize they’re going through the series and I freak out some more.

    Finally, you beat him to a pulp, and in his death throes, he makes the Ocelot finger gun gesture at you and says, “You’re pretty good”, like he and Big Boss had said in the past. Meanwhile, I’m jumping up and down at how epic that was.

    So that’s that. The Patriots are dead, though Sunny saves the “brain stem” and thus saves civilization, the one thing Liquid did not see coming. Meryl gets married (wearing a gun holster over her gown) to hunky, awkward Johnny. She lets Campbell into her life again. Raiden reunites with Rose and kid Raiden, and the tragic figure, Solid Snake, goes to The Boss’s grave and blows his brains out before FOXDIE can kill humanity…

    The credits roll, but BIG BOSS is in the credits?!

    You realize Snake couldn’t do it. He can’t go out like that. In a cool scene, Big Boss (I thought it was Solidus at first) reveals himself. He disarms Snake like The Boss used to do to him, and tells Snake that he was kept in stasis and that Naomi’s message told him that the new FOXDIE that got injected into Snake has taken over the old one, so he’s no longer a threat for the time being. There’s a great Father / Son moment here, and a lot of exposition about regret, the fruitless war, the Patriots and one becoming 100, and then he unplugs the life support from the invalid, wheel chaired Zero who happens to be nearby, to end the cycle. As the new FOXDIE ravages his body, as it did unknowingly to EVA, they bury the hatchet and Snake brings him over to his mentor’s grave, he gets the strength to salute one more time, collapses, (and takes a really long time to die) Snake lights his cigar for him, and he passes away while telling him to respect other people’s wills.

    Snake lives on to help usher in the new, free era, with Otacon as a witness.

    THE END.

    (O.O)

    That’s a one in a million game right there. I don’t care what anyone says. Is it convoluted? Absolutely. Is some of it, like Big Boss being alive, and Raiden not dying, contrived? Yes. Are nanomachines used as a deus ex machina? You bet. Are there plot holes all over the place? Probably. Was it a little too tidy in the end, and the cutscenes a little too movie length … bla bla bla, bla bla? Sure. Really though, who cares? Were you not entertained?

    Personally, I was more than satisfied by the way it shook out. Going in, I didn’t think he could tie up all of that insanity, but he did (with varying degrees of success). Everything was explained, for better or worse, and there was no cryptic bullshit left dangling at the end. More importantly, the “Kojima Funtime Show” spectacle, as shown above, held up all the way through to the end without even so much as wavering. After playing through four of his games nearly back to back, that’s really all I wanted. Well, that and some closure, and booooy do you get closure.

    Incredible series. Sad it’s over.

     
  • Pete Davison 12:15 am on February 28, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: OMG FUCKING MASSIVE WALL OF TEXT,   

    Hey Lik, good to see you here. 🙂 Drop by more often!

    The Last Story update (at Beige’s request)

    21 hours in. Those people who said 20 hours lied, apparently — though things are at least building to that recognisable sort of JRPG climax right now. One thing we pleasingly haven’t had so far is some sort of godlike villain who wants to destroy/conquer/eat the world. There’s been plenty of magic and mysticism and whatnot alongside a ton of political intrigue, but no castle-sized tentacle monsters as yet.

    The good design of the combat arenas continues to be a highlight of this game. As you progress, you learn new techniques at a steady rate, providing you with more options with which to batter down your enemies. I remain impressed with the AI of the companion characters, too, who will generally “follow your lead” quite nicely — fall back to a healing circle and they’ll follow, for example, while if you charge in for a frontal assault, they’ll support you with magic and their own skills.

    A number of the later fights are almost puzzle-like, with careful use of your special abilities and the facility to order around your companions becoming necessary for success. The order interface never becomes overly fiddly, though — the most you do is pick which ability you want them to use and, if applicable, which baddy you want them to cast it on. There’s no micromanagement of their positions or anything like that, which is a blessed relief as I suck at RTS.

    The “dungeons” of the game remain relatively linear paths from start to finish with few side branches or opportunities for exploration, but due to the game’s design and rather cinematic nature, this isn’t a bad thing at all as it keeps things pacey. I drew comparison to Uncharted a few posts back and I stand by that — the structure of the dungeons is very much “run a bit and admire scenery, get in fight, see plot, admire more scenery, fight more, boss, plot”. Some may argue that this goes against the grain of what makes a “good” RPG, but when your whole game is designed around cinematic, story-heavy, character-driven action, it really works.

    Besides, if you want exploration, you have one of the most impressively detailed and well-realised cities of any game I’ve ever played to run around during plot downtime. The city of Lazulis is rammed with back alleys, mysterious men babbling about dragon skin, fortune tellers, groupies, gambling addicts who bet on your performance in the arena, market stall holders just waiting for someone to come and help them out, kids who have lost their cats… The list goes on. You want freeform exploration? Hang out in the city a bit. You want to power through the plot? Knock yourself out — all the city stuff is purely there for narrative colour, as you don’t get many rewards for a lot of these little events. That doesn’t stop them being satisfying and worth doing, however — but at the same time, their optional nature means that people who want to concentrate on the more spectacular side of the plot can proceed without hesitation.

    It’s the game’s deviations from what you typically expect from an RPG that are the most interesting things. Take equipment: I’m still wearing the armour I got at the beginning of the game, for example, but the game is designed in such a way that rather than repeatedly finding new equipment, you instead gradually upgrade your protection with items you find lying around the city, as quest rewards and during combat. You can see the improvements in your armour on your character model, too, which is cool — heavy armour, for example, starts as normal clothing, then gets a pauldron, gauntlet and armlet on one arm, then the other… and so on. Combine this with the dye and “make certain layers of clothing/armour invisible” systems and you can take a surprising amount of control over the appearance of these otherwise preset characters, which is nice.

    Weapons are another matter. You find loads of different weapons throughout the course of the game and can upgrade these to a certain degree using nothing but money. After you’ve upgraded them a certain number of times, they too start to require crafting items, and it’s usually at this point that they start taking on special effects, gaining elemental attributes or other cool things. Again, their appearance gradually changes as you upgrade them, with a simple sword becoming more ornate and glowing with magical power as you make it better and better.

    Also you can hit people with a leek. And a ladle. And a frying pan.

    The game’s making the Wii creak a bit at times, with the frame rate occasionally struggling slightly in big combats, but it continues to look and sound lovely and the frame rate drops certainly don’t make it unplayable. Is it better than Xenoblade Chronicles? I honestly couldn’t say, because they are two wildly different experiences that show two completely different directions the JRPG could (should?) evolve in. Xenoblade Chronicles was certainly one of my favourite games of last year, though, and The Last Story is shaping up to be one of the best titles of this year.

     
  • Pete Davison 12:52 am on February 17, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: OMG FUCKING MASSIVE WALL OF TEXT   

    @feenwager Love you too, sir. In an appropriately manly fashion. Wait, that came out wrong.

    I see your concerns, particularly in light of the more esoteric territory that many of us have been venturing into lately, but I don’t feel you have anything to worry about.

    You see, the awesome thing about the Squad is that, by your definitions, we all fall into the “enthusiast” category — only we’re each enthusiasts about our own particular niche. We know to talk to Beige about hard games, UMD about obscure Eastern European strategy games and the best freebies the App Store has to offer, Shingro about all things J — and so on and so on. (To everyone: if I didn’t include your name in those examples, it wasn’t a slur against you, incidentally!)

    By definition of our own diversity, some of us will err closer to the side of “consumer” while others will be deeper into “enthusiast” territory. And even with the triple-A console releases, we each have our own tastes. You’re playing KoA (and loving it, from the sound of things). I’m playing FFXIII-2 (and I think I’m enjoying it — reserving final judgement until I’ve beaten it). Several of us are playing SWTOR. A whole mess of us will be playing Mass Effect 3 when it hits.

    The awesome thing about this taste-tastic situation is that it exposes each of us to things outside of our comfort zones — things that we can either choose to actively engage with or think “nah, that doesn’t sound like my sort of thing at all” — whether we reach that decision simply through reading descriptions or trying things out ourselves.

    Speaking personally, I can say that I’d probably have never tried bullet hell shooters — now one of my favourite genres — were it not for Shingro, and that I have tried and, sadly, failed to engage with hardcore strategy titles after wanting to understand UMD’s love for them and Beige’s enthusing over titles like Anno 2070. I’m sure everyone else has had a similar experience, both where they’ve been pleasantly surprised by something new that they tried (see: you and SWTOR, for example), or confirmed for themselves that the thing under discussion is not for them.

    One thing we’ve never done here is belittle each other’s tastes — at least, not in seriousness. We’ve had disagreements, and that’s good — you can’t have a debate or a discussion without differing viewpoints. Well, you can, but it’s not as interesting. But we’ve never said that someone is a lesser person for enjoying something different to what we do. (I may have called Modern Warfare 3 the most insulting game I’ve ever played, but that’s because it was to me — I bear no ill will to those who do enjoy what that particular oeuvre has to offer)

    In short, I think what I’m trying to say is that just because a bunch of us jumped on the Katawa Shoujo train (and some thought it was laughable nonsense); or some of us think that Zelda needs a good kick up the arse (and others don’t); or some of us are disillusioned with the marketing-heavy, surprise-free world of triple-A games these days (and others love the buildup of hype and anticipation from modern marketing); or some of us believe [x] (and others believe [y]) etc. etc. — none of that means that any of us are planning on becoming the objectionable sort of person you describe below. You like what you like. You’re ambivalent about what you’re ambivalent about. And you dislike what you dislike. That’s the individual call of each and every person here, and it’s an unspoken tenet that we’ve always followed right from the very beginning — each mission thread on the 1up boards would attract a very different group of people, and between all those many discussions (and beyond) we’ve arrived at where we are today, which is a far healthier place than any other Internet community I’ve ever seen over the years.

    Live and let live is what we’ve always been about. That awesome melting pot of tastes is what makes us unique. I for one have always treasured that fact.

     
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