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 Bustin' down plots like the T pities fools.
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Often cited as "the reason so many people scrambled out and bought a brand new Playstation 3 for twenty times what it was worth on eBay". So, was that $12,060 purchase worth it? Let's find out!

So our game begins with... actually, I'm not sure what the hell they're trying to prove here. Our game begins by giving you four or five "TV channels" to flip through, none of which have any apparent tie-in to the game's storyline aside from a few tongue-in-cheek references. It's not like these are short videos, either - each one goes on for a good four minutes before the game properly begins!

Spoony: Wow, you really put this bleeding-edge Blu-Ray technology to good use, guys. Open up your brand new game on an expensive new game console with twenty gigabytes of uncompressed video that has no relevance to anything! You've really convinced me to move up from the mere eight gigabyte discs your competitors' game consoles have with this!

Our introductory cinematic sets up several key points - Snake's rapid aging (a result of Werner Syndrome coded into his DNA), Olga's daughter (I thought Olga's child was a boy? Bleh) Sunny was freed by Raiden (off-camera - it's an important plot point but we had to include Raiden as little as humanly possible due to fan backlash toward his character, you see) and now lives aboard Otacon's aircraft as a computer genius with no social skills. Finally, there's the fact that weapons, vehicles and other implements of war are now entirely coded with Nanomachine-driven ID locks, and that "War Has Changed" as a result. Silly Snake, don't you know that war never changes?

The action finally begins in the middle east, having to sneak through the middle of a war between some armed goons and private military companies hired to fight them off. Snake's here to find Liquid Ocelot, who has somehow worked under the radar to become the head of the biggest PMC in the entire world. I guess nobody heard that he was working alongside two terrorist masterminds only a few years back. Yeah, yeah, he was really working for the Patriots, whatever. We know from the previous games that almost nobody knows who the Patriots are, and the Shadow Moses and Big Shell incidents are well documented acts of terrorism against the United States. So how did he manage this, exactly?

Spoony: The first of several glaring plot holes, incidentally.

Along the way, we also learn that Snake has a high-tech "octocamo" that can blend into anything he presses up against for a second (much more convenient than having to pause the game and swap uniforms constantly, at least), Otacon has built a tiny portable Metal Gear scout 'bot (shades of Snatcher) and that all the "ID locks"can only be broken by some goofball named Drebin who has a pet smoking, drinking monkey. Yes, I"m serious. Oh, and also, Snake is suddenly using CQC, something he showed absolutely no knowledge of in the first two games but Naked Snake showed heavy use of in Metal Gear Solid 3 and Portable Ops. More retconning at work!

At one point along the way, we encounter Meryl and her unit, and an extremely long gunfight scene ensues with dozens of soldiers who can apparently leap twenty feet in the air and stick to walls. One of them is a painfully annoying doofus named Johnny who doesn't really do much aside from contribute a lot of unfunny poop humor, which you'll get tired of pretty quickly. Thankfully, they tone that down to a dull roar after this scene - I don't think I could stand twelve straight hours of Jar Jar antics from this guy.

Anyway, we finally come up to Liquid Ocelot's camp, and despite having plenty of chances to just take the fucker out with a clean shot, Snake doesn't do so, instead waiting until he unleashes the power of Plot Convenience to render all the soldiers nearby - Snake and Meryl's unit included - completely ineffective.

Spoony: Ah, nanomachines, the ultimate lazy plot device. Does your story require that you keep a person's identity secret? Nanomachines. Need to instantly subdue or kill anyone? Nanomachines. Make someone immortal? Nanomachines. Disable or enable any weapon or vehicle in the world at a single person's whim? Yep, nanomachines! And yes, this plot device will be so heavily relied on throughout the game that it will become laughably trite very, very quickly.

Anyhow, we get rescued by the annoying doofus from earlier (how embarassing) and now we're apparently off to South America to rescue Naomi Hunter. Oh, and the Patriots are all just AI systems rather than a group of people now. Which you could probably already guess if you played MGS2.

We also come to one of my big piss-offs with the game, learning that Raiden now leads a one-man war against the Patriots after the memories of his past as a child soldier arose again. As a result of this, he started drinking, had severe relationship turbulence and Rose miscarried their child. So much for MGS2's optimistic ending where Raiden overcomes his demons and puts his past behind him to lead a new life, eh? Oh, and Rose is now shacking up with Colonel Campbell because... we just needed to turn this into a bad Jerry Springer plot somehow, I guess.

Spoony: But guess what? This whole subplot is completely meaningless because Rose lied to Raiden about the miscarriage and she and Campbell are only "together" as a cover story to protect Rose and her son from the Patriots! Because yeah, it's not like they're above kidnapping and coercing people into doing their bidding under threat of murder (up to and including young children). It's also not like the Patriots - who I remind you have had a hand in events reaching back to the beginning of the entire series - don't have a close eye on two major players in the lives of Snake and Raiden for exactly this purpose. Oh, and do you remember that scene where the Patriots threatened to kill both Rose and Sunny if Raiden should die or fail to follow orders? Apparently Kojima doesn't, because MGS4 never follows up on that plot point!

After sneaking through a lot more skirmishes between the local militia and an armed resistance, we encounter Naomi, who gives us a Plot Convenience nanomachine suppressor and explains that the FOXDIE within Snake's body is slowly mutating and will turn into an airborne outbreak in a few months, and that the only way to prevent this is to die before that time.

Spoony: Because it's just not enough that Liquid Ocelot is trying to wrest control of the Patriots' system away from them to effectively conquer the entire planet - we had to add MORE gravity to the story! Never mind that just like the whole Rose/Raiden drama, this plot element is also rendered completely moot by the time we even learn of it.

Anyway, a bunch more soldiers burst in with extremely convenient timing, abducting Naomi and leaving a group of wall-climbing ninja soldiers to kill Snake. But in Metal Gear fashion, their elite commando senses are no match for a guy who knows to hide under a table and pick them off one by one with a tranq gun as they go to investigate their fallen comrades. Silliness.

It's here, about three hours in, that we finally encounter our first boss battle in the form of Laughing Octopus. It's actually a pretty interesting fight in that she uses her OctoCamo to hide in the environment, blending in with the walls, ceilings and even a painting at one point. Later she even starts getting creative, disguising herself as Naomi and even Metal Gear Mk. II to try and catch you off-guard. I'm not sure how she knows who Otacon is, let alone how to mimic his voice so perfectly, but it's still quite creative.

After that's over, we have to track Naomi through a forested area by following a trail of clues (the whole thing reeking terribly of padding), rescue Naomi from Vamp (who's still invincible, big surprise) and then embark on a long shootout with a bunch of Gekkos and soldiers turned into zombies via Plot Convenience.. err, "Nanomachines". Then we get to embark on another stealth section where we evade a ton of Gekkos.

This section is actually really incredibly annoying because they cut off every single path you can take, and as soon as you destroy one (which takes 3-4 rockets or several clips of ammo to the 'eye' on top), another one immediately drops down in its place. That is, until you discover that they have an incredibly dumb weakness for being robotic - they can be tranquilized! Yeah. Just shoot them in the knees with 3 or 4 tranquilizers and they'll fall down and act lethargic, giving you plenty of time to run past them. Just don't try to run past them without doing that, or they'll sweep-kick and kill you instantly.

As Snake and Naomi escape, they're once again attacked by a swarm of Gekkos, as well as Vamp. But lucky for us, Raiden comes back, dispatching the whole lot of Gekkos and leaving Vamp severely injured in an overly long fight scene that climaxes with him doing a breakdance spin while whipping two Gekkos around by their little cable-claws - one on each leg. It singlehandedly turns what should be a badass fight scene into unintentional comedy.

After that display of extreme silliness and shark-jumping, we move on to eastern Europe, where another PMC is keeping peace in the streets and you have to follow a Resistance member back to their home base to meet up with Big Mama, who has the remains of Big Boss that Liquid Ocelot is hunting for. The gameplay style here is vaguely reminiscent of Assassin's Creed, in that you have to trail the guy without letting him know he's being followed, whilst simultaneously evading enemy soldiers and preventing the guy you're trailing from being detained by PMC soldiers. It's about as exciting as it was in that other game, too. By which I mean "not at all." It also doesn't help that this section drags on. And on. And on. For a good forty minutes. And getting spotted at any point just drags it out even longer.

After that dose of filler, we meet up with Big Mama, and a huge dump of exposition begins!

Spoony: I'll just give you the short version here. Remember Zero and Para-Medic, Naked Snake's support team who we learned pretty much fuck-all about in MGS3? They're our main villains now! Also: Big Mama is EVA, who also happens to be Snake's mother, DARPA chief Donald Anderson from the first MGS game was really SIGINT (strange that they look and sound absolutely nothing alike), and Ocelot had actually intended to kill him during that game's torture scene to keep his identity as a double agent under wraps. Small fucking world, I guess.

Due to more convenient writing, Big Mama's location - formerly secret for months - is now blown, and we have to make our grand escape with Big Boss' remains before they find us. Why didn't they just DESTROY the remains to prevent Liquid Ocelot from using them in his grand plan? Oh, right - because then we wouldn't have a plot.

We also get some clunky exposition about how Big Mama's "children" are all raised on violent first person shooter games and that "war is just a game to them". So a Metal Gear game that's designed to more closely resemble a third-person shooter than any other in the series is speaking out against violent video games (and shooters in particular) as "brainwashing". Yeah. This message is doubly hypocritical considering that all the major players in the entire franchise - both good and evil - use armed warfare, assassination and mind control as means to an end. So just in case you didn't already dislike the game for being padded out like crazy, now it's preachy and pretentious too!

Spoony: Oh get off the soapbox, Kojima. The quickest way to kill my enthusiasm for any game is to have it preach at me, especially when its a VIOLENT, M-RATED GAME decrying simulated violence.

I have to admit I was dreading another bike chase scene, because Metal Gear Solid 3's "intense, climactic action scene" was easily one of the most drawn out, boring, and tedious parts of any video game I've ever played - you had UNLIMITED ammunition and regenerated health so quickly that you could get shot dozens of times to no ill effect, and between the frequent cutscenes, the boss battle in the middle and about fifteen screens of first-person shooting adding up to well over an hour of game time, it went from mildly amusing to unbearably torturous very, very quickly.

Thankfully, MGS4's bike scene is much better. It's a lot shorter for one thing, and with the sheer amount of explosions, flying shrapnel, enemies and mayhem, it's quite a spectacle to watch, even if it is still rather easy.

After all that madness is done and we come to a violent crashing stop, we encounter our next boss, Raging Raven. And again, this is a fine boss battle. The boss comes crashing through the building you're in, punching holes in the walls in a crazed attempt to weed you out, and you have to utilize stealth, cover and quick shooting to get some hits in when she's vulnerable. It does get a little drawn out because she takes so little damage from your bullets, but it's still quite fun.

After that, we learn that despite our efforts, Liquid Ocelot has captured Big Boss' remains, and with them he is able to gain control over the SOP system and disable every weapon in the world, save for those possessed by his loyal soldiers and the handful of "jailbroken" ones that Drebin has helped you launder. Once again, there's a huge gap of opportunity for Snake to simply SHOOT HIM as he floats in the middle of the harbor, going on and on about how he now controls the world through the "Guns of the Patriots" while mugging for the camera for twenty straight minutes (spending a good chunk of that simulating gunfire by pointing his fingers and shouting "BANG" followed by watching whatever he points at actually explode - I am not fucking kidding in the slightest), but Snake doesn't even attempt to fire a single shot in Ocelot's direction. What the fuck!

Spoony: Yes, the once crafty, manipulative and threatening Revolver Ocelot is now reduced to being an unfunny clone of Ernest P. Worrell. Who's brilliant idea was this? Watching a (formerly) awesome villain act this way is so painfully stupid that I think it's about time we start a counter for shark-jumping moments. So counting the extremely silly Raiden battle earlier, Kojima's sermon about simulated violence in a video game that revels in violence and human misery, and now this scene, we're up to three.

Also, I finally get the relevance of the title. Guns of the Patriots. GOP. Har har. What brilliant satire does Kojima have in store for us next? Is Rising's plot just going to be a cartoonish exaggeration of the Occupy movement?

He's pretty much won at this point, having rendered every militia in the world except his own useless, but Liquid Ocelot isn't done yet, no sir. Now he wants to go back to Shadow Moses to steal Metal Gear REX's railgun so he can wipe out the Patriots' core AI and prevent them from impeding his plans as well. So with that bit of convenient plotting, we roll out to MGS1's location, attempting to stop Ocelot's plans that whilst engaging in a fair bit of nostalgia.

Spoony: Oh, and GW is back too, completely restored and none the worse for wear despite it quite clearly being wiped out by Emma's virus in Metal Gear Solid 2. Way to render that game's central plot totally meaningless, guys! And for what, just so you can further belittle Raiden and Emma's character arcs in order to make Snake the "one and only true hero"? Way to pander to your fanbase.

Halfway through the trek to REX's bunker, we encounter yet another boss - Crying Wolf. Once again, this is a well-designed boss battle, forcing you to contend with the harsh weather and utilize stealth to evade Wolf's senses, as well as a constantly-respawning patrol of FROG soldiers. Like the fight with "The End", it's pretty much a long waiting game, but it's well-designed enough that you don't mind having to constantly watch your back as you wait for her to slip up and give you a shot at her weak point.

After that and a couple of rooms with a swarm of annoying sphere robots that constantly respawn, we finally come to REX. But surprise, Vamp and Naomi await us here too! Another boss fight ensues.

Like Wesker in Resident Evil 5, this is pretty much just a gimmick battle - no matter how much you shoot him, he'll just shrug it off and refill his health moments later. After a not-so-subtle clue from him, you'll figure out that it's Plot Convenience nanomachines that keep reviving him, so you'll need to shoot him in the head, then grab him as he gets back up and inject him with the suppressor to finally kill him. Well, not quite - Raiden bursts in and delivers the finishing blow whilst you fight off an army of Gekkos with Crying Wolf's railgun (which she borrowed from Fortune, apparently - funny, I thought it was a highly dangerous experimental weapon that only Fortune could wield due to her "supernatural luck"). This is probably the most spectacular battle of the whole game - just a pity you won't be able to pay attention to Raiden's side of the fight, since you'll be too busy fighting off Gekkos to watch the other half of the screen.

Spoony: So, his nanomachines made him super strong, able to predict people's movements by giving him super senses, and able to regenerate from wounds, even ones that would be instantly fatal. Fine, I'll buy that. But what I don't buy is him being able to run up walls, walk on water and swim in a highly-oxygenated fluid that any normal human would instantly sink and drown in. Unless they converted his entire body mass to helium, that simply does not work!

After all that's said and done, Naomi explains that she's created a virus to destroy the Patriots' network, and also that she's secretly dying of terminal cancer, which we never saw evidence nor even heard mention of before this scene. She injects herself with a suppressor and drops dead in a hamfisted tragic moment.

Spoony: Hooray, yet another shoehorned tragic heroine death! How many times are we going to spend that nickel in this series, anyway? First it was Meryl in MGS1's bad ending, then it was Emma in MGS2, then The Boss in MGS3, then Elisa in Portable Ops, then Big Mama, and now Naomi!

After that, we discover that we're too late and that the railgun has already been taken. However, Otacon manages to get Metal Gear REX back up and running with only a bit of tweaking.

Spoony: So I shot it with about 500 Stinger rockets and it's been sitting here in a bunker at temperatures as low as 90 degrees below zero for nine years (ensuring that it's most likely completely frozen solid and, at any rate, its fuel is well past its shelf-life), but oh, it's perfectly fine - we just need to hotwire it a bit to get it running again. Convenience, be thy name!

After a spectacularly decadent escape sequence where we drive REX up a long ramp, trashing everything in our path with a barrage of missiles and machine gun fire, we come face to face with Liquid, who is now driving a Metal Gear RAY. Another boss battle ensues!

You'd think this would be a hard battle, especially since RAY was specifically designed as a means to eliminate REX and similar designs of Metal Gears, but actually, it's quite easy. Just plaster him with machine gun fire, and swap over to the missiles or the laser to stop his really big attacks. Aside from that, just keep moving, and have a chuckle at how everything on this island is destroyable save for the comms tower in the middle of the battlefield.

Once we've trashed Ray, the game decides to copy the ending of the first game again by having Liquid Ocelot fall from the cockpit and apparently drop dead from FOXDIE. Only not! He gets right back up, laughs, and runs for his battleship.

Spoony: What... the... fuck was that?! Was that supposed to be a joke? Why would Snake even be FOOLED by that?! I know he has a new strain of FOXDIE in him thanks to Drebin, but he doesn't know who it's supposed to affect! And even if it was meant to kill Ocelot (which it is), why did it not affect him at all when when they met (and fought) in the previous chapter?!

In another thoroughly idiotic moment, Snake, rather than just arming REX's weapon systems and pasting him with a missile or a few thousand rounds of machine gun fire (or at the very least using the higher vantage point to draw a bead on his target with a handheld weapon), drops twenty feet to the ground, severely injuring himself and allowing Liquid to gain an even bigger lead. But to his credit (I guess), he does at least take a shot this time as Liquid makes his getaway. Yeah. This moment of incredible stupidity on Snake's part deserves another one of these.

(Shark-jumping counter: 4)

We also find that his battleship - Outer Haven - has a pastiche of Mount Rushmore with Big Boss, Solid, Liquid and Solidus' faces instead of the presidents. No, I'm not making that up. It's really there. I couldn't believe it when I saw it. I had to go to Youtube and check the Metal Gear wiki afterward just to make sure I hadn't gone fucking insane.

Spoony: Oh god, that is beyond corny. Was Kojima really taking this seriously, or has the series just degenerated into a self-parody at this point?
(Shark-jumping counter: 5)

Outer Haven begins to tear up the pier Snake is on in an attempt to crush him to death, but Raiden appears once again to save Snake's bacon, doing so in the most idiotic way possible - rather than just picking him up and hauling ass out of there (which should be effortless for him as we've already witnessed him leaping from rooftop to rooftop and whipping a three-ton robot around on either leg), he tries to WRESTLE THE FUCKING GIGANTIC BATTLESHIP AWAY WITH HIS BARE HANDS.

Spoony: Really? REALLY? Now you're making Raiden a complete idiot too? What the hell, Kojima! You repeatedly defended Raiden's inclusion in Metal Gear Solid 2 -even going so far as to declare him your favorite character - and now you've minimized his contribution to the overarching story by cutting his scenes, belittling his accomplishments in MGS2, and now turning him into a complete idiot. But then, Snake doesn't really fare much better in this game, so I'm just left totally confused as to what you're trying to accomplish with this series anymore. Aside from raking in boatloads of cash, I mean.
(Shark-jumping counter: 6)
(That's the THIRD one in this cutscene alone! Scale it back a little, guy!)

Thankfully Mei Ling comes in to save Snake and Raiden from their own stupidity, commandeering the only non-disabled battleship in the Navy fleet to drive Liquid off. You know, in the previous games, Snake was usually the one bailing people out of tight spaces, and now he's the one who's always getting rescued. Usually by the unpopular minor characters at that. Not a very good turn for one of video gaming's iconic action heroes to take!

Spoony: Say what you want about Raiden's character in Metal Gear Solid 2, haters - at least he wasn't playing second fiddle to the supporting cast throughout the entire game!

With that, we finally enter the game's last act, wherein Snake, Meryl and Johnny attempt to infiltrate Outer Haven to upload Naomi's virus and wipe out the Patriots' central AI. This chapter is actually quite short in terms of gameplay, with only a few stealth corridors and the rest being played out in cutscenes. But as long as it helps us avoid more flagrant and obvious padding, I won't complain.

The first of two boss battles is Screaming Mantis, who is apparently Psycho Mantis resurrected in the guise of another mentally destroyed girl. Again, this is pretty much just a gimmick battle - you'll constantly be under attack by resurrected Plot Convenience nanomachine-driven soldiers and you'll have to knock Meryl out once in a while to prevent Mantis from killing her, but that's all secondary. You just have to knock the voodoo dolls out of Mantis' hands, then grab one of them and manipulate her into stabbing herself multiple times. Notably, this is the only time when you actually have to use the motion sensor built into the PS3's controller - I guess Sony insisted that they work that in somewhere, even if it is an extremely minor sequence in a single fight near the end of the game. But hey, at least it's better than the clunky, unintuitive grenade-throwing mechanic in Uncharted. And while we're on the subject, fuck that game too.

Spoony: Nanomachines - they can do anything, even make people float several inches off the ground with no external support! Man, this is dumb. I mean, there's suspension of disbelief and then there's insulting my intelligence; microscopic machines in your blood CANNOT MAKE YOU DEFY GRAVITY OR VIOLATE THE LAWS OF PHYSICS. I don't care how far technology advances in the next 100 years, that just ain't happening. I have wonderful news, though - the game is almost over.

After that, a very long series of cutscenes plays. In a scene that draws out a single joke for far too long, Meryl and Johnny hold off a huge swarm of FROGs whilst Johnny proposes to her (what?), Raiden bursts into save Snake from a group of FROGS - doing so despite being so badly injured that both of his arms are rendered useless and he has to hold his sword in his mouth - and Snake continues his journey down a hall of deathtraps to the central core.

Spoony: It's official - Metal Gear Solid 4 should have just been about Raiden instead. He's been far more badass than Snake throughout the entire game. Hell, even when he's being blazingly stupid, he at least does it with some style!

As he finally reaches the end and uploads the virus, Meryl, Johnny and Raiden - all in dire straits - are immediately saved as the world is immediately ripped free from the control of the Patriots' Plot Convenience nanomachines. Snake is brought out in bad shape and barely conscious to a hero's welcome, but somewhere in the midst of all this, Liquid Ocelot manages to drag him off TO THE VERY TOP OF THE SHIP for their final battle.

Spoony: Okay, I was having a hard enough time believing he could drag an unconscious Snake up to the top of REX. Now we're on the top of a twenty story tall TOWER on the middle of a crowded battleship and NOBODY saw him carry Snake up there and tried to stop him?

Up here, Ocelot explains that he had fully intended this chain of events from the beginning, that he was NOT actually mentally overtaken by Liquid Snake (it was all a ruse on his part), that he is loyal to Big Boss - not the Patriots - and that he'd secretly planned from square one that Snake would upload Naomi's virus and wipe out the Patriots' AI, causing the war economy to collapse and the world to plunge into uncontrolled chaos, thereby creating the "world for soldiers" that Big Boss had always envisioned.

Spoony: Oh my god. So all of this - ALL OF THIS - was a setup by Ocelot from the very start? You're telling me that hunting down Big Boss' body to gain control of GW, getting the railgun off of REX, training Sunny to some kind of computer prodigy, kidnapping Naomi, and disabling EVERY WEAPON IN THE WORLD so he could attack and destroy the Patriots' core AI to gain complete control to GW - ALL of this was staged in the hopes that Snake would upload a virus created by Naomi and tempered by Sunny to destroy the Patriots' AI at its core? And just to make it more convincing, he sent his entire elite battalion to fight Snake at every step of the way? What would he have done if Snake - who is physically 70 or 80 years old at this point - were to be overwhelmed and killed by one of these mechanically augmented psychotics? "Whoops, I just botched up my big plan! Now I'll have to rule the world as the oppressive dictatorship I always despised! Silly me! Ha ha ha!" Kee-RIST, this is the dumbest plot twist I've ever seen outside of a JRPG.

(And it's also Shark Jumping moment #7!)

But despite Snake playing right into his hands and really having nothing left to fight for anymore since they've both achieved their goals, we have a final climactic fistfight. Why? Because the director demanded a climactic action scene, of course!

As if that paper-thin reasoning wasn't enough, we also have to watch them fight over the Plot Convenience Suppressor just to even give them the strength to continue their pointless little tussle, ruining what little chance there was of anyone being able to take this seriously.

At any rate, we now lapse into a one-on-one battle with extremely stiff controls, wherein we have to employ clever use of ducking, dodging and dash attacks to land hits on Ocelot while evading his attacks. After he takes enough damage, the music changes to a MGS2 theme and he starts getting sloppy, using an easily avoided dashing punch that leaves him wide open.

Spoony: He also resumes that infernal mugging. As if it weren't already impossible to take his character seriously ever again after he spent all of Metal Gear Solid 3 acting like a hammy dipshit.

Speaking of which, after dodging that and retaliating with combos a few more times... Snake Eater from MGS3 begins playing!

Spoony: That song alone deserves another point on our counter. It was bad enough hearing that corny mess over and over again constantly in the previous game, now I have to listen to it here too? Press the mute button, please.
(Shark jumping counter: 8)

Now Ocelot stats using grapple moves, which you can shake out of rather easily and follow up with a punch combo for some pretty heavy damage. After a few bouts of that, we're finally on to the climax, which is... kind of lame, honestly. All you really have to do is mash R1 a lot and Snake will keep hitting him with huge Mortal Kombat uppercuts and haymakers that take a huge chunk of his health off. Just keep that up and he'll never even get a shot at counterattacking.

Anyway, after that extremely dopey combat scene, Ocelot finally succumbs to the FOXDIE virus and dies, starting up the ending cutscenes which last well over an hour. Welp, let's get started.

Meryl and Johnny get married. Yay, fan service for two characters nobody ever cared about.
Raiden is no longer a cyborg, and gets reunited with Rose who reveals that he has a son. Okay.
We learn that Drebin was working for the Patriots all along to assist Snake in stopping Liquid Ocelot. I guess they just didn't expect Snake to go ahead and destroy THEM as well, which is pretty silly since he's a founding member of Philanthropy - whose entire goal is to destroy Metal Gear and by extension the Patriots' offensive platform!
We also cut to the graveyard from the beginning of the game, where Snake is about to off himself to prevent FOXDIE from becoming a global pandemic. However, he's stopped by... Big Boss? Yes, it turns out he's still alive. That charred corpse Big Mama had was really Solidus all along.

Spoony: Oh COME ON. You DON'T FUCKING DO THAT. You do NOT bring back a character whose death is the CENTRAL FOCUS of THREE GAMES just for a sappy ending scene, especially when you're just going to kill him off again right away! What the FUCK!

(Shark-jumping counter: 9)

Not to mention that bringing Big Boss back in this way creates a massive plot hole: If those really were Solidus' remains back in Act 3, why did Liquid Ocelot go through all the trouble of tracking down Big Mama and sending a small army after her resistance cell to retrieve them? He knew they weren't actually Big Boss' remains! And even if he didn't know that, it still wouldn't make sense since he accesses the SOP system and shuts off all weapons in the world immediately after he obtains them. Making it worse is the fact that this comes directly after a scene where we had established that Big Boss' DNA and Biometric data - and ONLY Big Boss' - would work for that purpose!

I've seen claims that this is because Solidus is a "perfect clone" of Big Boss, but I call bullshit - Big Boss shows no evidence of the rapid aging that his sons did (keep in mind he's literally about 70 at this point in time, and Solidus was younger than Snake in MGS2 despite looking much older), so his DNA differs from Solidus', if only slightly. Which goes against established logic again, as it's said that an EXACT match is required to access the SOP system. So there.

Anyhow, Boss explains that he's just here to tie up the last of the loose ends by wiping out the sole survivor of the Patriots (Zero), and that Snake's been injected with a new strain of FOXDIE, which was intended to kill off Big Mama, Liquid Ocelot and Big Boss himself. Conveniently, this new strain of FOXDIE has also destroyed the old one within Snake's body. So through an extremely contrived plot twist, Snake can now live out the last months of his life in peace rather than having to die to save humanity. Hooray!

Spoony: This had to be a last-minute rewrite just to give the game a happier ending. I mean hell, even the official trailers for the game showed Snake blowing his own head off. It was sad, sure, but at least it made a point to explain that he was looking at the big picture and doing what was ultimately right to ensure humanity's future, even if it wasn't made clear exactly how. You don't set something like that up and then not deliver, guy. Damn.

That said, Big Boss succumbs to the new FOXDIE and dies. Thankfully, it's considerate enough to let him give a twenty-five minute speech about how the Patriots needed to be brought "back to Zero" and then "back to nothing" to avoid poisoning the minds of future generations, whereas in the previous games FOXDIE worked almost instantly. So much for consistency.

Spoony: So what makes him think there won't be "neo-Patriots" along the lines of the Neo-Nazis? Does he think nobody is ever going to document what happened in this international event, or that there will be no survivors who carry on the beliefs of the Patriots to future generations? Or is he suggesting that all of them should be killed as well? If so, then what a great message this game carries! "Violent video games are evil and brainwashing, but if someone holds radical beliefs, MURDER THEM!"

Why FOXDIE only gave Big Boss (and everyone else it infected throughout the series' run, for that matter) a handful of minutes before death while giving Liquid Ocelot several days is another enormous plot hole, but whatever, it's finally over. Roll credits. Another twenty minutes of them.


Spoony: So yeah, that's the big finale to Metal Gear Solid, and as you can probably guess, I'm pretty underwhelmed. It's a dark, ugly, mean-spirited game whose tone is constantly undermined by increasingly moronic story elements, glaring plot holes and the main villain constantly mugging like a Saturday morning cartoon villain. I think its biggest failing is just that it tries to do way too much and ultimately collapses under its own weight. It's a pretty predictable storyline at its core that tries to set up a lot of plot twists to keep us guessing, but so few of them really work. "Naomi betrayed you, but not really! You played right into Liquid Ocelot's hands, even though it ultimately makes no difference to any of the proceedings! Big Boss' death - the DRIVING FACTOR behind two of the previous games - was all just a lie, even though we're just going to kill him off again right away! Yeah!" Honestly, I still stand by my claim that it's better to have a simpler story that's well written rather than one that's convoluted and ridiculous just for the sake of being convoluted and ridiculous.

Not to say the game was not without its strong points. The gameplay mechanics were a major leap over MGS3's, largely eschewing the tedious micromanagement and playing up the slower, more deliberate approach to stealth gameplay. The boss battles were tense and exciting, and it was at least nice to see all of the characters come back for the finale, even if most of them weren't really given anything to say or do. I guess I just expected a lot more from the "big finale" to the richly-nuanced Metal Gear universe than what we got here, especially when you take into account that the game was delayed time and again so that it could take "full advantage" of the shiny new Blu-Ray format (more on that in a bit). It doesn't really speak well of your writing when you feel the need to explain away every super power every character has, but major things like Ocelot bending the rules of JD's DNA and Biometric regonition system go completely unmentioned.

In the end, MGS4 is a mixed bag. The gameplay (what little there is between the extremely long and frequent cutscenes) improves upon the ideas its predecessor set up, but the story leaves a lot to be desired. The writing relies too heavily on "nanomachines" as a plot device (they can do anything the plot demands to the point where they may as well just be called "magic")*, its "morals" are heavy handed and pretentious, all of the "plot twists" just feel tacked on in a feeble attempt to add substance where there really is none, the humor is REALLY forced and only subtracts from the story, and a lot of huge leaps are taken just to tie up all the loose ends before the credits roll. But the worst offender is the padding - when half of the game's running time feels like dull, idle banter and pointless busywork added in just so you can fill up all the space on a Blu-Ray disc, you really need to rethink the philosophy behind your game's design. That much-touted fifty gigabytes of space doesn't count for crap if you can't amount it to anything substantive**, guys.

*I'll be extremely generous here and just count that dead horse of a plot device as one big, nonspecific shark-jumping moment, bringing the final count to 10.

**Actually, before I end it, let's take a look at just what all of that disc space went towards. Was it the gameplay? Not really - it's just the same basic Metal Gear game with a couple of new gimmicks attached. Adding more of that wonderful codec banter? Nope, there's much less of it here than there was in MGS1 and 2, and even 3. Hell, I think even the Game Boy game had more than MGS4 does. The scope of the narrative and scale of the game world? Nope. As stated, the dull filler far outweighs the handful of inspired moments the game has. Hell, the first chapter alone takes almost an hour and a half to set up two plot points about Drebin and the SOP system (three if you count Doofus' immunity to it); the rest is almost completely inconsequential.

So what did they use all that extra space for? Well, from what I've read, a very large chunk of it simply went toward adding uncompressed audio samples, video files, and textures. As someone with a bit of experience in this department, I can tell you that uncompressed files are much, MUCH larger than compressed ones - hell, my average 90 minute Youtube video gets compressed from well over 100 gigabytes down to 2, and there's virtually no noticable loss in quality from it. So yeah, almost all of that disc space went toward making the game look and sound slightly better if you have a 70 inch plasma screen HDTV and a top-of-the-line Dolby 5.1 surround system. Maybe. [iThat[/i] was certainly worth alienating ALL of the Xbox fanbase and delaying the game time and again for, now wasn't it?

Bottom line: If you're going to make use of that expensive new media format on that powerful new game console nobody can afford, you'd better damn well push hard to make your product take full advantage of its features, instead of just padding out the free space with junk levels and uncompressed media.
 rawks  §  rad comments, dogg.
 ~Spoony Spoonicus  §  at 01:52pm 12/24/11
You know, the more I think about it, this game's plot bears an uncomfortable resemblance to an earlier game's. Specifically Deus Ex on the PC. We've got a shadow government (the Patriots/the Illuminati) with a private militia (the FROGS/Majestic 12) who keep the world's populace under control via sinister means (Nanomachines/Gray Death). One of the shadow government's heads goes rogue (Liquid Ocelot/Bob Page) and attempts to use one of their own systems against them (SOP/Daedalus and Icarus) to conquer the world for his own means, but their pet project of the "ultimate soldier" (The Snakes/JC Denton) rebels against their plans and ultimately stops them with the help of one of their own agents (Drebin/HELIOS). Of course, the major difference is that Deus Ex's plot was much better written (not relying so heavily on "nanomachines" and increasingly contrived connections to previous events) and the villain is an actual, credible threat instead of a mugging jackass. Even if his voice does recall Brain from "Pinky and the Brain" a bit too much.

So to answer my original question, was that $12,060 investment worth it? No, it wasn't. Especially since you could get the same basic plot with better writing, more interesting characters and far less stupid moments and padding for under $5 on the PC at the time of this game's release. Even more baffling, it ships on a single CD-ROM - there's no need to invest in an overpriced Blu-Ray reader to enjoy it!
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