Last week I began my journey into Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, or as my wife has come to call it Full Metal Gear Solid Jacket. My first few hours in the game went about as well as I expected, and now, with most of the getting-to-know-you portion of the game out of the way, it was time for a deeper dive. As was the case last week, my account of the game contains heavy spoilers so be weary.
I left off last week right after meeting Drebin, the guy who sells you laundered guns. As it turns out, that was about halfway through act 1. I continued my journey and it wasn’t long until I met up with the UN operatives that would be acting as my informants. I was greeted with my first surprise as the informant was none other than Meryl Silverburgh, all grown up and kicking butt. She and Snake had a few interesting moments but most of it felt overshadowed by another member of Meryl’s team; a young operative named Akiba. Throughout the entire sequence where Snake and Meryl meet up, poor Akiba seems to be having some major gastric troubles. His stomach rumbles, he farts, and he complains that he has diarrhea. It’s an incredibly odd addition to a sequence that otherwise seems pretty straightforward and story driven.
As an aside, Akiba is the only member of Meryl’s team who wears a mask. Under his mask though, you can clearly see bits of blonde hair poking through. I haven’t gotten far enough yet, but something tells me that Akiba isn’t just a jittery rookie with poop problems. I have a sneaking suspicion that it’s actually Raiden, but I’m not entirely sure. When asked about his combat experience, Akiba claims to be a ten year veteran which doesn’t quite line up with the MGS chronology but it’s pretty close (I looked it up!).
After the sequence with Meryl and her team, I’m greeted with my first real action sequence and what feels like the first crack in my enjoyment of this game. To put it plainly, I’m just not a fan of the shooting in this game, at least not so far. Part of that may be that I’m used to the keyboard and mouse setup as opposed to the twin-stick controller setup, but regardless, the way aiming handles feels really slow and sluggish. It didn’t help that in this action sequence the enemies seemed like robotic super soldiers who all required a full clip to kill. This isn’t a fun-killer for me because I have never felt like the series was one that was meant to be all about shooting. That said, there seems to be a lot of emphasis on getting different guns and gun parts and I’m a bit nervous that I’m going to be forced to do a lot more shooting. I will say that after several deaths and retries I got a lot better with the shooting mechanics, so maybe I just needed a bit of practice to shake loose the console shooter cobwebs.
By the end of the action sequence Akiba has officially crapped his pants, a nice big poop stain on his bottom. I quickly took my leave of the stink squad and went about my mission to find and kill Liquid Snake (more on that later). I made my way through the war torn battlefield of the middle east, choking and tranq-darting guards along the way. It wasn’t long until I came upon my first truly awe-inspiring moment.
The scene goes like this… I’m walking up a road, following a plow that seems to be shoving cars and whatnot out of the way. The plow reaches something it cannot push. The camera swings around to reveal that it’s a metal gear of some type, but it’s not like the ones that I’m used to. This one is a quadruped, with a tail. Soon an octopus like figure emerges from the shadows, seemingly using the same camo technology I have. It begins to grab rebels with it’s tentacles and tear them to pieces. As other rebels try to flee they’re stopped in their tracks, grabbing their heads in pain. A flying metal gear swoops by and one rebels body seems to contort in unnatural ways until he finally breaks.
Things begin to become clear(ish) at this point. I believe I’m seeing some type of evolution of Decoy Octopus, Psycho Mantis, and Sniper Wolf. I have to admit, it’s pretty freaking cool.
I stay hidden as they slaughter the rebels and I quickly move on. Not long after I come upon an encampment of Liquid Snake’s men. I sneak inside and I manage to get eyes on him. Because I’m still a bit fuzzy on the MGS story (even after revisiting the events of the first two games) I was thinking that somehow Liquid Snake had been re-cloned or hadn’t actually died, or something to that effect. In reality the character I’m confronted by is Liquid Ocelot, the evolution of the chimeric villain from MGS2. I’m not sure yet whether he’s equal parts Revolver Ocelot and Liquid Snake or if one has become more dominant than the other but it’s clear that he’s up to no good.
Once I reach Liquid another cutscene triggers. Liquid triggers something and all of a sudden all of his own soldiers begin to writhe in pain, holding their heads. Some attack one another, some throw up, some die. It’s clear that whatever Liquid is doing, it’s affecting anyone with nanomachines in them. During this time Meryl and her team show up and they begin to react as well. Interestingly enough though, Akiba seems to be unaffected. Hmmmm. Snake begins to convulse as well, and he eventually collapses. He’s greeted by a hooded woman who you quickly find out is Naomi, his doctor from MGS1. She tells him to pursue his destiny and leaves.
The scene cuts to a large jet. Snake is there, recovering from whatever it was that Liquid did to him and Otacon is helping nurse him back to health. It’s here that we’re first introduced to Sunny, a young girl who seems to be Otacon’s niece. What struck me here is that Sunny seems to have gray hair, obviously an odd trait for a girl of 8 or 9. In addition, it becomes clear through dialogue between Otacon and Snake that Sunny is some kind of computer genius. Raiden’s girlfriend was pregnant at the end of MGS2, could this be his daughter?
Once I got through the long cutscene between acts, I began act 2 and things started to pick up. I have lots more to tell, but we’ll save that for part 3!