D.G.M.’s Gaming Life Before Gaming Respawn Part 7

If you joined me last time in “D.G.M.’s Gaming Life Before Gaming Respawn”, then you know I began discussing the Metal Gear Solid series, my favorite video game series ever. I went over the first three games in last week’s article, so this one will focus on the remaining games in the series. Let’s do this!

 

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (PS3)

I remember how I very anxiously awaited the release of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots back in 2008. The previous game, Snake Eater, was a prequel set long before the first Metal Gear Solid, and this meant all the unanswered questions left at the end of the second game, Sons of Liberty, had remained unanswered for seven years (the game was released way back in 2001). Guns of the Patriots was also the only other game that put you in control of the legendary Solid Snake since the very first Metal Gear Solid (he was only playable in the intro of Sons of Liberty), and he was already an old man in this game thanks to a nasty case of accelerated aging. Since all the following games in the series were prequels, not counting the later spin-off game Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, Guns of the Patriots was also the last game in the series’ chronology in terms of story. Therefore, it’s appropriate that this game ended up being one of my all-time favorites in the entire series.

The story for Guns of the Patriots is, in my opinion, one of the strongest stories in the series. Yes, some of the cutscenes were outrageously long, even compared to the dragged out ones in Snake Eater, but in general the cutscenes were more exciting and filled to the brim with surprising and informative plot twists. Although, I must admit that one story-related revelation at the end of the game (involving the main villain and nanomachines) was a disappointing cop out. The controls were much improved and updated in this game with the addition of over-the-shoulder aiming when firing weapons and overall smoother movement. While melee combat always worked in the previous games, it had a superior flow in this one thanks largely to the relatively simple change of switching the melee controls to the R1 button instead of the square or circle buttons like before.

Stealth works much like it did in Snake Eater (the Subsistence version), only even better. Whereas Naked Snake in Snake Eater had to navigate the menu to switch between different camouflage outfits so he could blend into different environments and avoid enemy detection, the new Octocamo suit Solid Snake used in this game allowed him to instantly blend into any environment like a chameleon, whether it be grass, dirt, snow, or cobblestone streets. The environments were also larger than ever before, sometimes giving the player more than one way to advance and optional areas to explore.

I especially loved one particular mission where Snake revisits the very memorable and nostalgia-filled Shadow Moses Island, the very island where it all started in the first Metal Gear Solid. Seeing that environment fully recreated with PS3-level graphics was just freakin’ awesome from a fanboy perspective. The boss battles of course were lots of fun, as usual. And let’s not forget previous main character Raiden’s transformation into a badass Cyborg Ninja. This was certainly an awesome game and would have been absolute my favorite had it not been for that previously mentioned cop out story element, but this is basically my second favorite game in the series, a very close second. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots gets a score of 99%.

 

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker (PSP/PS3)

While I ended up missing out on Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops, the PSP exclusive sequel to Snake Eater, I was fortunate enough to actually be able to play the next PSP game, Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, since it was eventually released along with the Substance version of Sons of Liberty and the Subsistence version of Snake Eater in the Metal Gear Solid Collection for the PS3. This game added a lot of new stuff to the Metal Gear Solid series that would actually come into play in the more recent title The Phantom Pain, so it still kind of surprises me to this day that Peace Walker wasn’t originally released on consoles instead of on the handheld PSP. The story follows Big Boss ten years after his mission in Snake Eater where he has turned his back on the U.S. government and gone on to form his own mercenary group Militaires Sans Frontieres (Soldiers Without Borders), or MSF for short. After he sets up his new base off the shores of Costa Rica, the fun soon begins.

Stealth was somewhat of a mixture between what was in the first three games. The environments were less open and somewhat more streamlined like in the first two Metal Gear Solid games, with the addition of wearing different camouflaged uniforms to blend into different environments like Snake Eater. I actually liked this approach to stealth, it was generally less time-consuming. The shooting and melee combat was very much like it was in Guns of the Patriots, so that was another plus.

The main new gameplay addition, base management, added a whole new dynamic to the series. After recruiting enemy soldiers to have them join MSF, you then choose which unit you want each soldier to be placed in. Recruits placed in the combat unit can be sent on separate missions to earn currency and can be controlled by the player in a lot of the main and side-missions should you choose not to play as Big Boss. Putting soldiers in other units like R&D, medical team, and support unit provides additional benefits like access to stronger weapons, injured and sick soldiers recovering more quickly, and the ability to call in airstrikes or supply drops during missions.

These additions to the gameplay made Peace Walker feel almost like an RPG at times given that you could (and sometimes should) replay missions in order to acquire enough points to get stronger weapons. Fighting bosses, which consisted exclusively of tanks, helicopters, and giant robots, also had that RPG-ish feel since they all possessed enormous health bars and could take quite some time to put down; these boss fights were still fun, just less interesting than a lot of the boss fights in the previous games. Although I’ve played a number of RPGs in my time, the drawn out boss fights and the need to play a bunch of side-missions before advancing further through the main missions made this game feel like a bit of a slog, especially when you compare it to the games that came before it (I ended up having similar issues with The Phantom Pain). This was still a great Metal Gear Solid game, just not one of my favorites. Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker gets a score of 84%.

 

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (PS3)

Technically, this game is a spin-off of the main Metal Gear Solid series and features drastically different gameplay, but storywise it’s close enough to be considered part of the main series. Taking place four years after Guns of the Patriots, the world is recovering from the fallout of Solid Snake basically saving the world from being forever ruled by a system of freedom crushing AIs. Cybernetic technology is all the rage now and the majority of armed forces, law enforcement agencies, and private military companies in the world have cyborgs in their ranks. Raiden, the main character from Sons of Liberty and born again badass from Guns of the Patriots is one such cyborg, and in this game he basically slices and dices other cyborgs and robots with his sword in the most fun way possible. The game’s story doesn’t compare to the ones in the other MGS games, but it’s not outright bad either.

Revengeance is a fast-paced slash fest that actually has a lot more in common with the Ninja Gaiden games than the rest of the Metal Gear Solid series, and the level of difficulty is also damn near close. Raiden usually finds himself outnumbered by groups of different cyborgs that are either quick and fast or big and strong, not to mention a number of heavily armed robots modeled after wolves, gorillas, and raptors that can really put the pain on Raiden if he’s not careful. Keeping with the main series’ tradition of awesome boss fights, Revengeance pits you against some really fun and challenging bosses, especially the final boss.

The parry function that allows Raiden to deflect all but the most powerful enemy attacks takes some getting used to since parrying requires you pressing the attack (square) button while angling the left stick in the direction of the enemy attacking you. Entering Blade Mode while enemies are vulnerable allows Raiden to slice them up into confetti, and hitting weakspots lets him tear out their power sources and absorb them to instantly refill any lost health and energy. It is possible to use stealth in certain areas to thin enemy numbers before the fighting eventually begins, but the stealth in this game is really an afterthought compared to the stealth in the other MGS games, and was added in likely to keep the game from feeling too repetitive.

The two DLCs, Jetstream and Blade Wolf, have you take control of Raiden’s main rival Jetstream Sam and enemy turned ally Blade Wolf, respectively, in their own short adventures that offer slight differences in gameplay, but are otherwise just extra bite-sized doses of Revengeance action. Despite the less than stellar story, sometimes hard to master controls, and outright ridiculous title, this game was a lot of over the top fun and fits in surprisingly well with the other Metal Gear Solid games. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance gets a score of 87%.

 

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes/The Phantom Pain (PS4)

No need to go into much detail here. Ground Zeroes is simply the intro mission to the main game The Phantom Pain, but for some reason it was released as a separate $30 game over a year before The Phantom Pain. The main mission can be beaten in a couple of hours even by first timers; there are other non-canon side-missions you can play with different objectives like search and destroy or capture missions, but that’s pretty much it. There are some important story elements revealed through many audio tapes that can be found, as well as the final cutscene in the end. I was fortunate enough to get Ground Zeroes for free through PS Plus and play it right before The Phantom Pain, which was certainly preferable to waiting a full year between playthroughs. I’ll likely get a physical copy of Ground Zeroes at a later date, but only when it goes down to around the $10 range.

As for The Phantom Pain, if you’d like to know my opinion on that game, all you need to do is type “Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain review” in our site’s search engine; my review should be the fifth or sixth result to pop up. Actually, I’ll make things easier by including a link to my review. Just click right over here to check out my review and score of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, if you’re interested.

And that concludes my discussion of the Metal Gear Solid series, my favorite and most influential video game series. Few games even today can match Metal Gear Solid in terms of its mix of awesome military shooting/stealth gameplay and compelling sci-fi themed story, so if any of you are even curious about trying out these games but haven’t bitten the bullet yet, then now’s the time to get into it since the series is basically over. Even if you adhere to the gospel according to Michael Fitzgerald (a fellow Gaming Respawn writer) and believe that playing a series of Konami games is a mortal sin, I still recommend you at least consider trying out this series if you like games with great gameplay and truly complex and grasping stories. Most of these games cost a lot less and are part of collections now anyway, so they’re worth investing a bit of your dollars/pounds to get a hold of them.

Tune in next week as I begin discussing the large number of games I’ve played based on my favorite Marvel comics superhero: Spider-Man. Until then, check out some more interesting articles in our site below:

Jorge’s most recent “Have You Played…?” focuses on Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies, so check here if you want to find out his opinion on that game.

Raul has been playing XCOM: Enemy Within and shares with us the details on a particularly dangerous mission he and his soldiers undertook to kill some aliens. Find out if anyone survives by checking his latest “Well, That Just Happened” right here.

 

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