OK, let's dance.
The secret to Johnny's immunity was a big ol' DUH moment for me, and I'm more than a little sympathetic, considering I'm a needlephobe myself. Also, I wouldn't have guessed Kojima would've seen Mr. & Mrs. Smith, but then I wouldn't have guessed I would've either (my sister insisted, you see). Amusing just the same.
A room full of a few dozen Mini-Gekkos made me swear profusely. Care to guess what a room of infinitely-respawning Mini-Gekkos does? I'm lucky I still have a controller.
Putting aside, for now, the question of how a half-dead ninja sneaks onto a battleship undetected (after the only window of oppurtunity has passed, no less) with no frickin' arms and a sword in his goddamned teeth...I was a little disappointed I couldn't memory-flash Volgin chanting "Kuwabara, Kuwabara" when he began his frog-fry session. Who's afraid of a little thunder, indeed?
*taptaptaptaptaptap - CRAMP! ARRGH - *pause* (massage massage)....I hate these spazzy bits so much...*unpause-taptaptaptaptap*....
It's a bit humbling in retrospect to find the much-vaunted FINAL MISSION amounting to little more than chaperoning a robot so that the world can instead be saved by a bipolar physician, the world's weepiest scientist, and a shut-in mathematical savant who needs instruction on how to make a three-minute egg. But then, maybe it was intended to be emasculating. Mission Accomplished, then.
FOXALIVE? Oh God, the cheesiness. Bless it so. Metal Gear wouldn't be the same without it, honestly. Naomi continues to be a bitch from beyond the grave with her recording's hand gesture, surely for no other reason that to make Otacon cry again. I hope one of Sniper's dogs pees in her hair.
Regarding Metal Gear Saga vs Main Theme: Saga worked better for the pre-final battle beat-up scene, but the Main Theme was sorely missed in the final credits. I don't understand why its similarity to an old Russian piece is a big issue; copyright on that stuff ran out long ago, and there's a number of pieces in say, Final Fantasy games, that are culled - uncredited - from others' works (The Princess' Temptation from FF2 being a direct rip from Swan Lake, f'rinstance) to nobody's outrage. Maybe they'll put the theme back where it belongs for MGS4: Subjugation?
The battle itself wasn't what I was hoping for - my internal wish was to face a one-handed Ocelot free from Liquid challenge Snake to a shooting match as Mk-iii tried to enter the code with an utterly kickass remix of MG2's Theme of Solid Snake kicked in - but it certainly served its purpose on a fanservice level. That said, the awkwardness of the controls returned with a vengeance. If I'm playing a fighting game, I'm not mapping the attack button to the shoulder trigger. Licky got a few free licks in while I came to grips with the buttons all over again. I was especially amused by the recreation, at least in part, of the WIG CQC rumble from MGS3's finale.
Liquid Pet Peeve
Me: "I ruined your plan."
Liquid: "Haha! This is exactly what I wanted!"
Me: "I ruined your new plan too."
Liquid: "You've only made things easier for me!"
Me: "HA! I KILLED YOU!"
Liquid: "Everything's gone according to plan! You're pretty good ('pretty good' 'pretty....good'), but I win!" *dies*
Me: "OH COME ON!"
(Otacon: "Liquid's wrong, we won!")
(Me: "HA! In your dead face!")
Regarding the hand gesture, I've just now come to realize that if you pull your gesturing hands in toward your chest, the positioning of the fingers mirrors the way one most likely holds a PlayStation controller. Coincidence, or standard Kojima nudge-and-a-winkery?
No Drebin points? Aww...
I was so sure (so sure) Mei Ling was connected to these events. The philosophical quotes, the emphatic certainty with which she asserted thinking computers were inevitable in MGS1, the fact that the Patriots used her technology to spook Raiden...I was so sure. Well, sorry, Ms. Ling.
Only Meryl would pull a gun on her dad on her wedding day. And hey, those dead guys! They aren't dead! How nice for them (although I'd like to know what they were doing for those last two acts).
Raiden's got a new body (with an eerily familiar barcode on the arm), no doubt from Dr. Ellen Madnar. Little John's cute, and Rose's confession makes herself and Campbell more respectable. Wonders be. Of course the new Raiden has to be a wet blanket, but at least he pulls his head out by the end.
A few thoughts on Raiden and MGS2 in general: I feel a little bad at how things turned out for them, honestly. I'm the kind of sonuvabitch who lapped that fourth-wall stuff up. While it's nice to have a logical explanation for, say, why Vamp can walk off a bullet to the head, I thought it was ballsier when the answer to the player was, 'well how many times have you been shot in the head so far, pal? I hate to say this, but you really stink at this game.'
Same goes with Raiden - he essentially starts out as the player does, under the delusion that playing through a bit of VR as Solid Snake MAKES you Solid Snake, and that not questioning things too deeply is a small price for the thrill of victory and forward-progress. Aside from the awarding of the sword from Snake (that introduces a Big Boss-Grey Fox parallel), the whole point of Raiden's blank-slate character is that Raiden only becomes his own person when he literally throws the player away (and kudos to Kojima for not making Raiden at all playable here, the cries of players more than willing to play with him now are a delicious schadenfreude sundae).
And yet...here's Raiden, the same Raiden who - bright-eyed, hopeful, and freed from machines' machinations - swore he wasn't going to be anyone else's puppet anymore five years prior, re-entering the fray as a more blatant Grey Fox analogue with a gravelly voice, an abundance of machinery, and some kind of death wish. Yes, this is what some fans wanted, but these are primarily the fans who either didn't get MGS2, or didn't like it because they take their gaming selves far too seriously. Myself, I had just hoped he'd been living happily in the interum, that he wouldn't have to be a slave to players' whims. Maybe that'll happen now, who knows? *whew* Moving on...
Interesting that it seems that in the intro Snake wasn't saluting The Boss' grave, but Big Boss'.
Should've seen the Rat Patrol thing a mile off. I play with anagrams all the time.
And now, Big Boss. Before getting into the scene itself, an open question. I was initially sold on the pyx BB being BB because A, it was badly burned as BB had been at MG2's end, and B, EVA mentioned that Zero had recovered the body straight from Zanzibar. Now that it turns out to have been Solidus, does that mean the BB of MG1&2 is actually Solidus? How many Solidi (haaa...'Solid Eye') are there, anyway?
But now, the scene. Hell of a scene. The bit with the Boss-like disarming and 'Let it go,' it's a beautiful thing.
The end of Zero seemed a bit vindictive and pointless, to be honest. By this point, the Patriots have lost their teeth, and Zero didn't seem to know Big Boss from Adam, so BB's speech on why Zero needed to die rang a bit false. But I'm willing to accept that visceral coldness is what seperates Naked from Solid. This being Zero however, means that all the men I thought he was previously in the series - Bloggs or Ames especially - weren't him. So how'd they get into the Patriot circle, then?
I'm a bit troubled by the truth behind Liquid Ocelot. Prior to viewing the ending, I was going to classify Liqelot as the weakest antagonist in the series. The Liquid on display was several degrees less interesting than the insidious and self-piteous Liquid MGS1 offered, and the Ocelot on display...well, wasn't. On display. The revelation that there was no Liquid post-MGS1, only Ocelot brainwashed to be Liquid, only makes it more regrettable. As I said above, I didn't want Liquid in the end, I wanted Ocelot. He's always been the most fascinating character in the story, and to find his carefully-crafted personality willfully snuffed outright for the sake of do a more thuggish Bowery-Bum Liquid impersonation seems a disservice to both of them. It could just be me, though.
In the end though, it's just gratifying to see these two characters at ease with each other. Especially where Snake helps BB with his last cigar. Touching stuff, and made up for a lot of the preceding hours' nihilistic gloom.
And finally, a post-credits convo that doesn't cast a heavy shadow on the worth of my victory. It's about time.
So...did I like it? Bear with me here. This was the first Metal Gear game I'd played where it was difficult to enjoy as I was enjoying it. To borrow a Simpsons analogy, working toward reaching the conclusion felt like casting aside the Stone of Shame, only to be rewarded with the larger Stone of Triumph. You're supposed to not want to do it.
It's a recurring theme in the series, of course - MGS1 asks why you, as Snake, continue to fight (play) even when it's been revealed that most everyone has lied to you; MGS2 says that the S3 Plan succeeds simply because the player, as Raiden, continues toward the end without acknowledging the past, in other words, getting fed up with the parallels with the preceding chapter and quitting the game outright was presented as the better response - but not until MGS3 did the idea of not quitting the mission gain its nobility. MGS4 spends roughly the entire game dangling the notion that The End is Going to Suck For Everybody, and then rewards those who see it through with a sunny forecast (haaa).
So yes, in the end I did like it, but even as I was finishing up the final battle, I wasn't certain I could say so. The game was good, no question, but it certainly felt like it would be more respected than enjoyed, a kind of heroic bleak memoir you recognize the quality of, but can't bring yourself to re-read. Future playthroughs will be favorably colored by the pleasant conclusion provided (and the ability to skip every scene Naomi is in and not miss out on story!), but the memories of the initial dread will be hard to shake.
It's an interesting legacy. MGS4 will be remembered, I think, as the game its fans wanted to play, but didn't look forward to finishing.
Final word: Yes I liked it.
P.S. But MGS3's still the best.