Last time you heard from me on this blog, I was eagerly awaiting the release of Final Fantasy XIII. Everyone and their chocobo seems to have written a “my first impressions after the beginning of chapter 3” post, but seeing as the game changes a lot around that time/after the first three hours, I decided to wait… and then I kind of forgot about wanting to write an entry… and then I got to some scenes that really made me want to write about them, and so here I am. Two weeks later and a good 16 hours into the game.

Do I like the game? Let me answer that with a little anecdote.

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“It’s my job to protect your office, sir!” – “And you did such a good job protecting it that a murder occurred in it.”

I’ve only played up to the first official save point and there’s already two pages of the illegible scribbles I call notes, so I figured I could just as well type them all in before I stop being able to decypher them properly and present you with my squeeful babbling about the beginning of Ace Attorney Investigations. I’m sure you’re all very happy about the existence of cuts and will tolerate me going “eeeeeeeeee, Miles!” all over my journal. Just don’t expect anything resembling a coherent post. Mainly, I just go “kyaaaaa” a whole lot.

(Warning: Includes a few vague(ish) spoilers for the PW trilogy.)

“This tea set was very dear to my heart.”
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Ah, Tales of Symphonia. Your plot might have all the depth of a puddle, but I certainly adore your characters. (Never mind that they telegraph their moves like… something really obvious. There’s Kratos’s “big secret” for example, and I keep forgetting that I’m not supposed to know about it yet because he hides it so badly. In fact, the only reason he gets away with it is because Lloyd (and most of the others, one would assume) are plot-relevant-ly oblivious.)

An introduction to ToS’s playable characters, plus some of the reasons why I love them. Contains some spoilers, but keeping its plot twists secret isn’t the game’s strongest point to begin with.

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This is what I get for not taking notes properly or not rewatching cutscenes before I write my squeeful gaming posts: I forget approximately half of what I wanted to say. <.< Here's the rest of it, before I pounce on the second act and forget my points altogether.

In which Otacon overanalyses Snake's motives so that I don't have to.

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Guess who bought herself Metal Gear Solid 4? (And guess who was completely taken off-guard when she didn’t have to show her ID at the checkout. Whut?) So yeah, I’ve decided to skip Portbale Ops for the time being. The controls are horrible and while I definitely want to go back to it someday, right now I’m a lot more interested in how the main plot concludes in, da-da-da-doooooom, Solid Snake’s final game.

What is it with all this da-da-da-doooooming, by the way? The ad on the back of the box is all “A last mission. The greatest sacrifice. The final chapter in the life of this exceptional hero.” but you know what? The more it’s trying to convince me of the opposite, the more certain I am that the *cough* exceptional hero *cough* is going to survive the game. Or maybe I’m just in denial sticking my fingers in my ears an go “lalelulelola, I can’t heeeeaaaar yooouuu!” We’ll see. For now, welcome to a few notes about Act 1.

Sunny has two daddies. (more…)

Would you believe it? After hours and hours of staring at the character creation screen, I actually started playing Dragon Age: Origins. Okay, Khana helped by creating a grumpy old dwarf and playing a bit of the dwarven commoner (well, more like dwarven beggar, really) Origin Story, which finally motivated me to start my own game with a character. Wohoo?

General impressions:
– You might be able to make your characters look old, but the Origin Stories will still pretty much assume that you’re a teenager/young adult. Khana’s “grumpy old dwarf” was called “boy” by everyone around him and was still living with his mother… who looked at least twenty years younger than him. The Mage Origin isn’t much better and tells you outright that you’re the same age as that guy over there who’s in his early twenties. (Well, at least the Mage Origin allows you to have a character of colour and not have him stand out completely, mostly because his family is not around. The dwarf commoner’s family is, and they’re all white, regardless of his own skin colour. M-maybe he was adopted?)

– The battle system reminds me a lot of Guild Wars (and basically every other MMORPG that I’ve tried for half an hour. Never been a fan of those.) but there haven’t been terribly many battles yet. Amusing detail: I tried the Dhalish Elves Origin Story for a bit with a rogue and within one battle with a random wolf he had blood all over him. (I guess the game’s rating has to come from somewhere…) My mage? Squeaky clean, even when the Really Dangerous Spiders and various other enemies came close enough to whack them over the head with my staff.

– The voice acting I’ve heard so far is really nice! (Which is good, because there is of course a lot of spoken dialogue. Actually, every line, even one coming from a random NPC, is voiced.) I’m a bit disappointed with the lack of detail when it comes to the characters’ body language in conversation (and the few cutscenes I’ve seen), but I guess that can’t be helped. If I want detail, I can just stare at peoples’ clothes. *g*

And now let me introduce you to my character, the basic premise of his Origin Story and my thoughts on him. I will then proceed to illustrate my point with pictures. XD

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In this post, we’ll cover the rest of the game, hear me thinking “But I was joking! Joking!” more than once, marvel at twenty minutes miraculously shrinking to five (helpful smiley ghost included), observe a catfight, fail Anatomy 101 (hint: babies are not usually delivered from the shoulder), catch butterflies (or not) and find out that some people take the Hero’s Journey theory a bit to literally. But hey, at least we’re not meowing for backup. That has to count for something.

But before we do all that, I’d like to tell you all of my encounter with an especially viscous enemy, The Door. The Door is encountered halfway through the game when we need to enter a building, and it’s its only entrance. The catch: The door is locked, can only be opened from the inside and we’re standing outside without a key. So what do we do? Contact Mission Support of course!

Support Team: “Oh look, it’s a door. Find a way to get in there!”
Lym: “…uh, yeah, that’s what I’m trying to do. I wonder if there’s a key around here somewhere.”
Lym: (attacks various guards, none of which drop keys, crawls through the grass in search of keys without finding one)
Support Team: “Maybe you’ll have to find a way to get in there without having a key.”
Lym: (stares at the door, sits down in front of the door, shoots the door, explodes a mine in front of the door)
The Door: (is indestructible/does nothing)
Lym: “Mission Control, help me! It’s been ten minutes and I can’t think of anything else!”
Support Team: “Duh, it’s a door! It can’t be that complicated!”
Lym: “But, but–! I really can’t think of anything else!” ;__;

What do you actually have to do to get into the building? Oh, well, you know… You knock on the door and wait for someone inside to open it for you.

… … …So simple, yet so effective. It’s kind of brilliant.

But now, on with the plot! There’s a lot of ground to cover since we last saw our unlucky hero crawl under a bed while his ever-helpful support team (or, well, Para Medic) attempted to lift his spirits with talk about a recent Dracula movie. Well, recent as of 1964…

Escape! …but from what, the prison or the nightmare mini game?
Those of you familiar with the game, and by now I assume that’s everyone who’s still reading, will know what comes next after I explained last time that I saved in the prison cell, but let me say it anyway: WHAT THE HECK WHAT IS THIS I DON’T EVEN WHERE AM I WHAT IS HAPPENING HOW DO I WHAT? WHAT. Dear game, I expected to wake up in the same prison cell that I saved my game in, not in an entirely different game in which some pretty protagonist fights… zombies? With chains? In an easily-breakable environment? Seriously, what the heck. (I googled it to find out that it’s a cleverly hidden demo for a game that was never actually made but wow, what a way to start the game up again. Snake actually complains about the nightmare to his support team after the demo is over and he wakes up.)

After we’re done stabbing rats with a fork, we use the radio frequency we got from the helpful smiley ghost (he held up a sign with the number on it at some point during the torture) to open the cell’s door (SEE? This is why I didn’t think of something as simple as knocking on that other door!) and eventually escape from both the building and the fortress of Groznyj Grad by slipping into the sewers, where we will eventually be cornered by a certain kitten with no way out but down a waterfall. And I know I’ve said this before, but our hero sure does a whole lot of falling during this story…

(Meanwhile, Eva continues to poke fun at Snake’s cluelessness and the subtext-blind parts of the audience:
Snake: “Eva, what happened to Ocelot?”
Eva: “Can’t get enough of him, huh?”
Snake: “He doesn’t trust you.” […]
Eva: “I’m fine. I know how to handle him. Besides, I think he’s got his mind set on someone else right about now.”
Snake: (goes “?”)
Eva: “Figure it out.”
)

I find it interesting that Ocelot wants to use his “lucky” bullet here, mainly because he rips it from his necklace but is later shown wearing it again, so he goes through the trouble of repairing that piece of string or finding a new one or whatever, just so that he can keep wearing the bullet from when he messed up at his and Snake’s first meeting. Kitten looks almost a little worried when he stares at the river down below and says his “Don’t die on me yet” before turning around and wandering back to the fortress so that he can be there when The Plot strikes next. XD

The Sorrow’s river and the waterfall cave
That’s it, The Sorrow is officially my favourite Pokémon Cobra, except probably for The Boss/The Joy herself. The entire river sequence is incredibly atmospheric, from our drowning protagonist finding himself wading through it while the trees on the riverbank (and maybe even the river itself) are burning, to The Sorrow introducing himself (broken glasses and bloody tears, whispering voice and everything; it should be cheesy, but somehow it works), to the walk down the river and the Fourth Wall-breaking puzzle at the end. Even though said walk was, let’s say, rather uneventful when I did it; you’re facing the ghosts of everyone you’ve killed in the game up until then, from the enemy redshirts to the other Cobras, and I love the tranquilliser gun a little too much. XD (My final death count for enemies was seven, and this includes four of the bosses.)

It still took me four tries and lots of hints from both Mission Control (they all give their “Game Over” quotes when you call them) and The Sorrow himself (who actually knows that you’re not there for the first time when you restart his boss battle via “Continue”) to figure out how to beat a boss who is already dead (by taking a revival pill, thus escaping the near-death experience that Snake was caught in ever since he nearly drowned in the real river). And in a game like that, I’m supposed to knock on doors. … okay, okay, I’ll give it a rest now, but really. With their love for Fourth Wall-breaking puzzles, The Sorrow and Mantis should meet over tea at some point in the afterlife.

Wow, the jungle area that Snake washed up in afterwards is beautiful. *__* It’s a brilliant green, there’s birds chirping all around and wind rustling in the trees and oh! Look! A butterfly! The whole forest is just so alive that it’s kind of stunning, it’s such a contrast to The Sorrow’s River. *sighs dreamily*
Where was I? Ah, The Sorrow. We get a bit more backstory for him here, both in a kind of post-battle dream sequence (The Sorrow asking The Boss to kill him in order to finish the mission she’s been given) and from Mission Support (giving a few more details about said mission) and it’s more backstory than any of the other miniboss Cobras get. Not that I’m complaining; I’ve already said that The Sorrow is my favourite. (Amusing detail #749274: There’s a picture of The Joy and The Sorrow that you get to see while Sigint talks about them and it’s shot from the same angle as the Volgin/Raikov photo earlier.)

The Joy and the Sorrow, sitting in a treeheeee~

Time to rendezvous with Eva in a cute little cave behind a waterfall (and get our hero his iconic eyepatch); and because of our river adventure and because she kinda drove her fancy motorcycle right through the waterfall, that also means we get to see the two of them in various states of undress again (well, Snake had been running around half-naked ever since he was captured) as Snake roasts a snake over the fire while she drapes herself all over him. It’s pretty much Mountain Top Scene redux, which is why I don’t really have much to say about it… not that I’m complaining about the visuals. You know me, I’m shallow. XD

The one thing that always gets me here is the bit where Snake reaches out to catch the butterfly/moth hovering around the fire and failing. Eva apologises and kisses him again (on the cheek, beneath the eyepatch, on the mouth) and it’s a very sensual scene and of course he pushes her away again. (I like Eva. I want her to get what she wants. And for all that this is part of her mission, I also think that part of what she wants is Snake, but of course there’s other stuff on his mind right now. Those two just work in the way that they, uh, don’t work. It’s a very good kind of heartbreaking.)

“There’s not a man alive who could resist my charms ^.~ … besides you of course.” Eva sums it up once they’re dressed and talking about The Plot again. She also gives him the explosives that he’ll need to blow up the hangar that the Shagohod is in, shaped like a heart, but somewhere inbetween scenes she has decided not to try and kiss him again., and he shows that he’s actually worried about her. Ah, I love these two. (Not that that was hard to miss from the way I’ve been writing. XD) And I love the way Eva talks about her bike and how important being able to ride it is for her.

The importance of names in the MGS!verse, part 482048: Snake asks Eva for her real name, but she just asks what’s wrong with “Tatyana.” If I’m not mistaken, he hasn’t given her his real name either, has he? Zero and The Boss both call him by it (Jack), while he joked to Para-Medic about being called John Doe. (So when he asks her her name in return, of course it’s “Jane Doe.”)

Twenty minutes were an entirely reasonable time limit, damnit!
By the way, have I mentioned already that The Sorrows camo, when worn by Snake, can sap the enemies’ stamina and makes it so that his footsteps don’t make a sound? I love it! ❤ … Not as much as the sneaking suit you can find shortly afterwards though, mainly because it halves any damage and looks like a black version of The Boss's white sneaking suit. Hello symbolism.

Anyway, back at fortress and in the Shagohod's hangar, we fiddle around with the explosive (while I try to figure out whether I want to go "awwwww!" or get half a heart attack at Snake remodelling the heart into a butterfly and throwing it into the air (That thing goes boom on impact!), catching it and telling it "Gotcha this time. :D") and set the timer to twenty minutes. Twenty minutes to get to the other side of the room, up a ladder and a few steps away from the building – an entirely reasonable time limit, you'll agree. Of course that doesn't take into account just how much the Plotty 4 like to talk: We run into Pikachu, kitten, Eva and The Boss again, while our helpful smiley ghost holds up signs informing us just how much of our "entirely reasonable" twenty minutes remain. Time's ticking…

Nothing really new here either, but a nice display of how things are developing over the course of this game: In his fourth hand-to-hand combat against The Boss, Snake still loses, but he's obviously getting better at it. Volgin still tends to give all his secrets away by gloating over the "captive hero" (cue more exposition about the Philosopher's Legacy), complete with an actual "Very well, I'll explain it before I kill you" quote. … As I keep saying, everyone in this game has watched too many James Bond movies, except for Snake, who remains largely genre-blind as a result. The Boss still doesn't like Volgin (but then again, who does? Other than Raikov.) and helps Eva out. Ocelot is still a show-off and it's so typical when he points one gun at Snake… and one at Volgin. When it comes down to it, kitten is on kitten's side, huh?

By the time we get to the actual boss fight (Snake vs Volgin, even though Ocelot really wanted to fight him instead), only five of our precious twenty minutes remain. Have I mention that it's a fricking difficult boss battle too? It would've been tricky even without a time limit, and with one, half of my continues (my total was 14) were thanks to it. *sighs* Guns that stop working properly, too much electricity, the time limit, Volgin's attacks in general hitting hard – I'm not even sure how I eventually made it through the battle.
Okay, so I didn't play entirely fair and tried masquerading as Raikov again. It does throw him off and he doesn’t attack you for a moment, and I’ll take all the help I can get in this fight.

Speaking of help, it comes from a (not entirely) unexpected side too: During the first half of the battle, Ocelot actually helps Snake out by throwing helpful items into the ring. Thanks kitten! 😀 “Whose side are you on?”, asks Pikachu. I’ll venture a guess and say the answer’s “Not on yours.” XD Anyway, at the halfway point/when Volgin has lost half of his health- or stamina bar, we’re treated to another cutscene of Volgin demanding Ocelot shoot Snake, which he of course doesn’t. (He actually shoots at Pikachu instead when he, pissed off that his orders aren’t being followed, shoots lightning at him. The bullets catch the lightning and Ocelot gets out of it without a scratch.)
Volgin tries the “I’m your commanding officer and you have to do what I tell you!” spiel with limited success. “Fight like a man, Volgin”, says kitten, echoing The Boss from one scene ago telling him (Pikachu) to “fight like a warrior.” We’re on the topic of names again, and Volgin doesn’t appreciate it to be addressed so directly by someone under his command… not that that impresses Ocelot terribly much, he just wanders off and leaves the second half of the battle to Snake, not before giving him his trademark hand gesture again. (The others have finally caught on to the presence of a ticking clock.)

Motorcycle chase! & Through the jungle
Snake barely makes it out of the hangar before the remaining explosives (a few had been found) go off, which is more than can be said for a few of the enemy soldiers who were still in there. (The game makes sure we see them struggling; I wonder if they would show up in The Sorrow’s river if that sequence took place later.) Eva awaits him on her beloved motorcycle (+side car this time) and tells him that they’ll have to make it not only out of the fortress, but to the lake… where The Boss will be waiting for Snake. “I don’t want you to fight her,” say Eva. Great, we all have something in common then, right? She demonstrates quite a bit more understanding here for what these two are to each other than she did on the mountain top, and before The Plot catches up with them, she tells Snake: “The Boss told me to tell you something… I’ve never seen someone with such clear eyes…” and, okay, I know that the “clear eyes” comment is the message she was told to give him, but that’s mainly because she clarifies it afterwards. For that moment, she sounds like she herself is talking about The Boss, rather than repeating what The Boss said about Snake. Awww.

Of course we can’t make it to the end of the game without fighting the Shagohod (Okay, so this Metal Gear Solid game features neither Solid Snake nor a Metal Gear, but the Shagohod is a close enough replacement, right?), which crawls out of its burning hangar, driven by Pikachu who does his best Liquid impression – “Snaaaake, it’s not over yeeeet!” So let’s jump into the side car and get away from that thing.
(I have to say that I don’t like any of the chase sequences or the vs Shagohod battle you fight from the motorcycle very much, but that might just be because I suck at it. I sucked at aiming even at the beginning of the game, I sucked at it even more after Snake lost an eye and as it turns out, having to aim from a moving vehicle, aiming at moving targets too, doesn’t really help. Uhm. Oh well, at least it looks very stylish.)

Kitten can never stay away from the action for too long, so he joins the chase on a motorcycle of his own and as it turns out, he drives about as well as Eva does! (But I can never figure out what goes on in that tunnel when he’s nearly hit by falling debris that later blocks his way. Snake shoots at something falling down there, but is it a different part of the ceiling (i.e. one he shoots at so that it won’t crush him and Eva) or the one that doesn’t hit Ocelot, and if it’s the latter, does he shoot it to block his path, to keep him from being crushed under it, or both? Somebody please tell me.)
Pikachu, meanwhile, doesn’t care much what happens to anyone who happens to stand in the Shagohod’s way, but we didn’t really expect him to care, did we? I’m mostly amused by Ocelot calling him a son of a bitch for it, which is, IIRC, the most expletive cursing we’ve heard so far in the series. Kind of surprising, actually.

Snake and Eva lure Volgin to a bridge that Eva’s planted explosives on beforehand, but say “We did it!” a bit too soon – of course the Shagood claws its way up the cliff/bridge for another boss battle. (Ocelot reaches the crumbling bridge too late to cross it and even drops his gun when he drags his bike around as to not to fall down there. Lost gun = unhappy kitten.)
Okay okay, kiss Snake for luck, Eva, as long as we get out of this chase sequence sometime today… Battle against the Shagohod, check, battle against Volgin standing on top of the Shagohod while powering the thing with his own electricity, check. Did I mention that it starts raining again in the second half of that fight?

“Who’s afraid of a little thunder?” indeed. I absolutely love the irony of Pikachu being killed by a bolt of lightning. XD (All the bullets he wears on his body explode from the lightning as well, so he makes for nice lil’ fireworks in the background as Snake and Eva (who can’t watch, even if it’s Volgin) celebrate their victory. Yeah yeah, not a pretty way to go, I know, I know, but it’s Volgin. Let me celebrate a little too. ^.~ *throws pom-pons*) Well done, helpful smiley ghost of rain and thunderstorms!

Eventually, even this long, long sequence of chase scenes comes to an end when the bike’s tank starts leaking fuel and they pretty much crash into a tree at some point.. good for me, not so good for our two heroes who get injured (and, in Eva’s case, half impaled on a branch). Eva tries the good old “Leave me behind and go on without me!” trick, but Snake won’t let her, surprising everyone when he tells her he can’t do that because he needs her. To fly the WIG, that is. Eva looked like she thought the exact same thing I did in that moment: “And you were so close!” XD
Anyway, they patch themselves/each other up, Snake gives her a gun, and they start heading towards the lake were the WIG that’s supposed to get them out of this pesky plot jungle is parked… and were, as Eva had said, The Boss is waiting.

A field of flowers
(By the way, did you know that one of the members of Mission Control (I forgot who it was) will explain to you that the name of the lake near which this final battle is fought translates to “the lake of destiny?”) I said two posts ago that The Plot is not an actual character, but I can’t help but imagine him sitting up there in one of the trees and emptying a bucket full of metaphors over the characters in this sequence. The flower field itself, The Boss and Snakes white and black sneaking suits (Damnit, The Boss blends in with the surroundings far too well. My poor old TV certainly isn’t helping either.), the three Ssnakes crawling around in it, and that’s just the more obvious stuff…

So, while Eva goes and gets the WIG ready for take off (not before she tells Snake to come back alive; “promise me!” she adds when he doesn’t react to that), Snakes steps into a clearing filled with beautiful white flowers to face his mentor – who proves that she’s taking the whole “hero’s journey” thing a little too serious.
You know the theory about how the villain will put obstacles in the hero’s path, but the hero overcomes them, learns from them and eventually, through them gains the skill and knowledge necessary to beat the villain in the end? Only the villain does of course not do it so that the hero can learn but to stop him… but every now and then, a “villain” is aware of the Hero’s Journey. The Boss sent the Cobras out not to stop Snake, but to help him learn, so that he can now beat her and carry on her legacy and all that… and, you know, become a worthy protagonist for future tales and all that. … Yeah, congratulations, The Boss, Solid Snake would like to tell you that your plan backfired rather spectacularly. XD

I’ll spare you with the details of the “why The Boss is the real hero of this mission” and just note in bullet points a few of my random observations:
– The Boss’s “to make the world whole again”/”circle of revenge” speech makes her sound like Naruto. (Ugh, I did not just say that. But I just recently caught up with the manga again after not reading it for quite a while, so Naruto’s speech to The Pain is still fresh in my mind.) And you know, when your videogame villain sounds a whole lot like a shonen manga hero, maybe it’s time to rethink our perspective… but then again, this is Big Boss’s “start of darkness” story.

– On the other hand, the whole sentiment of “who is a friend and who is an enemy can change with the times” is an ongoing theme; I’m mostly reminded of Solid Snake talking about himself and Frank/Fox/The Ninja. (There’s also kitten double-crossing everyone around him, but I suspect there’s reason behind his betrayals.)

– The series’s other recurring theme is also back: The Boss calls the Cobras her family and says that even though she can no longer bear children, she still has a family. (Incidentally, she is more of a mother to Snake than she was to her actual son who was taken from her.) Wait, aren’t the Cobras all dead by now? And she can’t even seem to see The Sorrow, but then again, she is certain that she will not leave this field of flowers alive either.

– Predictably enough, I love that The Boss calls The Sorrow her comrade and her friend long before telling us that he was also the father of her child. (Wait, I was actually joking when I sang that stupid Joy/Sorrow rhyme. Joking! Not that I mind at all. ^.^ *ships them either way*) When she talks about killing him and says that there was no enmity between them, I am again reminded of another Snake and a certain Fox. This series sure loves its motifs.

– Uh, Boss, I’m not about to question your skills, but what exactly were you doing on a battlefield in the Normandy when you were nine months pregnant? And honestly, whoever botched that C-section can go and join Liquid “I fail eighth grade Biology and therefore I hate you!” Snake; if that scar is from her c-section, then why does it reach up to her shoulder? Pffft. (Yes, yes, I know. Try to deliver a baby in the middle of a battle. That’s why I asked what she was doing there in the first place. ^.~ I know, I know, important mission. Tsk.)

– Come to think of it: Does kitten know whose son he is? And does The Boss know she’s his mother?

– If I’m not mistaken about the old MG games, that’s four games out of five that end with the protagonist facing a parent/mentor figure for the final battle. I can’t say anything about Solid Snake and Big Boss because I’ve yet to play MG/MG2, other than what the summary that came with MGS1 told me, but I love the contrast between the encounters in MGS2 and 3: Raiden loathes Solidus, but Naked Snake still loves The Boss, even if he hates what she makes him do.

– Noooooo, don’t blend in with the flowers like that, my TV reeeaaally doesn’t like that! (When The Boss throws Snake on the ground, the flower petals that sends flying are red though. ;_;)

– It took me embarrassingly long to realise that the post-battle cutscene stops being a cutscene for long enough to force the player to pull the trigger on The Boss themselves. It’s pretty much the opposite from the torture scene where I expected to be able to push buttons (and have it have an effect) and couldn’t. Oh game. I love it when you remember that you’re a medium with its own unique strengths.

– And all the flowers turn read. (… Damnit, white horsie, get our of there, you’re ruining the mood!) Snake catches one of the red petals; good thing we practised this with butterflies, huh? (When he’s on the plane later, the petal floats away, turning white again. Ah.)

– Not sure if I like the “The Boss’s snake-shaped scars slithers away from her body while turning into an actual Ssnake that vanishes into the flowers” metaphor thing or not. Hmm.

HEY! Don’t forget the kitten!
Oh. Right. can’t do that. So Ocelot manages to make his way onto the already flying plane, and while Eva is busy trying not to crashland the thing into the destiny lake, he and Snake are having a catfight in the back? demonstrate some more CQC. Turns out that Snake isn’t the only one who has learned a lot since they first met at the beginning of the game; even though Oclot ultimately loses, he keeps up for a good long time; in the second half of the battle easily imitating each of Snake’s techniques. (He actually comments on that, saying he’s “picked up a few new moves.” In the last few seconds, huh?) Curiously enough, after all that happens, kitten actually manages to make Snake smile – and by poking his eyepatch no less.

Snake gets his revolver back from Eva and Ocelot decides that it’s (once again) time for his lucky bullet to come into play: he loads one of the revolvers with it and does his fancy juggling again before letting Snake chose one: Quick-draw duel! (Heh. Is this really the only time where he’s actually allowed to finish his juggling routine? Well, considering the last time he was interrupted, Snake lost an eye, it’s no wonder we let him finish this time. XD) I love how comfortable Snake is during this whole thing – two more characters who just work.

And it’s time for The Importance Of Names In The MGS series again:
“What’s your name?”
“Snake.”
“No. Not that name. You’re not a snake, and I’m not an ocelot. We’re men, with names. My name is Adamska. What’s yours?”
“John.”
“Very well, John. Plain name. But I won’t forget it.”

See, kitten? That wasn’t so hard. All you had to do is ask nicely: So simple, yet so effective.

(For the record, I was too busy trying to twirl the gun the way he does (you can normally do that with a revolver in 1st person perspective, but apparently not here?) to actually shoot at him. *coughs* The cutscene afterwards actually reflected that, with Ocelot asking why Snake didn’t shoot him. Snake doesn’t answer. “Till we meet again. John.” Snake actually smiles at that too, and kitten ends up jumping into the lake below. Don’t drown! There are games that still need you for their plot! *smiles* Foolish little kitten.

Eve tempting the snake / The title of Big Boss
(more bullet points)

– That is one fancy room they’re in. It even has a fire place that annoying radios can (and are) thrown into. (Though I have to admit that the tiger rug made me laugh just like the horse did, it’s just a little too much. XD They have wine and music playing in the background and oh, have I mentioned that they’ve both survived the mission? Now if that isn’t a reason to celebrate.

– Oh! It’s actually Snake kissing Eva, that’s a surprise. Making up for all the things you didn’t do on the mission, huh? Please try not to roll into the fireplace. That would be kind of anti-climatic. Though it’s certainly not the fireplace’s fault that this scene is hot… just saying. (Yes yes, I’m very mature, I know. To be slightly less shallow, I’ll say that I love the dynamics they display here too. <3)

– Next morning! Say, ah… am I the only one who would find it kind of impractical to get dressed again before going to sleep? Hmmm, so many possibilities… and while we're on the TMI front, let me say that I find the idea that maybe they didn't have sex after all hot from both a narrative perspective and from the I'm-a-shallow-hormonal-fangirl-with-slightly-random-tastes perspective. (And yes, I know she pretty much flat-out states they slept with each other in her recorded message.)

– Blabla, Eva's still a spy and has already left by the time Snake wakes up, blabla real mission, blabla Adam and the Philosophers Legacy, blabla plot. You know the deal. I spent half of the scene wondering if Snake had only dreamt the previous scene. XD (No, I doubt he has, don't worry.)

– Snake gets dressed up in a fancy uniform to receive his famous title, the last of his iconic features that he was still missing. And I love that for all the shiny medals, the applause, the reporters taking photos, it's an empty honour, and one he doesn't feel. They think they're building up a hero, but what they have set up is a hero's fall. And nowhere is that more obvious than when they pin a medal on him and name him Big Boss.

– In the list of things the surviving characters did after the game is over, everyone's paragraphs scroll over the screen together, but the the "Les Enfants Terrible" project gets a whole screen all for itself. Wel, it is kind of important.

– During the credits, it never fails to amuse me that everyone has a motion actor (some minor characters even share one, like The Fury, The Pain and The Sorrow) while Ocelot has six, four for his gun twirling and juggling alone, one for CQC and one for the actual acting. XD

– Kitten, you are one sneaky bastard. What I love most about his post-credits phone conversation is just how extremely similar he sounds to his older self at the end of the MGS1 credits. His younger voice actor certainly did an amazing job here and can read me the phone book any day.

So, any final impressions?
Not much that I haven’t said over the course of these four long entries, really. I really like how well MGS3 stands on its own, while at the same time, it feels weird that it does/that it doesn’t connect more directly with the other games. But I’ve been told – hi Try! – that MGS4 will tie it in better with the other games in the franchise, and it’s not really a big complaint to begin with: thematically, MGS3 is very definitely a part of the series, even if it approaches some questions rather differently; compare, for example, Solid Snake’s view of what a soldier is with The Boss’s.

While we’re talking about minor complains, I still don’t really like this voice for Big Boss. It’s still Solid Snake’s in my head and doesn’t really want to fit this character who, all similarities notwithstanding, is after all still his own character. I might be in the minority here, but I would’ve preferred him to have his own voice.

The jungle was an amazing environment for this game. Groznyj Grad not so much, but we didn’t spent too much time inside there anyway. So how does the jungle compare to Shadow Moses and the Tanker/Plant? Hmm, I don’t know; I still have a soft spot for Shadow Moses, but as a location, I definitely prefer the jungle to the plant. Maybe that’s just me and greenery though. *g* And for the Quirky Miniboss Squads… I’ve said before that I’m not terribly impressed with the Cobras as individuals but that I adore their boss fights and I stand by that opinion. The Sorrow (and The Boss of course) kind of redeemed them, but their not my favourites.

Initially, I didn’t like the lack of a mini-map/radar and I’ve still missed it frequently, but Jana was right when she said that somehow, MGS3 makes the new system work regardless. The whole stamina/hunting element was also excellent and not nearly as stressful as I feared it would be… but then again, I did play on Easy. (You know, the more I play of this series, the more I look forward to replaying these games one day on a higher difficulty. This time around, I’m mostly playing for the plot/characters/whatever (no, really) and to get used to the various elements, and I tend to be picky with the challenges I like, but these games? they can actually pose a challenge I’ll like to face in earnest one day. Fun!

So yeah. Excellent game, excellent spy movie atmosphere and definitely worth rambling about in too-long entries. Thank you for reading!

Wh-what do you mean I’ve almost hit 6000 words? I didn’t I wasn’t going to but I wanted only… D: D: D: