I did it. I finished with “Peace Walker”, the second entry on my quest to play through the Metal Gear Solid series chronologically. Granted, “Portable Ops”, also story cannon, and taking place between “Snake Eater” and “Peace Walker” should should be the second game, but that’s not in the legacy collection disc I own, I settled with a “film version” experience instead. This was also an entry I had never played before, having never owned a portable playstation device. The levels, the battles, the tasks, were all a lot simpler than I expected. The graphic novel-style cutscenes were interesting, though distracting, and not what I was used to, but I get that it’s a limitation dictated by the medium.
The bigger question though, was I scared with this game like I’d been with others in the series? Did I find it as equally insurmountable? For the most part, no, not really (more later on the wee part I did). My experience with the series has made me quite self-aware of the fact that I still have some lingering insecurities and performance anxieties. That is to say, most games I choose to engage with, I’m fairly certain I can take on, even if they’re challenging, and still be sure that I’ll be alright. With this series though, MGS makes me wonder if I’ll be up to snuff to take it on. Will I still be able to piece together the massive complex story, if I can’t figure it out, is that a reflection of lacking comprehension skills on my part, or an overly convoluted plot that snakes back and forth like a river in a jungle? What of the game mechanics? The super-weird boss battles?
Who knows. The bonus of this, my motivation to keep in track with the story points between games has me actively reading and re-reading wikipedia summaries of all the games’ plots, and relevant characters. It’s made me aware of of a specific meta villain of sorts that’s been present in all the games. Ironically, for a game that jumps around with it’s timeline a whole bunch, it’s forced me to be very present in my experience with the game. It’s also taught me to be aware of faults in the things you love. I greatly enjoyed “Peace Walker”, but damn, if I didn’t look up a game guide for something, I wouldn’t have known about the secret extra ending programmed into it. And I nearly got to that ending, when, in preparation for that final battle, I had to up all my character’s stats by at least ten levels, get specific items, etc, before I could UNLOCK that boss. That’s just baloney, that’s a game company arbitrarily asking players to “grind” for a certain period of time just to play a little bit more of the game proper. It was something I thought kind of misleading and manipulative when I discovered this. So I bailed, and watched the ending on YouTube so I could see what I would be missing out on.
The story itself was great though. I was always curious how our hero from “Snake Eater”, post-disillusionment with his gov’t, morphed into the renowned villain known throughout the games in the rest of the series; “Peace Walker” lays out a nice, organic, almost relatable story for which that to happen. As I start with “Ground Zeroes” this week, I expect that trend to continue, thus providing what any great appreciator of story loves…CONTEXT. Context against which the rest of the games are built upon, something to relate these strange events to. It’ll be wonderful, I’m sure.