Breaking Down The Backlog II: gods, bosses & friends

IN THE PAST month(ish) I have killed a god, slaughtered a vast menagerie of legendary beasts, stopped the Cold War almost single-handed, killed enough people to be considered a war criminal and I made a friend. 

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I never played the original when it first came out on the Playstation 2, so I came to this game 100% fresh when I finally bought the God Of War HD Collection on PS3. I was expecting a less complicated (and less crazy) version of Bayonetta and games of that ilk. My expectations were met but I loved the combat. It wasn’t as deep as those types of games, but it was so gratifying – especially when the main weapon is fully upgraded – that it simplicity didn’t matter. It was just fun annihilating Ares’ minions for the entire length of the game (it took me about 10 hours).

There were some problems with the game. The puzzles were trivial – to call them puzzles is an insult to the likes of The Swapper which had actual puzzles in – with the exception of the (as I found out) infamous spiked floor-box-puzzle. That one in particular was awful because it was easy to work out how to finish it but it was all down to speed in finishing it. And since the mechanics of pushing, pulling and kicking stuff around in God Of War isn’t the best, the puzzle was maddening. Luckily before I put my fist through the television, I checked online and just glitched my way through it. Another problem is the platforming. MY GOD the platforming is atrocious in this game. You have very little control when in the air outside of combat and Kratos has the balance of someone with a serious ear canal infection. Other than that and the occasional weird bug (I had a boss reset itself mid fight) I greatly enjoyed my time with God Of War and can’t wait to play the second one at some point.

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I LOVED Enslaved. It played great, the graphics were awesome and the story is perhaps one of the best stories with some of the best characters I have played in a video-game, crazy ending and all. So of course I had to play Pigsy’s Perfect 10, especially because Pigsy was a damn good character whose fate was really tragic for someone so comedic. This DLC was surprisingly good. It played very differently to the main game because Pigsy is more of a gadget and ranged character when compared to Monkey, who is a brawler, so the entire DLC has a very different feel too it. It is stealthier, for one. Pigsy can take, at most, roughly three hits before he dies. Admittedly, it led to some very frustrating moments during the finale. But to combat this, Ninja Theory gave him infinite gadgets that can distract, EMP, convert enemies to your side and explode which leads to a slower and more tactical game. Once all the gadgets are unlocked, I spent many long minutes scanning the environment and setting up bombs and the like to lure enemies into. I don’t think the combat cycle could hold up for an entire game, but it was expertly paced for roughly 2-3 hours of DLC.

Pigsy is, of course, hilarious through the entire story with his endearing crudeness and bluster. But the story doesn’t fail in showing that the character does actually have depth through his relationship with Truffles, a screen with a face and personality that he made. The touching twist of realizing that Pigsy’s perfect 10 (a reference to a scale by which many men judge the attractiveness of women) was actually his friendship with Truffles all along was fantastic as the character transforms into a very caring individual that attempts to rectify the predicament which he inadvertently forced Truffles into with apologies and gusto. And Truffles’ death was heartbreaking as you see, not for the first time admittedly due to Pigsy’s fate in the main game, that the character has soul. Ultimately Pigsy’s Perfect 10 was a phenomenal bit of DLC, some of the best I have ever played and I recommend it wholeheartedly.

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As I mentioned last time when I was talking about Dishonored, I am not the biggest stealth fan. There are three stealth games I can tolerate: Hitman Blood Money, Dishonored and the Metal Gear Solid franchise. On the surface, the Metal Gear Solid games have everything I hate about stealth games. When you get caught, it is pretty much game over unless you find a good place to hide for three (!) or so minutes because you can’t really fight your way out of situations, the controls are overly complicated and several parts of the game are just obtuse. This didn’t stop me from finishing Metal Gear Solid: Twin Snakes nor Metal Gear Solid: Sons Of Liberty and it certainly didn’t dissuade me from completing Metal Gear Solid 3: Twin Snakes despite it being even more obtuse in some cases than the previous two games.

My main attraction to Metal Gear Solid 3 – and the Metal Gear Solid franchise – is the insane story and world that is created by the franchise’s director and main writer, Hideo Kojima. You can’t find stories like the one that man creates anywhere else in my opinion. The previous two Metal Gear Solid games were ridiculous, particularly the second one, whilst the third game is simultaneously more grounded (you aren’t fighting the ex-president of the U.S.A at the end) and yet still totally crazy. The entire game is rather more dour than the previous two entries. Snake gets absolutely beaten to hell and back, at one point losing an eye, the character of Boss turns from an evil mother figure into a great tragic hero and even some of the bosses had some pathos around them. Yet the story still has some elements in it that just made me shake my head and laugh at the audacity or ludicrousness of it all. I mean, despite all this seriousness, EVA constantly has her body suit zipped down to her navel so that it shows off her prodigious boobs and bra for literally no reason. Or that the second boss you face shoots fucking bees at you! The way the story can switch from grim-dark philosophizing on heroes in war and just nonsense can be jarring, but that is a criticism that can be leveled at the whole of the Metal Gear Solid franchise and not with this game alone.

When I stated earlier that Metal Gear Solid 3 is even more obtuse than the previous entries, I mean it. There was one point in the game, close to the end, that I found incredibly difficult because I hadn’t found a costume that will allow me unimpeded access to this area. I had to look up tips on how to proceed and was told that this particular costume was in an nondescript locker in the previous zone. I just shook my head in disgust. There wasn’t even an environmental hint that I missed. Another strong example are all the bosses apart from the first two and the Shagohod. I found all the bosses incredibly difficult due to a lack of information. And when I did ask for information from Colonel Zero, Para-Medic and/or Signit all they gave me was either repetitions of what each other had said previously or it was so vague it didn’t help. It took a lot of fumbling around and dying repeatedly to get through each boss encounter. The one that scarred me for life, however, was The Fury. That boss fight was fucking horrible. His constant spouting of fire when he got close to dying, coupled with very dodgy fire ‘physics’, made me nearly dropkick my Xbox 360 at least a dozen times. Even when I looked up how to kill him on the internet, that didn’t work either! In the end I somehow cheesed him by sniping him in the face faster than he could react. Nevertheless, I felt dirty afterwards.

The Fury. A flamethrower wielding astronaut. And massive bastard.

The Fury. A flamethrower wielding astronaut and massive bastard.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the weird little details in the game and each of the boss’ individual characterization made their difficulty somewhat manageable. I also have no problem working stuff out for myself. It is just the Metal Gear Solid controls aren’t adaptable or responsive enough to make the boss fights fun to play. But they were just road bumps in what was fantastic game, probably one of the best I have ever played. By the end, I could empathize with Snake because I too felt like I had been through hell and left worn down and betrayed. That final twist about the character The Boss was awesome and it changed my entire perspective of the Metal Gear Solid 3. Ultimately, despite all its foibles, I loved this game and I am looking forward to the day I play Metal Gear Solid 4.

P.S. That final reveal about Ocelot after the credits – I won’t go into too much detail – blew my tiny mind.

Next time on Breaking Through The Backlog: L.A. Noire, Resident Evil 4 (both delayed because I have a new computer) and Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune.

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