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21 July 2010 @ 08:45 pm
"We're gonna be fighting the biggest beast of all - the times."  

I finished Peace Walker, people! Yes, that's right: again. And no, I didn't restart - the main storyline actually continued.

And thus I launch into my review/obsessive ramble Part II. The cut houses spoilers the likes of which you only want to read if you've already finished this game or know you're never getting it. Otherwise, steer so clear you'll lose your way around this page. I'm serious. Very.

The beginning of the end was inconspicuous enough: once again, I ventured to find our escaped Zadornov. Apart from the minor heart-attack I got when I noticed him standing by that wall, finding him at the shooting range wasn't a big problem. No, the trouble started when he almost shot Big Boss, which resulted in Big Boss shooting him (come on, anyone would lose patience after several murder attempts and seven escapes). Then! Instead of being taken aback, Zadornov just flipped a peace sign with that flashy prosthetic hand of his and died happily, a cryptic but noticeably ominous message on his lips.

Next thing I knew, Kaz was on the line panicking about our precious nuclear-armed fighting machine being hijacked. By whom, you ask?

PAZ. Yes, that innocent-shy-peace-loving-jailbait-student Paz.

Guess that explains Zadornov's accomplice. I knew there had to be one for him to escape so many times, but Paz of all people? I thought this game was "safe" from treacherous triple agents if Ocelot wasn't in it! Yet there turned out to be Paz: Paz who had spent the entirety of her screen time so far being timid and making eulogies about her "namesake" of peace, Paz who wouldn't as much as let me take three steps towards her in a swimsuit on a beach, Paz who'd been cruelly "tricked" by Zadornov before... all of that was nothing but a smokescreen. And a damn convincing one, at that. I didn't pick up on one. single. hint. Okay, maybe the tape discrepancy could count as one in hindsight, but it still doesn't lead you to assume something of this magnitude is off. Until Paz was trampling the roof of the MSF base piloting a giant robot in her underwear, cackling maniacally, telling Big Boss to witness true hell and die. With her ridiculously cheerful theme song of "love deterrence" playing in background.

...

Dear Kojima, that was a mindfuck but AWESOME.

I hope it doesn't make me a bad person that I actually found this caustic, trigger-happy, tobacco-chewing, ultimatum-making, evil triple agent Paz-whose-name-isn't-Paz more interesting than the innocently harmless persona she'd been projecting. Mostly I adored the hell out of that plot twist because it really was well played. At this point in the game I was pretty much taking it as a given that Paz was the expendable party in Zadornov's scheme who was simply grateful to be out of the danger zone. The last thing I'd have expected was for that to be the cover-up, right down to Paz's identity and true purpose. This, people, is what I call kickass storytelling. (Not to mention it's the kind that writers rarely pull off convincingly, but in this case it worked very well.)

Before the shock this gave me had a chance to wear off, enter Zero AKA the Cipher leader! But I called him, I totally called him when the Boss AI mentioned the "lonely fox" chasing after "the one-eyed hound". Also, how brilliant is the wordplay here? (Fox = the original FOX unit led by Zero; hound = the FOXHOUND squad established by Big Boss later; Zero = Cipher = "swollen emptiness" [Kaz's words, not mine]; and now the "fox" has made the first of his crazy attempts to get the renegade "hound" back. [They get progressively worse from there.] Look, I realize Zero was kind of a douche with that whole clone project, but BIG BOSS YOU HAVE GUTTED HIS HEART FOREVER AND YOU SHOULD KNOW HOW THAT FEELS; dammit, why am I capslocking again? The point is, no one in this series is all good or all bad.)

Well, I can see the age of control and the aggregate AI dawning after this installment. Thanks, Zero.

I'll have to mention that I do have complaint about a different part of the epilogue, and incredibly enough it concerns Strangelove. That little scene with her acknowledging Huey's advances was... well. As someone who has always liked that MGS doesn't assign a rigid sexuality to its characters, her remark that "love is blind" has a strong appeal to me. But on the other hand, Strangelove's the one who has just spent the entire game going on about her love for The Boss, as well as ramming home that men (especially naked ones) are not her cup of tea. I find it a bit, er, logically inconsistent for her to ignore the latter all of a sudden and have a sappy moment with the guy who'd never even impressed her before. Sure, Strangelove only says that "I've just had my heart broken by someone else" (The Boss!) and "who knows what miracles may happen?" - but still, do not particularly want.

It's not that I couldn't see her with Huey on principle. It's simply that my reading of that pairing would involve lots of joint atomic research and pegging. And possibly some mutual fapping to pulp magazines with graphic "babe of the month" centrefolds. (Great, now I've made myself want to write it.) What it would most certainly not involve is the possibility of a pregnant Strangelove who's suddenly okay with blending into the fabric of society she has always openly RESENTED. Jesus on a cracker, no, just no. I couldn't stomach that kind of cop-out, not from a series with a pretty decent track record when it comes to these issues. At least it's never actually stated if those two married or had kids, which I hope is going to stay that way. Nuclear science, not nuclear families! XD

...Come to think of it, this whole deal mostly bothers me because of all the idiots who might see that one short scene and instantly take it as "proof" of Strangelove's nonexistent heterosexuality and/or conventional femininity. (Because I clearly have to make everything about politics.)

Whatever; on to more pleasant matters. Like the exchange between Big Boss and Kaz once the imminent danger had been dealt with. Or maybe not so pleasant because KAZ, YOU SNEAKY BASTARD. I figured the guy had a dangerous mind the moment he was the one who came up with stealing that stupid warhead (even if the reasoning behind it made sense), but I assumed that was his limit. How wrong I was on that one. Seriously, he knew about Zadornov and Paz the entire time - even got them to the country in the first place - and only deigned to share that bit of info when everything was over? Heilige Scheisse. Good thing it doesn't make him a traitor since he "did it to expand MSF". (Actually, the image of Kaz pacing around the base at night because his conscience won't stop nagging him is quite entertaining.) Still, Kaz should be careful because he's headed straight for Ocelot's territory of devotion if he keeps this up. (Ocelot's territory of devotion: "I'll pull off the most gradiose, elaborate and drastic plot in human history without letting my true motives on to anyone for my beloved John - I mean, Big Boss - just you all watch and weep!")

At any rate, the Kaz confession etc. scene immediately restored my faith. It was almost sweet, in a way, how pretty much instantly forgave him or at least understood what the important part was. I swear, those two are acting more and more like a married couple. (Fact-check, right here.) A married couple with its own army. Geez, I should write up some honest meta on that someday. Once I've worked my way to the Kaz date, maybe. "Take me to heaven, Boss!"

And now, let's have a look at the piece of epic I saved for last: Big Boss's ending speech. I'm actually going to leave it here because I loved it that much. I think it does a good job of showing what I like about him. He's not a hero even as a main character, he's been through too much to be an idealist, he's not your token "good guy" by any standards - but he never calls it quits. He sticks to whatever's left for him to do, whatever the consequences. I don't care he becomes an antagonist later on, this still deserves some credit.

Chalk it up to the above paragraph that I also love how menacing this bit manages to be.



Regarding artistic execution, not much has changed in that department since the last time I commented on it as it's still very well done. One new thing I appreciated was the ingenious mix of the illustrated cutscenes usually found in this game and real-time ones. Even if I like both styles equally for different reasons, having them alternate like this was amazing! I have the sneaking suspicion they included the latter just to make the body language between Kaz and Big Boss in the final scene speak volumes, because that's what it does. And that dialogue. Great stuff all around.

All right, all right, I'm going to stop now. Be glad I'm sticking to the main story here. XD

 
 
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