Tag Archives: Metal Gear Solid 4

A tale of my most hated tailing missions in videogames

gd post worst tailing missions in videogames

Gather round, dear Grinding Down readers, and I’ll tell you a mighty fine tale…all about tailing. Whatever you do, don’t look up the urban dictionary definition for it.

For those that are lucky and have never played a game involving a tailing mission, you are basically tasked with following a non-player character to a designated area. This is either done on foot or in a vehicle. However, more often than not, your target cannot be alerted to your presence; if they are, that means your mission to be like a ninja failed, and you’ll have to start it all over. Like many, I do not enjoy these missions, despite being full of patience, and some are more loathsome than others, especially when silly things like artificial intelligence, geometry glitches, and randomness are actively working against each other. They are lengthy, generally due to the fact that you are often following someone moving at a leisurely pace, and checkpoints are usually non-existent.

Many bad tailing missions stick out in my mind after all these years of gaming, and below are a few that I’d like to highlight as particularly bad. In fact, I might even say I hated them.

“The Siege of Charles-Towne” from Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag

This is the one that got this nugget of an idea about a list of tailing missions started, way back when I was actively playing it. Sorry, I’m sometimes slow with these posts or lose interest only to come back to them much later with renewed vigor. I generally enjoyed my time with Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag or, as my girlfriend calls it, “the turtle game.” See, one time she saw me playing it, and I was running around a beach area looking at the turtles scooting their way to the ocean, and thus the game will forever now be known as such. That’s fine, because this series is now 10+ games deep, and we need a better way to recognize them than just their generic subtitles. Honestly, I’m surprised it took us so long to use the word origins.

I know these games are pretty hit and miss with consumers, with ones like Assassin’s Creed III and Assassin’s Creed: Unity definitely in the miss column, but I liked a lot of what Kenway could do and even patiently dealt with the handful of tailing missions thrown at the man throughout the game. Still, they all got rated one or two stars when completed, but they weren’t too bad, all in all. Not when you compare them with Sequence 6’s “The Siege of Charles-Towne”, which literally has you in a boat…stealthily following another boat. Ugh. I don’t really even know how that is possible, but I guess if you sail smoothly enough and don’t startle any dolphins, anything can happen.

To start, you are steering a large boat around a small swampy location, at night, with lots of things to smash into. It’s like threading the needle with the lights out. Also, not sure if any of you have every tried to quickly course correct and shift directions in a boat, but it’s not a fast affair. Throw in the fact that you must be cognizant of both red and yellow circles on the mini-map while trying to steer, and you’ve got the recipe for one bad tailing mission. On a related note, I’m currently playing Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, at about 25% synchronization for those curious, and have not found too many troubling tailing missions…yet. I’m sure one will rear its ugly head soon enough.

“The Set Up” from L.A. Noire

la-noire-the-set-up

Ah, L.A. Noire, you big, gorgeous, empty-as-heck modern adventure game. About midway through “The Set Up” mission, Cole must remain incognito while tailing a woman named Candy Edwards. See, she might have information about why the professional boxer Albert Hammond won a fight that he was supposed to throw, which angered a lot of bookies and people betting on the event. For those that don’t know, incognito means things like, sitting on a park bench and pretending to read the newspaper, as well as avoiding getting spotted when she turns around to examine her surroundings.

As Phelps is tailing Candy on foot, he has to keep his distance and maintain good cover. If he gets too close, she’ll stop and turn around. Phelps will also comment if he is about to lose Candy’s. It’s pretty straightforward, but it’s a whole bag of boredom and constantly worrying about being too far or too near the target. There are invisible meters and vision cones at work here, and I still don’t know if seeing them would be better or not. There’s also an Achievement for tailing Candy without using any incognito or cover…which I’ve not popped.

In the end, it’s a tailing mission, where your movement is dictated by the target’s movement, and I’d rather spend my time closely examining matchbooks or pieces of fruit or interrogating suspects. Or even searching for those well-hidden golden film reel collectibles.

“Act 3” from Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots

This one is still pretty fresh, seeing as I only just played Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots for the first time back in autumnal 2015. Earlier in the game, you had to track someone by their footprints out in the wild, and that was honestly fine. However, the streets of Eastern Europe are a whole different bag of messy worms, and Old Snake must tail a member of the resistance in hopes of him leading you to the hidden resistance HQ.

Now, if you follow him without being detected, he’ll lead you directly to the resistance HQ, which is where you can hopefully meet Big Momma. However, you need to keep a good distance away from him in order to avoid being detected, which means letting him get a decent head start and running into trouble. So, you not only have to follow this whistling fool without being spotted, but you also have to protect him from enemy soldiers piqued by all that whistling and various roadblocks. Frustratingly, he can’t witness you helping him either, otherwise he’ll get scared and run away.

I did not do well with this mission, and I felt like I stumbled the entire way through it, just barely surviving encounters and keeping the resistance man on track. It’s a major reason holding me back from ever revisiting the game.

“The Lost Pilgrimage” Korok trial from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Once you make your way through the Lost Woods and get to Hyrule Forest proper in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, you can attempt to complete four Korok trials. One is given to you by a Korok named Tasho, who tells you about friend Oaki, who set off to find a shrine alone. Oaki really wants to make it all the way to the shrine by himself, but Tasho is worried and wants Link to follow along after him to ensure he makes it there safely. Alas, this is an instant-fail stealth tailing mission, which means the moment you are spotted it is over and you have to restart from the beginning. It’s a severely outdated design and a fun-sucking vacuum cleaner if I ever saw one.

Okay, so, some issues. One, Oaki is dressed mostly in bland, gray clothing, which makes him hard to see in the foggy Lost Woods. You have to rely on sound more than anything due to all the gear he is carrying. Two, this is still the Lost Woods, and so if you veer off the main path too far, the fog sucks you up. A kind soul might imagine this simply plopping you back on the beaten path to continue forward, but no, it just fails the mission outright. Gee, thanks. Okay, so these issues took a couple attempts to figure out and get used to, but then I lost all hope when, without warning, Oaki turns around and runs straight at Link, spotting him instantly.

Ugh. I attempted this mission three or four times, wasting a bunch of my stealth potions too, before giving up on it entirely to focus instead on rebuilding Tarrey Town. Y’know, an easier, less punishing task.

Well, those are the tailing missions that stand out in my mind as bee aye dee. That’s bad, if you couldn’t figure it out. What ones have you not enjoyed over the years? Or, if you are in the mood to play the devil’s advocate, tell us all about how much you love closely and quietly following someone around a limited environment without ever getting spotted.

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Metal Gear Solid 4 is not about changing the world

gd mgs4 gotp final thoughts and impressions

My goal for the Metal Gear Solid series of videogames has generally been pretty clear: play them all in the order they were released and stay ahead of Dan and Drew over at Giant Bomb, especially once they got to the Big Bosses in the series that I’ve not touched at all, that way I can enjoy all of Hideo Kojima’s mind-wank first for myself and then witness those goofballs grenade-toss and gun their way through all the meticulously heavy sneaking parts. I know I can be a slow gamer at times, but figured I wouldn’t have any problems with this.

Unfortunately, it did not work out. I started playing Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots right before I left for a Disney World vacation in July, mostly inspired to play because I saw that those Giant Bomb duders were readying themselves for more nanomachine-driven madness. I figured there might have been a longer break between this and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, but nope, I was wrong. So I played a little, and by the time I got back, they were nearly done with the game. Other things were happening in my life, and I just figured I’d wait the whole thing out for a bit. Then Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain dropped, and it’s all everyone is chatting about, and I desperately want to play it, but still have a few more games to get through first. This is what basically lead to me sitting down over two nights and pounding MGS4 into dust, which, when you realize it is more or less a visual novel, isn’t terribly challenging.

I think I covered the story stuff in my last post on MGS4, or what little story stuff I felt like spilling. It goes places, but mostly to the past. In a lot of ways, this felt like Metal Gear Solid: Callback Edition, what with you pounding X in every cutscene to get flashbacks and every character coming out of the woodwork to at least participate in some manner. Drebin’s long-winded stories of tragedy and woe about all four B&B Corps members really killed the game’s pace, and a lot of characters continued to speak in grandiose cliches, to the point that I felt like Old Snake all the time, constantly repeating back what people said, but as a question. GW? Microwaves? Suicide mission? Truthfully, I’ve never been able to 100% follow along with Kojima’s plot across all the Metal Gears, but this is the one where they tried to hit some nails into coffins and close a lot of loops, and even then I didn’t understand the bulk of it.

In terms of difficulty, I only hit a few snags, and if you’d rather not read about specific encounters–skip to the next paragraph. Now. Okay, here we go. The first big hiccup appeared while trying to track Naomi’s footprints in South America; I knew what the game wanted me to do, and I did it, really, and still, it took forever to find the cave she went into. The next problem arose in the boss fight against Vamp back at Shadow Moses, where you are supposed to remember you have a nanomachine-specific item in your inventory, given to you several acts back, and that’s the only way to defeat him. I used the Codec a bunch, but still Otacon never clued me in on this; I had to resort to the Internet’s guidance. Lastly, the final level has you landing on a massive battleship and trying to make it all the way down to the other side, where there’s a door. The ship is crawling with enemies, and after multiple attempts to shoot my way through–first with tranquilizer bullets and stun grenades, then with live ammunition–I resorted to wearing a full suit of OctoCamo and inch-worming my way down the left side, at the slowest pace in the world. Other than that, every else sort of handles itself.

It’s not my favorite Metal Gear, though I still don’t think I’m prepared to pick one. There’s not much to play here, especially early on when you are sided with the rebels and sort of shadowing them as they take out all the baddies and you sneak through without a scratch to your tired, leathery face. Even when you do decide to stand up and fight, the game gives you so many weapons and health items that surviving is fairly reasonable (save for that last section on the boat). Sure, my stats below show 23 continues, but the majority of those are from that final stretch.

Speaking of statistics, as always, Konami provides you a bunch at the end of the credits. Read ’em and weep:

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Seems like this time around you earn different emblems for how you play. I got the title of “Eagle,” which is brought about from accumulating 150 or more headshots. Go me and my headshotting skills. Other wearable emblems require specific ways of playing, such as not getting spotted at all or spending more than an hour inside the cardboard box/drum can. Hmm no thanks. That certainly helps with MGS4‘s replayability, though I have no interest right now in returning to it. Like an eagle, I’ll soar away, high in the sky, the world below zooming out, as if it doesn’t matter.

Up next…Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker! Y’know, that game no one seems to like or feel is part of the series at all, but is most likely important to the early story stuff of Big Boss and necessary to know before moving on to the most current adventure. Oh yeah. Bring on the excitement.

2015 Game Review Haiku, #47 – Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots

2015 gd games completed mgs 4 guns patriots

Old Snake is dying
Liquid has plans, control guns
Watch cutscenes, hit X

From 2012 all through 2013, I wrote little haikus here at Grinding Down about every game I beat or completed, totaling 104 in the end. I took a break from this format last year in an attempt to get more artsy, only to realize that I missed doing it dearly. So, we’re back. Or rather, I am. Hope you enjoy my continued take on videogame-inspired Japanese poetry in three phases of 5, 7, and 5, respectively.

The supreme art of war in Metal Gear Solid IV is to subdue the enemy without fighting

mgs iv act one gd early thoughts

Well, the timing of me playing Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots could not be any poorer. Giant Bomb is gearing up (pun totally intended) for their next neck-stab at Metal Gear Scanlon, and, as with previous playthroughs, I like to experience it all first and then enjoy watching Dan and Drew figure things out on their own. Unfortunately, from this point on in the series, I’ve not touched any of the subsequent games, and so it is extra imperative that I see how Old Snake fairs before anyone else. Alas, I’m about to head out of town, and I only just finished the first Act, with many more hours to go, which means I’ll have to barrel through it all as soon as possible upon my return to New Jersey.

My biggest gripe so far with Old Snake’s revenge-driven plight against Liquid/Revolver Ocelot has to do with items, specifically the number of them you pick up in Act 1 alone. It is staggering and overwhelming, and all I found myself doing was ignoring the majority of guns and non-weapon items and sticking to the tried and true arsenal of Snake’s previous adventures. Like the tranquilizer gun and cardboard box, or, in the case of the Middle East, a deadly drum can. I’m also not completely sold on the item of earning points for picking up duplicate weapons, which you can spend through Drebin 893, a black market arms dealer. So far, I bought a sniper rifle, used it once, and haven’t looked back.

Amazingly, despite the epic scope and constant what-the-eff moments in the series, I can summarize the plot of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots in a single sentence. Here we go. Shortly after learning that he only has a year-long lifespan because of Werner’s Syndrome, Snake is given a mission by Colonel Roy Campbell to assassinate Liquid in the Middle East. Naturally, from there, things get crazy. I’ve run into some familiar characters, like Otacon and Meryl, as well as met some new, fairly untrustworthy sorts. Namely–Drebin and his monkey.

Gameplay picks up and remains constant from Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, with players now assuming the role of an aged Solid Snake. Lovingly called Old Snake. He still uses stealth, close quarters combat, and traditional gun mechanics. Most aiming with a gun is via an over-the-shoulder angle, but thankfully there’s an optional first-person view via the toggle of a button, which I found extremely handy when aiming with the tranquilizer gun. Basically, it’s the same ol’ Metal Gear I’ve been playing this last year and change, with one big change–old bones.

Welcome to the Psyche Meter. Basically, psyche is decreased by non-lethal attacks and influenced by battlefield psychology. Stressors, such as temperature extremes, foul smells, taking damage, and being stalked by the enemy, increase Snake’s stress gauge, eventually depleting his psyche. This then affects Old Snake’s ability to aim, more frequent back pain, and a higher possibility of him passing out upon receiving damage. There are a few methods for restoring psyche–eating, drinking, smoking, reading an adult magazine, or making a Codec call to a certain someone I will not name to keep this spoiler-free. All that said, I’ve found everything pretty manageable, but please also note I’m playing on the standard difficulty, only dying a few times due to not paying attention to the health meter and equipping a ration in time.

As I expected, I have a lot of questions about Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. Like, what’s up with Meryl and her team? In my playthrough of Metal Gear Solid 1, I was unable to endure the torture sequence and save her, but I guess the canon outcome is that she lived. Hmm. Also, um, at the start of Act II, one of the Beauty and Beasts Corps, a team of female PMC operatives in mechanized suits, took on the visage of Old Snake in a way that did not sit well with me. Lastly, how come Rat Patrol’s “Akiba” was unaffected by Liquid’s mind-controlled gas? I’m sure the answer is “because he shits his pants,” but part of me hopes there’s more to the man than that. Guess I’ll find out…in a few weeks. Until then, Old Snake and friends.