Some things I've learned....

(1) An Engineer can do with 10 cent what a fool can do with a Euro.

(2) "Puff" - unimportant; insignificant; unworthy of study by engineering students; waste of time

(3) It's better to keep your mouth shut and let people think you're stupid than to open it and prove them right!

(4) Blockwork people and concrete people can never work on the same site... Apparently they don't like each other....

(5) It's official; I'm fantastic!

Thursday 17 May 2007

Angry Video Game Nerd Day!

Yes this is a double post day, and also a double video day. Below is James Rolfe's review of the SEGA CD and the SEGA 32X, both additions to the Sega Genesis (or Sega Megadrve to us here across the pond from the Nerd). Don't forget to verify your age, as these videos contain mature content for all you kiddies!

Sega CD Review:

Sega 32X Review:


~The Damo

Greatest Games of All Time!! - Issue 2.5

So this is part 2 to my blog about Metal Gear Solid.


For a PS1 game, the graphics in Metal Gear Solid are quite average really. I mean they pretty much got the best that they could out of the PS1 system. Unlike FF7, the cutscenes in MGS utilise the same models used in the gameplay. Like any good game, the storyline progresses through these magnificent cutscenes and codec conversations. As gaming technology has gotten better, graphics have improved and hence so have the cutscenes. The sequel Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, is acredited as being the first game to resemble a Hollywood film. Without the gameplay you would literally be watching a film with hours of cutscenes. This is due greatly to the story writing genius that is the series' creator Hideo Kojima. There'll be more for me to say when I blog about MGS2 and MGS3.


Last blog I covered the main 'good' characters, so know I'll take a look at the magnificent array of creative villains we meet throughout our travels on Shadow Moses, a trend which continues to the game's sequels. The villains in this game are members of FOXHOUND (the unit which Snake was a member of in his early days) and is under the command of Snakes brother (also a clone of Big Boss) Liquid Snake.

Liquid Snake - serves as Metal Gear Solid's main antagonist against Solid Snake, who is also his genetic twin. In the game Liquid poses as Snake's former survival coach Master Miller and tricks Snake into activating the new version of Metal Gear, Metal Gear REX. We first see Liquid as the pilot of the HIND D on the helipad, when Snake takes the elevator from underground cavern. Liquid is then present when Snake is being tortured by Ocelot, and Snake also figts off Liquid in the HIND D at the top of the communications tower. After this the entire final act of the game involves Snake and Liquid fighting, first with Liquid piloting Metal Gear, secondly in a bare handed fist fight, and finally in a car chase before Liquid is killed by the FOXDIE virus (which was injected into all members of FOXHOUND at some point except for Snake and Ocelot). Following his appearance in Metal Gear Solid Liquid was named the "Greatest Villain of All Time" by IGN.

Revolver Ocelot - Revolver Ocelot is introduced in Metal Gear Solid and is a Russian gunslinger who specialises in interrogation. He serves as Liquid's right hand man and encounters Snake twice, the first time while Snake is attempting to rescue ArmsTech president Kenneth Baker, the second time is when Ocelot tortures Snake while he is captured. Once the mission is complete he is the sole survivor of the FOXHOUND unit. After the game credits have rolled it is revealed through a one-way phone call the Ocelot is secretly a double agent sent in by the US President to recover REX's dummy warhead data.

Vulcan Raven - Vulcan Raven is the Inuit member of FOXHOUND who wields a giant Vulcan cannon and has shamanic powers of intuition. Raven was also an employee at Big Boss's fortified nation of Outer Heaven prior to his involvement at FOXHOUND. In Metal Gear Solid he does battle with Snake twice, the first battle with Raven in an M1 Abrams tank, the second in a freezer with Raven being killed. During his death scene he gives info on the real identity of the DARPA Chief (who is the first hostage Snake rescues. He mysteriously dies moments after he tells Snake about Metal Gear REX.

Cyborg Ninja/Gray Fox- Gray Fox appears in the form of a "Cyborg Ninja" in Metal Gear Solid. He is equipped with a powered exoskeleton and katana that can slice through steel. Throughout the mission he provides Snake with anonymous messages via Codec, using the pseudonym "Deepthroat". Snake does battle with Fox in a laboratory while on his way to rescue Hal Emmerich, a scientist held captive. Fox assists Snake in destroying the radome on Metal Gear REX, but is killed by REX, being piloted by terrorist leader Liquid Snake.

Psycho Mantis - Psycho Mantis is a psychic expert for the FOXHOUND unit. Prior to joining FOXHOUND, he worked with the KGB and the FBI. His special abilities include the psychic powers of psychokinesis and telepathy. He also claims to be able to read the future, but this is implied to be a use of telepathy to find out what his opponents will do next as opposed to true clairvoyance. In Metal Gear Solid Mantis encounters Snake twice, the first time he takes control of Meryl's mind, the second encounter he and Snake do battle, with Mantis being defeated.
When Solid Snake faces Mantis, Mantis demonstrates his psychic powers by breaking the fourth wall. In the pre-battle cut-scene, he activates the controller's rumble feature, then reads the player's memory card and comments on how often you saved the game and your preference on certain other games. In the original PlayStation game, he reads off the titles of Konami's other games while in the remake Twin Snakes, he reads Nintendo's games. Then, at the beginning of the actual battle, Mantis causes the screen to go completely black except for the words "HIDEO" in green all capital text in the top right corner of the screen, much like TV or VCR on-screen-displays, in an attempt to throw the player off. He was truely a boss that not only confused the player character Snake, but also the player.

Sniper Wolf - Sniper Wolf is the Kurdish sharpshooter of the FOXHOUND unit. Though snipers usually work in pairs, Sniper Wolf works alone. She is also another "disciple" of Big Boss, the antagonist from the previous two Metal Gear games. In Metal Gear Solid she fights Snake twice, the first time results in Meryl being captured, and Snake being tortured, in the second battle she is killed.

Decoy Octopus - Decoy Octopus is a member of FOXHOUND, and, with the rest of his unit, went rogue during the Shadow Moses island incident. Octopus specialises in impersonation. In Metal Gear Solid he impersonates the DARPA Chief after Ocelot killed him, and is killed by the FoxDie virus. He is the only member of FOXHOUND whom Snake does not fight.

And of course....

Metal Gear REX - Metal Gear REX, designed by Dr. Hal Emmerich, is the model of Metal Gear that appears in Metal Gear Solid. It is characterized by a railgun that, as is revealed in the game, can deliver undetectable nuclear warheads to anywhere in the world. In addition to its railgun, REX differs from the preceding Metal Gear D in that its legs are heavily armored and reinforced, not vulnerable like its predecessors'.

The Metal Gear REX has near-impenetrable compound armor, a pair of vulcan cannons, anti-tank missiles, and a free-electron laser, to protect itself from conventional forces. Its primary weapon, however, is a magnetic railgun capable of delivering an untraceable nuclear warhead anywhere in the world, without the propellant trail or launch flare that gives away the launch position of a traditional ballistic missile. Because of its sealed, one-man cockpit and thick armor, its sensors are concentrated in a radome on the left side of its body; this radome is very vulnerable to attack, and destroying it effectively blinds the REX, forcing the cockpit to open. In this state, the REX is vulnerable as its controls can be easily destroyed (In Metal Gear Solid, Emmerich, states that this was intentional, declaring that nothing can be complete without a "character flaw").

In Metal Gear Solid, weapons company ArmsTech bribes DARPA chief Donald Anderson to get covert US government funding for development of Metal Gear REX, and sends a single prototype to be tested at a nuclear weapons disposal facility on Shadow Moses Island. However, the Shadow Moses facility is taken over by the rogue special forces unit FOXHOUND, who then attempt to use it as leverage to extort the US government.

It is revealed in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty that Revolver Ocelot, the sole FOXHOUND survivor, escapes with the blueprints for REX, however, and soon sells them onto the black market. As a result, variants of REX spread worldwide. The Metal Gear RAY is designed in response, to combat these variants of REX, and render them useless.

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater fills in the background of Metal Gear REX. According to that game, the idea for REX originates with Aleksandr Leonovitch Granin, a Soviet weapons designer, who compares it to the theory of the missing link between apes and men. He shows Naked Snake (who is actually Big Boss, more on this later) his design drawings, which appear quite similar to Metal Gear REX, calling it the missing link between infantry and artillery. Infantry can go anywhere but are easily destroyed and carry limited firepower. Artillery can inflict and sustain far more damage, but are at the mercy of terrain. In short, for a tank to be perfect, it needs legs. At the end of Metal Gear Solid 3, Ocelot reveals he stole these designs from Granin.

Additional Content

As is standard with Hideo Kojima nowadays, he releases a directly related game to accompany each of his titles about a year and a half after the main release. In this case, the game was called Metal Gear Solid: Special Missions. The sequels follow ups were named Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance and Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence. More about these in other blogs.

Special Missions offered the player 300 VR missions, some obvious combat based missions, others like taking a photograph of Naomi Hunter or solving a murder mystery. Special Missions also allowed you to play as the cyborg Ninja. If players were exceptionally good at the game, and achieved 100%, they were treated to an image of Metal Gear Ray, the Metal Gear mecha that appears in MGS2.

It would take me too long to go into any real detail on these 300 extra missions, but just take it from me that it was an excellent addition to the series.

It should also be noted that Metal Gear Solid was re-released on the Nintendo Game Cube. The game was re-rendered using PS2 graphics that were achieved in MGS2 and also brought many aspects of MGS2's gameplay over to the original. This game was titles Metal Gear Solid: Twin Snakes, and was arguably one of the most successful games on the Gamecube.

Well there you have it. Maybe I'll take a break from the Metal Gear series in the next blog...we'll see.

The UN is right, you can't be more 'un' than you are now!

~The Damo

Monday 14 May 2007

Great News!

I have learned today that Grand Theft Auto IV will be released on the 16th of October, and Metal Gear Solid 4 will be released on the 17th!!!!! YAY!!!!

Here's the full length MGS4 trailer!!!!!

~The Damo

Saturday 12 May 2007

Elections & Decisions......

So we have a general election on our hands soon. Unfortunately I wasn't 18 fast enough to get on the register so I was a bit pissed off about that. But you know, as they say, it's better to be pissed off than pissed on.

Why then am I writing this? Well I do have an interest in politics, despite what others may think because I have this habit of declaring "I really don't care!", but politics...I do. The shear humour in politics was only really brought to my attention this year in college, simply because I picked up the two free newspapers every morning. A typical article would start:

"A new report into X services shows that there is a problem with Y, Z and W, and the number of Y's has increased/decreased significantly". Then in every article near the end you would have: "Opposition spokesperson B criticised the government for not solving the problem".

Well, let's face it. I don't think anyone expects the government to solve any problem the day after a report is issued, but you know, its obvious all the Opposition set out to do is ridicule the government. Realistically, the Opposition wouldn't be able to do any better. If Fine Gael and Labour were in government now, would we still have the nurses’ strike? Of course we would, nobody can solve the problem of people asking for more pay for less work. Or we have the issue of hospital beds and waiting numbers in A&E's? It's quite clear that if there was a realistic solution to the problem, then the current government would already have implemented it. We know this government isn't incompetent, as they've lead us through the 10 most prosperous years in the State's history. Looking at the election, all parties have promised 2,000 extra beds. Thanks to the panel, we have learned that this was always an issue. The population grows, people get ill, you're going to have a problem and there's nothing you can do.

Traffic. I believe the current government has set up a purchase of the Toll Gates, so that they can be eventually raised permanently, though not until 2012 I believe. Now the Opposition says they can have them raised next year. Like the hospital situation, I have no doubt that if it was feasible for the current government to raise the tolls, they would. The M50. Will always be a problem, no one is going to be able to solve it. As an aspiring engineer, I absolutely love driving by the Lucan Intersection so I can see the work that’s going on, and let me tell you, it is a real modern solution. Total removal of traffic lights, allowing for free flowing traffic, coupled with the removal of the toll gates (to the right), I do believe the solution will work. Already we have seen that both the Dublin Port Tunnel (ignoring the height mess up) and the LUAS are two other projects which stand to success for the current coalition. I can tell you that travelling on the quays in town in the mornings is really a more pleasant experience now than what it was. The Greens have promised a LUAS for Cork.....WHY??? I am sorry, but Cork with a population the quarter of Dublin is not in the need of any kind of mass transit system. I suppose they'd want a metro aswell.

I really could go on, but you just have to look at each manifesto and see that there is very little difference between any of them. Am I bothered whether Fine Gael and Labour take over? Not entirely, as I'm sure they will do as good a job as Fianna Fail and the PD's did. The only doubt I have with the alternate coalition is their attitude to Shannon. I discussed this issue with Ann Marie; I'm more of a 'be on America's side rather than just piss them off' kind of person. They've only done good things for our economy realistically speaking, and despite the fact that we are officially 'neutral' and all that, they're more our 'allies' than our 'enemies'. I'm also not a huge fan of Labour's pledge to lower voting age to 16...which is ridiculous if you ask me. However I do like their plan for Dublin, including the flat fee for Dublin bus. How much will that cost the state? Who knows? They'll find some other way to tax us anyway.

Do we want two men from Mayo running the country? Or should we stick with Bertie who's one of the ladz?

Time will tell...

~The Damo

Friday 11 May 2007

The Renaissance of Heavy Metal

This year sees the release of two albums from the two Gods of heavy metal; Metallica and Megadeth. Now this has happened before, but this year has added significance as both bands head out to redefine heavy metal music.

Let's take you back to when both these bands were at their beginnings (and their best!). The 1980's and (very) early 90's. In this time Metallica released Kill 'em All (1983), Ride the Lightning (1984), Master of Puppets (1986), ...And Justice for All (1988) and Metallica (1991). During this time there was no comparison to their dominance and style. Every song on these albums was a masterpiece, any of them could be played at any live performance today and the fans would go home happy. Last year they played the entire Master of Puppets album at every stop on the tour in recognition of the albums' 20th anniversary.

Now after that things went slightly downhill. The next album we had was Load (1996) five years after the Black Album. Fans expected it to be the equivilent of "Black Album 2". Not the case. While the album had its hits such as "Until It Sleeps" and "King Nothing", the general feel from the album was a disappointment. The same can be said for Reload (1997) which contained the remaining songs from the same recording sessions as Load. Though slightly better, including songs like "Fuel", "Memory Remains" and "Unforgiven II", the songs still failed to reach the summit that had been conquered and flagged by the albums from the 80's.

1998 saw the release of Garage Inc. a cover/compilations album. This album was of shear quality. By far the best thing released since The Black Album, but also because it included songs from the semi-unreleased album Garage Days Re-visited which was recorded in 1987. So obviously the calibre of songs from this time was good. In 1999, we were treated to S&M, which was a live performance recorded with San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Michael Kamen. The songs played were from a mix of their albums, but the singing and playing was by far at the best it had been for a long time. We also heard for the first time 2 other songs, written especially for the occasion, namely; "No Leaf Clover" and "-Human". Would these two songs appear on the next studio album? Following that Metallica performed the song "I Disappear" for the film MI2. Would this song also appear on the next album?

The answer was no. Instead, in 2003, we were plagued by the god-awful St. Anger. There are too many problems to name here. Some of the issues were: no guitar solos, grunge sound to the music, repetitive lyrics, too many filler tracks. The only tracks worth mentioning are the ones that had a video; "Frantic", "St. Anger" and "The Unnamed Feeling". Strangely enough this album appealed to more non-heavy metal fans than anything else. Something had to be done!

The band toured in 2003, 2004 and 2006. They took a break out in 2005. In 2006 we learned that a new album was in the works, and we were assured by the band themselves that the music would go back to their roots. They fired their producer Bob Rock and instead brought in Rick Rubin, who has worked with the RHCP, System of a Down and Rage Against the Machines. During the 2006 tour, certain stops (not including Dublin unfortunately) were treated to "The New Song" (see above) which will appear on the new album. After hearing it only once, we knew it was an incredible step up from St. Anger. We had the return of Kirk's solos, a return to 8 and a half minute tracks and decent drumming on Lars' part. The Asian leg of the tour were treated to "The Other New Song", a shorter song which was reminiscent of Garage Inc.. Later on, Metallica's guitar interpretation of "The Ecstasy of Gold" (see below) was leaked to youtube, a further indication of good things to come.

It is quite evident that Metallica have managed to bring about a renaissance in their style of playing, a feat which was achieved by Megadeth in 2004.

In the early 80's, Megadeth were formed after Dave Mustaine, the then lead guitarist in Metallica was fired. It is no wonder then that Megadeth are up there with Metallica at the forefront of heavy metal. In 1985, they released their first album Killing Is My Business...And Business Is Good!, followed by Peace Sells..But Who's Buying? (1986), So Far, So Good....So What! (1988), Rust in Peace (1990), Countdown to Extinction (1992) and Youthanasia (1994). I'll stop there. Arguably the last three albums mentioned are the best. With Countdown to Extinction being the Megadeth equivilent of Metallica's Master of Puppets and Youthanasia the equivilent of the Black Album.

After than, Megadeth went through a bad phase like Metallica. Their albums really failing to produce anything special, with Risk (1999) and The World Needs a Hero (2001) being the bottom rung of the way things were going. Unfortunately things got worse, when Mustaine was told he could never play guitar again after injuring his arm by sleeping with it over a chair. As a result, Megadeth released Back to the Start, a greatest hits album.

However, shock horror, we learned around 2003 that Megadeth were beginning work on a new album, released as The System Has Failed in 2004, which in my opinion rivals Countdown and Youth for shear masterpieces. Everything is right, sound, voice clarity, everything. Then in late 2006, we learned that Megadeth were once again hitting the studio for the album United Abominations out today. Unfortunately I haven't bought it yet, but Mr Conway tells me that it's absolutely brilliant, better than System. I've only heard one song off it which is a new version of 'A Tout le Monde', which originally appeared on Youthanasia. This one is also better thanks to the wonderful singing of the ever so foxy Cristina Scabbia of Laguna Coil.

Bring on Metallica's 9th studio album this summer!!! Complete the Renaissance!

~The Damo

Thursday 10 May 2007

The Simpsons....Possible Solution?

The Simpsons...a solution? What are you talking about? Well really, that's asking two questions.

One: You could be saying, what's wrong with the Simpsons that they need a solution?


Two: mean you have a solution!!!!!

If you are of question 'One' above, then you will no doubt be unhappy with the direction of this blog. Or, if you are from question 'Two' then you may find this interesting.

The Simpsons hold a hallowed place in everyones' heart. I don't know anyone that doesn't watch them, and I'm certain that anyone and everyone stuck for something to watch would gladly sit down and flick to one of the Sky channels and watch an old classic episode of America's favourite family.

That's the catch isn't it. "Old classic episode". If you are from my clique of sorts, you will know that we highly disapprove of the Simpsons "new" episodes. I can remember when I was smaller, waiting until 6.00 (or 6.30 depending) every Sunday to watch the 'new' episode of the Simpsons. I even remember the landmark 300th episode, the build up, the hype, the excitement. That was when the Simpsons were funny, so many jokes that you would laugh for ages afterwards.

Then we heard that the Simpsons were going to come to an end. Yes we were sad and we'd hoped for more. Little did we know what the Simpsons would become afterwards.

In case you haven't got it by now, I don't don't find the new Simpsons to be funny at all. It has become a kids programme. Rarely will we hear nowadays words such as 'bastard' or 'sex' in the Simpsons. Why did we used to? Because the Simpsons when they began were aimed at an older age group, kindof like what Family Guy is aimed at. All in all I don't like the Simpsons anymore really. They rely now on celebrities to make the show interesting. For instance, word had spread as early as 6 months in advance that Metallica (my fav band) would appear in the Simpsons. Now naturally I assumed they would have a role similar to what U2 had in their episode. No. Not the case. Instead we get a lame scene with Otto driving by, seeing that their tour bus has broken down, and some suck ass joke about Lars' mother dating Moleman or something like that. Absolutely shocking. What happened to funny moments like the ones we had with N'Sync. The hype to that episode was that Bart would be in a boyband, not that N'Sync would feature.

The biggest sign of how bad things have gotten for the Simpsons is that we are going to have a movie this summer. Quite possibly the most obvious commercial money hoarding ploy EVER. I don't have to watch it to know how much ass it's going to suck. If the new episodes are anything to go by, I can safely say I won't be going to see it....unless I'm dragged along by Donal, Chrissy and co. to check it out, then get pissed and bitch about how bad it was.

So what do I think can be done to make it better? Well the idea occured to me when I was watching one of my favourite programmes of all time - Red Dwarf. Between the end of Season 2 and the beginning of Season 3, the show "Red Dwarf" went under a major overhaul. The sets were redesigned, characters costumes (namely Rimmer) were changed and an old character who was originally not intended to be a permanent character - Kryten - joined the show on a permanent basis. They also replaced male Holly (that's the computer) with the female Holly which we met in the final episode of Season 2. The same happened from Season 5 to 6 and from 7 to 8. From Season 5 to 6, we learn that they had actually LOST the Red Dwarf ship and were now stranded on Starbug (that's a drastically smaller shuttle type craft). In Season 7, they were still on Starbug, except Rimmer left and was replaced by Lister's love icon Kristine Kochanski. Then from Season 7 to 8, the Red Dwarf was rebuilt, along with the original crew (including Rimmer) which allowed for a whole host of new plot lines and character development.

It was this change that allowed Red Dwarf to grow in popularity, and ultimately the addition of both Kryten and Kochanski were the right way to go. Needless to say the jokes got better with each series, and arguably when Rimmer returned in Season 8, that was by far the most hilarious series of the lot.

The same can be said for South Park. As a bloke, I find South Park to be one of the funniest programmes ever, though it seems to be a male thing, as a lot of women don't like South Park for whatever reason. They too changed the scene and characters, namely with the exit of Kenny and the introduction of characters like Butters, Timmy and Jimmy. Like Red Dwarf, Kenny came back in the same manner as Rimmer and the programme only got better.

So how does this solution apply to the Simpsons. Well programmes such as Red Dwarf and South Park have shown that both change and progression in the timeline make the shows better. This is what I believe the Simpsons need to do. Look at it, we have had over 300 episodes of the exact same characters, in the exact same time period (and by time peroid I mean where they are in school. I'm aware that the years change). Would it hurt them to move them on a few years, have Bart get out of 4th grade, Lisa move up, Maggie go to Kindergarden (sp?) etc. That opens up for new characters and places. It's at a point where we can nearly predict what each of the main characters will do or say. Let's face it, the episode when Lisa sees into the future was interesting and entertaining because we were seeing Springfield several years on, yet we had no new characters. The introduction of 'Roy' in the Poochie episode could've gone places in my opinion. Why not introduce new kids to the class? We get one episode with Alison, and then we only see her in subsequent episodes thereafter. Killing Maude off was the right way to go, it added a whole new aspect to the Flanders' lives.

That's the only thing they've been consistent with. Lisa's change to Buddhism didn't really have any kind of effect on the whole thing. Why not give Bart a (permanent) girlfriend or something? Have Maggie talk now and then? Some new corporate tyrant to match Mr Byrnes? Simply anything to give outselves a change. A change which I know would be for the better.

Am I being too harsh on the matter? Is the Simpsons still as funny as it used to be? What's your solution?

Leave it in the comments if you have a chance, I'd greatly appreciate other peoples' insights!

Holy water is made of J2O, Jesus Dioxide!

~The Damo

Tuesday 8 May 2007

Resume - A Thought


Razors pain you;

Rivers are damp;

Acids stain you;

And drugs cause cramp.

Guns aren't lawful;

Nooses give;

Gas smells awful;

You might as well live.

(by Dorothy Parker)

I saw this today and thought it was very thought provoking, I certainly think so anyway.

Thursday 3 May 2007

Greatest Games of All Time!! - Issue 2

For this one I'm going to discuss the first in a series of several games, the 3 of which I will discuss being from the Playstation and PS2 range. Other games in the series began on Nintendo, with remakes and portable versions appearing on later Nintendo systems. What I'm talking about is of course the "Metal Gear" series, created by the genius that is Hideo Kojima.

The first game in the series entitled "Metal Gear" follows the mission of Snake, the newest recruit of FOXHOUND and clone of the legendary Big Boss (discussed later and in more detail in future Issue). The game is set in the year 1995 and takes place in South Africa. His mission is to infiltrate Outer Heaven (a fortress), rescue Gray Fox (who is also in FOXHOUND) and later to destroy Metal Gear itself. In the turn of events it emerges that Big Boss is in command of Outer Heaven, and wanted to use Metal Gear to make Outer Heaven a world Superpower. Ultimately, Snake defeats Big Boss and destroys Metal Gear, but whether or not Big Boss survived the explosion of Outer Heaven is left in mystery as Snake receives a message saying: "We will meet again!".

Following the success of the "Metal Gear", Hideo Kojima put into development the sequel: "Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake". This however only appeared in Japan, instead Europe and the US got an inferior game entitled "Snake's Revenge", developed by a different company.

In "Metal Gear 2", Snake has come out of retirement following the Outer Heaven incident to work for FOXHOUND once more, this time under the command of Roy Campbell. This time the game is set in 1999. Snake is ordered to rescue Dr. Kio Marv from Zanzibar Land (similar to Outer Heaven). Snake meets the same doctor from the previous game who designed the Outer Heaven Metal Gear and learns that Big Boss survived and is in control of Zanzibar Land and also is forcing into production a new Metal Gear called "Metal Gear D". The pilot of Metal Gear D is revealed to be Snake's former buddy Gray Fox. Eventually, Snake retrieves the OILIX formula which Dr. Marv developed, defeats Gray Fox in hand to hand combat and kills Big Boss for the second and last time.

It is following these two games that brings to this Greatest of All Time, "Metal Gear Solid".

Metal Gear Solid

Console: Playstation and PC
Released: 1998


Metal Gear Solid's protagonist is Solid Snake, a legendary infiltrator and saboteur. During the mission, Snake receives support and advice via radio. Colonel Roy Campbel, Solid Snake's former commanding officer, supports with mission advice and battle tactics. Campbell is joined by Naomi Hunter, who gives medical advice; Nastasha Romanenko, who provides item and weapon tips; and Mei Ling, who saves the player's progress onto a memory card.
The main antagonist of the game is Liquid Snake, leader of FOXHOUND. An elite special forces unit, it contains experts specializing in unique tasks. Members are discussed in Issue 2.5. Other characters include Meryl Silverburgh, the niece of Roy Campbell; Dr. Hal "Otacon" Emmerich, the lead developer of Metal Gear REX; and Cyborg Ninja, a mysterious cybernetically-enhanced agent who opposes both Solid Snake and FOXHOUND.

In 2005 (six years after the events of Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake), FOXHOUND and the genetically-enhanced Next-Generation Special Forces unit lead an armed uprising at Shadow Moses, a remote isle located in Alaska's Fox Archipelago and the site of a nuclear weapons disposal facility. In the process, they acquire Metal Gear REX, a nuclear-capable bipedal tank, threatening the U.S. government with a nuclear reprisal if they do not receive a large cash ransom and the remains of the "legendary mercenary" Big Boss. Solid Snake, in retirement at Alaska's Twin Lakes, is forcibly dispatched at the request of Colonel Roy Campbell to penetrate the terrorist defenses and neutralize the threat.

The details of the game's story can be found here:


I've listed the main ones above, and in Issue 2.5 I'll be addressing the villains.

Solid Snake - I've detailed much of Snake's past in the opening paragraphs. In
this game however, Snake is confronted by his brother Liquid Snake, and we learn that they were both cloned from Big Boss. Also, Snake meets the cyborg Ninja, who is revealed to be Gray Fox, who was found virtually dead after the Zanzibar Crisis.

Meryl Silverburgh - Meryl Silverburgh serves as Solid Snake's sidekick and love interest in Metal Gear Solid. She is former FOXHOUND commander, Roy Campbell's niece, and a member of the "Next Generation Special Forces" (reserve members of FOXHOUND). During the mission she is captured and subjected to torture and "things even worse than that". In the end she escapes with Snake, provided that the player did not submit to the torture. Meryl plays a key role in Snake's first encounter with Sniperwolf.

Colonel Campbell - Snakes advisor. He contacts Snake throughtout via codec, helping the player with hints to progress further in the game aswell as tips on certain bosses. He was the original leader of FOXHOUND, preceeded by Big Boss and succeeded by Liquid Snake. Campbell has the upmost respect and confidence in Snake's ability, but leaves Snake in the dark on key issues regarding the mission, and is temporarily removed from command by the Secretary of Defence.

Naomi Hunter - Medical advisor. Whilst 'healing' isn't a huge factor in MGS1, she often details information about Snake's nanomachines, and other drugs in his system. Later it is revealed that she administered the lethal FOXDIE drug to several operatives in the simulation, not including Snake of course. She isn't overly fond of Snake, who thinks of him as a ruthless killer, and is suprised when Snake shows compasion for Meryl. She also gives Snake information regarding Gray Fox's transition to the Cyborg Ninja.

Mei Ling - The technical advisor. She offers Snake information regarding any technical equipment he is using such as his soliton radar and the codec. She is responsible for saving 'status', i.e. when you want to save, you call Mei Ling on your codec. She completely idolises Snake, and often refers to him as the 'Legendary Solid Snake'.

Otacon - real name Hal Emmerich. Otacon stands for Otaku Convention, as his character is a fan of Japanime. Otacon is one of the chief designers of Metal Gear REX, or more importantly its software. Snake is sent to rescue Otacon after meeting the Arms Tech President, who tells Snake that Emmerich is his best chance to destroy REX. When Snake reaches his lab, we see Otacon corned by the Cyborg Ninja. Snake defeats the Ninja and part of the Gray Fox history is revealed. Otacon then assists Snake for the remainder of the game by providing him with information regarding the base.


Unless you've actually played MGS1, it is very difficult to explain how the gameplay works. The premise of the entire game (and of the entire series) is STEALTH. This is no typical shoot 'em up game. YOU WILL NOT SURVIVE if all you do is shoot. The idea is to sneak around avoiding detection. Should you be detected, spotted by a guard for example or trip a sensor, the game immediately enters 'Alert' mode. A timer replaces your map which shows a red countdown timer. Guards will come after you, chase you, shoot you and try to kill you outright. Of course you can fight back, but you can't keep it up forever cause they'll keep coming! Should you manage to escape, the game then shifts to 'Evasion' mode. You still don't have access to your map, and the red timer is now replaced with an orange timer. In this mode the guards will search EVERYWHERE for Snake. They know you're out there. Should you be caught, you return to alert mode. Assuming you find a super cool hiding place, the orange timer will go down, gameplay will revert back to normal, and you will once again have your map.

Speaking of the map, it shows Snake's location, guards locations, the guards field of vision, cameras and their field of vision, door and everything else. Should you enter a guard's/camera's field of vision, that's when they spot you and you enter alert mode.

Snake has numerous tricks however to avoid being seen and staying out of alert mode. Now the obvious thing would be to shoot the guard. Now that's ok, but if you have a loud weapon, other guards will kill you. Solution: a silencer. What if you don't have one? Well Snake can knock out the guards with kicks and punches, or he can run up behind them, grap them and snap their neck for a silent kill.

Or he can just avoid killing altogether!! If Snake presses himself up against a wall, by pressing the 'ACTION' button, Snake will tap on the wall and lure the guard in that direction, thus clearing the way for Snake to run around through a door or whatever.

But how then do you avoid cameras? Two ways: one throw a chaff grenade which disrupts the camera but also knocks out your radar or, wait for the camera to swivel around, then slowly walk along pressed against the wall until you're standing right underneath the camera at it's blind spot. Then when it swivels the other way, peg it!!!
Other bits of particular gameplay come in say when you are descending the communications tower on the rope, with the Hind D chopping away at you, or the closing sequence where you man the machine gun on the back of the jeep, or when you are being tortured by Ocelot.
Now all this gameplay has only gotten better in MGS2 and MGS3, which I will detail in a later blog.

This is a tricky one really. The game feels very long...especially when you play it for the first time, but subsequent times the game flows much faster, partly because you know what's coming up. At two discs it's long enough. This issue was corrected in MGS2 and 3, by increasing the number of guards, number of cameras, mines, longer boss fights, etc. as you upped the difficulty.


MGS1 is certainly not as replayable as FF7 but it does have a good re-playability factor though. This ties in with the unlockables below.


They're are a few, but once again this was greatly improved upon in the later games and the way you unlocked things was also greatly improved. This I will discuss another time!

Completing the game will get you 'The Camera', which you can use to take pictures and save onto a Memory Card.

Completing the game three times I believe replaces Snake's sneaking suit with a tuxedo.

Completing it four times I think will then replace the Tuxedo with the Cyborg Ninja's armour.

The only thing the player can decide is whether Meryl survives. In the torture scene with Ocelot, if you submit, Meryl dies, and you escape with Otacon. This results in you unlocking the 'Stealth Camouflage’, which renders you INVISIBLE to everyone and everything except bosses and animals. Which is very handy for all that sneaking. If you don't submit, Meryl survives, and you escape with her. She gives you the 'Bandana', which gives you unlimited ammo. It can be quite handy for tricky boss fights or messy encounters with the guards.

So that's this one for the moment, and here's the summary. Stay blogged for Issue 2.5!!!

Story/Plot: 10
Characters: 10
Gameplay: 910
Longetivity: 7
Re-playability: 7
Unlockables/Secrets: 10 (Only because the Stealth Camo is so entertaining!)

With the movers and shakers!!
~The Damo

Tuesday 1 May 2007

Some Videos While You Wait!

Since I'm quite busy working on my latest blog: Greatest Games of All Time 2, I thought I'd just leave you here with a few videos that I think are necessary for you to watch.

The first is the Sephiroth and Cloud battle at the end of the film: "Final Fantasy 7: Advent Children". I mentioned this in my blog about the game FF7 and I figured it was necessary for you all to pay homage to time and effort that went into this piece. Listen carefully for the One Winged Angel tune in the back!

The second video here is from one of favourite TV shows of all time, Red Dwarf. This is the opening sequence to Series 7 Episode 2 "Stoke Me a Clipper". It features the character Ace Rimmer who rescues the fair Princess Bonjela!!!

Here we have Rimmer (played by Chris Barrie) in one of his more....shall we say...obscure moments. Series 5 Episode 4 "Quarantine"

The CLITORIS joke from Series 3 Episode 3 "Polymorph".

And last but not least another Ace Rimmer moment from Series 4 Episode 5 "Dimension Jump"


Strictly butter side up!
~The Damo