Methods to the Madness – Mulling Your Approach

Mulling Your Approach – How methodical are you when approaching a level?

Every morning I wake up at 05:40, it has to be this time as it allows me to press the snooze button precisely once (in my case, it’s actually ‘tap’ the iPhone screen). The alarm tone is the piano version of The Cure’s ‘Close to Me’; it adds a brief moment of positivity to my morning routine.


Following this singular press of the snooze, I get out of bed, put on some shorts, a vest, my dressing gown then my Norway slippers and make my way downstairs. I pet one of my dogs who has excitedly gotten up to greet me and fill up the kettle to make my morning coffee. The filtered coffee has one and a half sugars, a splash of milk (semi-skimmed) and is stirred approximately fifteen times. Then I sit outside on the bench and take in the morning, it is 06:05, you could say I am a stickler for routine. A particular method to how I go about my days.


Methodical; a simplistic method of approaching the day. A means of having a structured regimen; in order to set the tone for how the day, should (in theory), pan out. The only measured approach I take to any day, shortly before it all turns into a murky mess. But it’s a positive start and I like that.


I apply the same thought process to games, well some of them at least. Most recently, Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes.


Although this is essentially a glorified ‘paid demo’, it is a comprehensive and wonderful little introduction into the world and mechanics that will come to pass on the release of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain on 1st September, which ironically is today… so go out there and buy the damn game already!


Metal Gear Solid: Shit Gon’ Git Hella Cra’y… The Game


I remember the amount of time I spent playing the Metal Gear Solid 2 demo, packed in with Zone of the Enders on the PS2. It was an inordinate amount of time that I lost (or rather ‘gained’) during my time playing the demo. Then when Sons of Liberty came around I could apply my perfected techniques to clearing the game in its entirety… god I felt so good flying through that first section of the game with the grace and style of a ballet dancer (not literally… although that would have been quite a feat from Kojima-san).


In the build up to Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, I have found myself going back and spending some time getting to know the mechanics of Ground Zeroes, in the hope that I can regain that previous grace from other Metal Gear Games.


Methods to the Madness - Metal Gear Solid V

Methods to the Madness – Metal Gear Solid V



“It’s been a while” muses Big Boss, before the cinematic ends and I’m thrust into a rain soaked, windy environment reminiscent of Guantanamo Bay. Bleak is the order of the day. Opaque is definitely not a descriptor for the scenes that follow. Metal Gear Solid, arguably the most methodical of stealth games there are requires you to take a measured approach in order to succeed as well as you might. Sure, you can go bat-shit-insane and run and gun your way through the levels (or open-areas), but usually that attitude is reserved for a second/third playthrough (for the seasoned MGS player), or the initial response of a newcomer to the series.


By taking a measured approach to this series of games, you can take time to appreciate the details and hidden intricacies within the game. The mannerisms of the guards, their predefined routines, and their cold-symptom reactions to the continual downpour. If only they were the genome soldiers featured later in the Metal Gear timeline, they wouldn’t need Lemsip, then again they could always pick up a bottle of ‘Manflu’, it’s only £2 from Boots after all.


The various forms of the 'Genome Soldiers' present in Metal Gear Solid

The various forms of the ‘Genome Soldiers’ present in Metal Gear Solid


Anyway, back on track, methodical… yes, that’s it. As Big Boss, you utilise your vast array of gadgets in order to survey and essentially recce the area. Using your binoculars to ‘tag’ and highlight on your pull-up-map, locations of enemy soldiers, artillery placements and vehicles. Taking the time to ‘tag’ each and every potential threat enables you to gain an insight into how you should go about infiltrating enemy bases with as much ease as possible, nullifying threats and avoiding detection. Thus adding elements of strategy to a game that essentially becomes one big action strategy game, where cover is key and the true success in the game comes from passing through multiple locations without raising alarms.

Every time I play through a Metal Gear Solid game, I already know it will comprise of at least three play throughs. The initial ‘dummy-run’, where mistakes are plentiful in order to ascertain the lay of the land and different ways of completing the objectives. The second playthrough affords me the opportunity to perfect my craft (per se), carefully, silently (and gracefully), completing each mission objective without raising alarms and gathering as much intel as possible through a casual interrogation (and dispatch by blade into the throat) of each guard who carelessly experiences a lapse in attention. The final play through is where I essentially ‘stunt-run’ the game, attempting (the key word here) to stylishly dispatch enemies, using forms of distraction and forceful coercion in order to breeze through each area as swiftly as Big Boss or Solid Snakes genetically superior limbs are able to carry them. In Metal Gear Solid on the PsOne, I played through the game multiple times to unlock each ending, and the additional items such as the ‘unlimited-ammo ability head-band’ (unlocked by refusing to submit to Revolver Ocelots torture) and even the suave (and spectacular) tuxedo.


Solid Snake in the unlock able tuxedo. Screw you James Bond!

Are you out of your mind? You can’t wear that in battle! It’s like saying to the enemy, “Hey, here I am! Shoot me!”


So, now I am curious… how methodical are you when you approach a task within a game?

Answers on a postcard… or in the comments below.

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