The Game Sadist: Metal Gear Solid Series and the Unwilling Informant Mode

The Game Sadist

Metal Gear Solid is one of those games that’s baked into my skull.  I played it not long after its release on the PS1 and I loved every second of it as a teenager and there you have it. It is a game of sneaking around and getting into things without being caught, and when you did get caught it was a  matter of finding a good hiding spot. It was well-researched*, exhaustively lengthy in its exposition, and full of tiny details that you as a player could exploit. It’s not as good as it thinks it is, sadly, but that’s only because it takes itself a little seriously at times; that being said it was cleverly crafted experience that set a high personal bar for what games could be.

The sequel, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, was eagerly anticipated. Being the patient (not to mention perpetually poor) gamer I was, I had to wait and  learn second-hand of the storyline’s major twist via magazine reviews. Eventually I did have a chance. I did not have a console at the time, but I was willing to snatch up a copy of the Substance version of the title for the Xbox and play it at my friend Tony’s place. Let me tell you, MGS2 is a multiplayer game if you have good friends who are willing to test the limits of what it had to offer.

The uproarious laughter was our constant companion. We fought our way through the Tanker, testing the limits of the game engine. Crawling along just out of enemy view, taking out enemy radios, testing out the roll-jump to see what we could get away with. Aiming in the first person mode was a first in the series, and with it you could do a lot of fancy tricks, like dick shots! You can shoot hundreds of dicks in MGS2, and each one is more satisfying than the last, so if you haven’t played it you’re kind of in for a treat.

Oh boy could you fuck with some guards in MGS2.

So the guards in MGS2 are patrolmen, usually moderately well-armed and generally observant of their immediate (and I mean immediate) vicinity.  If they see you, or if you injure one, they will call for backup. Backup comes in the form of well-armed shock troops who will absolutely ruin you, so the mechanics are certainly pushing you towards remaining undetected in the first place. Tony figured out that we could shoot the radios with a silenced weapon and the patrolman(somewhat bewilderingly) would not notice. We would then assure that no other patrols were on the scene, and pop out in front of the dude and hold him up.

The guy freezes, holds his hands up. So he can’t shoot me back, I take a shot into his gun arm (like a total dick). I let down my guard and he runs away, newly shattered wrist limp at his side. I walk up behind him, not willing to let him get too far. He crouches down, panicking, and reaches behind him to grab his radio. He attempts to use it and then, as the horror started to creep into his gut, he shakes the radio, furious at the universe for taking his last salvation away. He vocalizes the flavor of that failure:

“It’s broken.”

Then I fill ’em full of darts! Having whipped out my dart gun filled with Benadryl, I start shooting darts at his crotch. It turns out testicle shots force a sleepytime state instantly, so there sits this dude, scared out of his fucking mind, hand probably ruined for life, slumped in the corner of a boiler room with little letter Z’s floating over his head. Mission Accomplished!

OK, so we realized that we had to see what would happen if we were to have more than one charge at a time. Certainly if there were two incapacitated guards, they would try to help one another? When we played as Raiden later (spoiler alert!) we tried it out. This time we busted out 3 radios, then we took out both hands and one foot each with a pistol, leaving us with 3 disabled guards on the first deck of some strut out in the ocean, all asleep so we could process them more efficiently. Two of them woke up, and wouldn’t you know it, they really are just trying to get the hell away from you at that point. They would drag their sorry skinbags across the room, and once they each individually realized that help was not on the way, they broke for the door. It broke our hearts that all we could really do was knock them over time and again; all we really wanted was for them to notice each other, that in this dark time they still had each other. At the conclusion of our unrequited workshop, they took their broken bodies and stumbled to the nearest exit. Ok, so this part was more sad than fun but it gave us an idea:

Metal Gear Solid 2: Unwilling Informant Mode
Step 1: Capture the Informant!

The first guard you CAN capture, you DO capture. Sometimes you have to make exceptions but for most of the game this is viable. 

What does capture mean? Capturing means you shoot the radio, gun arm, and a leg of the first patrolman you can get to in an area. You can knock him out if you want to but you are not allowed to put him to sleep if you don’t absolutely have to. Remember, sleeping men just sleep away the intel!

Step 2: Protect the Unwilling Informant!

Now, the unwilling informant is going to try and get away because he’s chock-full of  juicy information and he wants it all for himself. He will usually run for the nearest way out of the current map. Your goal in every stage is to keep him alive and away from the entrance that you came into! You know that he’s the informant because he was closest to the entrance, which is exactly where anyone would expect the informant to be.

Step 3: Get the Unwilling Informant to the Exit!

He’s always going to want to go to the one nearest to the entrance, but that is not his fate. No, you sir are going to get the UI to the exit, which means clearing a path (so he doesn’t get caught in the crossfire while you get shot at) and oftentimes corralling him to said exit. This is sometimes a perilous task. It will sometimes require shooting guards or disabling them, which is usually a much more intensive task than simply sneaking by them. You may have to spend more time doing holdups to get enough ammo to finish the Unwilling Informant Mode, but it will be worth it to have the satisfaction of getting the UI to the exit. Once the guard is close enough to the ‘drop zone’, your UI should hobble to the exit. If not, knock him out and drag him to the exit yourself, and take pride in your forever uncredited accomplishment.

Step 4: Shoot the Unwilling Informant in the Dick


The Game Sadist: Stardew Valley and the Long Fall

The Game Sadist

I love games. The older I get, the more I appreciate the really good games and how they can make you feel. When I say ‘feel’ I mean more than just the storyline and whatever any in-game character has to say, but how accomplishment feels. The accomplishment is what gives you the drive to continue, to improve upon a strategy or to crawl though the Skinner box to experience the endorphin rush of getting a new item. Games are good like that, where they can offer the same drive as reading the next page in a novel or watch the next episode of a serial. What’s different about games is that you can sometimes fuck that right to hell, sometimes on purpose.

So let me talk about Stardew Valley for a while. It’s a farming simulator, except it’s really a lot more exciting than that. You create your character and head off to your grandfather’s farm to make a new life, fresh off the high of quitting your soulless job at the Joja corporation. You start with a farmhouse and a lot of land, land that is covered with brush, logs, stones, and otherwise needing a lot of work. That’s Day One, and from there you can make your fortune however you see fit. Buy seeds from nearby Pelican Town and plant crops, taking care to water and fertilize them. Fish the lakes, oceans, or rivers that are nearby. Go to the mines and fight off the resident creatures for jewels and raw metals (if this seems excessive, this game takes place in what must be the most idyllic slice of resource-rich land ever discovered).

Stardew Valley offers up a fantastic game that I love coming back to. It scratches a lot of different itches and it does most of them well. If it doesn’t do a part perfectly (like, for example, the combat is fairly basic) then you are mostly free to not pursue it and move on with farming or fishing or burning the locals.

Oh yeah, burning the locals.

You see, like Mr Smith posited in the movie “The Matrix”, humans can not, WILL NOT accept a perfect, ideal world. And Stardew Valley can reach a point where everything is pretty damned perfect. Take the scenario I found my character T’aint Puhnberg in after approaching year 4 of game time (that’s about 480 in-game days). T’aint was happily married to local crystal enthusiast and waitress at the local pub. They had a child together, humorously named ‘Mistake’, that they nevertheless at least spoke to from time to time to keep them docile. He had barns full of wine casks, which were filled with fruits both domestic and exotic 24/7, producing more money than anyone could realistically spend. T’aint had also captured the hearts and minds of ALL of the residents of the town, even the sentient blob of pitch in the sewer. They loved me, they straight LOVED me, probably because I remembered everyone’s birthdays (I mean, the calendar helpfully tells you what everyone’s birthdays are, this is a small town after all). T’aint would receive pancakes and lumber and berry cobbler and other such goodies in the mail every day. I had a room that was filled with machines that produced diamonds, FIFTY DIAMONDS every couple of days.

Suffice to say, I decided to shake things up.

I decided that T’aint needed to abide by a few new life rules. He had his rise, it was time for him to experience a hedonistic, self-absorbed, bombastic fall. Thus, whereas before I would make sure to give out excellent gifts for the residents on their birthdays, now I was… well, maybe it would be a good time to introduce the list.

Stardew Valley Sadist Rule 1: Research what people hate and deliver that unto them

You can really shatter some illusions about what a kind young man you are by dropping some garbage into the eagerly-anticipating hands of a spindly old lady. If you give people garbage for their birthdays they will be astoundingly offended, so that’s exactly what I was going to do. Those picky little kids went from smarmy to irritated really quickly when I dropped some copper ore in their birthday baskets. I added Void Mayo to the soup at the Luau, and it was just about as satisfied as I have ever been in a video game. I was an anti-gift giving Santa Klaus, like Krampus with better hygene. I hated everyone equally, and everyone would be punished since my choice to self-destruct. Well, to ALMOST everyone. If you could romance them…

SV Sadist Rule 2: Make a Bisexual Love Decagon

The game’s creator made a patch recently where romancing all of the locals of the same sex results in them mass-dumping you, but I am happy to say that I was attempting to make everyone upset with T’aint a bit before that. Meaning, I was able to experience asking everyone in town (that I was not currently married to) on a date. Pierre, the store’s owner, must have been really choking back some words as I asked his daughter to go steady with T’aint by way of the flowers I just bought. This is because  I already asked Elliot, the local writer, if we would be my steady guy, just yesterday. In the very same store in front of Pierre. I’d like to think that T’aint shot Pierre a look that says “Go ahead, say something, look like a peener in front of your daughter”. Anyway, just buy bouquets 10 total times and give them to everyone in town who will take them, and go ahead and continue living this dangerous life you have suddenly made for yourself. Speaking of that,

SV Sadist Rule 3: Abandon Your Creations Like It’s the Bible

Your wife is probably going to be mad. Spouses in this game will lose some points to jealousy if you sleaze up the rest of the town (as I was), and you will *probably* hear about it when you get home. Fortunately, I was able to saunter up to the mayors house, fill out some curated, lawyer-free paperwork, and that night was the night I was single again, no input from spouse required! It was sad to see the life we had created together end, but this is now a pain simulation and by golly we had to follow through. The saddest part is your spouse will take their little ‘me time’ room off of the house when they go, but thems the breaks. I guess I get to keep Mistake, but that just comes down to me ignoring her (him?) every day anyway. That kid must sneak food from the fridge, because I know I never make effort to feed it. I could use an in-game totem to turn my kid into a dove that would take to the skies, freeing me up for further reckless procreation, but I decided that I really hated the idea of it being free. Neglect was more evil, I decided, as T’aint walled the kid off in its room with fluffy toys and a comically large Junimo figurine. T’aint was now well on his way to whatever the opposite of sainthood was, but he knew that there had to be more.

SV Sadist Rule 4: Start Inking In Your Love Decagon

Hey, is it raining and you have at least one person (or in this case, 10) that you are romantically involved with? Then guess what, you are now eligible to purchase a shell from a creepy man on the far side of the beach that is the Stardew Valley equivalent of the wedding band. Elliot was really rocking that boyish smile, so I asked him for commitment right then and there (he lives on the near side of the beach, so call it a marriage of convenience). The next night he moved in. But something felt wrong. Maybe I rushed this whole second marriage thing, especially considering the sexual revolution that T’aint was apparently undergoing at the same time. Thanks to the seemingly perfect law of the land, I found T’aint, sobbing and inconsolable, writing his signature on the second divorce paper of the week. Elliot would have no idea until we demolished his newly rebuilt addition on my house.

To be frank I don’t even remember what he built in there. Books?

Stay tuned for the remainder of the rules and how they improved MY life, if not necessarily T’aint’s life.