Inventory Time: Metal Gear Solid’s PAL Key

The Metal Gear Solid is a bizarre series. Personally I’m a fan of it, I like the ridiculous and the over the top, and so the MGS franchise suits me well. Of all the crazy MGS stuff, and trust me if you haven’t tried the series, there’s a lot of bonkers stuff, one item in particular has perplexed me for decades, that item is the PAL key. The PAL key or the Permissive Acton Link key is an emergency disc that is used to activate or deactivate nuclear weapons. That’s all fine and good but it’s the actual disc and how to use it that I want to talk about today. Obviously this is going to contain spoilers for Metal Gear Sold but nothing too spoilery. If a memory card reading, gas mask wearing, levitating psycho hasn’t persuaded you to play the MGS series then my mild spoiler shouldn’t turn you away for good. With that, let’s talk about PAL, pal!

palkeyred

Towards the end of Metal Gear Solid you discover that the enemy, Liquid, has started the activation process for the nuclear weapons. Not good news. So you, as Solid Snake must deactivate the nukes. Previous plans have failed but you discover the emergency option, the PAL key. In an emergency, 3 discs of data can be input into 3 computers to either activate nuclear weapons or disarm nuclear weapons. These keys are one use and if you mess up the input order or input the same disc by mistake then you’re all out of luck. As Eminem said, ‘You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow nukes’. Pretty sure that was it or close enough anyway, clearly he wrote that rap whilst playing Metal Gear Solid. So Solid Snake checks his infinite pockets and wouldn’t you know it, he only has one PAL key. He gets on his walkie-talkie to his urine soaked scientist buddy Otacon and has a bit of a moan about only having one key. Otacon explains that that PAL key is a 3 in one key. It’s designed with a special Shaped Memory Alloy which allows the key to transform shape so that different discs within the key are readable by a disc scanner. I believe that’s correct, the MGS series is confusing. When in doubt, nano-machines did it. For those who are reading and don’t know what nano-machines are to the Metal Gear Solid franchise, they’re whatever you want them to be. It’s that bit from The Simpsons where Professor Frink asks a really specific question to Lucy Lawless about an episode of Xena where a really specific detail was wrong. And then she responds with this:

Simpsons wizards

Just replace wizard with nano-machines and you’re an expert on the Metal Gear Solid experience. Again, I must reiterate, I love the series for reasons like that.

Back to my PAL! So, this disc can transform and needs to transform for it to be used properly. How do you transform it? I hear you ask. Simple really, by severe changes in temperature. And by severe I mean Sweaty Betty or Chilly Willy. Rubbing the disc in your hands isn’t going to heat it enough and to cool it you can’t just seductively rub ice cubes on it like it’s Kim Basinger. Extreme temperatures are needed to get those 2 states and the 3rd state is just room temperate so that isn’t a problem. To get the key to cool enough you need to head to a freezer area of the facility and wait in that area for the PAL key to cool enough. Once it does, the icon for the item will change to a blue disc and you can then use it on the suitable computer. To increase the temperature of the disc sufficiently, you have to take Solid Snake to a furnace area and have him wait till the disc heats up. Once the disc is heated up, you must make your way back to the computers and input the disc into the correct disc drive. Sound like fun to do in a video game? Of course it is, everyone loves backtracking!

So where is my issue with this? Well, the existence of the PAL key is for emergencies. A trip to a freezer and then a furnace, does not sound like an emergency that is swift, and speed is usually what emergencies require. It’s not like a scientist can pop this PAL key into a microwave to heat it up. Have you ever put food in a microwave that had a small piece of aluminium foil attached to it? I have and I might as well have got the sparklers out and set up a bonfire. Then there is the case of the journey to and from the freezer and furnace. Solid Snake is a clone of Big Boss, the greatest soldier of all time. A high mark for fitness and stamina is required to earn that title. Him running to and from in a timely fashion I can accept. But a regular person? Unless they’ve got Usain Bolt in a lab coat, I don’t think they’re getting those discs anywhere sprightly. An average Joe scientist will be doing a run for 2 minutes, then with winded breath that becomes a jog for another 2 minutes and then a brisk power walk to the freezer. That doesn’t include the trip back or the furnace expedition. BOOM the nukes have detonated and the super mutants are being born.

Giant mechs that roar like a Bionicle T-Rex? Sure, I’ll bite. CD’s that require a hot water bottle and a slushie nearby? Yeah, OK Kojima, where are you hiding the glue? Anyway that’s my shower thought for the day. More than likely I’ll be returning to the MGS series in the future for Inventory Time but in the meantime feel free to check out my thoughts on The Legend Of Zelda’s Iron Boots. Thanks for reading and let me know your thoughts in the comments. Take it easy.

Devil May Cry V Demo Impressions

I was gutted when I couldn’t play Devil May Cry V when the demo released on the Xbox One.  Essentially the one system I don’t have but when the demo was announced for a future date on the PS4, my hopes had been delivered. I try not to watch gameplay trailers nowadays as I like to keep the game mostly a surprise. When a game gets announced that I like the sound of, I’ll have a look at the launch trailer and until launch I’ll watch some GIF’s and an odd video on occasion to get a better feel for a game. Most recently I did this with RE2 Remake. I barely saw anything of that and then a week before release I started paying attention. It feels so good when a thing you’ve just got an interest in, is right around the corner. And it isn’t because I’m not excited for the games, it’s just that I like to trick my brain into not being excited until closer to the time. That hasn’t been the case for DMCV. I’m really craving a great character action game and DMCV is hopefully exactly that. Bayonnetta 2 was the last fantastic one for me with Nier Automata scratching that itch but not wowing me as much as I hoped. And so I’ve been eagerly awaiting DMCV and watching most footage that has come out for it.

Devil May Cry 5 Demo_20190208122636
So happy when I saw this pop up after the demo.

So with my excitement high I jumped into the DMCV demo and here are some of my thoughts on it. I will clarify that even though I said I enjoyed these games, I would never say I’m good at them. I clear them and sometimes on higher difficulties but the style meters and rankings at the end of each mission, have never been my forte. I stopped counting how many stone Enzo trophies I got in Bayonetta. And it’s not that I don’t try to do well, but it’s the same thing for fighting games, I just don’t learn the systems. I don’t have the patience and creative flare for it. I love watching it and when it all comes together for me and I do something cool I get stupid hype for it but I’m not one of those technique masters. Hell, I barely get far in the Bloody Palace’s of previous Devil May Cry’s. The moves that suit me and combos that I can perform easily become my staples in each game. Do they kill the enemies? Yes but they also kill my rankings. The reason why I bring this up is that in my brief time in the DMCV demo (3 attempts with 2 being successful), I can see myself learning the systems. Specifically the Devil Breaker system.

Devil May Cry 5 Demo_20190208120036
An S is very good for me! It does go higher than this. Thought I should tell you before you start worshipping me.

So, my thoughts:

  • Devil Breaker is cool! You have 3 options in the demo: Gerbera, Overture and Punch Line. Up to 4 Devil Breakers can be equipped and each one can be used up if you opt to use its devastating functions.
  • You can’t switch between Devil Breakers without destroying the one you have equipped. I really like this functionality as it makes choosing the order of Devil Breakers important.
  • If you get hit in the process of charging your Devil Breaker or in mid use of its strong attack, it breaks. Fragile but powerful parts of Nero’s arsenal.
  • Gerbera is my favourite and my go to. It’s the mobility arm. Using it to damage enemies creates a short shockwave in front of you but my main use is its air manoeuvrability. Using it in the air while pushing the left stick in a direction will blast Nero a few feet that way. Holding the Devil Breaker button and releasing it in the air will launch bouncing lasers at your target. Holding it on the ground and releasing it, will launch a powerful, controllable beam that can hit multiple targets. A Devil Breaker that seems best suited for crowds of enemies with the option of destroying a bunch in exchange for destroying the arm.
  • Overture is more damaging than Gerbera and seems like a good Devil Breaker to have for standard enemy fodder. Tapping the Devil Breaker button (O) will blast a fracture of electricity from the palm at enemies. This needs to be up close but it does a good chunk of damage to enemies in range. Holding O and releasing it near an enemy will grab and launch the opponent away from Nero. The monster will then have a timed bomb attached to them. You can let the bomb go off when its countdown ends or you can shoot the enemy to prematurely set it off.  A great tool if you can aggro the enemy into its friends.
  • Punch Line is a big dumb flying fist. I love it! By tapping O Nero will launch the rocket propelled fist into his foe. The fist will then repeatedly loop around the victim, smacking it every chance it gets. It’s great for keeping an enemy distracted. By doing that, you eliminate them from the fight for a few seconds or leave them wide open to attack. By holding and releasing O, Nero will do a flaming uppercut to all in range. As you can guess, this does a lot of damage. I feel this Devil Breaker is best suited for stronger enemies or even bosses. The uppercut alone is a big deal as it seems the biggest and quickest damage dealer out of the 3. I may be wrong on that though. Gerbera’s laser is good damage but so easy to interrupt whereas Punch Line’s big finisher is big damage done very quick.
  • Nero’s gun, Blue Rose, can now preemptively load up several high damage bullets. Tapping square will fire bullets like normal but holding down square will load up 3 super charged bullets. When you release the square button, Nero will automatically fire one of those bullets. So the choice is yours, do you run around with 2 super bullets or do you do the charging in combat to get the full 3. It doesn’t take long to charge but I feel happy running around with 2 super shots ready to go.
  • It’s great that Nero still has the ability to pull his opponents close to him, it really does feel like a natural progression from his last game of now being able to pull enemies into his new powered up metal fist.
  • I’m willing to bet that there are a lot of ways to use the Devil Breakers in creative ways around certain enemies and bosses. I didn’t test it out much in the demo but in the boss fight, having Gerbera equipped seemed to be a huge dealing during one bit. Goliath starts inhaling and a massive suction whirlwind starts moving towards you. Using Gerbera I was able to constantly blast Nero through the air away from it. I’m not how you’d escape that otherwise. The other time I tried it I had another arm equipped and as I was getting sucked in, I was prompted to click L1 to launch my arm at him. Losing the arm in the process but evading any damage. I’m really excited to see the weird and unique ways each Devil Breaker can be used in certain situations. I feel there’s a lot of room for hidden techniques and cool moments.
  • I’m not sure how I feel about the running yet. It may be just because I’m so used to the mobility in Bayonetta but Nero does feel me weighty. It’s not a bad thing, I think that suits his style. But when running around out of combat, it didn’t feel as precise to turn as I was expecting. Saying that though, on my 3rd playthrough of the demo I felt comfortable playing but that might be because I knew more of the layout of the level. Only time will tell how I feel about this. I’ll have to see how I feel when the full game comes out.
  • The taunting is brilliant. I never really utilised the taunts in past games. Stupid me didn’t understand why you should taunt but now I understand for style points and to keep the style up during downtime in fights. It really helps that the taunts are incredibly likeable too and the enemies react to certain ones which can be pretty funny and empowering. Great detail that I fully appreciated.

And I think that about does it. There are loads of details I could talk about but I just wanted to get my quick impressions out there. Overall it looks beautiful, it plays for the most part like I hoped and I really excited to keep playing the demo to see what hidden gameplay mechanics I missed. If you fancy trying the game, I highly recommend this demo. Thank you for reading and feel free to sound off your thoughts on the game in the comments.

Devil May Cry 5 Demo_20190208122621

January 2019 Free Time

Would you believe that I spent a large portion of my time on honeymoon, lying lazily on the couch, watching rubbish on TV? With the new wife obviously. If you said yes, then you know me well. The time off work and with my partner was fantastic. Was I productive? Ha, of course not! But you’re not here for productivity so let’s chat about the time I wiled away.

Games

dead-cells logo

Why won’t you let me win, Dead Cells?! Have I not been patient with you and dedicated enough time to you? I have a huge backlog of games to get through and yet there you sit on my PS4 dashboard. Taunting me with the potential of THAT run. The one where I beat the final boss for the 2nd time over my 60+ attempts. After all my 59+ loses, I still adore the gameplay of Dead Cells. Simplistic gameplay with oodles of complexity. What keeps me coming back after each failure is the way I fail in Dead Cells. When I lose, I don’t think the game is being unfair. I die because I get too bold, I play bad or the run just doesn’t come together. That’s what makes a great rogue-lite. When you lose and you can accept the loss. Because you know that you can do it and you will do it on another run. The next run? Only one way to find out! *Goes and plays Dead Cells again*

red-dead-redemption-2

Red Dead Redemption 2 continues to drift in and out of my sessions. It still hasn’t hooked me and I’m at the Epilogue now. So, I think I’m far past the part where I *get it* or it *just clicks* like friends have told me. Not to say I’m not enjoying my time with it to an extent. I think the story and characters are engrossing. It’s just the gameplay in-between which holds it back for me. I’m looking forward to finishing it, purely from a narrative experience but I can’t say I’m racing to play it.

resident-evil-2-remake-claire-740x382

What a fantastic demo that Resident Evil 2 had! The concept of a timed demo seems unfair but it does a brilliant job of giving you that little fix that makes you crave more. Big fan of seeing more demos like it. I hadn’t even planned on buying it and yet my order is arriving tomorrow. I’ve played most of the main Resident Evil series, including 2 but I wasn’t that fussed about replaying it. The overhaul though is extraordinary. Zombies are scary again! Get the champagne out! I only experienced shooting mechanics for a dozen or so minutes but I really enjoyed how it felt. The fact that the aim takes a bit of time to finesse itself so you get an accurate shot is a huge deal to me. No more quick shots RE4 style. Precision is key. Zombies also take a lot to kill which I can fully get behind. And when there bodies hit the floor, I really struggle to tell if they’re dead or not. So much so, that I employed the Zombieland double tap method. In a game with limited ammo, I can see me firing an extra bullet into the deceased deceased as a bad habit. But, we shall see when I start my playthrough. I’m sure you’ll hear my thoughts on the game in the short future.

Films

starship-troopers1

Starship Troopers really holds up! I watched this film when I was 7 or 8 and saw it mainly as a Sci-Fi/Action film. Guns, aliens, yelling and brief nudity were all bonuses to any film for a young lad. My wife was genuinely scared of this film as a child and when we were flicking through the channels on honeymoon (we don’t have a TV license so Sky was a luxury for us) she spotted the film and put it on to show me how gruesome and scary it was. I quickly explained I knew most of the classic quotes of by heart from frequent watching as a child. But when we settled to watch it, it became clear how great the film is. I don’t think the film was big budget but the aliens and special effects look pretty great considering its age. Not only that but the satirical aspect of it was completely lost on me as a child. Seeing all its intentions with an adult mind really made me appreciate the film on another level. And it’s just a great alien killing romp with some pure cheese lines that steal my heart with each watch. If I’m ever in charge of a battalion, ‘Come on you apes, you wanna live forever?’ will be my battle cry. No one alive could resist following me into battle after that rousing line! Highly Recommend

bad times

An interesting film that fizzled out towards the end and slacked in the middle for me was Bad Times At The El Royale. A really intriguing beginning, fantastically shot with a terrific soundtrack and a cast of actors that always stood out to me. The first hour I was fully on board with the mystery and style but it just couldn’t the premise for its almost 2 1/2 long runtime. With its initial setup I was expecting more of a mystery with twists and turns but the film quickly resolved its questions without much fanfare. It made me wonder throughout most of the film if I missed something or when the next big twist was coming. That was possibly my own downfall but it did seem like there should have been more going on than what was handed up, especially with the disjointed first act. But as I said, expecting more mystery is a personal fault in my viewing experience and perhaps not the films fault. I do think the middle drags and I found the end to be a bit bland but strong performances and music kept me interested in this film. I’m glad I watched it and I would suggest watching the film but I don’t think I’ll ever watch this again. Happy I watched it but it’s not very memorable. Light Recommend

Series

killingeve

I finally started Killing Eve. Watched all 8 episodes in one night so that shows you how good I think it is. Basic premise is Eve, a government investigator gets brought in to investigate a murder of a political figure. That’s the first episode and from there it escalates into a game of cat and mouse. The 2 leads are very well acted and the main villain really captures your attention. Fantastic performances all round and what I love about the show is even though it’s a dark series about murder and assassinations, it has a healthy dose of humour and dark humour. Which as a fan of early Dexter, I’m all about! Another praise I have to give this show is that it knows not to drag its feet. 8 episodes long and the plot moves at a good pace. Too many shows have a loose middle now from overextending their plot into more episodes but a lean experience is always more memorable than a drawn out one. Quality over quantity and Killing Eve is a prime example of this. Highly Recommend

Random Recommendation

invincable

For this month I wish to recommend the graphic novel Invincible by the creator of The Walking Dead. This is his attempt at the superhero genre and I think he does an admirable job of creating an entire superhero universe and hero. Mark Grayson is Invincible, a superhero that is essentially Superman but in his Smallville era except it didn’t take 10 seasons for Mark Grayson to learn how to fly. Invincible can fly, is quick, durable and super strength. He wins no prizes for originality but that isn’t what the series is about. Robert Kirkman has taken the highs of comic books and its tropes and recreated them in his vision. For instance, there is a Justice League equivalent where the Aquaman version is literally a walking fish man who is the butt of jokes. Just like how Aquaman was a joke character in general media like Robot Chicken. What I really enjoy about Invincible is how the characters evolve. Heroes have problems and downfalls, they aren’t always on top form like Batman and Superman. Heroes mess up and suffer consequences or change mindsets in a gradual manner. There is a lot of personality and progression with the characters and some of the storylines are great arcs. As I said, a lot of this stuff is borrowed from other comics but after 60+ years of comics it’s hard not to do that. But as I said, Kirkman generally puts his own twist on the tried arcs and brings a new flare to the basics. If like me, you enjoy general comic book films and like comic book characters and like to dip into the comics now and then, I highly recommend Invincible. Part of the reason I only read contained stories in comics like Planet Hulk/World War Hulk is because you can jump into those things with basic knowledge of the characters and the world and just figure the rest out as you go. But if I grabbed a random Spider-Man comic I would be completely lost with what is going on. Invincible has an easy starting point and an end, and at 144 issues, it’s not a huge commitment.

Anyway, that’s me for this month. Hope you had a good month and thank you for reading. Take it easy.