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.

Real Neat Blog Award

Recently Megan of A Geeky Gal nominated my blog for a Real Neat Blog Award and to that I want to say thank you.

The Mask

It’s nice to know my ramblings about games are neat enough for a mention and not just me whinging to myself. I mean, they are me rambling or whinging but as long as it’s neat too that’s a good start. Megan set me and a bunch of other bloggers a difficult but fun scenario to theoretically survive. It’s a bit of a doozy and I’ll get to that but first, I want to give a mention to Megan and her great blog. A Geeky Gal is one of those blogs that I read a lot of on my commutes. The posts are just the right size and to the point which makes them perfect for a short ride to work. Specifically the anime related posts which I highly recommend if you’re like me and you like to watch anime but aren’t clued in to what’s good or not and tend to only know of the big name shows like Attack on Titan or One Punch Man. She recently did a 30 day anime challenge which was a fun read and I highly recommend you try that out if you haven’t. In fact here’s a Link for day one of that. So, thank you again Megan and let’s begin your scenario.

Really Neat Blog

The Rules:

  1. Display the Award Logo.
  2. Thank the blogger who nominated you and post a link to their blog.
  3. Answer the questions of the one who nominated you.
  4. Nominate 7-10 bloggers.
  5. Ask them seven questions.

The great and wise Megan has thrown me into a very interesting scenario:

Setting the scene: you’ve just woken up in the hospital. You don’t remember who you are or why you are there. The hospital is completely empty… You dress and head outside into the unknown. You must make some life or death decisions now.

Along with this, A Geeky Gal has provided 7 questions for me to answer and hopefully guarantee my survival. The first one is:

1. You need a partner for the apparent apocalypse that has taken place during your coma. Which video game character do you choose?

My answer is Elizabeth from Bioshock Infinite. Not only is she just a great person to be around but as she as spent most of her life locked away, an apocalyptic world would still be full of wonder to her. I want that level of optimism in my life as no doubt I would be a moody bore pining for my PS4 or Netflix. To Elizabeth everything is new and exciting and I want someone to imbue me what that same energy, if I am going to survive I need to be raring to go and hopeful. Now on to a more practical side of Elizabeth, as I said she’s spent most of her life in a library. With the would reduced to a more basic state, that wealth of information in her noggin is bound to come in handy. With my knowledge of how the world was and Elizabeth’s knowledge of the base fundamentals of the world, I think our chances of basic survival are strong. Then there is her reality manipulation powers! With her powers I could bypass A Geeky Gal’s entire scenario by exiting to a new reality. But that’s no fun so we won’t do that. Nevertheless, Elizabeth has a knack for finding useful items either from her current reality or an arm’s length away in another. An invaluable skill  for the apocalypse if I’ve ever seen one.

Bioshock Elizabeth

2. Great monsters are now roaming the lands you used to call home… what fearsome video game creatures do you see on the horizon?

Honestly with this one I was torn. Giant beasts similar to Deathclaw’s in Fallout would absolutely terrify me but I’ve always thought in games, books or films that even though post apocalyptic monsters are scary, it’s other people that truly are the monsters. That’s why I’ve gone with a more Mad Max approach and chosen the No More Heroes rogues gallery of disturbing and psychotic assassins. These freaks lived their uncivilised lives in a civilised world previously and they were dangerous enough then. They killed for the thrill and to be number one in some weird assassins league that didn’t even seem to have an end goal. I don’t even think there was a prize besides a title! Imagine the lengths they would go to in a world with limited resources. I think this would be their paradise. No rules of society or even the rules of the United Assassins Association to determine who could fight who. It would just be a free for all with murder being their main desire and survival being just a necessity so that they could keep murdering. You wouldn’t want to run into one of these weirdo’s in a dark alleyway.

 

 

3. You must pick a weapon to defend yourself with. What video game weapon do you choose?

I’ve actually had this answer in my head for a long time. The book, The Zombie Survival Guide mentions this and from one type of end of the world crisis to another, the crowbar is the weapon for me. First off, it’s intended use of prying open things. With lots of building’s to loot and resources to gather, the crowbar is the best way to get the job done (besides the key obviously) effectively and quietly. It doesn’t require ammo or petrol to function and requires minimal maintenance. It also functions as a blunt and a piercing weapon. Sure it means you have to get up close to whatever still exists in this world or a No More Heroes assassin, but I would rather trust a classic bonk on the head to a potential rusty gun jamming or a blade being too dull. And the best aspect of a crowbar? I get to pretend to be Gordan Freeman, scientist extraordinaire!

Half Life Crowbar

4. You and your partner are seeking shelter for the night after a long day of fighting. What video game house/apartment/place do you bunker down in for the night?

This was the toughest of the questions for me. I originally thought of DK’s cabin in Donkey Kong Country simply because it comes with a stash of end of the world bananas! Then I remembered that they usually get stolen and also bananas don’t last very long before they go super mushy like baby food. It’s the end of the world so beggar’s can’t be choosers but still….yuck. More on that food issue later though. For my final answer I’ve gone with Sigismund Dijkstra’s Bathhouse from The Witcher 3. Whether the bathhouse is functioning or not, this place still works as a sanctuary that I would consider keeping as mine and Elizabeth’s base. If the water is still running or at least there, that is ideal for us adventurers to have a soak and relaxation after trudging the mostly barren land. The body can only withstand so much before it needs to be soothed otherwise it becomes stiff and rigged, which is terrible in a fight for survival. It would be a great place for a drink of water, to fill up containers and to clean our tools, clothes and gear. If the bathhouse wasn’t functioning as its name implies, it’s still a secure place with big wide rooms which make it ideal to spot any intruders. There is also a secret tunnel which connects to the sewer system for safer traversal in or out.  A handy place for the night and possibly longer.

Witcher 3 Bathhouse

5. You’re getting awfully hungry battling those scary creatures. What video game food is in your pack?

Cans and cans of pickles from Deadly Premonition. Known as The Pickles. Not the tastiest of food but super useful for the current situation. Being in cans, the food is protected from outside damage and also has an extended life compared to those pesky free range pickles. The can itself could also be useful afterwards as either a container or potentially the metal could be used as a weapon of sorts. The brine is also a super useful bonus. Brine is essentially salt and water. It’s used to preserve food for longer periods of time. If me and Elizabeth kill an animal for survival or an assassin for their meat. Again, I’m going to stress this is a hypothetical situation! Would I eat a person? That’s another question for another day and depending on what marinade I had with me. But if me and Elizabeth had too much meat to consume, it would be a shame to let it go to waste. Meat would be hard to come by and a valuable source of nutrients. Brine to the rescue! After cans and cans of pickles our backpacks would be sloshing around with gallons of the salty stuff. Find a way to encase the meat and brine together and voila, longer lasting food. Might taste a bit of pickles but nutrients is nutrients. I believe that brine would function as a good source of drinkable water. Obviously you shouldn’t drink brine in its briny state but if you can separate the salt and the water then you’re good to go. Elizabeth, with her wealth of knowledge should be able to manage that. She’s essentially my Bear Grylls in this scenario and the longer she can keep us from drinking our urine the better.

Can of pickles

6. You and your partner run across more survivors who ask to join your party, but one of them is a little shady. Which video game character is the wolf in sheep’s clothing?

Again, going with the No More Heroes angle, Travis Touchdown. Travis is one of my all time favourite video game characters but would I trust him on my team? HELL NO! The guy is out for himself. Yes, he has a weird morale code when it comes to who he trusts or who he has sympathy for but it is that very word, weird. I wouldn’t be able to process if I was on his good side or not and I believe he would cut me down the second I got in the way of his plans. In the No More Heroes world he wanted to be the top of the United Assassins Association simply because he wanted to be. In this post apocalyptic world, the league is essentially just survival of the fittest. He would still want to be number one of that and I would be a contender in his head. Not only that but you don’t trust a guy who buys a functioning beam katana off an eBay equivalent! You just don’t. Not only that but he worships wrestling, to the point that most of his fighting moves are wrestling moves. Have you watched wrestling before? The amount of turns and story plot twists are out of this world. In Travis’s delusional head, I think he would act in a similar manner just because he once saw it on TV. I can’t trust a guy like that. Also, he hides behind his shades, I don’t trust a man whose eyes I can’t look into. As much as I would love to have him on my team, he’s too much of a wildcard.

Travis_Touchdown-750x395

7. You hear of a place that’s been untouched by the apocalypse. What video game world do you hope it is?

This is short and sweet and pretty self explanatory. Super Mario Odyssey’s Luncheon Kingdom! It’s a kingdom of food. In a survival scenario it’s essentially the dream. Technically in the Mario universe it is a planet but it’s called a kingdom and so I believe it is accessible in my scenario’s reality. It would be the scenario’s version of El Dorado. There isn’t much opposition there either besides Goomba’s and if you pet them on the head they go squish so I’m not worried. My only hope is me and Elizabeth find it before those freaky assassins or before Travis ruins my day.

Mario Luncheon Kingdom

That was a great time! I really enjoyed those questions and I had a lot of back and forth on most of them. Now for my questions and scenario. Apologies for the lengthy questions but I wanted to set the scene a bit too much:

Scenario: You wake up to find yourself strapped to a cold metal table. You glance around and notice a lot of fancy technology but a bunch of stuff that bears a striking resemblance to video game consoles.  You see a bunch of moving things in the corner of your eye. They turn to look at you as you quickly look away from them. You spy a window and quickly realise that you are flying through space. Then it dawns on you, you’re aboard an alien spaceship.

  1. From the darkness you hear the things conversing with each other. It sounds eerily similar to a made up language you’ve heard in a video game. What games language do they sound like?
  2. One of the moving things starts shuffling towards you, as it gets closer you start to make out its shape. You can’t believe it but it’s a being that you know from video games. What is it, from which series and why does that particular being terrify you?
  3. The being realises that it has startled you. It clicks a button and begins talking to you in English. It explains that a translator has been activated and that it can still sense your duress. It says it wishes to play a song for you, a song of your choosing from video games to help calm you down. Which video game song do you pick?
  4. After you calmed down, the being clicks a button and you are released from the table. The being explains that it has been watching Earth for a long time and their race has a fascination with Earth’s video games. They wish to join Earth in its gaming culture and the being explains that they love local competitive video games. The being requests that the two of you play a friendly match together. It requests that you pick any game that has existed on any gaming system (PC included) but that the game must include alien races, as the beings find the exclusion to be upsetting to them. It doesn’t need to their species but something beyond Earth. The being suggests that if you win the game, it will show you around the ship. Realising that this may be your best chance to escape, what game do you pick that you feel confident in winning?
  5. After you win the match, the being praises you to all its fellow crew. They rejoice and hail you as Earth’s champion. The alien then requests you follow it around the ship. As you walk through the long corridors, you come across a wall of familiar weapons. On the wall is dozens upon dozens of weapons from video games. But, the weapons are half and half. The being explains that something went wrong and all the weapons were split in half and then merged with a random weapon. They all worked though and the beings liked the results so they kept them. Amongst the weapons you spot a weapon ideal for your current situation. You lunge for the weapon and proceed to go through with the act of escaping. What weapon fusion have you chosen and why? (For the sake of the following questions, it can’t be a weapon that would get you off the ship.)
  6. After your altercation with the being, you make a dash in the opposite direction from where you woke. As you run you hear a blaring noise and realise that the alarm has been sounded. You enter a new room and before you you see an escape pod. You go to enter the shuttle but quickly realise that you best prepare yourself first. At the back of the room and spy a row of containers, each with a spacesuit. The beings have created fully functioning spacesuits from video games. Each one with the abilities of their video game counterparts and fully stocked with oxygen. How convenient, you think! Which spacesuit do you take and why?
  7. After suiting up, you enter the pod. Before you is a mouse, keyboard and a display screen. The screen prompts you to press the Esc button to launch the shuttle. So you do just that. The escape pod breaks away from the ship and hurtles through space. The screen prompts you to type in your destination. EARTH you type. ‘Insufficient fuel’ the screen unfortunately tells you. The display then prompts a list of choices for you in the vicinity. It details a bunch of prototype worlds that the beings had set up. Each world has been created to resemble a video game world and has Earth’s atmosphere implemented on it. On the list you spy a place that you recognise from your games and you decide that that *Blank* Planet  is ideal for you. What planet is it and why?

My Nominees:

Nerfd

A Dame’s Gotta Game

Extra Life Reviews

HannieBee Games

Hundstrasse

shoot the rookie

Why We Play Games

Black Disc Gaming

Livid Lightning

Best of luck to the nominees, thank you again to A Geeky Gal and thank you for reading my Real Neat Blog post.

Overwatch: Ashe First Impressions

Newcomer Ashe, leader of the Deadlock gang has made her sassy debut on Overwatch. Equipped with her semi-automatic rifle The Viper, a versatile coach gun and a whole lot of dynamite, Ashe is here to give Mcree a run for his money. Oh and B.O.B is here too.

Overwatch-Ashe-Mcree-Blizzcon-Featued-970x545

So, as I said with my previous post about Hammond (Overwatch: Wrecking Ball Impressions), I play mostly Mystery Heroes and besides a quick go of Ashe in the training mode, I’ve had very sporadic opportunity to learn Ashe. But my early impressions are promising, unlike how I felt about Hammond, who I still can’t play effectively. From my understanding and few hours of Ashe, she is best suited to medium range. Sure you can get up close and hip fire with The Viper but its aim is inconsistent. Down the sights is the best way to play Ashe and hip fire for tanks and desperation. The Viper fires one bullet at a time but also reloads one bullet at a time. This means you can cut reload time way down as long as you’re willing to sacrifice bullets in the rifle. The best way to describe Ashe is that she’s the space between Mcree and Widowmaker in terms of range.

Fortunately she has the right tools for her suited style. Primarily the coach gun which offers not only a chunk of damage to an enemy who gets too close, but also a much needed buffer. This is Ashe’s mobility move. Against enemies the coach gun is able to propel them a good few feet away as well as propel yourself in the opposite direction. It’s a handy tool when a mob of Overwatch heroes are closing in on you. The coach gun can be used to boost Ashe off the floor for extra height and air time for a few sneaky shots. As I said previously, she is the middle ground between Mcree and Widowmaker. Whereas Mcree is best up close to short distance, and Widowmaker from far away or up high, Ashe works best close to the action but hidden away in the back or on a ledge for safety. This is also backed up by her handfuls of dynamite.

ashe-useful-trick-overwatch

Ashe’s dynamite can fly some distance too! It’s got a floaty kind of feel when you throw it, which is intentional as you can shoot it to explode it early. If you don’t shoot it, it’ll explode after 2 seconds. When you throw the dynamite you can instantly pull the trigger to shoot it in the air, as long as you haven’t moved the cross-hairs too much. Once the dynamite explodes, anything caught in its range gets dealt a chunk of damage depending on how close to the dynamite they were, and then continuous burn damage for several seconds. Obviously this works best with clusters of opponents. Shields and barriers stop the blast and burn damage so Orisa and Reinhardt are a big problem for Ashe. If you are able to launch the dynamite at the right angle, you can catch them behind their shields but from my experience, this is easier said than done. The dynamite is also great for corners, if timed right, the enemy will round the corner as the dynamite goes boom or if you shoot it. This means the dynamite is an effective tool when being chased. If you want to be extra fancy, you can always coach gun them into the dynamites blast radius.

Finally, we come to Ashe’s ultimate B.O.B, an omnic companion. Or tool, with the way she speaks to him. When Ashe’s uses her ult, B.O.B leaps into action and uppercuts those who are in front of Ashe. He then proceeds to lay down suppressing fire with his arm cannons to any enemy nearby.  B.O.B comes with a whopping 1200 health pool and similar to Torb’s now gone level 3 turrets, he deals accurate hard hitting damage. Thankfully B.O.B can be destroyed although I really wouldn’t recommend it unless most of your team is concentrating fire on him. B.O.B is essentially another player for 12 seconds. He can be healed, nano boosted, stunned, sleep darted just like other heroes. Not only that, but he also acts as another player in terms of contesting the objectives. Yes, you can launch B.O.B onto the capture point and aim down your sights from a distance and provide cover fire for B.O.B while he captures the objective. This is a really clever mechanic and one that I can’t wait to see get used more often. If you’re capturing an objective, you can double the capture rate by bringing B.O.B out to play. Imagine sneaking round the enemies undetected and back-capping it while B.O.B also protects you. I’m really glad Blizzard made B.O.B act as another player in terms of contesting. It opens up a lot of opportunities.

Ashe Bob

So how do I feel about Ashe? Honestly, pretty good. I’m having some issues with lining up shots down her sights and shooting the dynamite in the air but I never said I was a pro shot. That’s why I suck as Widowmaker. But Ashe is a great replacement for me in that regard. With the shorter range, you need to be more in the fight but there is also less chance of missing as opposed to my Widowmaker aim. Ashe has 200 health which is the appropriate amount I think. She has a mobility option and even though it can get her around quickly, it isn’t unfair. There is quite a bit of hang time when you go vertical which means you are a sitting duck in the air. That sentence makes no sense but hopefully you understand what I meant. The dynamite is a useful tool for damage but if you miss it or if the enemy clearly sees it then they have a full 2 seconds to get out of the way. It then has a 10 second cooldown period, as does the coach gun so both skills need to be used effectively. I also find Ashe is effective for covering the likes of Ana or Zenyatta. Usually these heroes want to play a bit further away from their attacking teammates and this tends to leave them open to flankers such as Tracer and Sombra. As Ashe because you are more effective with a bit of distance, I find myself with the supports either near me or in my sight. This is really handy for supports as most damage heroes need to be up close to enemies and therefore in scuffles the supports are left vulnerable. Ashe is a handy hero to have on your team if your supports don’t have mobility options such as Mercy and Lucio.

Overall I like Ashe. I always love a slow rate of fire gun, especially a cowboy rifle, so I may be biased but her cowboy aesthetic I really enjoy. I’m still getting used to her aim but it’s very satisfying having to press for the trigger for each bullet and to be able to stop reloading on a whim. As for her ult, B.O.B is a unique and fun ultimate. I’m more interested in taking advantage of his contesting ability than I am of his gun skills but that’s a bonus included in the package. Whereas with Hammond I was unsure if I liked him, I feel confident in my enjoyment with Ashe. I just hope I get to play her more in Mystery Heroes because so far it’s being very unfair in my time as her.

Thank you for reading and feel free to share your thoughts on Ashe in the comments.