Title: Crash? Crash?! CRAAAAASH!
Posted: March 18, 2008 (04:14 AM)
If there is such as things as the gods of gaming, they're a bunch of bastards. In 2005, I did what every gamer does at some point in their lives, and bought Metal Gear Solid. I was in the US at the time and found a new copy for a measly 6 bucks (at current exchange rates, roughly one hundreth of a eurocent), so I couldn't resist bringing it home. Along with 21 other games, heh. Owing to a number of factors including the aforementioned 21 other games, I never really got around to playing it beyond a quick try (in which I failed to ascend the learning curve, a phrase which here means "got my ass kicked repeatedly in the first two rooms") before moving on to Shadow Hearts and some of the other cool RPGs I'd brought home with me.
This did not please the Sultan's vizier, Jaffar, personified in this reality by Spanish-born, currently UK-based translator and game and movie critic Martín G., who happens to be a great fan of the series and at times approached inquisitorial persistence in getting me to pick up the game again. My subsequent purchases of Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3 did nothing to get him off my back, because unfortunately he is well aware of my dogmatic "games are to be played in order" approach to my backlog, which effectively means MGS 2 and 3 are not, in fact, in my playable zone until such a time that the original is taken care of.
Catching me in an uncharacteristically docile mood on a peaceful evening in early March 2008, Mart seized the opportunity, hypnotized me and injected into my mind the belief that finishing Metal Gear Solid was a life necessity, and so I found myself putting aside the unique, peerless (we should hope) PS1 RPG Beyond the Beyond and slipping in my Metal Gear Solid CD instead. And - who'd have thought it - I liked it. As I first mastered the technique of snapping a guard's neck, something clicked between my hands and my brain and my fingers relaxed their vise grip on the controller to something more conductive to relaxed play, and before either Mart or I was properly aware what was happening, I was rapidly advancing through the game. Not an evening went by in which I didn't at least beat one boss, got a longer life bar and a bigger carrying capacity, and started voicing the opinion that Metal Gear Solid is, in fact, an RPG in disguise.
And the story! Surreal para-military setting and understandable Japanese fascination with nuclear themes aside, everything I came across made sense in the context of the MGS universe I was finally discovering, years after every other gamer on the planet already had, some of the more offbeat CODEC conversations had me laughing out loud, and even death and game over was a minor irritation as I could always get back into the action swiftly and exact furious revenge on whichever guard had dared to turn around at the wrong time. Hiding around the corner, knocking on a wall, quickly hiding in a cardboard box and then pouncing on the alerted guard as soon as he turned his back became far too much of a guilty pleasure, and did much to explain why the protagonist was assigned the Snake handle.
So, all was good and happy in Sashy land right up until the epic confrontation with Metal Gear itself, almost but not quite at the ending, and the long bit of plot exposition after. Just as the game got busy establishing a link between the Gulf War and horrific genetic experiments, the image froze, the right half of it overlaid with green blocky stuff, but the voice went on...and then stopped as well, making room for sudden, unexpected music that may well be the game's end theme, and then nothing after that.
At first I thought it was just the next twist in a game full of fourth wall breaking experiences, but this time even switching the controller to port 2 did nothing. It slowly dawned on me that I wasn't looking at Kojima's next shiitake induced moment of brilliant and completely inexplicable inspiration, but at something far mundane: a crash. Oh well. A reset and another fight against Metal Gear later, I was watching the same scene again...and the exact same crash at exactly the same time. A third attempt then, this time pressing start to skip the cutscene so I could finish the game and maybe catch the proper scene on YouTube. But lo and behold! This is the ONE CUTSCENE YOU CAN'T SKIP. Metal Gear Solid after all hails from a time when developers asserted the right to MAKE you watch what they wanted, a time when Final Fantasies thought nothing of 2 minute summon sequences and Golden Suns made you sit through endless dialogue without any actual content, a habit fortunately now broken by newer ga- no wait, they still pull that crap. And in this case it was preventing me from finishing my game, within sight of the finish line at that.
When even a thorough cleaning of the CD did not help, and despite not seeing any visible scratches on the surface or anything, I was ready to give up until such a time that I could find another NTSC copy of Metal Gear Solid and play my last 20 minutes. Then, however, I got to thinking. The reason why I can play NTSC games on my European PS2 in the first place is the nice and cozy mod chip nestling inside its clockwork. And mod chips do more than just play different regions - they play copies. Illegality be darned - who would reasonably blame me for wanting to finish the game I'd paid for? A little searching and a PC left on overnight later, I burned myself another CD 2, dropped it in the PS2, reloaded my save, beat Metal Gear (something I'd gotten quite good at by now) and settled in to wait...
...and you guessed it, precisely the same crash.
I'm not entirely out of options. I can dig up my old PS1 if I can find it, which is not modded but does have a boot disc and spring setup, and see if I *can* finish on that. This in the event of backwards compatibility issues. A long shot, because if a game as prolific as this had known crash problems on PS2s, I think I'd know. Checked the GameFAQs Metal Gear Solid board anyway to make certain, but my symptoms didn't ring bells with anyone. I'm not too hopeful that switching the system will work, but it's something I'll have to try before I resign myself to the last possibility...that of a corrupted save. The prospect of replaying the entire game to *maybe* be able to finish it this time - or just see the exact same problem again.
If there's any joy to be had from this, it's that Mart is more distraught by the whole affair than I am. After all the pushing and coaxing to play this game, seeing him suffer is strangely therapeutic.
But I still want to finish MGS, dammit.
Posted: March 18, 2008 (04:36 AM)
MGS is one of my favourite games. It's not the only one, but it IS the only one that you'll never play if I relax the pressure! I'm all over your MGS crisis because, if I stop paying attention for two minutes, you'll turn around to one of the 500 JRPGs that you don't even really enjoy and, because you won't consider MGS1 finished, you'll never move on to 2 and 3! All because you're missing a three-minute fight!
It takes so much work to manipulate your playing time and balancing your attention span, really. Good thing I get to vicariously replay MGS in the meantime.
Posted: March 18, 2008 (04:47 AM)
I'll make you a deal. Even if my best efforts to get MGS working fail, I'll just watch the YT gameplay and cinematic videos you linked me to, and consider MGS 2 fair game to start up (even though I can't guarantee when I'll get around to it, I already have a standing promise to siara that my next PS2 game is to be Fatal Frame). I still won't mark off MGS as finished in my log until it's my hands that do it, though.
Posted: March 18, 2008 (07:48 AM)
Hopefully you will grow to love Fatal Frame as much as you do MGS now. :P
Like I said, if you don't have it played by the time you come over here, bring it with you and I'll help you. It's a short game, m'dear.. :)
Posted: March 18, 2008 (10:56 AM)
Wow. That really sucks, though I give you huge kudos for writing one of the most eloquent blog posts considering such a fiasco I've ever seen.
Hm... I've never played MGS - want to, just haven't got around to finding a copy yet - but this sounds like it could be a few things that I've heard happen to other games... Granted, you said there's no precedence of this anywhere else from where you inquired about it, but still... I'll throw a few ideas out there.
I would try to get another copy of the game before trying to start the game over (maybe you suggested this yourself already... probably did. I have a short attention span sometimes). But this is because something similar happens to Legend of Dragoon, specifically the Greatest Hits edition, where the screen will turn black after beating a boss on the second disk. People have fixed this by either buying a non Greatest Hits copy or by playing the game on their old PS1s. Now I'm not sure if MGS even had a greatest hits edition, and considering your case is relatively rare, if not a first, this might not be the case.
The only other thing I can think of is that maybe you just got a defunct disk. Maybe it's possible for such things to happen that way among the millions of copies they churn out in factories everywhere... Who knows? Maybe you just got really unlucky or something... especially if this sort of thing has only happened to you. Either way, that still totally blows that you can't finish the game properly... but at least it let you play through up to the end instead of crashing somewhere in the middle or something.
Posted: March 18, 2008 (12:33 PM)
Wish MGS had crashed for me and I'd not had to have played that awful, awful game.
Sure, cue the "EmP hates everything" now.
Posted: March 18, 2008 (02:52 PM)
wolfqueen001: that was my first thought, to get another copy of the game. I have, but I still have the exact same error. However, I loaded the same save that I used on the first game so it's entirely possible the save is somehow corrupted.
I'll still try it on my old PS1 - soon as I've dug it up - first. That'll only be 10 minutes work (if I don't count the effort for finding and excavating the PS1 which is probably deep, deep in a storage area of my folks' place right now), as opposed to however long it'll take me to play MGS through start to finish again. My clock for this save is past 11 hours but I can probably do it a little more quickly now.
Posted: March 19, 2008 (08:08 AM)
Reading your post brought back all my emotionally charged memories of times games have crashed or frozen on me at vital moments.
I did enjoy MGS a lot, which was during the height of its hype, too, and I thought it had 1000 fine details, but I never came at the sequels. It's not just that I didn't own a PS2 during that generation (I went Gamecube), but spy/espionage stuff rarely appeals to my taste -- especially after it went absolutely everywhere in gaming, which was of course the legacy of MGS.
I've never mod chipped anything of mine. The only game in the whole world I've wanted to play but been unable to, due to it being NTSC-only, is Clock Tower 2: Ghosthead. And I don't even want to play it -that- much, now.
Anyway, your talk of MGS has inspired me to repost a poem I wrote called 'Hideo Kojima' in my own blog.