PlayStation consoles have been my favorite since the original. Now while my love affair with PlayStation began with meeting Alec Baldwin, my continued love for the system comes from a franchise that has made an appearance on every PlayStation platform to date: Metal Gear Solid.
“I’m no hero, never was…”
The Metal Gear Solid games are the only ones that I can think of that I would play straight through without stopping and immediately start my second playthrough once I finished. I even managed to get the Platinum Trophy in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain during my first playthrough and somehow found time to replay it 11 times to date. I have owned every MGS on every console and portable they were available for. I even played through both Metal Gear Acid games and suffered through the horrendous original Xbox version of MGS2: Substance (the massive amount of slowdown in the rain was just unforgivable). Through the good, the bad and the confusing I have played through them all multiple times but only one of them was almost fatal…Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. Now let’s get one thing straight upfront: The game itself was in no way responsible for my near-death experience. I did not have a seizure or anything like that from playing it. No, it was my MGS obsession that almost did me in and I would do it all over again. Well most of it anyway.
F&%k Bank of America
During the launch of MGS4 back in 2008 money was tight. I was dating but was a single Dad. My life at that time was one bill payment after the next with no end in sight. When the June release date for MGS4 was finally revealed, I made sure I had stashed enough cash away in my account to ensure I could pick up a copy of the Limited Edition and I used the rest of my money for rent, bills and other expenses. Then It happened. I woke up around 5am the day before launch and decided to prepare to brave what would be a huge line for the midnight launch. I went to the ATM to pull out the cash I set aside for the game. Insufficient Funds. Bullshit! I looked at my account history and saw the sad truth. Bank of America took it upon themselves to decide that purchases and bill payments that were made weeks prior, were in fact not paid weeks prior but instead were paid that very morning. This was confirmed to me by a customer service rep that tried to convince me that the light bill I had paid the week before was just paid this morning. Even though the amount of the bill was taken out a full nine days before this. Well this was finally resolved after many phone calls and a class action suit but did not help my current situation. If memory serves me correctly, the Limited Edition of MGS4 was $90. I now had $7. FML. I only knew of one legal way to get the money I need immediately and so I set out on my journey to make it happen.
Drastic Times Call for Drastic Measures
I was living in South Los Angeles but a few years before that I was in the San Fernando Valley. While living in the Valley, my roommate and I had discovered a place that would give us the money we needed to help pay for our expensive video game addiction. Now that I am writing this I realize that we made good enough money and didn’t even need this…but it is what it is. While other desperate souls were out selling crack or worse to pay for their habits, we did what any responsible adult would do: we sold plasma. Yeah, I know. I discovered that because I have a slightly rare blood type that my plasma was worth more money. In fact, it was $100 per visit so I decided to take the two-hour (at that time) bus ride out to the Valley and claim my MGS4 money. Not a good idea. I’m sure as you read this you can already tell that it wasn’t a good idea but I of course was not thinking clearly. I made it to the plasma center a little after 8a.m. and it did not take long for me to remember why I had stopped doing this in the first place. You see, donating plasma is a bit different that donating blood. With plasma you are hooked up to a machine. The machine takes your blood, separates the plasma from it (don’t ask me how) and then returns the blood to you. This is then repeated until the bottle attached to the machine is full and it is not a small bottle. I had previously seen people collapse, vomit and a number of other things after donating which is what persuaded me to stop doing it. I did it that day because I was helping to save lives and help Solid Snake save the world. Never again.
Oh, Hi Death! How Are You?
The donation went off without a hitch and I started heading home. Now what I do remember is drinking the warm ass fruit juice that I was given at the plasma center and walking to the next corner. What I don’t remember is how I ended up a mile away from the center (ironically at the bus terminal I needed to be at) on the ground unconscious. I woke up looked around to see that no one at the bus terminal gave any shits as to if I was alive or why I was on the ground. Thankfully no one bothered to rob me either. I stood up and I became nauseated, dizzy and experienced what felt like a thousand needles on fire in both of my arms. Back down I went. This time I woke up surrounded by paramedics. This part ladies and gentlemen I cannot make up. After a few minutes of them asking me what happened and me describing what I experienced, I was told that I had suffered a mild heart attack. The paramedics then proceeded to pack up everything and head to the hospital. They left me behind on the ground. I then took the bus to the nearest hospital where I passed out in the waiting room. This time I woke up in the ER lying on a bed. After a short wait a doctor came in (I swear to you guys DO NOT suffer a medical emergency in Reseda, CA) and told me I was being discharged. I asked how because I was just told I had a heart attack. He laughed and said we checked your heart and it’s in perfect condition. “We don’t know what caused you to experience the symptoms you had or what’s wrong with you but you seem healthy to me.” “Go on home and don’t believe everything you hear on the news.” WHAT?!? This was later resolved in another class action suit.
Kept You Waiting Huh?
By the time I had arrived back in good old safe South-Central Los Angeles it was noon. I had made it to the spot where I needed to catch the final bus home which, oddly enough is where I had my copy of MGS4 reserved. I was feeling fine by that point but pretty weak but I figured since I was here I may as well pay off my preorder before anything else goes wrong. Everyone working in the GameStop on Wilshire/Vermont knew me at the time. They saw me come in with bandages around my head and arm laughed. Good times. I paid off my preorder just as the line for the launch was starting to form. The GameStop staff bought me food and gave me a chair as I waited for the next 12 hours outside the store for my copy of the game. The tragic story of how I got there that day made me the most popular person in line which is just as sad as everything I did to earn that title. I grabbed my Limited Edition copy at midnight and just as I was heading home some friends who had joined me during the day to buy the game got some interesting news. Solid Snake voice actor David Hayter, Ocelot voice actor Patric Zimmerman and others were signing copies of the game at the Best Buy store across town in Hollywood. Sigh.
If you have read this far then you already know I headed straight to that Best Buy. The line was insane to say the least. I rode over with friends so we made it there around 12:30a.m. and proceeded to wait. During my time in the line, I befriended a woman who was blown away by just how many people were in line for this. We talked for about an hour and a half about random stuff and got a laugh over everything I went through to buy the game. Then at 2a.m., we were informed that the event was shutting down so that the actors could head out to San Francisco. We had made it within 10ft of the front door but not close enough to be able to get in before it all shut down. In addition to the game I also bought the hardcover collector’s edition strategy guide and the woman I was talking to snatched both items out of my hand and ran in the store.
I Regret Nothing
Thankfully I was too weak to try and stop her. I did not know at the time that after Patric Zimmerman got divorced from voice director Kris Zimmerman, he remarried and I was talking to his new wife Kathy the entire time. She went inside and managed to get her husband, David Hayter and the producers that were in attendance to sign my game and guide for me and brought them outside. She then had Revolver Ocelot himself come out and meet with us after the crowd went away. He did a few voices, posed for pictures and signed a few more autographs for us before heading out.
After such a long traumatic day I finally made it home just after 4a.m. and I did what anyone else would have done at that point. I took a shower, put on my pajamas, climbed into bed…and started playing Metal Gear Solid 4.