Byzantine Reality

Searching for Byzantine failures in the world around us

The Cobra Unit v. The Beauty and the Beast Unit

While I’ve got a short break from school and the like, I’ve been looking over playing Metal Gear Solid again. Before I do so, I’ve heard a bit online and offline about Metal Gear Solid 3′s boss team, the Cobra Unit, being markedly superior to it’s successor’s team, the Beauty and the Beast Unit. Since MGS4 is so fresh in my mind I fought it off for quite a while, but now I think I can talk about it a lot better than before.

The appeal of the Beauty of the Beast Unit to me is numerous: they’re awesome looking women with amazing technology backing them up. They’ve all got post traumatic stress disorder and as a result are consumed by the emotion that bears their name. Although it turns out that Screaming Mantis is manipulating them to form a cohesive unit, each of them is formidable in their own right. But that’s not the real question at hand here; we really care about how they stack up against MGS3′s boss unit, and after some consideration, the Cobra Unit really is the better team.

The Cobra Unit consists of members who willingly join together to serve The Boss’  goals, whereas The Beauty and the Beasts (as we’ve already stated) are being controlled by their master, Screaming Mantis (and likely Psycho Mantis). Thus the Cobras are far more cohesive and believable as a real “team” than the Beauty and the Beasts. Furthermore, the Cobras provide a much more interesting and unique gameplay experience than the Beauties. The battles against the Beauties are pretty standard as far as today’s games go; you shoot them until they go down, and sometimes they have a little patterm you have to learn to accomplish this. But two of the Cobras provide really unique boss fights.

The battle with The End can go a number of ways: you can have a sniper duel in the forest area, or you can fast-forward your game clock so that he dies of old age, or you can even shoot him before the duel and avoid the battle altogether. Although I chose the first (still a unique battle), the fact that you have all these options available adds to the possibilities involved. Furthermore, the “battle” with The Sorrow isn’t even a conventional battle. You encounter everyone you’ve killed in the game thus far and finally reach him, resulting in a very easy or very difficult battle depending on how you’ve played the game. Once you’ve reached him you “die” and need to revive yourself using a relatively obscure (but occasionally mentioned) item which is certainly not obvious to figure out the first time through.

Although I love the futuristic tech and the pure insanity behind the Beauties (and the male voice dubbed under their voice really sells it), I suppose I agree with the “popular opinion”. The Beauties are amazing, but they don’t quite have the cohesion and the interesting gameplay that the Cobras yield.