I haven’t got anything like as many cassette tapes as I’d like in The Phantom Pain [official site]. A combination of a determination to be non-lethal, to knock out or capture everyone and my inherent ineptitude means most base raids go South pretty quickly, and I end up in a desperate sprint to a checkpoint in order that I don’t lose all my progress. No time to clear out all the buildings: just run, run until that magical yellow save circle appears in the top right of my screen, and I know my prisoners are safe and my diamonds are in hand. I’ve left tapes behind that way, and it breaks my heart. Rebel Yell and Love Will Tear Us Apart are definite casualties, the latter of which I can barely cope with the loss of. If it turns out I’ve abandoned Bowie’s Cat People somewhere, I’ll almost certainly lose my mind.
When I heard the distant strains of Take On Me while trying to rescue a prisoner from a particularly well-guarded base, I knew my priorities had to change. Physician heal thyself. The trouble is, I didn’t hear those strains until everything had already gone to hell.
I’d tried this particular Side Op – ‘Unlucky Dog’, for reference – several times, with varying degrees of catastrophe. The place was so heavily-guarded, and if I was spotted the sniper in a far-off tower would pin me down almost immediately. The prisoner was behind a locked door inside a cabin, with two guards standing in the room outside.
Getting into that room required crossing a huge open plaza, with ramparts all around. With their height advantage, the patrolling guards up there caught me every time. I’d eventually discovered a duct outside the base, which led to a hatch just in front of the cabin door, but this bore the twin risks of breaking my back when I jumped down off a cliff to reach it (the long way round was agonisingly long, especially given I’d already screwed up this mission five times by that point) and having a couple of guys stood right next to it.
One of these guys I dragged into the vent, interrogated and subdued, but I didn’t manage to hide the body before his mate spotted us. And told all his other mates. Again, I was determined to be non-lethal, and so was dependent on my Riot Machinegun, which fired rubber bullets, in such emergencies.
I was lucky enough to score three rapid headshots, knocking out the immediate guards quickly enough that I could at least free the prisoner, take him outside and balloon him off to safety, but all the world arrived at the door by the time that was done, and that damnable sniper had a constant bead on me. I had to get out, and a surely fatal sprint was my only option, unless I was prepared to compromise my own values and take up a lethal weapon. My morale dropped through the floor. It was all over, again.
Then I heard it. Buh-buh-bum-bum, ba-ba-ba. Aha! A-Ha. No. No, I can’t leave now. I crouch-ran through a series of cabins, screaming when I encountered two locked doors, this swarm of red arrows converging on my location, bullets spraying through every window. It was so hard to hear exactly where the sweet Scandinavian pop was emanating from over the hail of gunfire, but soon enough I spotted the telltale red glow of a cassette deck with a tape in it.
I had it. I had The Song. Now, I just had to get out. Everyone knew where I was. The only way out was straight into their line of sight.
I knew this might well be the end for me and A-Ha. I would surely die, and after I died I would be heartbroken. Another priceless pop song, lost, abandoned, a casualty of my cackhandedness and impatience. Only one thing to do: play the song. Let it soundtrack its own doom. I would, I knew, be too distraught to come back to MGSV for some time after this.
As it turned out, the opposite happened. Those oh-so-familiar sounds, the ones I’ve danced to at a dozen weddings, a hundred student night outs, were the impetus I needed. It gave me back my confidence, it turned this misadventure into a celebration. I even got to take a friend home.
Listen out for the well-timed wail. Watch out for the helmet. Happy with this.
That was the guy I’d knocked out before hell broke lose. All I had to was retrace my steps, and I was out. A short sprint up the hillside and… checkpoint.
Take On Me, I’ll take you home. Couldn’t be happier.
Then I received a message. A sniper, near this area. Quiet. Uh-oh.