I picked up the MGS: Essential Collection and have replayed Metal Gear Solid 1-3 and now I’m even more excited about Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots.
While reading your comments on the website, I’ve noticed that a lot of you think MGS isn’t anything special. I’ve seen complaints about cutscenes, gameplay, and how the story is “simple.” It’s probably the most complex story in videogames. A lot of people left the series after MGS2 and never played the genius that was MGS3.
What follows will be a discussion of the story of this epic franchise as well as questions for MGS4. There will be so many spoilers it isn’t even funny. You have been warned. I won’t even be able to cover the all of this series and that’s why I invite you all to participate in the comments section. Please, no PS3 vs. 360 spam.
The Plot: Metal Gear Solid 3 to Metal Gear Solid
Metal Gear Solid 3
Any discussion of this series should be done chronologically, and that leads off with Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. Set in the Cold War, players take control of the infamous Big Boss. The purpose of MGS3 is to set up the entire story of the franchise and there is no better way to show this than with the primary villain of the original Metal Gear games.
Big Boss, or “Naked Snake”, is sent into Russia to retrieve a captured nuclear scientist, but the mission hits a snag when he runs into The Boss, his mentor and friend. She is an extremely skilled soldier and appears to have defected to Russia. She is working with an electrically charged enemy, Volgin, who has his own plans for Mother Russia. Volgin launches an American made nuke at a research facility and that’s when things get interesting.
Snake is extracted and eventually sent back in to clean up the mess. Turns out that the captured scientist was being forced to create the first Metal Gear, a tank capable of launching a nuclear strike from any terrain. Snake makes his way through epic boss battles and the jungles of Russia.
Snake is forced to fight The Boss and this I won’t spoil. It’s one of the greatest moments in gaming and leads into one of the most satisfying endings ever. Don’t come at me with your BioShock’s and their 30 second ending. This is Metal Gear. We’re talking over 20 minutes of great dialogue, emotion, and cinematics, which perfectly solidifies Naked Snake’s transformation into Big Boss.
In MGS3, we’re (re-)introduced to Revolver Ocelot, who is still working on his skills with a six-shooter, but isn’t quite who he seems. This is important, as Ocelot is a character directly at the center of the series. Turns out that Ocelot was no less than a triple agent for the Americans, Russians, and Chinese. While working for the CIA, he was able to retrieve the Philosopher’s Legacy.
The Philosopher’s Legacy brings us to another central part of the story. The Philosopher’s and the Patriots. The Philosopher’s were a collection of powerful men that essentially ran America, Russia, and China during World War II. They had amassed a large stockpile of money and hid it away. Ocelot successfully stole this money.
The American group of the Philosopher’s split off and became the Patriots. Using the money stolen from the Legacy, they were able to setup shop and work toward controlling the world.
Metal Gear 1 & 2 to Portable Ops
This brings us to the two original Metal Gear games (well, Portable Ops, but we’ll skip that in the interest of time), which I won’t discuss in length because they were simple stories when compared to the “Solid” entries in the franchise. That is not to say, however, that the themes of the series weren’t in place. Believe it or not, Kojima isn’t making this up as he goes along.
Big Boss, disillusioned by the events of Snake Eater amassed an army in Portable Ops and created a paradise for soldiers called Outer Heaven. He created his own Metal Gear and the responsibility to stop him fell upon a new hero: Solid Snake.
Solid Snake was able to defeat Big Boss (twice!) and Outer Heaven was no more. Snake was able to retire to Alaska to race snow dogs and live out his days, until the Shadow Moses Incident of Metal Gear Solid.
Metal Gear Solid
Snake is called upon to come out of retirement for one last mission to save the world from another Metal Gear. He is sent in and meets some of the more important characters in the series. In MGS, we are introduced to Hal “Otacon” Emmerich, the developer of Metal Gear Rex. We also meet Colonel Campbell’s niece, Meryl Silverburgh, who is a rookie soldier at Shadow Moses.
The soldiers at Shadow Moses are “Genome Soldiers”, enhanced by genetic experiments based on the DNA of Big Boss. We also learn that Snake is a clone of Big Boss along with the game’s villain, Liquid Snake.
This is where the theme of genetics comes into the series and it’s very, very important. Solid and Liquid are genetic copies. They share 100% of their DNA, but their gene expression is different. Liquid was under the impression that he was the “inferior” clone because all of his genes were recessive. This made him hate Solid Snake and drove his desire to re-create Outer Heaven.
Solid Snake was supposedly the carrier of all of the dominant genes, but in reality was the “inferior” clone. The joke is on you, Liquid. In any case, don’t get too caught up in the actual genetics here because it’s mainly just about recessive genes being “inferior” and dominant genes being “superior”.
Snake is able to defeat Liquid, but his death is actually caused by FOXDIE, a virus created by Dr. Naomi Hunter to selectively kill people that match certain genetic profiles. Solid Snake was injected with FOXDIE to expose Liquid and the genome soldiers to the virus. Naomi also randomized the date at which FOXDIE would finally kill Solid Snake as revenge for killing her brother, Grey Fox (the Cybernetic Ninja in MGS). This could be a hint to Snake’s old age in MGS4 due to accelerated aging.
Ocelot also shows up as an ally of Liquid, but again, as a triple agent. At the very end of the game it is revealed that he was working for the President of the United States, George Sears, to retrieve the test data on Metal Gear Rex. In addition to working for the President, he is also an agent of the Patriots. Also, his arm gets cut-off. This will be extremely important so remember this fact.
Stay tuned for Part 2, next week. We’ll discuss the confusing plot of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty as well as look ahead to MGS4.
Please feel free to add to my summary or correct me. This was written entirely from memory.