Throughout his tenure on the Metal Gear Solid series of games, Hideo Kojima has managed to baffle, confound, enthrall, and entertain millions of gamers through what would become one of the most memorable stories in gaming. The series is dotted with moments of socio-political commentary and messages of the dangers of nuclear proliferation and genetic research. It also confuses the crap out of nearly every gamer that has graced its complex web of story. So I decided to put together a list of some of the top moments that come to mind when I think of the MGS series, starting with Metal Gear Solid and ending with the current MGS title. Keep in mind that with a series like this, there are literally an infinite number of things that you could discuss at length. These are just some of my personal favorites.
Revolver Ocelot Fights (MGS/MGS3)
You meet Ocelot after blasting through a wall in one of the sub-levels of the Shadow Moses compound. He looks like a classic cowboy mixed with a soldier. But rather than playing the real bad-guy card and killing you right off, he challenges you to a duel like some old-timey gunslinger. He muses about how the Colt Single Action Army pistol is one of the greatest weapons ever made and goes on about the feeling of reloading during battle until you ultimately defeat him, and then he runs away. Then, two games later, we see a much younger Ocelot who brandishes a Makarov semi-automatic pistol in your face, which jams as you fight him, and he realizes that automatic weapons are often unreliable–which is the reason that he fights you using his revolver at Shadow Moses.
In a strange turn of events, during MGS2 , Kojima decided to flip the script on MGS gamers and throw a new protagonist into the mix. Codenamed Raiden, Jack is sent on a clandestine mission to The Big Shell to stop the kidnapping of the president of the United States. The Big Shell is an oil-fence facility seemingly created to clean up an oil spill caused by the scuttling of a Navy vessel in the Hudson River two years earlier–an event involving Solid Snake and his subsequent disappearance. Raiden moves through a series of tasks and sub-bosses on his way to save the president. He meets a few new faces and a familiar one that calls himself Pliskin. This Navy Seal officer is apparently the only survivor of the incursion team sent by the US government in a tandem effort with Raiden’s mission. The only real problem with Raiden in this title is that he is totally green. He has had no real experience prior to this mission, only VR training, but somehow, later in the series, he manages to become a super-badass cyber-ninja.
Throughout the series, Snake and Raiden have tons of flashbacks during cutscenes that help to flesh out the story. Some of these flashbacks are lengthy and convoluted. But some of them are downright cool. In MGS4 , Snake mentally returns (in a playable flashback) to Shadow Moses and relives the first MGS game’s opening scene from the top of the freight lift, which brings you up to the facility from below, until the time you enter the first maintenance bay. Then he snaps back to reality and begins a whole new adventure through the Shadow Moses facility. The whole final reveal sequence of events in MGS3 is a flashback revealing to Snake who the real heroes and bad guys are as he tries desperately to discern truth from the insane turns of events that have beleaguered him throughout his mission. You even get the flashbacks of staring up at Metal Gear Rex for the first time before you climb aboard and pilot it against a Metal Gear Ray. All in all, flashbacks make up for a solid chunk of the MGS series. For those who aren’t really into the stories, at least you can press the skip button and get on with the game.
Set during the Cold War and in the fallout that followed its end, the MGS series is rife with turncoats and backstabbers and double agents. Even the people that Snake and Raiden trust most turn on them at one point or another, and some of the most unsettling truces became some of their strongest allies. From Liquid Snake posing as Master in MGS , to Ocelot posing as a reincarnated Liquid Snake in MGS4 –these flip-flops and plot twists keep you guessing and yet manage to keep you enthralled in the story. Honestly, my favorite upset was in MGS3 when Boss turns on you, breaks you down, and leaves you for dead–at least that is what she wants Colonel Volgin to think. But the hurt inherent in that scene is potent. You could tell that Snake (BIG BOSS) is genuinely devastated by this betrayal, and he is confused about how his mother figure (and love of his life) could turn on him and the country they swore to defend.
The Evolution of the Metal Gear
From Shagohod to Rex, Ray to the Geckos, the Metal Gear itself has taken on several intensely powerful forms. Some of them are formidable adversaries, while others serve merely as a way to train you in the skills of sneaking, camouflage, and avoidance–all tools necessary to survive the MGS series of games. These nuclear delivery devices have also varied in size from massive behemoths to sleek and nimble bipedal weapons systems that are as fast as they are dangerous. The first time I ever laid eyes on Metal Gear Rex, my heart sank. I felt the ass whipping of the century coming on, and the odds were not in my favor. Oddly, I didn’t get that feeling in MGS4 when I saw the Geckos for the first time. It became more of a tactical pissing match between my ironclad foes and me. And now that the healthy fear of these hulks has been challenged and checked, they remain some of my favorite gaming foes ever.
You Enjoy The Killing
In Metal Gera Solid 4 , Kojima and his team give you the more opportunities for violence than in any other title. So if you have the propensity for mass murder and mayhem, MGS4 is probably where you should start. They even took it so far as to add in an achievement for killing too many people. My first time experiencing this was on my way to the mansion in South America. In a crook of the road near the power station, I found some plateaus that were perfect for some suppressed sniping. I took my position and waited. The road in front of me gave me more than my fair share of unassuming targets. Headshot after headshot ensued as I continued to unload silent death on my unsuspecting foes. Then suddenly, in one of my torrents of suppressed gunfire, Snake stands up and starts puking hits guts out on the plateau where I had been shooting from while an auditory hallucination of the words, “You enjoy the killing, that’s why,” starts ringing out. I didn’t see that coming.
If you are a fan of this series, then you know Hideo Kojima goes out of his way to use seemingly insignificant details to tie the series together visually and metaphorically, in addition to just making the stories flow. Here are some examples: Naked Snake is the code name of Big Boss in MGS3 . It is also the state that Raiden finds himself in on The Big Shell in MGS2 . Big Boss is wearing a blond-haired, pale-faced mask in the plane at the beginning of the Virtuous Mission in MGS3 , which is also Raiden’s face in MGS2 . Roy Campbell is the voice on the line for Raiden in MGS2 as well as Solid Snake in MGS . But what Raiden doesn’t know is that the voice of Roy Campbell is a farce played out by the Patriots. Another tie-in is that Zero, revealed by the aged Big Boss in MGS4 to be the man responsible for the current system of the Patriots, is actually former British MI6 Agent “O,” or more commonly known as Major Tom from MGS3 . These moments may be woven into the story or into the scene or even the dialogue of the series. But on all levels, Kojima and his team take continuity management to a whole new level.
This character plays a vital role in both MGS3 and MGS4 . She also indirectly plays a role in MGS . At some point in her childhood, prior to the advent of World War II, she, along with several other children across the world, were taken by the Philosophers and raised in a joint U.S., Soviet, and Chinese facility, receiving spy training at one of the Philosophers’ training camps. During the operation in MGS3 , she posed as Sokolov’s lover and later a servant of Volgin to infiltrate the fringe operation. She assisted Snake and fed him intel (and a peep show) throughout his mission to stop Volgin. Some time after the defeat of Volgin, and between the events of MGS3 and MGS , she became the surrogate mother to Liquid and Solid Snake in the Les Enfante Terribles program. Fast-forward even further into the future, and she presents herself as Big Mama in MGS4 to Solid Snake. She tells him of how everything she has done to this point was all to preserve Big Boss’ legacy.
At the end of MGS4: Guns of the Patriots , you think that Snake has committed suicide while everyone else is partying down in the wake of your mission’s success and after Akiba and Meryl’s wedding on the tarmac. However, if you wait long enough, a cutscene comes on that shows Snake standing in the cemetery, and Big Boss is standing on the path, pushing a man in a wheelchair. He reveals this man to be Zero (Major Tom from MGS3 ). He prattles on about how Zero set the whole system of the Proxies up and arranged for the entire war economy to be run by the system once the Patriots passed away. Then he starts talking about system mutations due to the evolution of the AI. He continues to talk about how the system changed, and how Zero lost control, allowing the AIs to take over. He talks about how the original intent of the man called Zero was to further Big Boss’ legacy, and that Zero’s death would be the final piece in the destruction of the Patriot’s reign.
As you move your way through the Shadow Moses compound in MGS , you come upon a foe who calls himself Psycho Mantis. He “moves” your controller with the “power of his mind” and also reads your mind–which is really just account of how much you have or have not saved the game during play. Then the battle ensues. Objects are tossed around the room in an attempt to derail your plan of stopping him. Then, mid-battle, the screen goes all wonky and looks like the TV has gone to static for a second. Then, when the game returns, you realize that you can’t do anything, and are being trounced by the latex-covered, gas mask-wearing weirdo. Now I don’t know how you found out about it, but I died what seemed like a thousand times before a friend casually informed me, “Oh yeah, you just unplug your controller and plug it in the other port. Then you can get him.” Apparently to him, it wasn’t a huge deal. He claims to have figured it out on his own. I still take issue with that. Seriously, who thinks of that?