Feature, Gaming, Video Games

Metal Gear Solid 2 Pt. 3 | Metal Gear Mondays

… Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Realized Solid Snake Wasn’t Real.

Time to get into the real meat of these opinion pieces, the intricate system of themes, motifs, metaphors, false flags, symbolism, post-modernism, and possibilities of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty.

Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty was written and produced on the coat-tails of one of the greatest games ever made, and this is made all the more intentional and evident when looking at Hideo Kojima’s design document and realizing that this meta-sequel was supposed to raise a lot of important questions about the previous entry, video games in general, the culture that Metal Gear created in its wake when coming into the current-gen, and the repercussions of our new information based society. On the surface, Metal Gear Solid 2 is about Solid Snake’s passing on of his ideals to another generation, Raiden coming into his own and choosing to follow a path of his own making (regardless of whether his past is fabricated or not), and the importance of message and culture, artificial or not. Here’s the key, all of those names in my previous sentence could be replaced with “Hideo Kojima” and “us” coming into “our” own, and I think that it was all done intentionally.

The game opens, immediately following the “Tanker” situation that I’ve already covered in my demo focused article, with Raiden (or Jack) entering into a “Plant” that was artificially created, allegedly, to mask some illegal activities and shadow government conspiracies surrounding the tanker that capsized during Solid Snake’s portion of the game. Raiden’s mission intentionally begins the same as Solid Snake’s PS1-era mission and Raiden even has codename Solid Snake for a short period of time, but then the first twist occurs. Hideo Kojima has the player input their own information into a terminal, for the first time in a Metal Gear game to date, and surprisingly so the terminal menu bears a strong resemblance to Metal Gear Solid 2‘s own main menu. One could argue that the menu was skinned this way as to keep consistency with the look and feel of the title as a whole, but I think the same evidence could be used to argue that Raiden is inputting our information to further solidify (pun intended) his role as the player or player’s avatar and that the menu shares the same graphical design as the game’s main menu because it hammers home the fact that we’re playing a simulation in a simulation, a game within a game.

Moving on from there, Raiden (with us towing the line behind him, both physically and metaphorically) is re-introduced to Col. Campbell, Solid Snake, and a lot of stand-ins for the same roles we saw in the previous title. A lot of Metal Gear Solid 2 is our re-introduction to a lot of the same motifs, both in a way to point at the structuralism of Japanese games (see Zelda, Metroid, Castlevania, Final Fantasy, etc.) and to really draw our focus to why these events are seemingly recurring. For the same reason that handicam-style shooting is used in films to draw attention to the movement, I think that the game resembles Metal Gear Solid in its plot and pacing to draw attention to the fact that it bears resemblence to Metal Gear Solid. Kojima is criticizing himself, by having less fleshed out bosses that are more driven by singular reasons and emotions in order to lampoon the previous bosses, stripping the variety of the environments to plain corridors and hallways to draw attention to the sterility of the previous game, and by subtly criticizing his own fan-base and, in a lot of ways, testing them.

The “Ascending Colon” portion of Metal Gear Solid 2’s plot is always the sequence that people cite as being “weird”, “scary”, and “self-referential”, but you can look to a lot of evidence before the closing portion of the title to see the self-referential and post-modernism facets of the title. Clicking in the thumbsticks during Codec calls will result in the player hearing the thoughts of the game’s characters, on top of being able to manipulate the camera angles, thus giving the player another sense of being an omnipotent being in this world. A lot of the dialogue in the game is intentionally ambiguous and there are many Codec conversations that raise some very interesting questions, often literally, but then never answer them. But yes, the “Ascending Colon” really tackles all of the subtlety of the rest of the game in a ham-fisted, “THIS IS WHAT WE’RE TRYING TO TELL YOU” kind of way, and yet many players just shrugged the whole sequence off as absurd and just a cool, fleeting, moment.

Solid Snake tells Raiden, and the player, that he has infinite ammo and his bandana flails in an imaginary “wind” whilst in the “Ascending Colon”, but even before then Solid Snake does everything in his power to keep the player focused on the mission, because that’s what he represents. Raiden, much like us, has completed the Shadow Moses simulation (and it could be argued that we were playing as Raiden playing the Shadow Moses simulation in MGS1) as well as 350 VR missions, which were the exact number of VR missions included in the VR Missions bonus disk. The Solid Snake that appears in MGS2 plays on Raiden and our pre-determined belief of who Solid Snake is and what he should say, and he acts and speaks just like we want him to, when we want him to. Solid Snake represents the hero that we want to be in these fantastic scenarios, and it was a conscious decision to have him not be the protagonist for this game.

This train of thought extends to all parts of the game. Col. Campbell may or may not be real, but he is a relic of MGS days of yore, pushing the player in a direction because the player demands being given a mission. The floor pattern when fighting the massive, unrealistic, horde of Metal Gear RAYs, which is absurd even by Metal Gear standards, is the exact floor pattern from the photo sessions in the VR Missions game, and its all accented by Solidus Snake, Fortune, Solid Snake, and Ocelot all just appearing out of thin air and flying around, breaking handcuffs, and dodging bullets. Sure, Metal Gear always rode the fine line between realism and absurdity, but Metal Gear Solid 2 raised the stakes in massive quantities to make a point and this was supposed to shatter our suspension of disbelief… but sadly, a lot of players rode the wave and didn’t question a thing.

Food for thought: replay Metal Gear Solid 2 replacing all instances of Raiden’s name with your own during Solid Snake’s final speech in the streets of New York as an ethereal population appears out of thin air and walks in slow motion around a building that was just destroyed in the middle of the city by a giant robot battleship. All of this information is pretty “heady”, and I accept that, so for the final part of my Metal Gear Solid 2 analysis I want to field some questions. If you are at all interested, please tweet @acsummerfield and I’ll try to answer any and all questions. There is a lot to Metal Gear Solid 2 and I tried to cover a vast majority of it, but there just isn’t enough digital paper and ink in the world for me to go in-depth with everything in the title. It’s super ambitious, it says a lot of different things at the same time, it’s fun, and it’s one of my favorite games of all time, but I also think that it’s a very misrepresented and under-appreciated game, and I don’t mean because folks don’t see the same things in it, but because people don’t take the time to really tear it apart and talk about its pieces. I think that that’s why Kojima made such a masterpiece, to spark conversation about games and game convention. We owe it to him and ourselves to at least talk about these things.

I’ll catch you guys next week.

Gaming, Video Games

Metal Gear Solid (Pt. 3) | Metal Gear Mondays

With this week’s Metal Gear Monday I’ll be concluding our look into arguably the greatest Playstation game ever released, Metal Gear Solid.

Part 3: Story

Metal Gear Solid took the plotting formula that Hideo Kojima had utilized in his previous two Metal Gear games, particularly Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, and brought it into the next generation. For the first time in the Metal Gear series the environments looked far more believable, and even ahead of their time, the entire script of the title was fully voiced, which again was far ahead of its time, and the series earned its trademark cinematic quality through the use of cut-scenes and scripted events, which had been used to some extent in the prior releases but never to this magnitude.

Metal Gear Solid‘s primary theme, and one that we’ll come back to as we move forward into the other entries in the series, is that of genetics, and what sort of biological legacy we leave behind. This point is primarily demonstrated in the differing ideals and heated battle, both mentally and physically, that rages on between series hero Solid Snake and his revealed brother Liquid Snake. This title also marks the first mention of the Les Enfants Terribles project, which saw the cloning of Big Boss, the Legendary Solider and primary antagonist of the first two Metal Gear games, and resulted in three clones, or sons: Solid Snake, Liquid Snake, and the third Snake mentioned in the post credit sequence of the game, Solidus Snake (a.k.a. President George Sears).

Again, harkening back to the previous titles in the Metal Gear series, Hideo Kojima uses action B-movie motifs and absurdities to facilitate his anti-war commentary and overall message of genetic legacies. Sure, there are things like bi-pedal nuclear battle mechs and ninjas wearing future-tech and deflecting bullets with energy powered katanas, but for the most part they all have their purposes in the overall allegory, underlying message, and theme of the story. Like most of the Metal Gear series, Kojima blends frantic and addicting stealth action gameplay with an intense and exciting plot to talk about the dangers of nuclear weapons, comment on deterrence, and make his own predictions on the future of global affairs.

Goreshadowing

I know, I know, I didn’t qualify any of those statements and haven’t really touched on the themes and motifs that Kojima uses in prior articles. While the latter of those issues is primarily because Hideo Kojima’s first two Metal Gear games were far less dialogue heavy and expository. As far as the former issue, let me help by showing you instead of just telling.

Solid Snake begins Metal Gear Solid by being pulled out of retirement, much like Kojima was pulled back into Metal Gear following the success of the first title and the failure of Snake’s Revenge. Colonel Campbell from Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake returns to be Solid Snake’s primary contact, and Solid Snake is forced to infiltrate a nuke disposal site that has been taken over by defective members of his old unit and figure out what their goal is. I find it interesting that it is mentioned early on that Solid Snake was pulled from retirement to embark on this mission because the terrorist leader is his twin brother, and yet they never utilize this to assist in Solid Snake’s sneaking. He’s a spy, why isn’t he disguising himself as his own brother? Regardless, the mission begins.

For obvious reasons, the nuclear weapon disposal facility in Alaska, Shadow Moses, is used as the venue for two reasons: 1. it would be the perfect place to hide a Metal Gear that is secretly being developed by the U.S. Government and 2. Hideo Kojima can use the irony of this to convey his distaste with the current state of nuclear affairs.

Metal Gear?!

As Snake ventures further into the compound he first attempts to save the DARPA Chief Donald Anderson who happened to be visiting when the attack occurred (coincidence? I think not!), who dies of a mysterious heart-attack. He fights his way out of the failed rescue with Colonel Campbell’s captured niece, Meryl Silverburgh, and then begins his attempt to rescue ArmsTech President Kenneth Baker, who was also visiting on the day of the attack. More tragedy occurs as Solid Snake fights and defeats Revolver Ocelot, who makes his first appearance in the Metal Gear series in this game, but is left with a dead Kenneth Baker due to another mysterious heart-attack.

Crossing over to the next portion of the facility, Solid Snake battles Vulcan Raven, who is piloting a tank, and we see Hideo Kojima’s first comment on nanomachines in the series, at least to my knowledge. Entering the actual disposal part of the facility, Naomi Hunter, the medical advisor on the mission, and Colonel Campbell tell Solid Snake that he can’t physically fire his weapons in the area. It would be too dangerous, so they’ve prevented him from doing so by manipulating nanomachines in his body, that were implanted prior to the mission so they could monitor him. Solid Snake, as the vessel for Hideo Kojima’s voice, gives his higher-ups his opinion on this, and it isn’t a pleasant one.

Bouncing around a bit, Solid Snake takes down more members of his former unit, FOXHOUND, and we play through one of the best fights ever as we take down Psycho Mantis. It is during this battle and when contacting Meryl that we see some of Kojima’s postmodernist take on games shine through as we have to look at the physical back of the game case to find Meryl’s codec frequency and then we have to put our controller in a different port to keep Psycho Mantis from predicting our movements and reading our minds. Judgement is also cast on us as the player based on the contents of our memory card and then we’re given a bit of a massage with the DualShock controller. For the time, it was pretty mind blowing, and still speaks volumes for the maturity of the creative control and the narrative’s voice compared to games that have even come about recently.

I can read your mind!

A familiar face returns, in the form of Gray Fox/Frank Jaeger. Upon encountering the Cyborg Ninja, and meeting Otacon/Hal Emmerich for the first time in the series, the player is informed that although Gray Fox was brutally killed at the end of Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, he was kept alive and experimented on by his own adopted sister whom he rescued in the early 80’s, Naomi Hunter. The iteration of him that we see in Metal Gear Solid is a highly traumatized and damaged shell of his former self, and Kojima uses the Ninja for many things within the game. He assists Solid Snake, plays the part of rival, informs you of lies, hinders your progress, and even saves Solid Snake’s life in one of the greatest self sacrifices in gaming history.

In the end, Solid Snake would triumph over his angsty brother, Liquid Snake, who would use his stunted ego and hurt feelings towards his clone history and jealousy of his brother to drive his anger and desire to steal Metal Gear to wreak havoc on the world. Liquid Snake’s main issue seemed to be that he believed that he was the by-product of Big Boss’s recessive genes and that he was undesirable because of this. In the end it would be discovered that Liquid was the one with the dominant genes and that Revolver Ocelot, under orders from President of the United States and Big Boss clone George Sears, was actually using the entire incident as a way to test the capabilities of the latest Metal Gear: REX.

Depending on what your actions were you either concluded your play through with Meryl or with Otacon, yet the official cannon seems to suggest that they both survive the events. And, like all of Kojima’s future Metal Gear titles, Solid Snake ends the game with a lengthy monologue voicing his feelings, and inadvertently Kojima’s feelings, about genetics, legacies, the dangers of passing down the wrong traits, and ultimately how we are individuals and that we can break free from our genetic fate with a strong enough will and ambition.

Kojima tried to preach a message of human will and overcoming, and he juggled this rather well with stealth, action, and a thrilling narrative. But, it would be the fans that craved more action and less context that would push Kojima and company into releasing the expanded version of Metal Gear Solid in Japan, subtitled Integral, which would see a partial release in the United States as the extra disc entitled Metal Gear Solid: VR Missions.

Gaming, Video Games

Metal Gear Solid (Pt. 2) | Metal Gear Mondays

!

Hello everyone. Last week we got a bit side-tracked from our regularly scheduled article due to the cryptic unveiling of a  potentially Metal Gear related trailer for unknown title: The Phantom Pain, which was shown at this year’s Video Game Awards on Spike TV. But, having taken our small detour, we’re now back on track to look at the gameplay aspects of the original Metal Gear Solid.

Metal Gear Solid (PSX, 1998, Konami)

Essentially being a fully 3D next-gen upgrade from the MSX2 days of Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, Metal Gear Solid plays practically identically to the previous games in the series. MGS features the use of stealth action gameplay to take the focus off of violence as the key to progressing, besides the boss fights, a series of gadgets and tactical gear used to allow the player to progress as well as hide more easily from opposition, and all of the radar systems that were implemented in Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake are also intact, along with a new first-person view mode to assist with planning routes through the enemy stronghold.

Most everything in the game, from the enemy weapons and tactics to the nuances of the architecture and building layout, was made with realism as the intent. When Hideo Kojima’s team shifted work on a then Metal Gear 3 from the 3DO, which had seen Kojima’s Policenauts, to the Sony Playstation, they renamed the title not only out of the thought that not many knew of the Metal Gear series, but also because they wanted to craft the most technically advanced, or solid, title for consoles at the time. Motosada Mori, known now for his tactical advisement to the Metal Gear Solid franchise, began his work with Kojima and the Metal Gear team because of this game, and the mindset for those working on the title was explicitly to create a world that the player could be fully immersed in, and it would be this sentiment that would permeate in every title following.

And Then There Were Giant Robots

But, “realism” aside, Metal Gear has always essentially been a tactical sci-fi stealth game, and so many of those anime tropes and giant mecha robo staples make a return to the series with this third entry. Solid Snake can use cigarettes to spot infrared lasers, much like he could in earlier titles, but you can also use heat seeking stinger missiles to battle a bi-pedal nuclear battle tank while using chaff grenades to render its radar useless. The mixture of realism and insanity is beautiful.

Kojima really began his emphasis of memorable boss fights with this title as well, and especially so when many of the series’s trademark villains all hail from the original Metal Gear Solid. We see the frenzied cat and mouse game with Revolver Ocelot and his ricocheting bullets, the hand-to-hand brawl with a “Cyborg Ninja” who reveals himself as much more, a battle with a beautiful sniper in the heart of a snow storm, and a head game with a psychic lunatic that breaks the fourth wall in a way that console gaming hadn’t at the time, on top of many more.

Particularly with that last boss fight that I detailed, Kojima began to utilize the influence of things outside of his game world to pull the player in with this game. As we’ve already discussed previously with the recently revealed The Phantom Pain trailer, Kojima has a pedigree of incorporating real world games into his video games, usually in the form of riddles and mind games, but this pedigree somewhat began with this original Metal Gear Solid title.

The two most famous instances of this occur when trying to find Meryl Silverburgh’s CODEC frequency and when battling the aforementioned boss Psycho Mantis. In the former, Solid Snake is told by the game’s cast to simply “check on the back of the CD case” and no mention of which CD case they could be talking about. But, when the player finally discovers that the “CD case” is actually the case for the game itself they feel quite accomplished and very well tricked. With the latter scenario, the combatant, Psycho Mantis, is able to read the player’s movements and prevent any damage from being taken by the player’s attacks, which occasionally cutting the television screen to black with text in the top right corner reading “HIDEO”. Solid Snake is eventually told by his compatriots that he must simply swap the controller into Port 2 to keep Psycho Mantis from reading his mind. This track was a great gag that threw players for a loop, but it also has the deeper implication attached to it that Psycho Mantis isn’t necessarily reading anyone’s mind or controlling game characters, but is instead fully aware of the fact that these events are occurring within a video game and is taking advantage of what that means. Granted, the character himself never admits awareness to this, and the game never embraces that in its cannon, but it is brought up prior to the battle itself when Psycho Mantis reads the contents of the player’s memory card and makes a judgement on the player’s taste in games.

But, I digress. Next week we’ll talk about the plot and narrative behind one of my favorite Metal Gear titles in the entire franchise. Y’all come back now, ya hear!

Video Games

The Phantom Pain | Metal Gear Mondays

As much as I would love to keep talking about Metal Gear Solid, I feel the need to turn your attention to something more current this week. We’ll be back to regularly scheduled MGM next week.

At this year’s Spike TV Video Game Awards 10, a trailer for a new game called The Phantom Pain (by an unknown “Swedish” studio, Moby Dick Studio) was shown.

This immediately set off many red flags within the gaming community. For starters, new game reveals and teases at the VGAs are normally reserved for AAA titles from well known developers or publishers, not unknown titles from a company that seemingly came from no where (Moby Dick Studio still has no social media presence, website, or online listings to speak of). On top of all of this, Moby Dick Studio representatives were seen in the Konami VIP section of the VGAs, and one of the Moby Dick Studio reps was confirmed via this Twitter picture to be none other than Kyle Cooper, the title sequence designer for Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater.

As every other article on the subject has done, let me go ahead and plug a thread on the forum Neogaf which has been credited with citing and speculating almost all of the positive information on the title. As the thread shows, here is the evidence that we have so far:

The Phantom Pain looks to be either a teaser for Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes, which is a direct sequel to Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, or for Metal Gear Solid 5, to which Ground Zeroes has been discussed to be a prologue to by series director Hideo Kojima.

The Phantom Pain is either a reference to Phantom Pains that one feels when losing a limb or an eye and imagines that the limb or eye is still available and operational, or a reference to a Ground Zeroes trailer plug line “From ‘FOX’, Two Phantoms were born” which could allude to the burned figure from the GZ trailer and Big Boss (the confirmed protagonist of GZ) who may be the two primary “patients” in the Phantom Pain trailer.

– There are several cameos/easter eggs from the Metal Gear universe within the trailer for The Phantom Pain, which could either be literal or part of the fever dream atmosphere that the trailer exudes. These include, but aren’t limited to, a flaming figure reminiscent of Col. Volgin from MGS3, white flower petals reminiscent of the flowers from where Naked Snake killed The Boss, a scientist that bears a striking resemblance to Dr. Kio Marv from Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, and a shrouded figure that appears to be wearing a version of Big Boss’s sneaking suit seen in Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops and Ground Zeroes.

A majority of the internet has become quite speculative in theorizing about the contents of this trailer, and with that many theories have started making the rounds. Two primary arguments that I’ve seen are that the protagonist of the trailer cannot be Big Boss due to the amputation and that the protagonist of the trailer might be Frank Jaeger, aka Gray Fox. I must say that I completely disagree with both of these assumptions, primary because Gray Fox’s origins were covered in Portable Ops and because Kojima has been very good about always showing Big Boss as gloved in both MGS1 and 4.

I personally think that The Phantom Pain is actually more of a fever dream or stream of consciousness sequence, as punctuated by the abundant Metal Gear references, the unbelievable sperm whale eating a helicopter, and the extremely odd scoring of the video. I sincerely believe that there is a secret to be had in the audio for this trailer, particularly because it isn’t contributing much of anything to the video, as far as timing or tension building is concerned. I think that the audio track sounds almost as if it’s from another source, or that it could be paired up with another audio track to fill in some of the gaps. Also, if this is trailer is in fact the work of writer/director/producer Hideo Kojima, I have no doubt that he could pull off a new Silent Hill title.

[UPDATE 12/12/12 : The sneaky detectives over at Neogaf have discovered that this trailer takes place in a hospital that may belong to an RAF base and hospital in Cyprus. For more clues, hints, speculation, and an overall entertaining read, please check out the official Neogaf thread here. There’s also a recut trailer that follows the events chronologically available in the thread.]

Only time will tell, but I’m extremely hyped for Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes and Metal Gear Solid 5 now!

Gaming, Video Games

Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake (Pt. 2) | Metal Gear Mondays (Tuesday Edition!)

This week we’ll be concluding our look into Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake for the MSX2 through a nice narrative refresher followed by light speculation on the series as a whole on toasted rye. Please check your jacket before being seated and be sure to tip your waiter.

STORY

Not unlike our current global energy status, the 21st century in the Metal Gear universe is facing an energy crisis of catastrophic proportions at the onset of Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake. It’s 1999 and the prices of gas are doubling and tripling at a terrifying rate, while all nations are burning their respective candles from both ends trying to find a renewable energy source to save them from downfall. Cue Dr. Kio Marv from the Czech Republic (I know, right?), who discovers the answer to everyone’s problems through the development of a special type of algae that he so eloquently dubs “OILIX” that has the ability of refining and purifying petroleum to the highest possible quality imaginable. And, just as you might have already suspected, Marv gets mysteriously abducted, just as geniuses with envelope pushing discoveries are prone to do, just prior to the world taking notice of his findings.

Who kidnapped Dr. Marv? Why would they kidnap him? And, who could be capable of recovering him?

“Zanzibar Land.”

1997. The Mercenary War. Independence. Killing Russians. These are all things that the denizens of Zanzibar Land, all of them mercenaries, were well known for, as well as nuclear weapons. Zanzibar Land had been fighting for global independence for two years prior to Marv’s abduction, and so it came as no surprise to the rest of the world, and Player 1, when Zanzibar Land was revealed to have kidnapped the Nobel Peace Prize Potential, a mear few frames after our brief history lesson on the Land of Zanzibar.

What else does this mercenary ran nation remind us, the hypothetical players of Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, of? Well, if you aren’t dense it should remind you of our brief discussion on Metal Gear, and primarily our master class on all things Outer Heaven and Big Boss. Surprise, surprise – Big Boss is the head hauncho behind the uprising in Zanzibar Land, as well as Dr. Marv’s body snatch and grab. But that’s not the only familiarity here. Solid Snake is once again sent in to dispatch of Big Boss, this time by FOX-HOUND veteran Roy Campbell, who assumes the role of Solid Snake’s voice of reason and commanding officer in Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake. Dr. Pettrovich rejoins the party as well, having been recaptured by Big Boss and forced to work on a new Metal Gear… allegedly.

With the help of awkwardly named CIA agent Horry, Holly White in all versions of the game proceeding the MSX2 release, and Gustava Heffner, Dr. Marv’s handler, Snake saves Pettrovich. But, things don’t go so smoothly following the rescue. While attempting to cross over into another part of Zanzibar Land to find Dr. Marv, Solid Snake is ambushed by none other than… … … GRAY FOX! That silly Frank Jaeger fires a rocket at Solid Snake from a Metal Gear that he is piloting, killing Gustava in the process, and takes Pettrovich back, leaving Solid Snake with a loose revenge subplot to keep him satisfied until the next boss battle.

Continuing towards his initial point of interest, prior to being blown away, Solid Snake eventually discovers Dr. Marv’s lifeless body and a deaf-mute Pettrovich idling standing. Coincidentally, maybe, Horry/Whorry/Holly/Holey contacts S. S. Nake to reveal the next plot twist: Pettrovich is a volunteer and he’s been making Metal Gear for Big Boss in his spare time since Metal Gear number 1! Now, after we take some time to collect ourselves immediately following our episode of throwing the controller down and staring at the TV with our jaws slack, we get the priceless opportunity to beat the living hell from Pettrovich, allowing Solid Snake to obtain the plans for “OILIX”.

Allowing us to ride this adrenaline rush continuously until the credits roll, Hideo Kojima’s next two bullet points for Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake include a fist fight with Gray Fox in a minefield, somewhat reminiscent of the Big Boss fight from MG1, which leaves Solid Snake a bit scarred, and finally a final showdown to finally conclude the lingering lack of finality with Big Boss. Solid Snake defeats Big Boss, yet again, and rides off into the sunset with “OILIX”, which is hardly ever referred to again in the Metal Gear universe, and Horry, who is definitely never referred to again in the Metal Gear universe besides in supplemental text included with Metal Gear Solid on the Playstation 1 and its remaster/reboot: Metal Gear Solid: Twin Snakes for the Nintendo Gamecube.

Solid Snake, unfortunately, has to live on with the PTSD of killing his friend Gray Fox and his mentor Big Boss for the rest of his days, so he decides to retire to Alaska. What will become of our hero? Isn’t Metal Gear Solid, the next title released canonically, simply referred to as a high-res port of Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake? What of Master Miller? Didn’t the guys responsible for the Snatcher score do the music for Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake? Alessio, why are you so articulately referring to our hero as Solid Snake constantly instead of simply Snake?

ANSWERS: 1) He will be called out of retirement for YET ANOTHER MISSION. 2) It has been referred to as such, yes. 3) I really cannot remember Master Miller’s ever subtle nuance from Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake. 4) Yes. 5) Because Snake is used so frequently and with such variance that “Snake” is always the protagonist but “Snake” isn’t always the same individual… get it?

        Check back next week for the game that revitalized interest in the Metal Gear name: Metal Gear Solid!

Video Games

Operation Intrude N313 : Metal Gear Mondays!

Two weeks ago we discussed some of the background information of the original Metal Gear which was released on the MSX2 in 1987. This week we’ll be jumping right into plot analysis and where Metal Gear fits into the Metal Gear Solid canon. Don’t worry, I won’t spoil information that is revealed in later titles, just the original Metal Gear.

Metal Gear takes place in 1995, North of Galzburg, South Africa, where a mercenary fortress called Outer Heaven resides. The player takes on the role of Solid Snake, a first time operative of FOXHOUND, a high-tech special forces group led by the Legendary Solider himself, Big Boss. Metal Gear is the first Metal Gear game ever directed, produced, and written by Hideo Kojima, but is canonically the fifth title in the Metal Gear Solid story-arc (including Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes which has been revealed will be occurring directly after the conclusion of Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker).

Solid Snake was a Green Beret in his teens and had been training to be a full-fledged operative for FOXHOUND for quite some time before being selected for his first mission. Initially it would be Gray Fox, another member of FOXHOUND, who was sent in to investigate suspicious reports pertaining to the mercenary encampment known as Outer Heaven, with the mission being codenamed Operation Intrude N312 (an allusion to the working title for Metal Gear, which was originally called Project N312). Gray Fox would be captured while conducting reconnaissance, and so the task would fall on rookie Solid Snake, whose primary objectives would be to locate and rescue Gray Fox and to investigate a mysterious weapon that Gray Fox spoke of in his reports, “Metal Gear… .”

Big Boss would be Solid Snake’s only informant going into Outer Heaven and Solid Snake would have to procure all of his supplies on site, after breaching the premises by way of water entrance. Big Boss would assist Solid Snake with any pertinent information, although mostly reminding Solid Snake of his objectives, what equipment would be best for the situation, and of where to go in the facility. Big Boss’s transceiver frequency would be 120.85 but would later mysteriously, and seemingly for no reason, change to 120.13.

Solid Snake makes short work of Outer Heaven’s defenses and security measures and makes contact with a number of rebels who have been held prisoner, including the resistance leader himself Kyle Schneider. After rescuing Kyle, learning about Diane and Steve, two other rebels who can be contacted via transceiver for information on enemies, and finally making contact with Gray Fox, Solid Snake is made aware of Metal Gear’s true capabilities. Metal Gear is revealed to be a bipedal tank capable of launching an undetected nuclear strike to anywhere in the world. Solid Snake’s next objective would be to rescue Dr. Madnar in order to learn how to keep such a weapon out of the hands of Outer Heaven’s mercenary force.

“Metal Gear…”

Solid Snake then practically takes Outer Heaven apart whilst searching for Dr. Madnar, fully establishing the Metal Gear series’ many tropes about back tracking to find new areas, absurd boss soldiers that must be defeated to progress, a battle with a tank and a helicopter (usually always a Hind D), gas masks, ID cards for locked doors, decoy people that die suddenly, and someone being forced to develop Metal Gear against their will. Solid Snake is then informed by a procured Dr. Madnar of the specifics involved in destroying Metal Gear, and Solid Snake proceeds to obtain the necessary materials, mainly a card key kept in the basement Dirty Duck. Defeating Dirty Duck also allows Solid Snake to rescue many hostages, which just goes to show how much of a “cool guy” Solid Snake is.

As Solid Snake proceeds to destroy Metal Gear, setting up “plastic explosives” all around Metal Gear TX-55’s feet, Big Boss then reveals that he sent Solid Snake in because the mission was thought to be a suicide mission. Big Boss and Outer Heaven’s mercenaries were always in the know and they never thought that Solid Snake would make it into the heart of the fortress, let alone far enough to meet Outer Heaven’s mastermind, Big Boss himself.

The beginning of the end…

As a sort of student surpassing his master, and mostly for the sake of humanity, Solid Snake begins combat with Big Boss, who seemingly has very little motive to be enacting such a devious plan. Solid Snake bests Big Boss and leaves him behind just as NATO sends a bombing run into the area to wipe Outer Heaven clean. A wounded Kyle Schneider is retrieved by NATO before Outer Heaven is demolished and Solid Snake completes his first real mission, saving the world from a new nuclear power in the process.

In 1987, when there was no promise of another Metal Gear title,  it seemed as if the game was an open and shut case, but as we know in retrospect, this is far from the truth. Looking back, the player has many questions left lingering:

What happens to Solid Snake and Gray Fox?
Why did NATO retrieve Kyle Schneider in such a mysterious way?
What happened to Big Boss?
Why did Big Boss betray Solid Snake?
Why would Big Boss be working for a group that aims to stop his real intentions?
Was there an ulterior motive to Solid Snake’s being in Outer Heaven?

And these are all questions that are mostly answered in Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, which we will be talking about next week!

Don’t forget, if you have any questions or need clarification, please let me know in the comments and I’ll be sure to address any and all of you!