This is a repost from Chrismaier.thoughts.com. I’ll be moving more content to this new web address as time goes by.
Anyway, I’d like to share some info on a series I’ve become rather fond of-Hideo Kojima’s “Metal Gear”, or perhaps known better as “Metal Gear Solid”. This first article will attempt to summarize as much as possible the story elements of the first part of the story, dealing with the man known as Jack/Snake/Big Boss, the first “Snake”. Like with the Star Wars films, despite coming out later than the original games, Metal Gear 3 and 5 and the PSP game Peace Walker form a sort of “prequel trilogy” of sorts, detailing the backstory to the later installments which feature Snake’s “Son”, David/Solid Snake.
In a nutshell, the video game series-available on a variety of platforms (mostly Sony ones though) spans 50 years, and deals with a group of military men with the codename “Snake”. Their missions often involve the giant “Walking tank” Metal Gear-which, in design, is somewhat reminiscent of the “Star Wars” walkers-which often has a nuclear payload. The games utilize stealth-instead of simply shooting everything in sight, the games are more occupied with stealth-you basically have to keep out of an enemy’s line of sight, using force only when necessary. In later games, you can even stun and recruit soldiers for your own private army.
But it’s far more complex than that. In most installments, the series deals with not only the basic definition up above, but also personal and cultural identity, the themes of deterrence, and the somewhat thin line between heroism and villainy. Or, as Harvey Dent put it in the film the Dark Knight, “You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain”.
The story begins in the Cold War-as detailed in “Metal Gear Solid III: Snake Eater”. A nuclear scientist has been extradited to Russia to help ease tensions after the Cuban missile crisis. An operative Jack or “Naked Snake” of the FOX unit-is sent to a Russian jungle to rescue him, supported by a team who he keeps in contact with using radio-Major Zero (David Oh), Para-Medic(Dr.Clark) Sigint (Donald Anderson) and the mysterious Eva. Also aiding Snake is his mentor, World War II vet The Boss, a middle-aged female soldier and also old friend of Major Zero as well. Snake also comes across a man known by the code name “Ocelot”-a somewhat full-of-himself Russian soldier whose loyalties are a bit of a mystery.
Snake as we first meet him.
However, things start becoming complicated almost immediately. Turns out the scientist is being used by a sadistic colonel Volgin to develop a nuclear tank-The Shagohod-and then things get even worse-Snake is betrayed by the Boss, who has defected to Volgin’s side along with her World War II unit, the Cobras. In order to secure her defection, she gives Volgin a small nuclear missile as well-which, unfortunately, he then uses on a facility of his own men.
Snake is able to escape back to the states, but unfortunately Volgin’s act has severe consequences, nearly causing the Cold War to heat up, as Russia blames the US for the Boss’s defection and the nuclear explosion. Snake and his crew are sent back into action to clear the United States, destroy the Shagohod,and also re-rescue Sokolov. However, there is a price-he must kill his former mentor.
Things of course still don’t go as planned. Snake is captured and severely injures an eye during torture, which causes him to wear an eyepatch that will be the trademark of this particular Snake for the rest of his life. He eventually destroys the Shagohod as well, but is forced to kill the Boss shortly thereafter, to prevent all-out war. However, he learns the Boss’s true intentions were good all along-she needed to get close to Volgin to steal a microfilm in his possession, which includes the location of a vast fortune amassed by “The philosophers”, a group of men who put together a secret fund to rebuild war-torn countries. She also, before being killed by Snake, says she envisions a world without borders…something that will drive the rest of the series chronologically going forward. However, when Volgin did his nuclear thing, she has to ‘take the fall’ for the United states and be killed to ensure peace.
Returning to the United States after killing the boss, Snake is given the title “Big Boss”, but is distraught over killing his mentor. At the end of “Snake Eater” he sheds a single tear as he salutes her gravestone.
Now things get a bit more complicated. Snake and Major Zero decide they want to bring the Boss’s vision of a unified world into reality. Together with the other “Snake Eater” characters, they form The Patriots, using Snake/Big Boss’s fame as a rallying point. However, Big Boss and Major Zero start to have a falling out-especially when Zero decides to start the “Les infant Terribles” project-which uses Snake’s DNA to clone him, as insurance should Big Boss ever leave, to keep his ‘image’ alive. The result of the project-Three “sons”-David, Eli, and George (David and Eli are at least carried by Eva, although their mitochrondical DNA comes from a Japanese woman). Disgusted that he was cloned without his consent, Snake/Big Boss leaves the Patriots for good, and decides to start his own private mercenary army- “Militaries San frontierias” (Military without Borders) in Costa Rica. Thus begins the PSP portable title, “Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker”.
The initial Patriots: Ocelot (Adam) Eva/Big Mama, Snake/Big Boss, Major Zero/David Oh, Para-Medic/Doctor Clark, and Signt/Donald Anderson, with the Boss in the background. With the exception of Eva, more or less, all these characters will end up becoming villains, pretty much.
Aided by the charismatic Kazuhira Miller, Snake’s army-also known as “Outer Heaven” begins to grow. However, things start to turn again when Snake is shown compelling evidence by a Professor (Galvez) and his student (Paz Ortega) that his mentor-the Boss-might’ve faked her death when he hears a recording of her voice. He is also aided by a local guerilla group, led by the tough Amanda and her younger brother, Chico.
Investigating this, Snake discovers a rogue CIA project-Peace Walker-an attempt to build a nuclear armed robot, but with more of a bipedal feature than the previous Shagohod. This robot’s ‘brain’ and it’s voice is an AI modeled after The Boss (hence the recording). It attempts to launch a nuke, but Snake is able to stop the countdown and talk the department of defense out of a retaliation as they pick up the potential launch. Snake also befriends the scientists Huey Emmerich and Strangelove, developers of the AI-who will play a much larger role in things as time goes on.
Peace Walker’s cast represented by Mountain Dew tie in.
But things aren’t over. Snake is inspired to create his own nuclear robot-the first true Metal Gear (ZEKE) as protection for MSF (The roots of the Metal Gear project lie in Operation Snake Eater, where it was considered as an alternative to the Shagohod; Huey used the blueprints to develop Peace Walker, and later ZEKE). However, Paz turns out to be a double agent for Cipher/Zero/The Patriots, and attempts to use the Metal Gear and force Snake to rejoin the Patriots and his old friend and commanding officer, Major Zero. After a fierce battle, Paz falls into the Ocean, and Snake becomes even more determined to mold his army into a nation of it’s own-Outer Heaven.
Snake on a rescue mission. “Kept you waiting, huh?”
Months later, it turns out Paz isn’t dead-in the prelude to Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, but imprisoned by the Patriots (now called Cipher) and their strike force XOF (A backwards spelling of Snake’s former unit, FOX)-led by the scarred and deranged leader Skull Face-at a site in Cuba. Not only that, Chico, attempting to rescue her, is also kidnapped. Snake tries to rescue them, but it’s a trap-Snake’s MSF base is destroyed by XOF, and Paz herself is booby-trapped with explosives, which detonate (despite her efforts to jump out of the way of Snake and co.)killing not only Paz but also Chico, and badly injuring Snake, Kaz and a helicopter medic.
9 years pass. Snake recovers from a coma, but his body is riddled with shrapnel and he’s lost an arm. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain begins. Snake, aided by another patient, escape the hospital as it’s attacked by XOF, aware of his awakening and sending the bizarre bad guys Man On Fire-a pyrokinetic who is, in fact, a reanimated Colonel Volgin-and the bizzare floating and vanishing child “Psycho Mantis” to eliminate him, as well as a series of elite troops (Including sniper “Quiet”). In the ensuing chaos, Snake escapes and is rescued by Ocelot, although the other patient vanishes.
Snake has his arm replaced with a bionic one. He rescues and reunites with Miller, and along with Ocelot, they rebuild their mercenary organization. Now, it’s called “Diamond Dogs” . With the help of former XOF operative Quiet-the mute sniper injured in the hospital attack but mutated by Skull Face-and Code Talker, a Native American scientist forced to develop weapons for them, They soon stumble upon a plot by XOF -who, led by Skull Face-have ousted Major Zero in a coup (reducing him to a vegetable state)-to realize a twisted version of the Boss’s vision by using viruses to eliminate the English language, and also using a new Metal Gear (designed by Huey and Strangelove, who have been captured by XOF)to enforce it. Huey is rescued and the Metal Gear damaged, although Strangelove is missing. However, it’s soon made clear that Emmerich is a traitor obsessed with the Metal Gear and making a little cash on the side (as well as saving his own skin), and killed Strangelove after she refused to let Huey use their son-Hal-as a test subject for the Metal Gear. Diamond Dogs exiles Huey-but not before he unleashes a virus that decimates Snake’s men, and allows a child soldier-Eli, as it turns out-to steal the Metal Gear.
After losing Quiet on a mission, something triggers memories in Snake:turns out this Snake-codenamed “Venom”-is not “Naked Snake”/Big Boss at all, but a surgically altered body double-formerly the helicopter medic-to protect the real Snake/Big Boss-who was the other patient at the hospital. “Venom” however is not terribly bothered by this-and plays his role, as the real Snake briefs him on a new mission-Operation Intrude..
Next up: The Solid Snake games.