Another 80s-90’s action movie franchise made it’s mark on Metal Gear-and in a pretty visible way right out of the gate.
Warning: Spoilers for both series follow.
Here’s the original Metal Gear box art. A similar design was also used for the NES version of the game.
Now here’s Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) from Terminator, a publicity shot of him in his ‘future war’ gear.
It’s obvious that the box art is somewhat lifted from this publicity shot with very little change. Actor Michael Biehn’s look also seems to also have influence the NES-only non-canon sequel, “Snake’s Revenge”:
(Although with that shoulder pad looking a lot more like something his ALIENS character, Corporal Hicks, would wear).
In the original game, one of the boss characters are the “Arnolds”, or “Bloody Brads”, android units that are apparently developed by Dr. Madnar, who also designed the TX-55 Metal Gear. Although seen mainly as pixelish bosses in game, their appearance in a Metal Gear Solid IV database shows them sporting a haircut and sunglasses similar to their namesake.
In Metal Gear Solid II and V, we’re presented with a bit of a switch-you’re not exactly playing as the character you thought you were. In II this is revealed pretty early on-although you play Solid Snake in the initial chapter, and the game was mainly marketed as featuring Solid Snake, the majority of the game is played with Raiden. Likewise, in V, it turns out that the Venom Snake you play in the game is not in fact the real Big Boss, but a double with false memories and face (but eventually worthy of the title anyway).
Metal Gear Solid II’s box art, clearly showing Solid Snake….and below, the guy you play in most of the game.
Terminator 2 does a similar twist of expectations when it turns out the friendly-looking officer is in fact the bad guy and the tough-looking guy who looks like the bad guy from the first film is in fact the good guy. (Although some marketing spoiled the reveal, and the fact that the Arnold Terminator didn’t quite kill the guys in the bar at the opening was a big hint he was a kinder, gentler robot, although one that still meant business).
The use of lightning is also used in both franchises. In Metal Gear, it happens when the stealth camo is shut off; in Terminator, it heralds the arrival of a time-travelling hero or Terminator-with both in prone positions.
In both franchises, the endgame usually involves a maleovalent AI system. In Metal Gear, it’s the Patriots, an AI system developed by Major Zero which eventually starts to control the internet and throught it most of the world, using internet information censorship and creating an economy dependent on war.
Although it mainly seems to rule humanity, whereas Skynet from Terminator pretty much wants to take over the world, and destroys most of humanity in judgement day. In Terminator III and Terminator Genesys, Skynet’s plans usually involve some form of the internet, similar to the Patriot’s control.
In both franchises we’ve seen Skynet use avatars of a sort. In Salvation it’s Helena Bonham Carter’s character…
Whereas Genesiys uses Matt Smith’s character as a sort of host.
For their avatar and ‘voice’ the Patriots use a twisted version of Solid Snake’s friend Colonel Campbell to manipulate Raiden, as well as one of his girlfriend, Rose (with the real Rose eventually cut off).
Ironically, the real Colonel and the real Rose would get ‘married’ although this was a ruse to confuse the Patriots, and Raiden eventually returned to her.
Both franchises also sort of deal with fate in a few ways; In Metal Gear, it’s mainly about the fate of Solid Snake, if his purpose is written in his cloned genes from Big Boss (same with his brother Liquid and to a lesser degree, Solidus), as well as free will. Terminator of course deals with changing what appears to be a set future by both the Connor’s and Skynet (although this has been ‘retconned’ a few times).