By Tom Surette
I have a clear memory of the first time that I completed a Metal Gear Solid game. It was Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty on the PlayStation 2, shortly after the game’s release. I had previously played both Metal Gear Solid and Metal Gear Solid: VR Missions, but since I was a N64 kid, I only got to play bits of them here and there at friends’ houses. MGS2 was the first game of series that I completed and the one that made me an instant fan. The moment I remember most about the game was the last scene, a conversation between Solid Snake and Otacon.
Raiden: Snake, what about Olga’s child?
Snake: Don’t worry. I’ll find him. Count on it. As long as you keep yourself alive, he’s safe. (Konami, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty)
Raiden: I get it – analyze the code and you can probably find out where they operate. Count me in—
Snake: No, you have things to do first. And people you need to talk to… (Konami, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty)
Right after that conversation the game wraps up the melodramatic soap opera that was the Raiden-Rose relationship and the credits roll, leaving me eagerly awaiting Metal Gear Solid 3. I was so pumped at the end of that game I had to get my hands on anything related to Metal Gear Solid – Metal Gear, Metal Gear Solid, VR Missions, Ghost Babel. I even tried emulating a version Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake but couldn’t figure out how to get around the Japanese to English translation, and was thwarted by the first fence I encountered, because I couldn’t figure out how to crawl. I devoured the series and nothing could appease my appetite for what was coming next in the story. I could only wonder the endless possibilities for the next installment.
Where was Olga’s child?
Who were the Patriots?
How will Snake stop them?
What the heck was up with Ocelot’s arm?
I hate admitting that I was disappointed when I first saw the concept art for MGS3, because I sound like an annoying fan who can never be satisfied, but I was. The magazine that revealed the game wouldn’t come out and say that the picture was of Big Boss at the time, nor would Hideo Kojima confirm it, but everyone knew you’d be playing as Big Boss in MGS3. This would be fine if I didn’t want to pick up where I left off, completing the mission that was established in MGS2, which wouldn’t be possible in a prequel.
As we got closer to MGS3’s release date my disappointment subsided. My MGS fandom kicked up into high gear and I couldn’t wait to step into Big Boss’s shoes. We all knew that Big Boss was a legendary soldier who was feared by all in the battlefield, and until I actually played the role, I could only imagine what kind of skills he possessed. I couldn’t pull myself away from the game, completing it in two marathon sessions within 24 hours from purchase. Needless to say, the game met my high expectations.
Sometime after, early footage of MGS4 came available. I was a little surprised about Solid Snake becoming Old Snake, but whatever, it’s the continuation of the mission I began all the way back in 2001 - the one that I was longing to play. Finally the day came. June 12, 2008, I got to place my copy of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots into my new PlayStation 3. After a few install screens and some artsy Kojima propaganda videos, I come to learn that Snake had acquired Olga’s child already and Raiden became a friggin’ cyborg.
Two questions immediately came to my mind:
1) When the hell did this all happen?
2) Why couldn’t I play that?
I mean, that’s the game I waited seven long years for! Not only that, but at the time, Kojima was billing MGS4 as being the final Metal Gear Solid game to feature the quasi-titular character, Solid Snake. After all that time waiting, I’d have to part ways with my hopes of once again donning the bandana and playing a game that would take place between MGS2 and MGS4. All I could do was hope that the series would pick up with Raiden, and fill in the events that took place during that time.
I preferred Snake over Raiden, like everyone else, but it wasn’t like I hated the Raiden. Actually, I even preferred the whiney boy band version of the character over the melancholy emo-cyborg-ninja version of him in MGS4. But either way, I could deal. The progression of the character would be interesting enough to carry the series on, even if Snake wasn’t present. And worst case, if I ever wanted to be Snake again, I could, with Boss’s emerging PSP series. Sadly, the story of how Raiden saved Olga’s child and became a ninja robot was both announced and then quickly cancelled; and my hopes were once again hacked and slashed.
Metal Gear seems like it’s going to continue on, but now as MGSV: Ground Zeroes has showed us, it’s without Solid/Old Snake and without signs of returning towards the end of the saga’s timeline. Big Boss has outgrown the PSP. Not only has he outgrown the PSP, but he’s also now encroaching Solid Snake as the most outings as the series’ main protagonist. And most baffling to me, I’m beginning to meet people who have no interest in Solid Snake, as they had become fans with MGS3, and MGS4 is the only game they’ve played to feature the original hero of the series. I imagine these are the same people who watch the original Star Wars trilogy and complain that there’s too much Luke and not enough Anakin.
This is where we get to my main point: where are we going from here?
With David Hayter no longer voicing Boss – a continuity pet peeve of mine – it’s easy to imagine that we’re gearing up for a remake of Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2, as the remakes could feature both Solid Snake and Boss with different voice actors and not be confusing… You know, the same thing they managed to pull off at the end of MGS4. And if that were to happen, what kind of game would it be? Would we get the more sympathetic Big Boss - the George Lucas retconned version, to keep the analogy going - that this new generation adores, or is Phantom Pain going to address why the man went off the deep end and became a villain?
Did he become a villain or was Big Boss supposed to be a misunderstood tragic hero?
I find it difficult to empathize with someone who has lines likes, “I gave a rookie like you this mission to let you report false information. But, you’ve gone too far, too far! Solid Snake, I won’t die for nothing. You die with me! Come on!” (Konami, Metal Gear)
But what about the missing chapter?
When are we going to find out what happened in that gap of time between MGS2 and MGS4? A lot seems to happen during that time period, certainly enough to provide material for Solid Snake/David Hayter to have one last hurrah before FOXDIE writes him off for good.
I still love Metal Gear, and hope I don’t come off as ungrateful. The series has provided me with some of my greatest gaming memories and I eagerly await each new installment. There’s just a small part of me that’s still sitting in front of my TV, listening to Can’t Say Goodbye to Yesterday play over credits, wondering what Solid Snake’s next adventure will be.
Metal Gear. Pub. Konami Dir. Hideo Kojima. 1987. MSX.
Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. Pub. Konami Dir. Hideo Kojima. 2001. PlayStation 2.