So a while ago I wrote a piece about my top five upcoming games. Although since then the list has changed around a bit in my mind, one thing remains constant: “Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain” at number one. These days it’s rare I actually look forward to any games as such- I approach them with cautious optimism at most and complete negativity at worst. There are games I anticipate with genuine affection though, and in that regard I planned this article for a while, as a tie-in to my wait for MGSV. A few ground rules had to be considered before hand. Those of you who have already glanced down the list may have seen that it does lean rather heavily on the exploits of Big Boss. This is for two reasons: firstly he’s incredibly important to the overall plot of the series (he’s arguably the most important alongside Ocelot) and two he’s my favorite character, and this is a list based entirely on my experiences with the games. The one main rule I established for the list was that it can only include games in the “Metal Gear Solid” series- no “Metal Gear” or “Metal Gear Rising”. I’ve put the moments in order as best I can- a lot of them I deem worthy of the top spot. Finally: I love Metal Gear Solid. It’s my second favorite franchise. In fact it may even be my favorite when you consider the inconsistent quality of “Silent Hill”, which I consider my number one. I’ve been playing MGS for years, and I love everything about it. Every ridiculous, over-blown, nonsensical bone in its body. Except for MGS2. I like that one, but less than the others. So, onto the list:
Oh, spoilers obviously. Major spoilers.
1. “This is good… isn’t it?”
Who’s involved? Big Boss, Old Snake
What happens? Big Boss finally dies, after insisting Snake stop fighting.
After an entire accelerated life of fighting, and after completing his final, most important mission, there’s one last loose end for Solid Snake to tie up. He goes to the grave of MGS3 character “The Boss” (more on her later) to kill himself only to be interupted by his clone “father” Big Boss (long thought to be dead). Big Boss explains what happened to him between “Metal Gear 2” and “MGS4”, kills his old friend turned enemy Major Zero and after a touching embrace and the only real father-son moment the two share in the series he is killed by the virus emanating from Snake. He dies against The Boss’ gravestone, smoking a cigar, exiting on the reflection “This is good… isn’t it?”
Why is it in here?
For three reasons: One, it’s the genuinely surprising return of Big Boss, back to explain what the hell really happened to him, two: the moment he has with his “Son” is genuinely touching, as he implores Snake to stop fighting and live a normal life, and three: Big Boss dies. The big man himself bows out in as dramatic a fashion as he chronologically entered the series in “Metal Gear Solid 3”. “MGS4” was all about tying up loose ends and bringing a conclusion to it all, and what better way than to have Big Boss and Solid Snake have one last moment together?
2. “History will never know what she did.”
Who’s involved? Naked Snake, Eva
What happens? The first steps towards “Outer Heaven” are taken, as Naked Snake experiences the ultimate betrayal.
The main plot of “MGS3” involves main character Naked Snake (the young Big Boss) on a mission in Russia with one of his objectives being to terminate his mentor “The Boss”- the greatest living soldier, and the person who taught him everything he knows- who has defected to the Soviet Union. When he finally achieves this goal (the act itself enough to emotionally rip him in half), it’s revealed to him afterwards by Chinese spy “Eva” that his beloved mentor never actually defected. She was on a secret mission to steal the wealth of “The Philosopher’s Legacy”, which went sour when an insane Russian Colonel fired a nuke at a Russian base. Rather than lose the legacy, they threw her to the dogs and had her own student kill her. Snake visits her grave, salutes, and cries.
Why is it in here?
After a game that follows a more adventurous, at times melodramatic tone with a lot of humor throne in, the genuinely emotional climax is brought in to knock the wind out of you- getting a real reaction from events that feel logical while also being a good twist to it all. Also, this is where it starts- the US government are shown to be pretty shady in the MGS universe, and this is Ground Zero for Big Boss/Naked Snake’s decision to abandon it and form “Outer Heaven”. It’s also a fantastic ending to a fantastic game. I love it.
3. Return to Shadow Moses
Who’s Involved? Old Snake
What happens? A generation of gamers have a metaphorical homecoming.
For the fourth chapter of MGS4, Kojima took the series back to its roots with a loving, HD remake of Shadow Moses island- the setting of “Metal Gear Solid”- the first “Metal Gear” game many people played, myself included. Though the whole chapter takes place here and is pretty much all excellent set-pieces, one particularly stands out- the heliport. The first outdoor area you come cross in the original, here it’s thoroughly drenched in nostalgia. The wonderful ending theme “The best is yet to come” is played, various nods and flashbacks to the original can be activated (including Snake pining for the good old days of “overhead view”) and the whole thing opens with the original section carried over verbatim. It’s lovely.
Why is it in here?
It’s a lovingly recreated, beautiful nostalgia trip of the highest caliber. You don’t have to go around finding the flashbacks, but for me, a homecoming to Shadow Moses was far too good to miss.
Speaking of Shadow Moses…
4. “Snake… do you like me?”
Who’s involved? Solid Snake, Meryl Silverburgh, Psycho Mantis
What happens? Psycho Mantis appears, as the most interesting boss fight of MGS1 begins
MGS1 had one of the better teams of strange bosses: Fox Hound. About a third of the way through the game Snake encounters floating, telekinetic mind-reader Psycho Mantis, whose powers include making the screen go black, reading your memory card, making your controller stop working and possessing ally Meryl Silverbergh. He also has a creepy theme song, which acts as his “Mind Control Music”. He’s fun to fight, a cool idea and one of the more memorable fights in the game.
Why is it on here?
He’s an original idea for a boss, his “powers” are a humorous addition that was pretty impressive back in the day, and his fight offered something different than simply hiding behind cover and choosing the right moment to strike. The idea of turning Meryl against Snake was also a good one.
5. “This is Outer Heaven”
Game: MGS Peace Walker
Who’s involved? Big Boss, Militaires Sans Frontières
What Happens? Big Boss gives a rousing speech to his troops as Outer Heaven is born
After the credits roll for the second time on the excellent “Peace Walker”, the game cuts to a title screen. Footsteps are heard. Big Boss takes the microphone and outlines his Outer Heaven idea to his amassed troops. “…our purpose defined by the era we live in. We will sometimes have to sell ourselves, and services. If the times demand it, we’ll be revolutionaries, criminals, terrorists…”.
Why is it in here?
It’s one hell of a speech. Outer Heaven is born as Big Boss finally makes his dream a reality with a great choice of words that make the hair on one’s neck stand up. Much as I said about “MGS4”, what better way to end “Peace Walker” – a game all about Snake building up his personal army without a nation – than Big Boss succeeding and making Outer Heaven a reality? It’s a strong end.
This is starting to run on rather a bit, so I’ll break things off here. Look out for Part 2 of this list (6-10), which will be on here tomorrow at the latest.
By James Lambert
(The image was taken from this site but it belongs to Konami. I claim no ownership of the image or what is depicted in it)
5. I took myself.