For nearly 25 years, the first Metal Gear Solid game has and continues to stand as the most fan requested video game to get a movie adaption and still not get one. No other video game comes close. Why? Because the game’s presentation is itself literally a blockbuster movie.
…That may actually be why to date, we are still waiting for a movie adaptation: It’s already perfect as it is.
Like its sequel Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, MGS1 was a game far ahead of its time in terms of storytelling and attention to detail. Some critics of the series like to contrast the game being a masterpiece to the fact none of the games that followed it were able to hold a candle to the first one but I won’t digress.
The game’s signature hallmark is actually included in the game’s full title: Tactical Espionage Action. Emphasis on “Tactical Espionage”.
Metal Gear Solid was actually the third Metal Gear Solid game. The first two, Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake–both are heavily referenced in MGS1 on that note–were both stealth games but MGS1 makes that the key mechanic for navigating the game from start to finish.
It makes sense when you consider the backdrop for the game which is something out of the early 2000s TV show 24: A rogue mercenary group takes over a base in a remote Alaskan Nuclear Weapons Disposal Facility. It just so happens the facility was also being used to secretly develop a new nuclear-equipped walking battle tank: Metal Gear Rex. Due to the sensitive nature of the situation as well as conflicting political and corporate interests, a lone highly trained operative with plenty of experience is chosen infiltrate the facility and diffuse the crisis.
Going in outnumbered, outgunned and with only 24 hours to complete what’s basically a suicide mission, Solid Snake must prioritize stealth over engaging the enemy just to survive. This is where the game’s trademark stealth infiltration mechanics come to bear. In case it isn’t obvious, series creator Hideo Kojima consulted with former Navy SEAL and Delta Force members for the development of both MGS1 and MGS2. How would a lone highly trained soldier thrust into that kind of situation react and respond to not just the kinetic threat in front of them but the awareness of the threat of a nuclear strike and a limited window with which to resolve everything? The lengths Kojima went to put the player in Snake’s shoes is what makes you empathize with him especially during the constant lows he encounters during the course of the game.
That brings me to Solid Snake’s dysfunctional family dynamic as it is specifically why he’s involved with this mission. To understand Snake’s origins, you need to turn the clock backwards to MGS3. In that game we’re first introduced to his father, Big Boss who is a rookie special ops soldier. In the aftermath of that game, Big Boss decides to start a mercenary outfit which is explored in the PSP Metal Gear Solid Games. During that time, soldiers and vets from around the world rallied under the banner of the charismatic mercenary leader. He became known as a capable leader and commander who could complete any job no matter the circumstances.
Fast forward to Solid Snake’s first game, Metal Gear. As a member of Fox Hound, Solid Snake is sent in to infiltrate Outer Heaven, a mercenary compound in Guyana to rescue POWs and confirm rumors of a powerful new weapon rumored to be located somewhere inside. It is during the course of this mission that Snake first meets his friend Frank Jaeger aka Grey Fox, who is considered the greatest living soldier alive. It as at the end of the mission that Snake learns Big Boss, the man in charge of the mission who’d been giving him advice up to now was in fact the leader of Outer Heaven. Snake manages to beat Big Boss and escapes to safety.
Three years later, Snake is sent into Zanzibarland. This is where the second game Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake takes place. Snake runs into his old friend Grey Fox again but this time, they’re on opposite sides. Snake manages to kill his best friend–which comes back to haunt him in MGS1, more on this later–and more importantly, Big Boss. Before Snake kills the legendary soldier, Big Boss tells him that he’s his father.
Liquid Snake explains the rest in MGS1. One day after Big Boss was gravely injured, the governent took a DNA sample and used it to clone him. We know who two of the children born from that were: Solid and Liquid Snake. A third son, Solidus is mentioned during MGS1’s postcredits audio conversation and we meet him properly in MGS2. After Big Boss is killed, the U.S. Government takes possession of his body and more so given his DNA is considered a treasure trove. That and $1 Billion happens to be two of the demands levied by Liquid Snake. I’ll explain the third later.
Throughout the game, Snake will encounter and do his best to evade the Next Generation Special Forces who make up the majority of Fox Hound’s manpower on Shadow Moses Island. These soldiers are veterans who’ve seen their share of combat. What makes them even more dangerous is they were also genetically modified. This is why they are also called Genome Soldiers. With their genetically enhanced senses of sight, smell and hearing, your textbook run and gun tactics will fast-track Snake into a body bag. It doesn’t matter how many enemies you kill, reinforcements will keep coming until they’ve overwhelmed Snake. For the most part the Genome Soldiers fight smarter, not harder.
When Snake is discovered by an enemy or surveilance camera (or trips an infrared beam), they sound the alert and go into Search and Destroy mode. The Soliton Radar (The minimap) is disabled and is replaced by a timer with three color codes as follows:
- Red (Alert): The enemy has spotted Snake and is actively trying to dispatch him. Get out of the sight of the enemy long enough to transition to the next level. Electronic doors and elevators will also be locked during this time.
- Yellow (Searching): The enemy is actively looking to for Snake and know he is nearby. If Snake is spotted, things go back to the previous mode. If Snake manages to stay hidden, things will transition to the next level. Electronic doors and elevators will still be locked during this time.
- Green (All Clear): The enemy has determined Snake is no longer in the area and transitions back to standard patrol protocols. If Snake is able to stay hidden, the all clear will be given and you will regain the use of the Minimap. In addition, Elevators and electronic doors will be usable again. If Snake is spotted during this time, things go back to Alert Mode.
You absolutely cannot ignore this mechanic outside a few scripted moments in the game. This also places a very heavy emphasis on strategy and more so when you need to get past patrolling guards to proceed. If you manage to ambush and quietly kill a guard without triggering an alert, you’ll be rewarded with a random item such as rations or ammo.
When you’re outside mainly at the helipad or snowfield, guards will spot your footprints and follow them (“Whose footprints are these?”). You can get guards to move out of the way without engaging them by knocking on walls or posts. The guard will temporarily step off their route to investigate the source of the sound (“Huh? What was that noise?”). This attention to detail is quite sophisticated for the time to say the least.
Two of the boss encounters involves not one but two real world military vehicles: The U.S. Army’s M1A1 Abrams Tank and the Russian Military’s Mil Mi-24 Hind D helicopter. Normally, a single soldier would not be able to take down one, let alone both with only what they found unless they were highly trained. Let’s break things down a bit more, shall we?
The Abrams last saw combat in the second Iraq Conflict where it served as the vanguard of the U.S. invasion. No other country’s tank brigades can hold a candle to what was then the most technologically sophisticated tank in the world. That’s still true now. As highlighted in the game, the tank really only has two weaknesses: The interior and the tank’s built-in anti-personnel tracking system. You’ll need to jam the tank’s tracking system which you can with Chaff Grenades. That keeps the tank’s main gun silent from a distance and forces a soldier to man the turret atop the tank. Get in close, toss a few grenades and eventually you’ll disable the tank.
Mind you, these same tactics would work in an obviously much less likely to happen real life scenario. I’ve spoken to quite a few military vets who’ve worked on or around tanks. Many of them have played MGS1 and they will tell you in no uncertain terms it’s common sense to a soldier anywhere in the world if they want to destroy a tank without anti-tank weapons, they need to either get inside or preferably, throw a grenade inside.
The Hind D is to Russia what the Blackhawk is to the U.S. The difference is the Hind can more easily navigate enclosed areas and make tight turns. In the hands of an experienced pilot like Liquid Snake, it’s damn-near unstoppable. The first time we see the Hind D, Liquid is getting into it to go intercept two F-16s. Liquid probably knew they were sent over to draw him out and buy time for Snake to get inside. By the time Snake infiltrates the first building, Campbell reports Liquid has already shot down both F-16s. That’s pretty impressive given the Hind D should have been outmatched by the F-16s AND there was a blizzard going on as well. That’s a situation where Liquid’s skill made up for both the hardware and weather handicaps he was working with.
That brings me to Snake’s duel with the Hind D atop the Communications Tower. Let’s be blunt, under normal circumstances a lone commando would have no chance. The Hind can be operated with one or two pilots. Liquid was alone when he shot down the F-16s but he had a co-pilot when he took on Snake. My guess is while Liquid operated the main weapons, his co-pilot was doing the actual flying. The Hind D’s onboard tracking systems neutralized the disadvantages of flying at night in bad weather. It also helped the target was in relatively open space with little cover. For all intents and purposes, the Hind should have won very easily.
What happened? Snake was that damn good. Stinger Missile launchers have been in the news a lot lately because the U.S. shipped them by the thousands to Ukraine over the last two months. They actually require very little training and can be used by a single person. That makes them extremely versatile to say the least. Oh and yeah Liquid should have died when the Hind went down. All I can really say is plot armor is why he survived.
Since I’ve already covered two of the bosses, I might as well discuss the others. There be spoilers for not just this game but in the case of one, MGS2 and MGS3 as well. Consider yourself warned.
You didn’t know it at the time but Decoy Octopus was actually the first member of Fox Hound you meet. When Snake drops into the cell where the DARPA Chief was being held, he suddenly dies of a heart attack. When we see his body later in the game, it looks like his blood had been drained. Grisly and odd to say the least given to that point, only a few hours had passed. After your second encounter with Vulcan Raven, you learn the man who died way back at the beginning of the game was really Decoy Octopus in disguise! Why did Fox Hound go that far? You’ll find out why in a bit.
Decoy Octopus was a master of disguise. He literally became the subjects he impersonated ala the movie Master of Disguise. He has impersonated so many people for so long, he often had to undergo deprogramming afterward. He had his ears surgically removed and his cheekbones shaved to make it easier to impersonate a wider range of people. I’m also going to presume he underwent gender reassignment surgery and hormone treatment to be able to better impersonate women. As is revealed in MGS1, Decoy Octopus wore a mask and even perfectly copied the DARPA Chief’s voice. That’s pretty impressive to say the least.
Although he’s officially introduced in MGS1, Chronologically he first appears 30 years earlier during the events of MGS3. In this game, he is the first boss encounter and the first member of Fox Hound Snake encounters. Snake walks into the room where the ArmsTech President is being held but there’s two huge problems. The first is he’s been tied up and strapped to a post surrounded by C-4 explosives rigged to blow at the slightest touch. The other: Revolver Ocelot.
The reason he’s called “Revolver” is because as the name suggests, he is obsessed with old-fashioned pistols. This was also true when he’s first encountered 30 years earlier during the events of MGS3 and on that note. Ocelot likely remembered his encounters with the man now known as Big Boss–then going by the codename Naked Snake–and wanted to see how Snake compared.
Ocelot’s skills are no joke: He can ricochet bullets off walls to hit his targets (“Six bullets. More than enough to kill anything that moves.”). Snake ultimately wins the battle by exploiting the one weakness of Ocelot’s weapon of choice: Its reloading time. Suddenly the Cyborg Ninja pops up, frees the ArmsTech president and slices off Ocelot’s right hand, forcing him to retreat. Ocleot makes subsequent appearances and actually ends up being the sole survivor of Fox Hound. The reason he isn’t infected with FOXDIE despite being in close contact with Snake is because he had been given the vaccine for it prior to arriving on Shadow Moses Island.
It’s revealed during the postcredits scenes Ocelot was actually a double agent: Not only was he working as a member of Fox Hound but he was also secretly working for the President at the time, George Sears (Solidus Snake). The DARPA Chief apparently knew who he really was so Ocelot “accidently” killed him while torturing him (Did I forgot to mention Ocelot is also a legit sadist?). Ocelot does gain a new hand as of MGS2 but I’ll get to that in a bit.
Aside from killing the DARPA Chief, Ocelot’s other mission was recovering Metal Gear Rex’s test data which Snake received from the ArmsTech president earlier. When they are alone, Ocelot cryptically asks Snake if the Optical Disc is the only copy of the data. Snake says he doesn’t know–not that he would know either way–and Ocelot feels secure in knowing he has the only remaining copy of the test data and more so after he had the super computers destroyed.
Your first encounter with the crow-obessed Shaman Warrior is during the Hind D battle. He survives the encounter and we actually hear him speaking to Liquid as Snake takes a keycard from a fallen soldier and moves on. Raven is clearly intrigued as he notices the remarkable similarities between The Twin Snakes.
You next encounter him in the deep freezer near the end of the game. This time, he’s wielding a massive M61 Vulcan gun normally installed on fighter jets. Stand in front of it if you don’t mind getting shot to pieces. His field of vision covers 80% of the room at any given time. The key to winning the battle is to either attack him from a distance with the Nikita Missle Launcher or plant mines in advance in pathways and then lure him into them. After the battle, Raven rewards Snake by telling him the DARPA Chief he met was really Decoy Octopus. They had to do that after Ocelot “accidently” killed the real DARPA Chief while torturing him. Raven decides not to say why they went that far, saying he’ll have to keep going if he wants to know more. Raven’s ravens converge and consume his flesh as Snake heads to the exit. When Snake turns back, only Raven’s gatling gun remains. Raven’s last words were “Snake…I will be watching you!” and we get a throwback to this during the Tanker portion of MGS2.
Mantis is arguably one of the most iconic bosses in the entire MGS series. The guy’s even got his own music to boot (For some od reason, YouTube Age-Restricted the game version). Check out the organ cover above which oddly sounds better than the in-game version to me. If it sounds eerie and hypnotic to you, wait until you see what Mantis does before you fight him. Snake first encounters Mantis immediately after breaking out of the prison area at the beginning of the game. After the female soldier–revealed to be Campbell’s niece Meryl a bit later–beats him to the elevator, Mantis suddenly appears before Snake and then disappears just as suddenly. Snake is so disturbed by what he witnessed, he thinks he’s hallucinating.
If you listen carefully during Snake’s Codec call to Meryl after he rescues Otacon you’ll hear Mantis’ music in the background. Later after Snake hooks up with Meryl, the two head over to the Commander’s Room and that’s where things get weird. Meryl suddenly suffers a brief and intense headache and then tries to seduce Snake. When he refuses to bite and she pulls her pistol on him, Snake realizes she’s been brainwashed and knocks her out. Disappointed Snake didn’t outright kill her, Mantis reveals himself. Weather you’re playing the PS1 version of Gamecube remake, Mantis will read your memory card and comment if you have certain game saves on it. He will also rate how you, the player have been doing to now in the game. If you have a dual shock controller inserted, Mantis will take the demonstration one step further by telling you to put the controller on the ground and then activates the vibrate fuction. If it feels like Mantis is talking to you, the player and not Snake, that’s the point.
The craziness doesn’t stop when the battle begins either: You’ll notice none of your attacks are hitting Mantis and explosives go off as soon as you prime or set them. The reason is because Mantis is “reading” the controller in Port 1. The secret to beating him is on the PS1 version, use the other port (“So…you used the other…”) or in the Gamecube version, use Port 4 (“So…you used other…”). He will not be able to “read” your moves, allowing you to hit him (“Why can’t I read you?!”). At two random points during the battle, you will also see a HIDEO Black Screen that lasts for about 30 seconds each. Yes, the creator himself is trolling you, the player! Halfway through the battle, Mantis will revive Meryl so you will need to knock her out again (watch her health! It’s an instant Game Over if her health drops to zero!). He will do it a second time, this time trying to get Meryl to shoot herself in the head. You will need to quickly incapacitate her because it’s instant Game Over otherwise.
After the battle, Mantis tells you about his past. It turns out he was born with his powers. The first person whose mind he read was his father’s. He learned his father despised him because he mother died in childbirth. Feared and hated by everyone in his village, Mantis burned it down in a fit of rage to bury his past. He tells Snake he’s not idealistic and only took pleasure out of inflicting pain and suffering on others. Mantis also reveals in his final moments the reason he wears a gas mask is not because of his deformed face and body but to keep the thoughts of others from forcefully entering his mind. Mantis also says something real interesting: Snake has a large place in Meryl’s heart but he doesn’t know if their futures lie together or not. Snake says what of the best lines in all of gaming history after he downs Mantis: “A strong man doesn’t meed to read the future. He makes his own.”
Chronologically, Mantis crosses paths with Big Boss in Peacewalker. In that game, he uses an alias and has red hair. According the dossier on Mantis, he was actually pretty uh…sane before and long after his run-in with Big Boss. After the events of Peacewalker, Mantis found work in the Russian KGB and later the American CIA. It was during his work with the CIA Mantis was called in to dive into the mind of a serial killer to crack a cold case. Mantis dove a little too deep and when he came back, he became a (excuse the pun) psychopath himself.
This Femme Fatale is long looked at by MGS fans as one of the bosses you truly regret killing in the end and more so after Otacon falls in love with her. Your first encounter with Sniper Wolf happens when you reach the base of the Communications Tower for the first time with Meryl. Perched on the other end of the long corridor is Sniper Wolf. She shoots Meryl and unfortunately for Snake, he doesn’t have a Sniper rifle of his own with which to fight back. There IS one on the base (two in The Twin Snakes, the second being a tranquilizer gun) but the problem is Snake will have to backtrack all the way back to the Armory to get it.
By the time he returns, Meryl is gone. With the PSG-1 Sniper Rifle, Snake injures Wolf. When Snake approaches the entrance to the Communications Tower, Wolf ambushes him and he is captured (“It’s hard to miss when you’re this close.”). Before Snake is taken away Wolf marks him and tells him “Until I kill you, you’re all I’ll think about.” Wolf is present in the torture chamber and Ocelot asks her if she wants to “watch the show”. Wolf declines saying she’s not interested and wants to go feed her “family”, referring to the Wolf Dogs you encountered earlier. Ocelot remarks sometimes Wolf falls in love with her targets before she kills them after she leaves. When Otacon visits Snake, he gives Snake a few items including Wolf’s Hankerchief. If you walk through the Wolf Cave with it equipped, the Wolves will not attack you.
Later after you’ve made it to the Snowfield, Snake is hit by sniper fire. Snake knows there is only one person capable of hitting a target in the middle of a blizzard. Otacon pleads with Snake not to kill her but he rebuffs Otacon, reminding him that she was the one who shot Meryl. Wolf cuts into the conversation and goads Snake into accepting her challenge. She also tells Otacon not to get in the way of her prey. Here’s a bit of an easy way to find Wolf in he snowfield: Wear the Thermal Goggles. The side of the tree or post where you see her breath is also the opposite side she will pop out of to either move or shoot at you. If you see her breath on the left, she will go right and vice versa.
After fatally shooting her, Snake and then Otacon approach her. Wolf tells them about her past. She is a Kurd and anyone who knows anything about the history of the Kurds knows they are easily the most persecuted ethnic group in the Middle East but I’ll get into that a bit later. Wolf feels dejected after having lost to Snake but when he encourages her in her final moments, she asks him if he’s Saladin in reference to Big Boss. Fatally wounded, Snake grants her request to end her suffering and shoots her between the eyes. He then covers her face with her hankerchief. Otacon asks him why and he tells him he’s returning it to its owner, adding “I have more tears to shed”.
Last but certainly not least, he is the leader of the Fox Hound squad that has taken over Shadow Moses Island and is also happy to play “the evil twin” opposite Solid Snake. Liquid is not just an adept soldier but he’s also a bit of a tactical genius as well. It’s why 5 other members of Fox Hound and the Genome Soldiers joined up with him after all.
As the ringleader of the faction that has taken over Shadow Moses Island, we don’t really see Liquid up close until Snake has been captured and they look each other in the eye for the first time in their lives. The build towards their first face to face meeting when Snake is restrained is something else. I remember the first time I saw it, I was tense and waiting to see how they would react to each other. “There definitely is a resemblance.” Liquid says to Snake, who cut and dyed his hair before the mission so that they would not be mistaken for each other by the Genome Soldiers.
While pretending to be Master Miller, Liquid tells Snake what he knows about FOXDIE via Codec. Having already raised suspicions about Naomi in a previous Codec call to Snake and then Campbell by referring to a “different group” that may be involved (more on this bit later), Campbell decides to personally investigate the matter after hesitating at first and learns Naomi was indeed a spy. She’s caught sending coded messages to the base and is arrested. After Snake learns the truth from Naomi which Liquid overhears as Miller, he realizes she has indeed betrayed him. After he later reveals he was pretending to be Miller to Snake, Liquid says he has added the FOXDIE vaccine to his list of demands to Washington. Liquid tells Snake he’s not personally worried about FOXDIE since they have the same DNA. Seeing as Snake is fine, he feels he has no reason to be concerned.
Liquid also admits to Snake he’s got an inferiority complex. He was put down by their father and felt like the black sheep of the “family”. When Snake killed Big Boss in Zanzibarland, Liquid felt cheated so he decided to do the next best thing: Kill the man who killed the man he wanted to kill. Keep in mind Liquid not only survives the Hind D being shot down but Metal Gear Rex being blown up and then a 20 to 30 foot fall off the top of it afterward (you do hear the audible thud of his body hitting the ground below). After all that, Liquid STILL chases after Snake up the escape tunnel.
In the end, Liquid’s life is claimed by FOXDIE in a bit of irony. If that’s not crazy enough, Snake actually does encounter Liquid again in MGS2–sort of. Revolver Ocelot receives a hand transplant. The donor? Liquid Snake. When Snake is nearby, Liquid’s personality actually takes over Ocelot’s body. Liquid takes full control of Ocelot–referred to as Liquid Ocelot–by the end of MGS2 and he is one of the main antagonists of MGS4.
Cyborg Ninja (Grey Fox)
Friend or Foe?
Snake first encounters the Cyborg Ninja at the end of his battle with Revolver Ocelot. The mysterious warrior contacts Snake a short time later to warn him he’s walking into an ambush and the area is mined. Things get real interesting later when Snake goes to Otacon’s lab. The Cyborg Ninja challenges Snake to a duel with Otacon’s life as the prize. The Cyborg Ninja is so powerful, nothing Snake has will work on it. “You cannot defeat me that way, Snake!” It exclaims, challenging Snake to hand to hand combat. Snake accepts and during the grueling contest, the name of one man comes to mind.
“It can’t be…you were killed in Zanzibar…!” Snake exclaims at the end of their duel. After the Cyborg Ninja leaves, Naomi confirms it was indeed Frank Jaeger. Code Name: Grey Fox, the same man Snake killed years earlier. His body was recovered and he was subsequently revived. He was outfitted with an exoskeleton and was subjected to gene therapy experiments. His revival was actually orchestrated by her predecessor Dr. Clark who was later killed in a lab explosion though Naomi later reveals Grey Fox killed the late doctor and she helped him cover it up as an accident. When Campbell asks Naomi why she never mentioned Grey Fox before now, she curtly replies “Because it’s confidential information”. “Was that the only reason?” Snake then asks though Naomi doesn’t answer. He has the strong suspicion there’s more to it than that and he’s proven right later on.
While Snake is working on the terminals in the Control Room for Metal Gear Rex, Naomi is arrested after it’s discovered she has been sending coded messages to the base. Naomi later contacts Snake directly and among the things she talks to him about, she reveals Grey Fox is her adopted older brother. After the first round against Metal Gear Rex, Grey Fox shows up to help Snake out. He confirms he was “Deepthroat”, the mysterious person who helped Snake a few times earlier via Codec.
When Snake tells him Naomi is hellbent on seeking revenge for him–in reference to the FoxDie Virus–Grey Fox tells Snake the story of how they first met. A young soldier at the time, Grey Fox killed her parents in present-day Zimbabwe. He was about to leave when he saw her and realized it was her parents he had just killed so he decides to adopt her out of guilt. Before running out to confront Metal Gear Rex for the last time, Grey Fox tells Snake to tell Naomi he was the one who killed her parents.
Despite having his left arm sliced off by a laser, Grey Fox manages to disable the Raydome on Rex’s left arm. “A cornered fox is more dangerous than a jackal!” Grey Fox exclaims after Liquid pins him to the wall but before he disables the Raydome. This forces the cockpit where Liquid is to open. “Impressive! You are indeed worthy of the codename ‘Fox’!” Liquid exclaims in awe. Grey Fox urges Snake to fire a Stinger Missle but Snake hesitates when Liquid points out his friend would be caught in the resulting blast. Liquid moves Metal Gear Rex out of the way, causing Grey Fox to fall to the ground and then steps on him.
We are then treated to one of, if not one of the greatest sendoff lines in gaming history. “Snake…we’re not tools of the government or anyone else! Fighting was the only thing….the only thing I was got at…but at least I always fought for what I believed in. Farewell, Snake.” Snake quotes the line to Raiden in MGS2 after the latter learns he was betrayed by his superiors. When Snake escapes the base and talks to Naomi again via Codec, he tells her Grey Fox asked him to tell her to forget about him and ove on with her life. He then goes on to tell her that her brother is a hero and saved the world.
Metal Gear Solid 1 actually does have two endings. It’s confirmed in MGS2 Meryl’s Ending is the Canon Ending though Otacon does get out, too. The Divergence Point is the Torture Chamber. Ocelot tells Snake if he submits to the pain while being tortured, Meryl will die. If you want the ending with Meryl, don’t submit. Try to avoid even lightly touching the Circle or B button (or whatever you have set as the Confirm button on PC) if you want the ending with Meryl.
Keep in mind the rest of the game plays out exactly the same for both endings after the Divergence point until after your hand to hand duel with Liquid atop Metal Gear Rex. Before the duel, Liquid directs Snake’s attention to Meryl’s limp body nearby. He tells Snake Meryl was alive a few hours ago as far as he was aware but isn’t sure about now. After Snake wins the duel, you find out based on if you submitted during torture or not. The escape sequence is mostly the same regardless of who is with Snake on that note.
If you did submit to the torture, Snake is inconsolable when he realizes Meryl is dead. Otacon arrives and tells Snake he released all the Security Locks for their escape route up a service tunnel. After their escape, Otacon gives Snake his Stealth Camo. You will be able to use it in subsequent playthroughs. While equipped, it makes you invisible to the Genome Soldiers and Security Cameras but NOT bosses or Infrared beams. Snake actually still has it at the beginning of the Tanker half of MGS2 but unfortunately, it breaks when he lands on the ship.
In the three years that pass between the start of MGS1 and MGS2, Snake and Otacon form the Non-Gonvernment Organization Philanthropy. It’s an organization dedicated to eradicating Metal Gear from the world. Otacon plays double duty in the Tanker half of the game as Snake’s support and taking point at saving your progress. Save enough times and eventually, Mei Ling will get tired of hearing his butchered Chinese proverbs chastise him. Otacon returns during the Plant half of the game to once again back up Snake as well as Raiden, reuniting with and then losing his half-sister Emma Emmerich while there.
If you didn’t submit to the torture, Meryl will regain consciousness. Otacon contacts Snake via Codec and tells him to escape through the service tunnel with Meryl. He will stay behind and release the security locks. After their escape, Meryl reveals she found a bandana and gives it to Snake. You will be able to use it in subsequent playthroughs. While equipped, all weapons have Infinite Ammo. Snake actually references it near the end of the Plant half of MGS2, pointing to it. While fighting alongside Snake in a certain boss battle, he will randomly throw you Ammo as well.
Campbell reveals to Snake after he escapes with Meryl she had been assigned there as a security detail just before Fox Hound took over the base as a way of forcing him to cooperate in exchange for her life. If Snake escapes with Otacon, he tells Snake he recent learned Meryl is his biological daughter. Meryl reenlists in the U.S. Military with Campbell’s help. Apparently, Meryl was born from an affair and the man she knew as her father was actually her uncle. Meryl later has a falling out with Campbell after he suddenly marries a brunette who is the same age as her.
Post Shadow Moses, we do not see or hear from Meryl again until MGS4. Officially, Meryl’s absence from MGS2 is intentionally done to keep the ending to MGS1 ambiguous. She is indirectly referenced serveral times though. Her survival becomes canon due to her appearances in MGS4 where she and Snake do reunite. The two are estranged when they reunite and Meryl is shocked by Snake’s now aged appearance. Coincidences forces them to work together to deal with Liquid Ocelot though this time, Meryl is leading a joint Army-Marine squad of her own. The two have a bit of deja vu later when Meryl is mind controlled by Screaming Mantis. After the final mission, Meryl decides to accept her former enemy turned squadmate Johnny Sasaki’s marriage proposal after spending most of the game giving him a hard time.
Before I forget. After you meet the ArmsTech President you will need to contact Meryl. Her Codec frequenct is 140.15 for those of you who never played the original physical PS1 version. Campbell references “The back of the package” and he’s specifically referring to the back of case for MGS1. You’re welcome. After you meet Otacon, you will need to head one floor up and look for Meryl. To spot her, switch to first person view and pay attention to the guard with “a unique way of walking” if you catch the meaning. When you spot her, approach her and instead of triggering the Alert system she will run into the Women’s bathroom. If you follow her within 10 seconds of her going in, she will not be wearing pants for the first half of the cutscene that follows.
When you meet Otacon–real name Hal Emmerich–he reveals he’s an Otaku and he got into robotics specifically to make bipedal robots like the ones in Anime. His codename Otacon is actually the name of an actual convention and they gave Konami special permission to use it royalty-free.
Snake may technically be a 1-man army but he’s not alone per se. Aside from Otacon (141.12), Meryl (140.15) and Grey Fox whom he eventually meets in person, he is also assisted by five others exclusively via Codec.
Colonel Roy Campbell (140.85)
He was previously in charge of the Zanzibar mission (Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake) and is brought back to oversee the Shadow Moses Incident. I touched on this earlier but Campbell was forced to be involved after was Meryl was assigned to the base a leverage to guarantee his cooperation. Campbell is torn between assisting Snake and doing what everything he can to ensure his niece’s survival. Snake realizes after he’s captured Campbell hasn’t been honest with him about a lot of things but despite that, still considers him a friend which he tells Naomi. Likely moved by this, Campbell does eventually does tell Snake the truth by the end though.
Dr. Naomi Hunter (140.85)
Fox Hound’s chief medical officer, she is assigned to assist Snake due to her intimate knowledge of the members of Fox Hound and to monitor Snake’s vitals in real time. If you call her during battles with a member of Fox Hound, she will give you the rundown on your opponent. It’s revealed near the end of the game Naomi was actually a spy working for Liquid and is caught sending coded messages to the base and is arrested. Naomi contacts Snake and confirms she was a spy and her reasoning: Revenge against him for the death of her late benefactor Big Boss and her adopted brother Grey Fox “being sent home a cripple”.
On that note, Jaeger is the German word for Hunter. What’s real interesting is Naomi tells Snake although she was the one who injected with FOXDIE, he was injected with it as a part of the operation. After Snake escapes with Meryl or Otacon when he asks about FOXDIE, she cryptically tells him to “live with the time he has left”. It’s not explicitly said but basically, Snake won’t die from FOXDIE. A side effect of FOXDIE does cause him to greatly age prior to the events of MGS4 though.
Jim Housemann (140.85)
The Secretary of Defense during the Shadow Moses incident, you hear from him for the first time near the end of the game after Metal Gear Rex is destroyed. Campbell tells Snake now that Metal Gear Rex is destroyed, the Pentagon is sending a bomber with a tactical nuclear warhead to wipe the base off the map to cover up all evidence of what had transpired. Campbell tells Snake he will order the bombing to be cancelled knowing eventually he will be overridden and arrested to buy Snake time to escape. Just as he is about to, Housemann steps in and stops Campbell from giving the cancel order.
Housemann tells Snake he let Campbell think he was in command up to now but decided to step in now to keep Campbell from delaying the bombing. Housemann offers to cancel the bombing in exchange for Metal Gear Rex’s test data but since he no longer has it, Housemann bids him goodbye. After Snake escapes with Meryl or Otacon, Campbell contacts Snake to tell him he was able to get in touch with the president an had the bombing order rescinded at the last minute. The president was unaware of Housemann’s activities and he was arrested, placing Campbell back in command of the operation by default. It’s revealed in MGS2 Housemann was placed under House Arrest but later commits suicide.
Mei Ling (140.96)
A data systems expert, Mei Ling designed not only the Codec but the Soliton Radar. She is also in charge of saving your progress in the game. After you save, she will share a Chinese proverb with Snake. It’s revealed in MGS2 Mei Ling was actually 17 years old during the Shadow Moses incident but on paper, she age is 18. Like I mentioned earlier, Mei Ling does make a cameo appearance in MGS2’s Tanker half of the game. If you Save enough times, she will butt in and chastise Otacon for butchering Chinese proverbs so much.
Master Miller (141.80)
A survival expert and Snake’s mentor, Miller provides advice to help guide Snake during his mission on Shadow Moses Island. As I mentioned earlier, Liquid is revealed to have been pretending to be Miller the whole time. Acting on a tip, Navy SEALs go to Miller’s home where they find him dead. Upon learning of this, Campbell realizes Miller’s Codec calls had actually been coming from inside Shadow Moses Island. He puts 2 and 2 together but before he can tell Snake, Liquid personally reveals himself.
Liquid personally thanks Snake for activating Metal Gear Rex. Liquid reveals Ocelot “accidently” killed the DARPA Chief before extracting the detonation code he knew to activate Metal Gear. Without the treat of a legit nuclear strike, Liquid was at a disadvantage so he bluffed the whole time by making Snake think he already had both codes and it ultimately paid off. Liquid personally pretended to be Master Miller to ensure his plan worked as intended. It’s worth noting Decoy Octopus (as the DARPA Chief) tells Snake that Psycho Mantis got his code by reading his mind. It’s such an obvious lie, the ArmsTech president calls it out. The reason: Both the DARPA Chief and the ArmsTech president had powerful brain implants to keep a powerful psychic like even Psycho Mantis from reading his mind. This is why Ocelot had to torture them in the first place.
Before I forget: If you try to call Miller after shooting down the Hind D, he’s suddenly not available for a while. Miller is oddly worked up when its discovered a bomb was placed in Snake’s inventory after he was captured and you hear Liquid’s voice a little (!). Snake remarks Miller is oddly excited after Snake changes the PAL Key’s shape for the third time but he doesn’t answer, instead quietly smiling coyly. It’s as if he knows something no one else does which turns out to be true obviously.
Nastasha Romanenko (141.52):
A member of the Nuclear Emergency Search Team (NEST) and an international military systems expert, Nastasha was assigned to Snake’s support team provide him with information about nuclear weapons, nuclear safety and other related information. In addition to this, Nastasha will also give Snake the rundown on any weapon he acquires and equips for the first time. Nastasha will also provide information during your battles with the Abrams Tank, Hind D and Vulcan Raven. It’s revealed in MGS2 Nastasha was basically forced to assist Snake by her ex-husband whom she met in the DIA where they both worked during the Cold War. Her apartment was turned into a command center for the Department of Defense during the Shadow Moses Incident and she unwhittingly learned a number of classified government secrets.
After Snake successfully completes the mission, her ex gave her an optical disc containing information about The Pentagon’s FOXDIE Virus and then disappeared from her life forever. This would guarantee her safety from the anyone in the government who might try to come after her. Her ex does appear in person in MGS2 on that note. After going into hiding, Nastasha does publish a tell-all book titled In The Darkness of Shadow Moses Island: The Unofficial Truth in which she talks of what happened from her perspective. She donates the royalties from the book to Philanthropy, the NGO Snake and Otacon form after Shadow Moses.
Dr. Hal “Otacon” Emmerich (141.12)
An ArmsTech scientist and the Lead Engineer for Metal Gear Rex. When Fox Hound takes over Shadow Moses, Dr. Emmerich is locked in his lab and is forced to work against his will. After the Cyborg Ninja slaughters his security detail, Snake rushes to his rescue. Otacon realizes although he’d been misled by the higher-ups, it doesn’t change the fact he is the reason the world is in danger right now. He decides to assist Snake in his mission and uses his stealth camo to avoid detection by the Genome Soldiers. Snake is relieved his recue goes as planned with the deaths of the ArmsTech President and Decoy Octopus (disguised as the DARPA Chief) still fresh in his mind to that point. Otacon knows everything about the layout of Shadow Moses Island and you can contact him via Codec to learn about an area.
At some point after Snake escapes the Torture Chamber, Otacon falls for Sniper Wolf but he knows eventually she and Snake will have to fight each other. When Otacon meets up with Snake inside the Communications Tower, he asks Snake one of the most iconic and philosophical questions in all of gaming history: “Do you think love can bloom on a battlefield?” Snake tells him he believes it’s possible but you need to be able to protect that person, referencin Meryl. Otacon stands by helplessly when Snake vs. Wolf: Round 2 happens not long after their chat. He retrieves Wolf’s Sniper rifle and places it in her arms before Snake finises her off. Despite being devastated by Wolf’s death, Otacon resolves to keep helping Snake with his mission.
After Snake passes through the Blast Furnace, Otcaon contacts him to tell him he’s going to try to access the late ArmsTech President’s confidential files to find out how to deactivate Metal Gear Rex. This is also where he reveals he’s also a Hacker. While Snake is making his way to the control room, Otacon decrypts files that point to ArmTech’s many years of corruption which its president eluded to during his conversation with Snake earlier.
Things get real scary when Otacon stumbles upon the specs for Metal Gear Rex: The rail gun on Rex’s right arm used magnets to fire projectiles at a high velocity. Since it doesn’t burn fuel, the projectiles are not considered missles. This allows Rex to ignore international treaties missiles would be bound by. I haven’t even gotten to the scariest part: Since it doesn’t burn fuel, it’s invisible to radar and anti-missile systems, making it impossible to intercept. ICBMs are scary enough. Now try to imagine invisible ICBMs capable of hitting any target on the planet. Snake is so disturbed, he asks Campbell if he knew and the latter comes clean.
By the time Snake reaches the Control Room for the first time, Otacon finally accesses the info on how to use the emergency shutdown system. The PAL Card Snake received from the ArmsTech president is actually three cards in one: The card itself is actually made of Shape Memory Alloy which changes shape depending on the temperature (I’ll explain that in more detail below). The card can only be used three times, once at three different temperatures. After you insert the card at Normal Temperature, you will need to either go to the Deep Freezer or outside to Freeze the key. After that, you will need to go to the Blast Furnace to Warm the key but hurry on the way back: If you take too longer going through the Deep Freezer, it will revert to Normal Temperature and you’ll have to go all the way back. In The Twin Snakes, you can bypass running to the Deep Freezer and Blast Furnace this by accessing two special pipes in Rex’s Hangar. Puncture the pipes to instantly change the key but be careful, Snake takes a little damage too.
When Snake activates the last terminal, he is horrified when Rex is activated. This is when Liquid drops his disguise and reveals he manipulated Snake into activating Rex for him. The control room is suddenly sealed off and gas is released inside. Otacon manages to hack the security system to get Snake out. If Meryl lives, Otacon will contact Snake and tell him he is staying behind to secure the escape route. If Meryl dies, Otacon escapes with Snake.
Campbell’s niece (revealed to be his daughter born from an affair in MGS4) and a soldier assigned to the base shortly before the Shadow Moses Incident began. She is thrown in the cell next to Decoy Octopus (disguised as the DARPA Chief) for refusing to join the the others in taking over the base. Snake spots her exercising in her cell on his way to who he thought was the DARPA Chief. After Decoy Octopus dies, Meryl (who overheard most of their conversation) breaks out, steals the guard’s weapons and uniform and works with Snake to bust out. The funny thing is the guard–revealed to be named Johnny Sasaki in MGS2–eventually marries Meryl at the end of MGS4 but I digress.
After you meet the ArmsTech President, he reveals Meryl looked out for him until he was tied up by Ocelot. He confirms she’s somewhere nearby still disguised as a Genome Soldier. Snake contacts her via Codec and they hit if off right away. Meryl opens the bay doors leading north for Snake offscreen, allowing him to proceed to the Nuclear Weapons Disposal Building. They later meet up after Snake meets Otacon in the Women’s Bathroom. Meryl tells him more about her past and after having seen the reality of a war zone up close and personal, she realizes she was wrong to fanticize it so much to that point.
The two then head to the Commander’s Room where Meryl is mind controlled by Psycho Mantis and ends up getting knocked out a few times by Snake. After Snake defeats Mantis, Meryl regains consciousness and listens to tthe dying psychic talk about his past alongside Snake. She gasps in horror when Snake removes his gas masks and she sees his horribly scarred face. Before he dies, Mantis reveals Snake has a large place in Meryl’s heart but he doesn’t know if their futures lie together. Anyone who’s played MGS4 already knows they end up not being together.
After Mantis dies, Meryl basically asks Snake if he has a life outside war and he tells her no. It’s all he knows and wants to know. “You are a sad, lonely man, just like Mantis said.” Meryl remarks after hearing his answer. Her fangirl image of Snake now completely destroyed, Meryl is at a loss for words but Snake is short with her and doesn’t catch on. When the two walk through the Wolf Cavern, the wolf dogs don’t bother Meryl but give Snake a hard time and she teases him for it at the end. When the two enter the passage leading to the Communications Tower, Meryl is shot by Sniper Wolf. Snake is forced to withdraw to find a Sniper Rifle and by the time he gets back, Meryl is gone. She has been captured by the enemy.
This is considered non-canon but in the Metal Gear Solid Digital Graphic Novel (PSP), it’s revealed Sniper Wolf forcefully made Meryl watch Snake being tortured by Ocelot. Like I mentioned earlier, if Snake endures Meryl regains consciousness. If he submits, he finds she has died. Canonically, Meryl survives but her fate is intentionally kept ambiguous in MGS2.
This was the alias Grey Fox used the few times in contacts Snake via Codec. He later reveals he was Deepthroat after he links up with Snake to take on Rex.
In case you don’t know your recent American history, Deep Throat was the alias used by the informant who gave the tip that forced Nixon to resign over the Watergate scandal. His true identity was the biggest mystery in modern American politics ever and for 50 years, it was a compete mystery. Near the end of his life, retired Washington Post reporter Mark Felt came forward in 2005 to reveal to America and the world that he was Deep Throat. He explained in an interview he always planned to come forward at a time of his choosing and was content to let people guess who Deep Throat really was all that time. The only people at the Washington Post who knew he was Deep Throat died, taking his secret with them to the grave. Felt passd away in 2015.
There’s nothing like getting a crash course in Metalurgy!
I went over the PAL Key earlier but yes, it is based on real-world engineering. Shape Memory Alloy is a type of material that changes it shape and makeup depending on its temperature. You typically heat it up to shape it into whatever form you want, then quickly cool it down to keep it in that form. Dental braces use Shape Memory Alloy. The wiring has to be firm enough to not break inside your mouth but still flexible enough to move your teeth.
Unlike when you for example craft solid metal molds designed to always be in one form, Shape memory Alloy is designed to change form or shape when the core temperature greatly changes. It’s actually a pretty simple concept but the way it’s explained and used in MGS1 is very clever.
Ah, the iconic Cardboard Box.
In MGS1, you will find three of them in three different points. Why three boxes? I’ll get to that in moment but first, here’s how you properly use them in-game to evade patrols. First things first, don’t walk while using them in front of a patrol. Second, don’t park right in the middle of a patrol route unless you’re cool with them kicking the box or just pulling the box off you. They CAN be used after you were spotted to hide though. If you’re in a hallway, immediately head to a corner with poor lighting a guard would not normally go to. If you’re in an area with side rooms, go into one of those rooms and deploy the box. If a guard comes in, they’ll ignore the box while looking around. It goes without saying but no, the boxes are not bulletproof.
Now let’s get to why there are three boxes and not just one. You will find Box A in the Armory building. That’s the first building you’re in. Box B is in the Nuclear Warhead Storage Building. That’s the second building you’re in. Box C is in one of the storage rooms in the Snowfield beyond the Communications Towers. In each area, you’ll notice a truck you can jump in the back of. Get in a truck and then equip a box that corresponds to one of the other two areas you’re not currently in. Box A takes you to the Helipad, Box B to the Warhead Storage Room and Box C to the Snowfield. Make sure where you park is near the truck’s opening. After a few moments, a cutscene will play and Snake will be shipped to wherever the box’s label says. This is pretty handy for backtracking and more so if you need to return to the Armory to replentish your ammo in particular.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about Nanomachines. Although the way they’re used in the Metal Gear Solid games is fiction, all of it is grounded in science fact.
Before the mission, Snake is injected with Nanomachines (along with FOXDIE and an anti-freezing peptide) by Naomi. The Nanomachines are what Naomi uses to remotely monitor Snake’s vitals. She also uses them to stimulate Snake’s shoulder muscles after he’s undergone a round of torture. There are limits, however. After Snake catches a cold, Naomi remarks the Nanomachines don’t contain antibiotics. He’ll have to either wait for the illness to run its course or find some cold medicine.
In the real world, you’ve probably started hearing a little about Nanomachines in the medical world. As usual, Japan is lead the world in their development. The hope is to develop and program nanomachines that can assist in complex surgeries as well as aid in dealing with various types of cancers and viral infections. With enough research, there is also the hope they could be used to help heal injuries or if you want to go full sci-fi, regenerate limbs or other body parts. Yes, really.
Keep your eyes peeled. Fiction is getting real.
One of the fun things about MGS1 is by the time you finish your first playthrough, you know WAY more about nuclear weapons and nuclear energy than you probably ever wanted to. The way the game’s characters are able to explain the politics of nuclear weapons in ways anyone is able to understand is pretty sobering and terrifying as it should be. More so given what’s explained IS fact based as of 1998 (or in the case of The Twin Snakes, 2004). After all, the game takes place in a Nucler Weapons disposal facility. You have to pass through a nuclear warhead storage room early in the game. Don’t worry, the detonators were removed so there’s no fear of them exploding. That doesn’t mean there’s not danger to be mindful of though.
Your first time there, Campbell contacts Snake to tell him firearms and explosives are banned in that area. Naomi follows up to tell Snake she took it a step further and programmed the Nanomachines so that you will not be able to use any weapons aside from the Chaff Grenade (and Tranquilizers in Twin Snakes) in that room. In case you’re wondering, the guards use non-lethal weapons. You’ll also notice they are wearing gas masks and biohazard suits mostly as a precautionary measure. Even Foxhound understood if there was a firefight with live rounds and one of the warhead casings was damaged, nuclear materials could leak out and that would be a HUGE problem for everyone involved. Nuclear waste is not just highly toxic to all living things but it’s also highly corrosive. It’s typically sealed in lead containers for that reason.
Nastasha and the ArmsTech President in particular give you a deep dive into both the business and political sides of the overall global nuclear arms race. You learn a lot of inconvenient truths and more so given current events. For context, Russia has the world’s largest Nuclear Weapons arsenal. On paper, Russia has a little under 7,000 nulcear missiles but it’s believed to be closer to 10,000. The U.S. has around half that. As mentioned in-game, the U.S. and Russia have so far signed the START-1 and START-2 treaties which mandated both countries must reduce the number of nuclear weapons they have.
Unfortunately, it’s MUCH harder to dismantle and dispose of nuclear weapons than it is to make them. The biggest issue is and continues to be finding or making places to safely store nuclear materials FOREVER. Emphasis on that last word. Why? Because the amount of time it takes for nuclear waste to lose its radioactivity ranges from minimum 30 to 48,000 years. Again, see Chernobyl. The disaster happened almost 40 years ago but it’s been frozen in time and remains uninhabitable because of the radiation ever since. I’ve said this several times on my News and Politics blog but although there are thousands of nukes in the hands of about 16 countries, only 32 are needed to render the world ininhabitable. I am well aware Google says “at least 100” but it in reality, it would only take about a third of that.
Getting back to storing nuclear waste. I do think eventually once the costs of space travel have significantly dropped, it will be sent into space. Likely to an uninhabited planet or moons either in our solar system or another. In the meantime, we’ll have to be very careful with how and where we store nuclear waste materials. Not just for the obvious health and safety reasons but to ensure some of it doesn’t “disappear” if you catch the meaning.
I’ll put it like this: Al Qaeda still has aspirations to build and set off a Dirty bomb in the U.S. A dirty bomb is a regular bomb with nuclear materials–usually nuclear waste–mixed in. IEDs (Improvised Explosive Device) are dangerous enough. The risk of inhaling radioactive particles on top of it is a whole other ballgame. When you hear about radioactive materials going missing, that’s a good reason for everyone to be concerned because there are people out there–in the case of North Korea and Iran, countries–that are desperate to get their hands on nuclear material so they can make nuclear weapons.
The threat of Nuclear War began the day the U.S. bombed Japan in 1945. Russia has been doing a lot of nuclear saber rattling after its invasion of Ukraine began. It’s not the initial strike the rest of the world is worried about. It’s the chain reaction it sets off that everyone is rightfully concerned with. Mutual Destruction has kept the U.S. and Russia from using their Nukes to now but due to grave concerns from the international community over Russian President Vladomir Putin’s state of mind, nothing is certain anymore.
This is a Swimmer Delivery Vehicle (SDV). It’s what the U.S. Navy used to get Snake close enough for him to be able to safely swim the rest of the way to Shadow Moses Island. They are mainly used by U.S. Navy SEALS and in the UK for covert ops. They’re also known as mini subs but the interesting thing about them–and is the main reason why the U.S. and UK special forces use them–is they do not have a propulsion system and that makes them invisible to sonar. Perfect for covert ops.
SDVs are no bigger than actual torpedoes and naturally, they can be “fired” from submarines. They’re lightweight and though they’re considered disposable, a salvage team will recover it at a later time. Most SDVs are designed for 3 to 4 people but there are also smaller, more compact ones designed for one or two people. Some SDVs are outfitted with retractable periscopes and some even have a small torpedo bay (preloaded) for a covert attack.
I would be remiss if I didn’t touch on the real world topic of Mercenaries.
Mercenary groups are a big part of the Metal Gear Solid games good and bad. Fox Hound was the Mercenary group Snake was a part of during his first mission to Outer Heaven. In MGS1, this time he’s taking on members of Fox Hound. Snake was basically contracted by the U.S. Government to deal with the Shadow Moses Incident. He was not a member of the U.S. Military at the time. You may be wondering why the U.S. Government didn’t just send in a SEAL Team or Delta Force and instead chose to send in just one person and a Mercenary at that (Speaking of, was Snake even PAID afterward?).
A lot of it had to do with the location of Shadow Moses Island. It was in the middle of nowhere relevant and the U.S. Military doesn’t have a significant presence in Alaska’s Fox Islands Archepelago despite its proximity to Russia. By the way, the Fox Islands really do exist but Shadow Moses Island itself does not. Anywho, there’s just no way the U.S. Military would be able to deploy to such a remote region of the world without flagging someone’s attention. Even if they sent in a highly trained SEAL member on the black op, if that person died or was captured then there’s just no way they could keep it a secret. There would also be the matter of then having to publicly disclose the fact terrorists took over a nuclear weapons disposal facility and were threatening to launch one if their demands are not met within 24 hours.
There is where using a mercenary comes in handy. More so one already known to the Pentagon. As a bonus, the government knows one who’s dealt with this kind of crisis twice before and even better, they know he’s in Alaska already. Even though they know he’s more than capable, if things go south they can disavow him (Campbell to Snake during the Mission Briefing: “This is a top-secret black op. Don’t expect any official support”), nuke the island and just say it was the terrorists who took over the island that did it.
Mercenaries have been getting a lot of attention internationally over the last 25 years in particular as governments subcontract them to do work their own militaries either can’t do or more often, they don’t want their own military to do. Mercenaries have been around forever–from Sellswords to Hired Guns–and they’re affectionately referred to as “Dogs of War” who sell their skills and their lives to the highest bidder. Governments and private contractors both view them as disposable pawns in the long run and most mercenaries are WELL aware their employer could betray them before or sometimes even after paying them. Nevermind the fact some mostly older active duty military look down on them as “soldiers without a country”. Most of today’s mercenaries are ex-military though there are some capable mercenaries who never spent a day in a uniform. If it isn’t obvious by now, it’s extremely dangerous work being a mercenary. Aside from the obvious risk of being killed in action, you also have to worry about betrayal and sabotage. Nevermind really bad revenge situations where people go after your family to get to you.
This then begs the obvious question: Why are countries like Russia and the U.S. relying on them more and more these days? Aside from the reasons I gave to now, it’s because they can. The U.S.-based Blackwater Mercenary group became the epicenter of scandals 20 years ago after some of their people were arrested in Iraq and Afghanistan for mistreating prisoners and locals. A congressional investigation revealed they were basically being paid hundreds of millions to do nothing and got bored.
At the time this all happened, the Bush Administration was basically handing out Defense Contracts to anyone who asked. Things got cleaned up by the time Obama became president and more so after the U.S. gradually began pulling its military out of Iraq and Afghanistan. Government-sponsored Mercenaries–publicly referred to as “Defense Contractors”–were hired to fill the gaps. During the Syrian Civil War, the Syrian government initially hired mercenaries to fight on their behalf.
Most recently in Ukraine, the Ukrainian government founded the Foreign Legion which is made up of soldiers from across the world to help them deal with the Russian Military invasion. As of May 2022, it’s estimated half of Ukraine’s Foreign Legion is from the U.S. In response to Ukraine’s counteroffensives and their own forces getting decimated by Ukraine’s, Russia has started calling in mercenaries from Syria, Georgia (the country, not the U.S. state) and elsewhere to fight on their behalf in Ukraine.
Those who do decide to work as Mercenaries are WELL aware that certain rights, protections and privilages granted to military soldiers don’t apply to them. This is highlighted in two moments in MGS1. The first is during Snake and Meryl’s in-person meetup. It’s basically a continuation of his lecture to her during their first conversation via Codec earlier. Now that she’s seen the reality of what it means to be in a combat zone up close and personal, she’s shaken to the core. “But this isn’t a war”. She tells Snake in regards to Shadow Moses Island. “This is a terrorist action”. Snake rebuffs Meryl and tells her straight up politics and words mean nothing to those on the ground at the end of the day. It’s dog eat dog, kill or be killed. “If you lose, you’re worm food.” (in The Twin Snakes, the line is changed to “If you lose, you die a dog’s death”.).
The other instance is just before Snake is tortured. Ocelot tells him to his face “You’re no POW, Snake. You’re a hostage. There is no Geneva Convention here. Scared? You should be.” When a soldier is captured, the are required to give up what’s known as “The Big Four”: Name, Rank, Blood Type and Serial Number. They are under no obligation to reveal anything else to enemy forces upon capture but the Geneva Conventon stipulates POWs must be treated humanely. When a soldier is killed in action, there is typically an expectation and assurance their body will be return to their country of origin and ultimately, their family for burial. The government takes care of everything.
When Mercenaries are killed in action, if they’re lucky their outfit or employer will make sure their families are informed and financially compensated. If they’re really lucky, their bodies will be sent back. Mercenaries that get captured know not to expect any special treatment. Some may be forced or pressured to betray their employer in exchange for their lives or freedom. These are the two biggest dangers that come with working as a mercenary.
While most Mercenaries are hired as bodyguards, escorts or guards, some are hired specifically for deployment to war zones. Some like Snake are used for “off the book” Black Ops. Basically, plausible deniability. Presuming things don’t go as desired, it gives the government that hired them space to use their own assets should their hired gun(s) fail and sweep it under the rug, typically at the same time. It’s actually not uncommon even for those who do succeed to still not be adequately compensated. More so if there are casualties, severe injuries or sensitive information is compromised.
All that said, obviously some people like being Mercenaries. Some are in it for the thrill. Some military vets do it because it’s what they know and like. Some prefer being mercenaries over being in the military because they’re not bound by certain things. Most Vets who get into mercenary work do admit there are a lot of freedoms they’re able to enjoy that they didn’t have when they were still active duty. The biggest perk being having a say in what they do and with few exceptions, the freedom to turn down a job. Many typically use their work as a mercenary as extra income though those who do it full-time typically take on several jobs at a time.
This is a general overview of course. These days, there are also cyber mercenaries who sell their tech skills to the highest bidder. Things are much more nuanced these days to say the least.
The highlighted area are the historical boarders of the former Kurdistan state. You can see Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria would all lose territory should the Kurds be allowed to reclaim their former territory. As things stand now, only Iraq and Syria are in favor of recognizing Kurdanstan as an independent country and mostly because of how integral they were in defeating ISIS during the first half of the 2010s. Iraq has already granted the Kurds their own land along its boarder with Turkey but it’s not recognized by Iran or Turkey.
Turkey views the PKK, which are the Kurds’ military–also known as the Peshmerga–as a terrorist organization simply because they refuse to allow their people to be slaughtered by the Turkish Military first and Jihadists are hiding on their lands second. The PKK famously fought ISIS while being bombed by Turkey in 2013. The Iraqi Military eventually stepped in and established a no-fly zone over Kurdish territory in their boarders, forcing Turkey to stop. Iran opposes Kurdistan as an autonomous state mostly because they know the Kurds are allied with Iraq.
Iraqi Kurdistan is an autonomous Kurdish region within Iraq. Syrian Kurdistan are remote autonomous regions in Syria. The main reason there is growing regional opposition to an independent Kurdistan is because they are WELL aware of what the Kurds are capable of militarily. At the same time, Iran and Turkey are well aware that if they don’t cede territory, there’s the real possability the U.S. could get involved on behalf of the Kurds.
I want to make sure I mention this because of the technical specifics of FOXDIE.
I did a bit of research online and turns out a biological weapon capable of assassinating specific people actually can be made now. The science explained by Naomi in the game is legit. While such an engineered virus can’t be mass produced, you wouldn’t need to. All you would have to do is make a few doses more or less.
The FOXDIE virus Snake was infected with was programmed to kill several specific people on Shadow Moses Island. We already know who at least 3 of them were: Decoy Octopus (disguised as the DARPA Chief), the ArmsTech President and of course, Liquid Snake. We know Liquid told Snake Naomi altered part of the virus’s programming just before the mission but no one knows how or why. We find out why during the ending: To ensure it didn’t kill Snake.
Liquid speculated the reason Sniper Wolf and Mantis weren’t affected is because Wolf always took Diazepam (a muscle relaxant commonly used by snipers to reduce hand tremors while aiming) and Mantis always wore a mask. Liquid didn’t know it but the reason Ocelot wasn’t affected is because he had received the vaccine for it in advance. Otacon, Meryl and others who were in close contact with Snake also weren’t affected because they weren’t included in FOXDIE’s programming. That’s what makes it such a potent assassination weapon to say the least.
I referenced this a few times already but in 2004, a remake for MGS1 was released on the Nintendo Gamecube. We can now presume Super Smash Bros. creator Masahiro Sakurai likely had a hand in the Gamecube getting The Twin Snakes. The story goes, Hideo Kojima approached Sakurai about including Solid Snake in Super Smash Bros. Melee for the Gamecube which was still in development at the time. Sakurai replied basically saying “I’d love to BUT unfortunately, Melee is almost done at this point”.
Snake would be introduced in Super Smash Bros. Brawl for the Wii alongside Sonic the Hedgehog as the first non-Nintendo characters to be featured in the now iconic franchise. He would return in Super Smash Bros. 3DS/Wii U and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate for the Switch. Snake’s Final Smash involves him jumping on a helicopter rope ladder and firing 6 rounds from a grenade launcher. Snake’s stage is based on Shadow Moses Island and you will see some of the franchise’s Metal Gears roar in the background at intervals.
It’s worth noting both MGS2 and Melee were released in 2001 while MGS3 and The Twin Snakes were released in 2004. That’s no coincidence. It’s worth keeping in mind Konami did announce both MGS3 and The Twin Snakes at the same time. Silicon Knights was sub-contracted to work on The Twin Snakes while Konami focused on MGS3. It’s worth noting due to availability issues, not all of the voice actors reprised their roles from the original. Cam Clarke, who voiced both Liquid and Miller in MGS1 are voiced by James Flinders in The Twin Snakes.
Aside from the obvious graphical upgrade, The Twin Snakes includes the “Stick Up” and hanging mechanics introduced in MGS2. The Tranquilizer Gun and PSG1-T Tranquilizer Sniper Rifle from MGS2 are also in The Twin Snakes, making it much easier for you to do a “no-kill” playthrough if you want to. In MGS1, Disc 1 ends after the Snowfield. In The Twin Snakes, Disc 1 ends when you enter the Communications Towers. I like that change personally as it feels like more of an even split.
Unfortunately, most fans of the original hated the remake at the time it was released. Most saw it as a cheap cashgrab while the majority hated how much more exaggerated most of the cutscenes were compared to the original. For example, Snake does a backflip to avoid getting shot by Revolver Ocelot and Liquid’s death throes to FOXDIE is slowed down a bit for dramatic effect. Those touches don’t take anything away from the game to me at all and more so knowing Kojima himself was still involved. It’s a solid game in and of its own though it’s a shame Nintendo would only get one other Metal Gear Solid title: A 3DS port of MGS3.
Shortly after MGS1’s initial release, it was quickly revered as the Holy Grail of movie adaptations of a video game. You have to keep in mind by the time MGS1 came out in 1998, aside from 1995’s Mortal Kombat all live action movie adaptations of video game franchises were horrible and mostly from bad creative choices. Fast forward to 2020’s Sonic the Hedgehog movie which, until its sequel’s release two months ago was the highest-grossing video game movie ever.
All that said. While MGS fans were in agreement someone should try to adapt MGS1 into a full-blown movie, that’s about it. This is where the 1990s video game movies being so horrible needs to be kept in mind. On the one hand, most agree it’s impossible to mess up a movie adaption of MGS1 even if you cut a lot from the source material. On the other hand, the source materal needs to be done justice in the movie adaptation.
Believe it or not, Hideo Kojima did confirm shortly after MGS4 was released that there would be an MGS movie. 14 years, the pandemic and Kojima’s breakup with Konami later, most have just assumed the project was quietly cancelled. Actor Oscar Isaac has reportedly been cast to play Solid Snake. He did reveal last year that an MGS movie is still going to happen but nothing more than that. That’s literally all we know.
At this point, I am expecting an MGS movie to suffer the same fate as the ill-fated Warcraft movie: Took too long to do and by the time it was done, no one cared. There is also Kojima’s split from Konami and how that could impact the movie’s development if it hasn’t already. Konami took the MGS franchise from him but he created the series. It wouldn’t be right to do the movie without its creator to say the least.
One of the series hallmarks is of course the postgame ranking.
Based on how you do in the game, how long you take to complete the game and what difficulty you plan on among other things, you will be given a ranking. The Big Boss ranking is the most difficult to achieve and you can see why above. You can’t use Rations, can’t be discovered even ONCE–excluding scripted moments of course–must complete the game quickly (bosses included) and obviously, you can’t die once. Oh and you must also do this on the hardest difficulty.
…Starting to sweat bullets yet?
Not gonna lie, I have no interest in trying to get this personally in any of the MGS games I’ve played (1, 2 and 3 and some of the side games so far). The reason is I play games for fun. When it’s no longer fun, what’s the point? These kinds of challenges are there for those who want the challenge. To each their own but that’s not “Fun” to me.
Of course I’m going to end with one of the most beautifully done songs in all of gaming.
For those who never knew, the lyrics are in Gaelic.
Here they are in full:
An cuimhin leat an grá
Crá croí an ghrá
Níl anois ach ceol na h-oíche
Táim sioraí i ngrá
Leannáin le smál
Leannáin le smál
Lig leis agus beidh leat
Lig leis agus beidh grá
Cuimhne leat an t-am
Nuair a bhí tú sásta
An cuimhne leat an t-am
Nuair a bhí tú ag gáire
Tá an saol iontach
Má chreideann tú ann
Tug aghaidi ar an saol is
sonas sioraí inár measc
Céard a tharla do na laethanta sin
Céard a tharla do na h-oícheanta sin
An cuimhin leat an t-am
Nuair a bhí tú faoi bhrón
An cuimhin leat an t-am
Go sioraí sileadh na ndeor
an ormsa nó orainne a bhí an locht
Ag mothú cailte s’ar fán
Cén fáth an t-achrann is sileadh na ndeor
Tá áilleacht sa saol Má chuardaíonn tú e
Tá gliondar sa saol
Come on, admit it. You were singing along as you were reading and listening to the video. The first two lines of the song are what you hear at the beginning of the game. You also hear snippets of the song at various emotional low points, most of which I already covered above.
Here is the English translation for the lyrics:
Do you remember when the little things made you happy?
Do you remember when the simple things made you smile?
Life can be wonderful if you let it be
Life can be simple if you try
Whatever happened to those days?
Whatever happened to those nights?
Do you remember the times when little things made you sad?
Do you remember when the simple things made you cry?
Is it just me or is it just us
Feeling lost in this world?
Why do we have to hurt each other?
Why do you have to shed tears?
Life can be beautiful if you try
Life can be joyful if we try
Tell me I’m not alone
Tell me we are not alone in this world fighting against the wind
Do you remember when the simple things made you happy?
Do you remember the times when little things made you laugh?
You know life is simple
Because the best things in life are yet to come
The best is yet to come
The name of the song is The Best Is Yet To Come and yes, Frank Sinatra’s more famous but unrelated song will pop up first if you YouTube search just like that. To help filter out Sinatra’s song, just put Metal Gear Solid or MGS1 before or after the song’s title to only see that song.
Although the song clearly sounds and feels like a requiem to someone who’s lost everyone and everything they ever loved or cared about, it’s actually meant to convey optimism and hope for a better tomorrow. The last two lines are why: “Because the best things in life are yet to come. The best is yet to come”.
Overall, I rate MGS1 and its Gamecube remake a 10/10.
I would also give it the Retro Ranking Legendary.
If you’d like to play the original PS1 MGS1, you can get it digitally on the PS3 or Vita Playstation Stores. The Twin Snakes never got ported though I still own my Gamecube copy. I also still have my physical PS1 copy and a digital copy of the PS1 version too. There are those rumors The Twin Snakes might get ported to current consoles and Steam though so we’ll see.
If you liked these games, you will also like:
If you enjoyed MGS1/The Twin Snakes, you owe it to yourself to play the three main series games that followed it.
- I talked about it a lot already but MGS2 takes place several years after the events of MGS1. It’s split into two Chapters and introduces the main Antagonists of the MGS Universe, the Patriots. By the time of the events of MGS1, The Patriots are actually a group of AI that secretly controls the United States from the shadows. A modern equivalent is the Deep State conspiracy theories. George Sears (Solidus), who was president during the Show Moses Incident and his immediate successor who you meet in MGS2 were the first two presidents chosen by the Patriots. The game’s second protagonist Raiden was universally hated almost immediately by fans of the original game. MGS2 has recently been getting renewed attention for accurately foretelling the emergence of social media, memes and the political discourse the U.S. has been dealing with since at least 2012. This game has the subtitle “Sons of Liberty” because that is the name of the mercenary outfit Raiden has to deal with, Solidus himself the final boss.
- MGS3 is quite the swerve compared to MGS2 because it not only takes place in the past, the iconic Big Boss is the game’s main protagonist. Until MGS3, very little is actually known about Big Boss, who is known in MGS3 as Naked Snake. MGS3 gives you a deep give into what set him on the path to becoming the greatest soldier who ever lived. Unike the first two games, MGS3 mostly takes place in the untamed wilds. You’ll need to keep your wits about you if you want to get through the game. One of the game’s bosses–named The End–can be cleared one of two ways. One way is killing him obviously. The other is Saving during the battle and then coming back after a few days have passed IRL. When you return, you’ll see a cutscene where Naked Snake is saddened to discover because he took so long, The End has since died of natural causes! For context, The End wanted Naked Snake to grant him the peace of death. He died while waiting and because of this, you will also lose out on the game’s True Ending as well. I have never been able to kill The End on that note though I do currently have the 3DS version of the game.
- MGS4 takes place several years after the events of MGS2. Revolver Ocelot, who was fully possessed by the ghost of Liquid Snake at the end of MGS2 is now just referred to as Liquid Ocelot. The FOXDIE virus has caused Snake to rapidly age and his appearance now looks like an old man. Familiar faces such as Meryl, Raiden, Otacon and Naomi Hunter do return and Snake does return to Shadow Moses Island for part of the game (!). Snake does meet the woman who served as his surrogate mother for the Les Infants Terribles Project: Eva. She was introduced in MGS3 and Snake meets her in MGS4. All that said, the subtitle for this game IS “Guns of the Patriots” for a reason. The Patriots are the big-bads and they are permanently dealt with. The most poignant moment in the game happens at the finale. Snake is standing in front of someone’s grave and is about to kill himself when none other than his father Big Boss stops him. It turns out Big Boss, whom the world assumed had died years ago was actually in a coma caused by the Nanomachines in his body all this time. In a twist a cruel irony, Big Boss dies for real in Snake’s arms to the FOXDIE virus.
I purposely left out MGS5: Ground Zeroes and MGS5: The Phantom Pain because according to Hideo Kojima, MGS4 was intended to be the series finale. Why do Ground Zeroes and The Phantom Pain exist? Corporate greed.
It was the liquidation of Hideo Kojima’s 2nd Party studio that caused Konami to replace Electronic Arts as the most hated video game company almost overnight. The story goes, sometime between 2012 and 2013 Konami executives approached Kojima about making another MGS game. Kojima refused at first, saying MGS4 was the end of Solid Snake’s story. Konami reminded Kojima he was contractually obligated to make one more MGS game so Kojima reluctantly agreed to make what became Ground Zeroes.
While Ground Zeroes was in being developed, Konami approached Kojima again to let him know the game currently in development would be part 1 and a second game would need to follow. That did for Kojima, who resigned almost immediately after finishing Ground Zeroes. Kojima then went public with how he and his team were basically treated like slaves during Ground Zeroes’ development. The alliegations were so horrific, the Japanese government launched an investigation that revealed the alligations were not only true but much worse.
Despite the messy breakup with Konami, Kojima was paid for Ground Zeroes after he left. This created a bit of a rift among MGS fans after Kojima went public with the fact he was basically forced to work on the game nonstop until it was done. Konami went on to develop and then release The Phantom Pain without him and disbanded Kojima Productions. This is also why the logo for the former second party company is on Ground Zeroes but not The Phantom Pain. Some like myself refuse to play either game ever while others like my older brother will play it “because it’s a new MGS”.
David Hayter, who is Snake’s original English voice actor is also a personal friend of Kojima’s. Hayter’s never publicly said it himself but one popular fan theory is his friendship with Kojima is why “24” star Kiefer Sutherland was brought in to voice Snake in Ground Zeroes and The Phantom Pain instead of Hayter. Hayter was shocked and saddened when he found out along with the general public his iconic role had been recast by another actor. Hayter revealed in an interview to this day, he has never played either MGS5 game and no plans to ever. Commenting on it, he said “I just can’t bring myself to. No disrespect to [Sutherland] but it just doesn’t feel right knowing another actor’s voice is coming out of the mouth of such an iconic character everyone knew was mine to now.”
Hayter has no hard feelings toward Sutherland and even though he now knows Sutherland actually voiced Big Boss and not the current Solid Snake, he’s more hurt over the fact Konami didn’t have the spine to tell him they were recasting the role. On that note, Ground Zeroes and The Phantom Pain take place in the the 1980s. Chronologically, the events of both games happen 20 years before the events of the first Metal Gear Solid.
All that said. At this point, the future of the Metal Geat Solid franchise is uncertain. That and Konami losing its reputation as the legendary developer it once was were the prices Konami decided it was willing to pay for its greed. There have been no new Metal Gear Solid games since The Phantom Pain at least to my knowledge. You’ve already read what I know about the movie said to be in developement so…yeah.
I’ve heard rumors online in recent years Konami IS looking for buyers for some of its franchises. Sony is reportedly VERY interested in buying the Metal Gear Solid and Silent Hill franchises in particular from Konami and fans are hoping it happens for obvious reasons. If Sony gets them, they will make use of them. The recently announced HD remasters and remakes planned for at least both of those franchises is likely Konami’s way of boosting their value for a potential buyer. Who knows? Maybe the Switch will finally get MGS4 which it should have gotten 6 years ago. These are some dark days for the MGS franchise. Until I’m proven wrong, the franchise is dead as far as I’m concerned.
I almost left this out but MGS2 and MGS3 were recently delisted from digital stores due to copyright issues. Konami quietly announced last year they were temporarily delisting all digital versions of MGS2 and MGS3 from all platforms last summer. If you already bought the games, you can’t redownload them. The copyright issue involves newsreel footage that plays during some cutscenes in both games. Konami promised to relist the games once the copyright issue is resolved. For those who don’t understand copyright licenses, they are not permanent or indefinite. They are in place for several years, often a few decades. Its now been 20 years since both games were released so it makes sense for the copyrights needing to be renewed.
Mind you, this only applies to digital versions of the games but not physical copies. Many were quick to hold these games up as good reason to avoid buying digital and only buy physical. The problem is these 20 year old games have not gotten physical re-releases on current consoles. The Vita did get HD ports and the 3DS did get a What that means is you’ll have to buy a PS2, a PS2 memory card and PS2 copies of the games. Either that or buy The Metal Gear Solid Legacy Collection for the PS3 which of course requires you to own the console. It didn’t get a digital release on that note.
At 15,000 words, this is now the longest WordPress article I have EVER written across all of my blogs. Every single section of this article could itself be its own article so…yeah. I could easily keep going too actually but I’ll stop here.
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