I got the Metal Gear Solid collection yesterday (as well as 4th Edition D&D, but more on that later). Since I’m getting a PS3 at the end of the week with the 4th installment, Guns of the Patriots…well, why not have a little Metal Gear week? Since I have all three games, I figured I’d play them in time for MGS4.
There are two versions of the first game. There’s the original PlayStation version (which was released numerous times in various versions) and then there’s the GameCube remake (The Twin Snakes). I never beat the PlayStation version, but I did beat the GameCube version. Twin Snakes is easier to play but to the point that there’s no challenge. Also, the cutscenes were redone to the point of ridiculousness (example). So, it’s been a real treat playing through the original version and seeing how similar/different it is to the remake.
Before reading any further, here’s some names to keep in mind. Solid Snake and his support staff; Colonel Roy Campbell (retired commander and Snake’s former CO), Naomi Hunter (chief of FOXHOUND’s medical staff), and Master Miller (Snake’s former drill sergeant). There’s also the other people who support Snake: Meryl Silverburgh (Colonel Campbell’s niece) and Hal Emmerich (aka Otacon). Then there’s the FOXHOUND team: Psycho Mantis, Sniper Wolf, Decoy Octopus, Vulcan Raven, Revolver Ocelot and, finally, Liquid Snake (the commander).
Regardless of the version, the plot is the same. A nuclear weapons disposal facility off the coast of Alaska (Shadow Moses island) was captured by Next-Gen Special Forces known as the Genome Army. These soldiers were led by members of FOXHOUND. FOXHOUND has a single demand…they want the United States government to turn over the remains of their greatest soldier; Big Boss. If that demand is not met within 24 hours, they’ll launch a nuclear weapon. Solid Snake is summoned out of an early retirement to deal with this new threat. Snake has two mission objectives: rescue two hostages (DARPA Chief Donald Anderson and ArmsTech President Kenneth Baker) and investigate whether or not the terrorists can launch a nuke…and stop them if they do.
Sounds simple enough, eh? Well, the Metal Gear games are renowned for their plot-twisting stories. As the player progresses through the game, the story unravels with numerous twists and turns…sometimes to a ridiculous amount.
The first of these twists comes when Snake meets up with the DARPA Chief. The Chief confirms the terrorists can launch a nuke because of the new Metal Gear weapon that was being developed on the island. Metal Gear REX, a nuclear-equipped walking battle tank that can launch a nuke from any kind of terrain. The Chief also says the terrorists need two codes to activate REX, a code that he knows and a code that Baker knows. Unfortunately, the terrorists already found out the Chief’s code (thanks to the psychic abilities of Psycho Mantis, one of the members of FOXHOUND). The Chief also tells Snake there is a way to stop the launch; the PAL codes…three card keys that, if activated, will engage Metal Gear’s safety lock (and prevent the nuke from launching). Baker has the keys. With all this in mind, Snake attempts to escort the Chief to safety. Before he can do so, the Chief falls dead from a sudden heart attack…at least, that’s what it looks like.
That last sentence reads like something out of the Holy Grail, but anyway…
After a duel with FOXHOUND operative Revolver Ocelot (who loses his hand, due to the sudden appearance of a ninja), Snake meets up with the ArmsTech President. Baker reveals that the terrorists know his code but reveals he was able to resist Psycho Mantis’ mind reading abilities, thanks to surgical implants in his brain. He tells Snake everyone who knows these top-secret codes has these implants, including the DARPA Chief. Baker tells Snake that he gave the card keys to Meryl Silverburgh, a female soldier who did not take part in the uprising…she’s also Colonel Campbell’s niece. Baker also gives Snake a disc containing all the data on Metal Gear REX. He then tells Snake to meet up with Hal Emmerich, Metal Gear’s chief engineer, before succumbing to a heart attack.
Before he can meet Dr. Emmerich, Snake meets up with the ninja again. After fighting the ninja in hand-to-hand combat, he realizes the ninja is his old war buddy, Gray Fox. Previously, in Zanzibar Land, Snake had left him for dead (and crippled) after a similar fight in a minefield. Despite being dead, Naomi Hunter reveals he was revived. Fox was outfitted with an experimental exoskeleton (which gives him insane strength and agility…and ninja abilities) and subject to intense gene therapy.
After the fight with the ninja, Snake confronts Dr. Emmerich. Emmerich, better known as Otacon, reveals he had no idea REX was designed for nuclear offensive capabilities. Otacon tells Snake that if the PAL codes don’t work, Snake will have to destroy Metal Gear himself. Otacon will even attempt to help Snake, feeling that since he created REX, he should help destroy the monstrosity.
Snake eventually meets up with Meryl again. However, she only has one of the three card keys. Not knowing where the other two keys are, Snake and Meryl decide to head to Metal Gear’s underground base. They meet up with and dispose of Psycho Mantis along the way. Half way to the base, though, the pair are ambushed by Sniper Wolf. Wolf wounds Meryl and captures Snake.
Snake is captured and meets up with his twin brother (and FOXHOUND commander) Liquid Snake. Snake is then subject to torture at the hands of Revolver Ocelot. If Snake surrenders, Ocelot will kill Meryl. If he doesn’t, he’ll continue torturing him. Snake refuses to submit. Ocelot also takes the data disc Snake received from Baker. In between torture sessions, Snake is imprisoned in a cell. A cell that houses the decaying corpse of the DARPA Chief. The Chief has been drained of his blood and, despite being dead for only a few hours, has decayed rapidly. To take his mind off the pain, Snake asks about Naomi’s background. Her story raises the ire of Master Miller, who checks into it. More on that later.
After managing to free himself, Snake heads for Metal Gear’s underground base. He overcomes many obstacles in his path, including FOXHOUND operatives Sniper Wolf and Vulcan Raven. Raven reveals another twist: the DARPA Chief was actually Decoy Octopus in disguise. Why go through all the trouble to impersonate the Chief? Raven leaves Snake to think about it. All the while, trust within Snake’s support team is disintegrating. The deaths of the DARPA Chief Decoy Octopus and Kenneth Baker, Naomi’s suspicious background… Naomi is arrested under the presumption of being a spy (her being FOXHOUND’s chief medic doesn’t help her case).
Snake reaches Metal Gear’s underground base, where Otacon reveals that Snake has all three keys. The one card key he has can be changed into a different shape (via some sort of alloy), but only at different temperatures. As Snake molds the key, he gets a call from Naomi. Naomi reveals she is a spy. Her brother was Frank Jaeger, Gray Fox…the ninja. When Snake killed him, she swore revenge. She told Snake he had been injected with FOXDIE, a virus that targets specific people via genetic code and kills them with a heart attack. While it was not her intention to use FOXDIE, she modified the program to kill Snake as well. She’s placed under house arrest before any more she can say more, however.
Snake inputs the PAL codes…and activates Metal Gear. Master Miller calls Snake and thanks him. The DARPA Chief was killed before Ocelot could get his code, so FOXHOUND decided to manipulate Snake. Campbell radios Snake, telling him that’s not Master Miller but he’s too late. Miller has been dead for days. So who’s Snake been talking to? “Miller” reveals himself to be Liquid. Snake confronts Liquid, who tells him Snake had been used by the Pentagon. The Pentagon injected him with FOXDIE in order to kill off all members of FOXHOUND and Baker, so the United States could retrieve Metal Gear undamaged.
Liquid pilots the newly-activated Metal Gear, intent on killing his brother first. Gray Fox helps Snake destroy Metal Gear, but he dies in the process. Snake is knocked unconscious by REX’s explosion. He awakens atop of REX with Liquid, who explains his motivations….to create a world where soldiers always had a place. Liquid also explains how he and Snake are related, via the Les Enfants Terribles (Terrible Children) project. The two are twin clones of Big Boss. Snake received all the superior soldier genes, whereas Liquid got all the inferior recessive genes.
With all this information in mind, Snake also learns that stealth bombers are on their way to nuke Shadow Moses. This is on orders from the Secretary of Defense, who wishes to cover up the whole incident. Snake manages to defeat Liquid (who dies of FOXDIE), save Meryl and escape from the base (with the help of Otacon, who stays behind). The Secretary of Defense is relieved of command of the operation (who was acting on his own self-interest) and Colonel Campbell calls off the air strike. Naomi tells Snake to not worry about FOXDIE and live (she set the virus to activate at a random time and since Liquid died…so will Snake). Snake tells Campbell to have someone pick up Otacon before riding off into the sunset with Meryl. The End.
Hopefully, that reads well. If it doesn’t…well, play the game. There’s a few things I left out because they weren’t essential to the plot.
The one thing that irks me about the story was the fact the “DARPA Chief” lied. He says Mantis got his code from reading his mind. Baker reveals that he and the Chief would have surgical implants in their brains to resist those mind probes. Obviously, this makes the Chief a damn liar…but no one seems to question his honesty. Everyone assumes the terrorists have both codes. This gets even worse later, when you find the real Chief’s decaying corpse later and after Raven confirms that the Chief Snake met with was Decoy Octopus in disguise. In short, I figured out the terrorists did not have both launch codes. Since they couldn’t launch, why bother with the PAL codes? I’d have radio’d my CO and brought up this point repeatedly.
As for gameplay, the game can be a mite difficult. You can’t aim in first person like you can in the later games and your life bar starts out insanely small (and it only grows after boss fights). Still, the plot is engaging enough for players to keep playing. And it is one of the best games for the original PlayStation.
“Can you understand what it’s like to know that you’re garbage since the day you were born!?“