When the topic of gaming obsessions came up at the Big Red Barrel office (that office being a massive e-mail chain that would be incomprehensible to the uninitiated), my mind made the rather short leap to the Metal Gear series. With a new entry to what has always felt like an ever-ending franchise coming this March, I thought it would be a good idea to indulge my inner fanatic and give a concise synopsis to those who may need a refresher. It should not need to be said, but this series of articles will contain spoilers for most of the Metal Gear franchise up to this point, specifically MGS3: Snake Eater and MGS: Portable Ops for this part.
While my fan credentials may come under threat when I mention that Metal Gear Solid was my first introduction to the crazy world of Hideo Kojima’s mind, I can proudly confirm that I have since gone back to the original MSX releases and remedied that situation. For this piece, I also thought it appropriate to go through the games in chronological order so events make more sense as we go.
1964 – Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater [PS2]
The entire saga begins with the ill-fated Virtuous Mission. A CIA agent codenamed Naked Snake, with the help of his superior officer Major Zero and a team of specialists, is tasked with extracting a defecting Soviet scientist from deep inside the borders of the USSR. Things go awry however when Snake’s former mentor, The Boss, decides to defect in the other direction. She brings with her two mini-nukes, as gifts to her new host, Colonel Volgin, who promptly decides to use them to mask his theft of a secret Russian weapon known as the Shagohod (by the way, you are encouraged to snigger loudly here). As well as radiation, the other fallout from this attack is the implication that the US was responsible for this attack on the USSR. In order to avoid an apocalyptic escalation, Snake is sent back in to destroy the Shagohod, defeat Volgin and kill The Boss.
Again, Snake is not alone. While Zero and his team return to help, we also meet EVA – an ex-NSA agent, who helps Snake infiltrate Volgin’s base to destroy the machine. Along the way, Snake meets The Boss’ Cobra Unit, a team of highly-trained, though utterly freaky, soldiers who are dispatched through cunning displays of combat prowess — though to the untrained eye, it may have looked like I was panicking.
Throughout the game, Snake begins to learn about a shadowy group known as The Philosophers, made up of powerful leaders from the US, USSR and China, who have amassed a large amount of money since World War II to finance their agenda. Volgin has stolen this and as would be expected, many interested parties are looking to get to the money.
After defeating Volgin, the Shagohod and eventually The Boss herself, Snake and EVA escape to Alaska. It is only then that Snake finds out that Eva was a Chinese spy after the money all along. He also finds out that The Boss was not a traitor – instead, she had willingly sacrificed her reputation and life to find The Philosopher’s Legacy and maintain the US’ innocence.
Snake is given a new title by his superiors – Big Boss. Understandably dejected, he visits The Boss’ grave and pays his final respects.
1970 – Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops [PSP]
Six years after the events of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, Big Boss (still using his old moniker, Snake) finds himself being targeted by his former unit, FOX, who capture and torture our hero for information on the location of the other half of the Philosopher’s Legacy. Not taking his ‘EVA was a gold digger’ excuse, they imprison him. Roy Campbell, a Green Beret team member, is a fellow inmate with Snake and he fills him in on their situation – specifically that they are in an abandoned Soviet missile silo in Colombia. Eventually, the pair escape and Naked Snake makes contact with his former teammates.
It turns out that Snake has been implicated in the FOX unit’s plot and must exonerate himself. In order to complete his mission, Snake begins to recruit local soldiers to take on Gene, the FOX unit’s leader, and his army. Using his growing military force, Snake is able to defeat the other members of the FOX unit using more cunning displays of combat prowess (a wonderous feat considering the gimped PSP controls). It turns out that one of the FOX members, Cunningham, has been working for the Pentagon the entire time. His goal has been to get Gene to launch a nuke at Russia to prolong the Cold War. Gene, being the smart cookie he is, already knows this but is instead planning on attacking the US, specifically the Philosophers themselves – Gene’s aim being to create a nation of soldiers known as ‘Army’s Heaven’ (this is important as you will learn in later articles).
Snake succeeds in destroying Gene’s prototype Metal Gear codenamed RAXA. After Gene himself is defeated, he hands over all of the resources he had accumulated for ‘Army’s Heaven’ to Snake. Once the mission ends, Snake sets up a new unit for himself, known as FOXHOUND (I’m sure they won’t turn evil…).
Throughout the game, a young soldier you encounter in Snake Eater, known as Ocelot, is seen working with the FOX unit. However, at the end of the game, he kills the Director of Central Intelligence in the US, finds documents containing the identities of the Philosophers and plots with an unknown other party to use the Legacy to achieve their own goals (like FOXHOUND, this becomes more important later).
And so ends Part 1. The next article will pick up with Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker where the story gets even more weird.