Metal Gear Solid 4 thoughts and impressions (through Act 5: end)

I was doing things act by act, but I ended up finishing the last couple of acts in one night, the day after finishing Act 3. I might be covering a lot in this post, but rather than break it down on an event by event level, I’m mostly going to sum up my thoughts on the game as a whole, spoilers included. So, Metal Gear fans, let’s jump into my final thoughts on Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, right after the jump.

After getting through the first part of Act 3, where things started slowly with a lot of sneaky pursuing, the game really picked up in pace and in drama. When Snake and Liquid meet up at the river, it was depressing to see a rapidly aging Snake just get slapped around by his more physically capable “brother.” Between this and Raiden’s near-death, you really start to feel the final page turning on a long and complex novel. Snake’s (and his allies) time is coming to a close, and despite his growing fatigue, he knows he has a job to finish before the final chapter draws to a close. However, as Snake sits there with a knife jammed into his arm and a half-burnt countenance, things look grim and I, for the first time ever in a Metal Gear, actually pitied Snake and felt a hint of sorrow for him. Yeah, I was actually caring about a video game character.

As the plot continued to progress I really liked how the storyline got specific on a lot of loose ends generated by each game in the series, but it also left a lot of things open to interpretation. Liquid’s intent remained somewhat fuzzy throughout the game, even up until the moment the credits rolled. Was Liquid just a bloodthristy killer that wanted perpetual war, or was it true freedom that he was after? Did he only care for freedom for himself, or did he believe it should be given universally? Obviously at some points it looked like Liquid wanted to be nothing more than an all-powerful dictator, but Big Boss’ words at the end of the game complicate that notion a bit. It seemed to me that Liquid just took a misguided route to fulfill The Boss’ ideals of a world without shackles.

I know I’m rambilng a bit, but here’s how I understand things to be in the Metal Gear saga:

Big Boss and Zero both started out with a common goal, but at some point their interpretations of that goal (based on The Boss’ wishes) deviated and the two could no longer trust each other or see eye to eye. As a result, two separate factions were created. On one side you have Big Boss and his followers, on the other you have Zero. Big Boss gave rise to the Outer Haven crew (Ocelot, Liquid Snake, Solidus, Eva, etc.) and Zero gave rise to the Patriots and their AI systems. While Zero was aiming for complete control of the battlefield and the soldiers that populated it, Big Boss was fighting to create a perfect world for his kind; which did not involve an overseer type of system. Both factions used The Boss as their figure to rally around, with Big Boss and Zero becoming the recognized authorities on her ideals within their respective groups.

As time passed, the two factions engaged in a global chess match that involved religion, politics, war, conspiracy, private agencies, and all other aspects of society. As the struggle aged, the two sides became more entrenched in the workings of the world and their causes molded society through war and unseen manipulation. Zero and Big Boss became two kings on a chess board with Solid Snake placed between them as the communal pawn. Both sides made use of Snake in the end, as the Patriots used the new strain of FoxDie to kill off the Big Boss faction at the same time Liquid and his allies were using Snake to destroy the Patriots’ system. In the end, both sides succeeded, and ironically their mutual demise was what eventually brought about the closest realization of The Boss’ goals. As Big Boss and Zero both die out in the final moments of the game, the slate is wiped clean and those that managed to survive the 40 years of conflict are now given the chance to be a part of a new and promising future. This is perfectly illustrated by Raiden’s reconciliation with his family in the hospital.

The emotion of the game was quite incredible, and the final conversation between Snake and Otacon was very touching. We know Snake only has months left to live, but Otacon isn’t going to just let him wander off and die like a dog that’s at the end of his days. It proves that their relationship was more than just professional, they really care for each other. Also, as Otacon plans to write Snake’s story, it signifies that Solid Snake is more than just a tool used by warlords; he is a man that deserves to have his story told for once. Otacon is going to help define Snake’s legacy and give him a proper and honest place in history. In the end, it’s justice for a misunderstood hero.

I loved the game. As said over at Nintendomain (here:, Metal Gear Solid 4 is one of the few games to live up to the hype that preceeded it this generation. I fired up MGS4 expecting the world, and I wasn’t disappointed at any time; which is in sharp contrast to my experience with GTA4, but I’ll leave that alone for now. As the sun sets on the Metal Gear Solid saga, I truly am thankful that Kojima put his heart and soul into this final title. Sure, it had some quirky things that make you roll your eyes a bit, but the overall experience was as good as any that I’ve had in the past 10 years playing video games.

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