Metal Gear Solid 4: Five reasons it was unforgettable

June 12 2008. A day many Metal Gear fans had been waiting for impatiently: the worldwide release of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. Today marks the fifth anniversary.

5-years-MGS4

Playing through the game, going along with Snake’s final mission, was a special moment for a lot of fans. Many things contributed to this game’s charm, and it would take too long to name them all. But here are five factors that played a big role in engraving the experience in the minds of its players.

 

Starting the game for the first time, after years of anticipation

Metal-Gear-Solid-4-Logan-Praying-Mantis

Starting with a bang, the game began with a couple of live action videos made by Logan, showing television programming from the game’s world. You could switch between channels: there were talk shows featuring voice actors from the game (including David Hayter), surrealistic cooking shows, and advertisements for each of the PMCs. These videos were said to have the budget of an entire PSP game, and it shows. They were very a spectacular, impressive mix between live action and CG, and they immediately set the tone for the game, making you realize your were about to experience something truly special.

 

Returning to Shadow Moses

Metal-Gear-Solid-4-Shadow-Moses-Island

After completing act 3, players suddenly found themselves back in the first Metal Gear Solid title, with Snake approaching the facility on Shadow Moses. Replaying this game brings back a lot of memories for many players: 9 years have passed for Solid Snake, 9 years have passed for the players. When the player has entered the facility, Old Snake wakes up, and the polygonal Solid Snake model transforms into the Old Snake from MGS4. “Everything all right, Snake?” Otacon asks. “I was having that dream again.” Snake explains, as the helicopter enters the snow covered lands of a desolate Shadow Moses. It’s time to return to the place where it all started, for the last time.

 

Facing our hero’s mortality

MGS4-Old-Snake-Briefing

Throughout the game you are constantly reminded you are playing as an old, dying man, who drags himself through this final mission, with complete disregard for his own life. This is presented in many ways: Snake gets back problems when he walks around in crouch position for too long, he constantly makes cynical jokes about his approaching end, and suffers from many physical afflictions. When he jumps from a helicopter he hurts his back and falls to the ground. It is a far cry from the young and stoic hero we started this saga with, and it gives the game a sense of finality, a melancholic feeling paired with the knowledge that this is the final chapter in the story, and after this Solid Snake’s mission will be over for good. This bittersweet feeling of sadness and finality is something that is woven into the entire game, or, as Snake said it, with both relief and grief in his voice: “This… is my final mission.”

 

Crawling through the microwave hallway

MGS4-Microwave-Hallway

Who could forget the microwave sequence? Near the end of the game, Snake has to drag his exhausted body through a long corridor protected by radiation. The player was supposed to tap the triangle button for several minutes on end, while a split screen showed all the characters, as well as Snake, fighting for their lives, and the tragic theme song playing in the background. This was the final obstacle before reaching the AI that controlled the Patriots. Snake has rejected Raiden’s offer to go in his place, so Raiden could still live out the rest of his life. After entering the corridor, Snake initially starts walking through the immense radiation, but soon falls to his knees, crawling on. By the time he reaches the end, he has to drag himself with one arm, barely succeeding. A nerve-wracking moment many players fondly remember. Snake’s request to Otacon to ‘lock the door behind him’ (using the remote controlled Mark III) only emphasized the fact that Snake probably didn’t expect to make it out alive.

 

Big Boss’s appearance at the end

Big-Boss-Appearance

This was considered the mother of all spoilers, but now that several years have passed most people have experienced this big twist for themselves. For those who didn’t know about it back in 2008, this was a very shocking plot twist at the very end of the game, just when the player thought it was all over. Big Boss appears one final time, makes peace with his son and explains his motives, at the same time realizing his mistakes. Then he dies in front of the grave of The Boss, the catalyst that started it all.

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  • EyeHaveYou

    I agree with every single thing. But I still think it’s never enough to clearly express everything MGS4 means just by writing. Just so many nostalgic moments, mind-blowing sequences, beautiful visuals etc… I have to say it’s not my FAVORITE game but it’s definitely in my top 5

    • Nyxus

      Yeah, I can’t do the entire game justice in just one article, this is simply a selection of what makes the game such an awesome experience. And it’s still my favorite game this generation.

  • Counterproductive

    Rex vs Ray! Why wasn’t this number one? :)

    • Nyxus

      It’s not really a top 5, and these are just 5 things that stood out for me, but of course there were many more memorable moments or aspects of this game. I did have Rex vs Ray in the top 5 moss fights, by the way. :)

  • TheKastorian

    Ah, brings back memories. Got it delivered on street date and couldn’t stop playing! I agree, the final scene with Big Boss, truly stood out. Cheers

  • MfLuder

    Great Top 5. Just saw the Big Boss Scene yesterday, because after the dark Phantom Pain Trailer I wanted to check whether his death and end isn`t a little bit to nice for a man who is now revealed to be essentially a war criminal and does now all the terrible things he only talked about in “Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake” but I thought, it was all there. Doyle is great in this scene, you sense that – although Big Boss seems like a old, wise gentleman – this man is able to be horribly violent and dangerous. But at the same time he was there to make peace and not to fight.

    Going back ti Shadow Moses never was this nostalgic for me, because I started with MGS2 and I always thought that the saga began with Solid Snakes Infiltration of Outer Heaven and Big Boss first codec call “Begin Operation Intrude… destroy the final weapon, Metal Gear”. So, Snake using the lighter from “Metal Gear 2″ to light BBs final cigar was a little bit more nostalgic for me!
    Yeah, but I think MGS4 was a great way to end the story – it really ends with the big message of “Metal Gear”, which is… stop playing MG and live! :) Well, not exactly but, choose live. I thought it was a wonderful way of keeping the big theme of Solid Snakes life.
    Seeing now – in Phantom Pain – the descent of Big Boss is a lot easier because you know, it ends more or less well.

    • Nyxus

      Yeah, Big Boss seems to have changed at the end of MGS4, but he does acknowledge his mistakes. And he says that ‘ever since I killed The Boss, with my own hands, I was already dead’. That says a lot as well, he just sort of gave up on everything after that event, that’s probably (partially) how he allowed to happen what happened to him.

  • PrinceHeir

    for me the scene with Big Boss is more powerful in japanese.

    i mean Akio Otsuka’s real life father voicing Big Boss?

    seriously that’s an amazing homage by Kojima, you can definitely tell both have been through alot in the battlefield.

    although i think they could have spend time explaining how well Big Boss and Solid Snake relationship is, but i’ll wait for the remake of the MSX games.

    nice list Nyxus, im replaying the MGS Saga now, and im currently playing MGS2.

    man such a solid and well balance game.

    i freaking love Raiden, fuck the haters, he’s definitely a cool and well related person even before he become a Ninja.

    • Nyxus

      I have a Japanese version of the game, still want to play through it someday. Do I see it correctly in that screen, that you can have both Japanese and English subs? So can you have English subs with the Japanese dub? That would be handy.

      • PrinceHeir

        unfortunately no :(

        but you’ll already know the cutscenes and dialogue so i don’t think you’ll have a harder time understanding it in the first place.

        • Nyxus

          That is true.

          • PrinceHeir

            though they’ll be using the circle as for confirmation so that’s good also.

            just wish the codec was put back in select button :(

    • Born2Game4Life

      I respectfully disagree. I tried out the Japanese version, but it just didn’t do it for me. I actually felt weird listening to Snake talk in Japanese :P

  • Nintendo Fan 4 Lif3

    I wish Kojima could have explained more about Drebin..he didn’t seem like much the dubious character from the way Kojima presented him in the game until the very end when he explains his involvement with the Patriots. Also, I found the relationship between Meryl and Campbell deserved more elaboration. One more: I think another favorite moment was when Sunny went outside the Nomad and Otacon realized she can be outside. Last one: I found the dynamic interplay between Otacon and Naomi a highlight that deserved more attention since it served a big part in the story. Also wish that Solid Snake could have lived longer, feel like Kojima just rushed his funeral since he infamously thought it would be his last game at the time..hopefully MGS V isn’t the last metal gear game.