Metal Gear Solid 4 is a game characterized by a gloomy, bleak mood. Snake, now an old and battered man, realizes the end of his life is approaching. Knowing he has no future, he displays a lack of care for his own life, and his decaying body is a constant reminder of his looming end. Towards the final moments of the game, this feeling of finality culminates in the instantly famous ‘Microwave scene’ – of which Hideo Kojima himself recently said in an interview that it’s one of his favorite Metal Gear moments.
At the start of the game’s final act, Snake has made his way onto Liquid’s warship, and now has to go through a microwave protected corridor in order to reach the server room and upload a virus into the Patriots’ network. Not expecting to return alive, Snake and Meryl say their quick goodbyes, and Snake leaves Raiden to take care of the soldiers, after declining his offer to go in his stead. Snake doesn’t want Raiden to waste his life in the corridor, as he still has a future, and Snake feels it’s his duty to end this.
As soon as Otacon opens the door, an immense blast of heat is hurled towards Snake, taking his breath away. Gasping for air, Snake enters and locks the door behind him, before starting his stumbling course down the hallway.
The screen is split in half horizontally. On the upper half we see Snake’s comrades fighting a hopeless battle on warship USS Missouri and Outer Haven involving unmanned Metal Gear RAYs and FROG Unit members, while others in different locations can only put their faith in this small group of people. Meanwhile, on the lower screen, Snake drags himself towards the end of the hallway. Literally drags, because as the radiation takes Snake’s energy away, he collapses on the ground and forces himself forward, ever slower and more exhausted, while the sound of his heart beat increases in frequency. The player has to keep tapping the triangle button, and Snake is crawling ever more slowly, his health bar dropping by the second. In the background, the melancholic theme of the game (Love Theme) is playing, as if to emphasize there is little hope and no way back.
As the player keep frantically tapping the button, his arm starts to get numb. At the end of the sequence, you feel exhausted. But you’ve made it, barely. And so did Snake, collapsing on the floor inside the server room, where there is an almost serene and peaceful atmosphere compared to the blasting radiation he crawled out of. An unforgettable moment in Metal Gear history.