ArticlesMemorable Moments

Memorable Metal Gear Moments: Shining Lights, Even in Death

Mission 43 | Shining Lights, Even in Death

At a certain point in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Snake is called back to Mother Base to take care of an urgent problem. A vocal cord parasite outbreak in the Quarantine Platform is threatening to escalate and needs to be brought to a halt, the hard way. Snake is sent into the building, armed with a gas mask and some firearms.


A rescue team went in earlier, but has not returned. Snake steps inside and the door shuts behind him. Red flashes light up the pools of blood on the floor and the stains on the walls. Bodies of fallen soldiers are everywhere, some still alive, albeit barely.


Snake comes across a dying staff member who hands him a visor capable of identifying the infected by the temperature of their throats. Those whose throats light up carry the parasites, and therefor need to be eliminated. If the men, their minds partially taken over by the parasites, are allowed to go outside, the parasite will spread past the Quarantine Platform and into the world. And so, Snake cannot leave until he has fulfilled his task: eliminate each and every infected staff member.


Equipped with his gas mask, visor and with the horn on his head, Snake looks like a demon as he moves through the dark hallways to hunt down his former comrades, and shoot them one by one.


The iDroid informs him of each lost Mother Base member.

Staff member has died


Some accept their fate, others beg for mercy before Snake pulls the trigger and ends their life abruptly. One soldier aims his weapon at Snake, the man he believed in, and who has now come to eliminate him. Another pleads for you to end his life, before turning his gun to himself.


In one particular room, a bunch of soldiers have lined up, and salute Snake as they await their inevitable end by their boss’s hand. A boombox is playing Peace Walker’s main theme, with the soldiers humming along. “Let’s let the boss decide. We live and die by your order, Boss.”


Staff member has died

Staff member has died

Staff member has died

Staff member has died

Having the iDroid announce every single death may seem like a strange design choice, but it’s this kind of blending of gameplay and story that Kojima often likes to play with. Each soldier you kill is (or was) an actual part of your base, and will forever be marked as having been ‘Killed in Action’. Hearing the impact of every life you take directly communicated makes it all the more painful. In the corner of the screen we can see Snake’s ‘Heroism’ rating decrease with every kill.


To make matters worse, Huey can be heard over the radio, voicing his disgust about Snake’s actions. “You’re insane, Snake! He was one of your men!” “You yourself said we’re a family! Or was it all lies?!” “Shooting your own men… That’s not the Big Boss I knew!”

There’s a soldier in the corner who does not seem to be infected as he is wearing a mask, and Snake hoists him in his back and carries him to the exit. But the soldier stops him just before Snake wants to open the door. “I don’t think I made it after all.” he says with a defeated voice. After a second check with the goggles, the parasite seems to be present after all. And so he has to die to. The soldier accepts his fate as he spreads his arms. “Do it.” Snake points his weapon and pulls the trigger.


Staff member has died

After he has done what he had to do, Snake falls to his knees, surrounded by bodies and blood, overcome by a feeling of defeat.


What follows is one of the most moving scenes in the game. The fallen soldiers are cremated, Snake watches the burning flames in silence.


When the soldiers’ remains are turned to ash and put into urns, Snake is standing on the edge of the platform, watching the endless ocean.

“It’s you fault! They’re dead because of you!” Kaz reacts angrily, but Snake agrees with Huey. “I killed them, with my own hands.” “They were on your side, I’m on your side!” Huey continues. “And you turned them all to ashes.” “They wanted you to shoot.” Kaz ensures Snake. “It was that or be burned alive.” You could almost see this as a reflection of Snake’s internal struggle: the voices in his head expressing both his guilt and his justification at the same time. “Let’s get this over with.” Kaz says.


The fallen soldiers’ comrades carry the urns to the ocean. But Snake stops them and takes the urn. He gets ready to pour the contents into the ocean, but then changes his mind. “I won’t scatter your sorrow to the heartless sea.” he says. “I will always be with you.” He covers his face with the pale ashes of his fallen comrades. Instead of releasing the ashes, he decides to turn them into diamonds. This way, they won’t be lost to the sea, they will continue to exist in the physical world, continue to join Snake on his fight. When we return to the helicopter, the tip of the Diamond Dogs logo on Snake’s suit shimmers. A shining light, even in death.


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