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Themes in the Metal Gear series

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In the Metal Gear series, there are themes in most of the canonical Metal Gear games. These themes play an important part in the game's story. Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima has said that the themes are messages that can be passed on to the next generation. By the end of the game, the themes lead to a conclusion. The Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater official guide by Piggyback speculated that the games overall story carry several implicit parallels to Nietzschean philosophy, specifically Nietzsche's "The Eternal Return of the Same."[1] Kojima also implied twice that, at least until the release of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, he also intended to push anti-Americanism and questioning America's role in the world as a theme.[2][3]

Metal Gear Solid

In Metal Gear Solid, the main theme is GENE. Throughout the game, it is said that everyone is bound to their genes and to fate and that the only thing that matters is passing on genes to the next generation. The game's main antagonist Liquid Snake (Solid Snake's brother and polar opposite) wants Big Boss' body to save the Genome Soldiers from a genetic disease. Liquid Snake follows his genes and is what Snake could have become. By the end of the game, Naomi Hunter, (who has always studied genes to find out more about herself) comes to the conclusion that genes do not define you as a person, and the fact that Snake is a clone is not important for him to define himself - rather, you should enjoy your life instead of worrying about your genes.

Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty

In Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, the main theme is MEME. At the end of the game, it is revealed that Raiden has been a test subject for the S3 Plan: A recreation of the Shadow Moses Incident (from Metal Gear Solid). The main antagonist, Solidus Snake (a third 'perfect' clone of Big Boss) is fighting against a group called the Patriots who were responsible for creating him, as well as Solid Snake and Liquid Snake. Each clone was made sterile so that they would not bear children, and there would be no more than three carrying the genes of Big Boss. Solidus is also fighting the Patriots' strict information control over the masses; their systems prevent him from being able to pass his memes to future generations. At the end of the game, it is shown that good things can be passed on to the next generation, not just the genes, those things, are the memes (as in 'an element of culture or behaviour not passed on genetically'). It is also shown that Raiden and Rosemary plan to pass on good memes (culture, poetry, compassion, joy) to their child.

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater

In Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, the main theme is SCENE (as opposed to 'scenario'). The Boss is the major illustrator of this theme, that everything is not absolute or eternal and that everything changes along with the times. The Boss said that by the 21st century America and Russia will no longer be enemies. All of the major characters are affected by scene. EVA falls in love only to cause heartbreak, Nikolai Stephanovich Sokolov is forced to build a weapon which nearly got him killed and Colonel Volgin is consumed by power which leads to his death. Naked Snake is forced to kill The Boss in a scene he cannot control. By the end of the game, Snake's perspective changed completely due to the nature of Operation Snake Eater.

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots

In Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, the main theme is SENSE, as in someone's understanding of the world that is lost when they die. Throughout the Japanese version, the word "will" is supertitled as "SENSE." However, this is translated simply as "will" in the English version. This theme is prominent throughout the game, from Snake's attempt to understand Naomi's intentions to the misguided attempt of Zero to follow The Boss's will, and JD to follow his. In all of these cases, the individual's original intent and sense of the world is questioned and unclear and seemingly is deliberately left for the audience to answer.

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker

In Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, the main theme is PEACE.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

In Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, the main themes are RACE & REVENGE and Pain. The REVENGE theme that will be prevalent isn't typical revenge between two people, but a never ending series of killing between races. Kojima has commented on these themes by saying that the "false spiral" (referring to revenge) will be carried out on to the next generation, the cornerstone of every theme in the series. In addition, pain is a theme in the way of the pain soldiers bring back from war, either from physical wounds or lost comrades.

Notes and references

  1. ^ Piggyback's Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, the Official Guide, page 226-227
  2. ^ Metal Gear Solid 2 Grand Game Plan (, page 36-37.
    Absolute evil in MGS2

    Evil in Hollywood films has always changed depending on the time in which the film’s story takes place. Inthe American market, where audiences like to see good triumph over evil, the absolute enemy – be it a race,country or setting – has always changed with the values of the times. MGS2 will be developed with mainlythe American market in mind, though it will also consider countries in the European market, such as Germany, France, Britain and Italy. Therefore, the particulars of its ‘evil’ must be handled carefully. It should be noted that we face no such problem with Japan.

    Westerns -> Native Americans

    Post-WWII war films -> Germany, Japan

    Cold War-era spy films -> Russia

    Post-Cold War films -> China

    Following the signing of the friendship treaty between the US and China -> Japanese businesses(the collapse of the bubble economy)

    1990s -> Terrorism

    MGS2’s evil
    The evil in MGS2 is the American government. However, this does not refer to Americans in general, norto any particular persons, but to the festering discharge that has built-up within the democratic state of America over the years. The intention is not to defame any race, state or ethnicity, but rather to look at the‘monster’ that the country’s political structure has created. It is an intangible entity yet at the same time amassive menace to the world, about on the same level as the evil in The X-Files. It could be called a throwback to the somewhat classic type of evil. It is this hidden hand of the American government, the Patriots, that has both created madmen like Solidus and the members of Dead Cell and has also used themfor its own ends. [...]
  3. ^
    "With Ground Zeroes he [Hideo Kojima] escalated the stakes by taking aim at North America’s contemporary policies towards terror suspects. “In the past the US was the centre of the world, where everything was happening,” he says. “I think my stories have always sought to question this, maybe even criticise it. But the situation is changing. America is not seen as the centre of the world any more. So the focus of my stories is shifting alongside with that change in the real world.”
    "It’s a diplomatic answer, but Ground Zeroes is not an especially diplomatic video game. Its incarcerated terror suspects kneel in wire cages, bound at the hands and feet with blinding sacks over their heads. As you hoist them on to Snake’s shoulder and sprint to the evacuation helicopter, some break down in tears either through fear or relief. It’s grimly political. “[Guantanamo] was definitely something that I made decision to address in the game,” Kojima says. “Hollywood continues to present the US army as being the good guys, always defeating the aliens or foreigners. I am trying to shift that focus. These movies might not be the only way to view current affairs. I am trying to present an alternate view in these games.”"

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