by Marcus Brown
Have you ever noticed how your beliefs and views possibly change as you grow older or go into a new environment? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. That’s how the world can be. People’s views change with the times. Just look at our modern issues: advocation of gay and lesbian marriages, attempted legalization of marijuana use and our new proposed healthcare system are just a few of those issues. The problem of time is the proposed theme of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. In Snake Eater, Kojima uses the theme of the scene of times to show how an era such as the Cold War creates a whole new type of perception on what exactly is right or wrong.
Released in 2004, Snake Eater changed the playing field of the Metal Gear franchise. Kojima traded in the urban, industrial settings of previous titles for jungle and other outdoor areas. With this came a new element of the gameplay: camouflage. This camo system allowed players to pick certain patterns that match their surroundings on the spot, allowing them to blend in to their environment. Camo systems removed the player from being able to hide in lockers, corners and other nooks and crannies.
Coming in with the camo system is another aspect of survival: food. Snake has to eat food such as plants, fruit and small animals in order to keep his strength up. Although it’s not necessary to keep Snake alive, food is essential for good performance as a soldier and fighter. This survival standpoint gave new life into this series.
What’s interesting about this title is that Snake Eater is not about Solid Snake at all. Rather, it’s about his father, who is presently known as Big Boss. However, players get to experience his earlier years in this title. With this, a gamer gets to see just one example of the scene theme in that heroes and villains change with the times. Though Big Boss has, up to this point, been an evil beacon for Snake, Snake Eater creates a whole new side of the character, showing the “father” Snake players have not seen yet. Find out more on how the game turns out here and here.
One of the main focal points of this game is the setting and how that severely alters perceptions of what is right and wrong. With the game taking place in 1964, the world is in the height of the Cold War. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, the Cold War refers to the period of time when Russia and the U.S. were at a sort of standstill, both vying for an opportunity to launch physical war with the other. It was a time of when there was less actual fighting and more political warfare and espionage. The enemy was different in this time, meaning that no one could be trusted as not working in the camp of the enemy. This is demonstrated in no better way than in the mentor to Big Boss himself, the Boss. The Boss is a female companion and leader to Big Boss, and in this setting she shows a completely different side to herself, which comes as a betrayal to Big Boss. Here the player sees two opposing forces, one trying to understand and one trying to teach.
The betrayal in this game is to be understood based off the connection between the Boss and Big Boss. Both share a quality of loyalty: the Boss being loyal to her own causes, and Big Boss being loyal to his mission, no matter who it comes from. However, in this similarity, the two actually differ in several ways. The Boss is very straightforward and strong in what she believes in. However, Big Boss is conflicted throughout the whole game, wondering what the Boss is thinking and why she does what she does. Also, the Boss is loyal to her country throughout all of this, even when her true motives are discovered. Big Boss, as players already know, go from being loyal to his country to being distrustful of the American government and everything he previously believed in. In one week, everything that Snake (Big Boss) believes in is questioned and changed.
Scene doesn’t apply only to Big Boss and the Boss. The game also touches on instances of defection from one side to the other, which was not unheard of since World War II. With such uncertainty in the world, it is somewhat difficult for the player to see who exactly is absolutely good or bad in this game. This is the point Kojima is trying make: values and people change with the times, and it is up to us to figure out what exactly is truth and what is just opinion.
Metal Gear Solid 3 is a brand new take on the same espionage concept of the saga. In this title, the player is taken back into time to learn new facts about the same characters and to see that everyone, even a villain, has an origin. Make sure to check out the game in the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection and the Metal Gear Solid Legacy Collection.