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MGS Retrospective: Part 3

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As has been pointed out to me, there are several main characters in the Metal Gear saga that are pretty damn important that I haven’t discussed yet, and since next week has the plot as the focus, it would appear that they would fall by the wayside. Fear no more, dear reader.

Raiden/Jack/The most effeminate special forces solider in the history of warfare

SOL Raiden.jpg

No discussion of the actual protagonist of Sons of Liberty would make sense without explaining why he’s an immensely unpopular character in the Metal Gear universe.

Right up to launching Sons of Liberty in North America, Solid Snake was billed as the star once more, with Konami even going so far as to air commercials with Snake in scenes that would ultimately star Raiden in the game itself. On the day the game was launched in the States, Konami finally announced to Japanese gaming press that Raiden, and not Solid Snake, would take the top billing for the game.

The rationale behind the choice from Hideo Kojima was interesting. Mainly, it stemmed from the developer’s desire to develop Snake from a third-person perspective, as well to avoid treating Snake like a rookie again. Kojima also stated that Raiden’s character and its perception by the audience were important for the overall feel of the plot, insofar that it contributed to a sense of lack of control and being subjected to major manipulation by unknown powers. All this might still have been forgiven and accepted, if Raiden wasn’t the near polar opposite of Solid Snake in terms of character and design.

A friend who is very much into anime mentioned something interesting to me some time ago: a lot of male lead characters in anime titles have an extremely effeminate appearance, to the point of looking almost androgynous. Raiden falls squarely into this category – very different from the more traditional look for a tough-as-nails antihero like Snake. Also not helping Raiden’s case was the fact that his love interest, Rose (Jack and Rose, by the way, reference the Leonardo di Caprio and Kate Winslet characters from Titanic) was very much an ‘in-your-face’ kind of character, continuously contacting Raiden to discuss mundane things like him forgetting the mission is taking place on the day of their anniversary. When his seemingly cowed attitude towards Rose and meek response to his enemies are combined with his androgynous looks and the fact that he is essentially an unannounced replacement for the hugely popular character of Solid Snake, it is no surprise that he was almost immediately disliked by the fanbase of the series.

MGS4 Raiden.jpg

At any rate, Raiden’s backstory is actually pretty deep. According to Solidus Snake (the last of the triplets born from the Les Enfants Terrible programme), Raiden was originally part of the Liberian Civil War during the early 1990s, where he was orphaned. Taken under Solidus’ wing, Raiden is trained to become a child soldier. After the conflict, Raiden disappears from a foreign aid station, taken by the Solidus Snake on behalf of the Patriots, of whom he was an agent.

After gaining US citizenship and joining the military, he took part in the US Army’s Force XXI trials, joins the newly reformed FOXHOUND. It is during this time that he meets and falls in love with Rose, whom he impregnates and is reunited with at the end of Metal Gear Solid 2.

In Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Raiden is initially introduced in the Big Shell chapter as ‘Snake’, serving as a member of what appears this new unit – another huge cop-out that had a negative fan reaction, to say the least. Soon after his introduction, his codename is changed to Raiden. As the story progresses, he learns that his presence on the Big Shell and his mission there is actually on behalf of the Patriots, the true masters of the new FOXHOUND.

While ultimately sharing the same goal as the terrorist leader (and adoptive father) Solidus Snake, by the end of MGS2 he is manipulated into killing him, mirroring Solid Snake’s own patricide of Big Boss. His use as a human weapon controlled by disinformation forms the central crux of Metal Gear Solid 2.

Raiden will appear in Guns of the Patriots as the stock cyborg ninja character that has been present ever since Metal Gear 2. Apparently, his body has suffered some sort of severe trauma (Rose probably beat him up), and he’s had the Darth Vader treatment, with his spine and head being the only original parts of his human body left. In one of the trailers, he vows that it is his ‘turn to protect Snake’ this time around, so Kojima is probably aiming to finally give him some gravitas and let him appear as a wiser and battle hardened version of his naive Sons of Liberty-self. Further credence to this theory is provided in the trailer where he pulls of a bunch of Matrix-like moves when fighting Vamp (a Sons of Liberty enemy also back for the finale.)

Roy Campbell

MGS4 Campbell.jpg

Campbell is a former commanding officer of FOXHOUND, and a close friend of Solid Snake. By the time of Guns of the Patriots, it appears that this friendship includes Hal ‘Otacon’ Emmerich.

He makes his first appearance in Metal Gear 2 as the new CO of FOXHOUND, although chronologically, his first appearance is in Portable Ops as a Green Beret, where Big Boss (the player character in MPO) meets him when both are imprisoned.

He forces Snake out of retirement in Metal Gear Solid to command the mission to neutralize the FOXHOUND insurrection after returning from retirement himself for the occasion.

In Guns of the Patriots, he appears to be a private citizen, although he is concerned enough about the current state of the world to ask Snake to come out of retirement one last time to help him defeat the Patriots once and for all. Guns of the Patriots will the first game in the series where Campbell is more than a talking head on your Codec.

Hal Emmerich/Otacon

MGS4 Otacon.jpg

First encountered in Metal Gear Solid, Otacon is Snake’s closest friend and ally in the war against Metal Gear proliferation. Initially, he was head of the team that designed Metal Gear REX, but became an ally to Snake when he realized the potential destructive power of his creation.

By Sons of Liberty, he and Snake work for a group called Philanthropy. The group is dedicated to halting the proliferation of Metal Gears. Of course, their initial mission to gather evidence of a new model designed for the US Marines (Metal Gear RAY) is a huge disaster but he resurfaces again during the incident at the Big Shell to provide on-site tech support for Snake. In that regard, Otacon is Q to Snake’s Bond.

He returns for Guns of the Patriots, still a staunch ally of Solid Snake. He will again provide remote technical assistance for Snake during his missions.

Liquid Snake

Liquid_Snake_Concept.jpgAs mentioned previously, Liquid was a product of the cloning program that took place in the 1970’s that also begat Solid and Solidus. Looking identical to his brothers – barring his hair color – he becomes the leader of FOXHOUND after Campbell and Snake retired (post Metal Gear 2.) As such, he is the leader of the FOXHOUND rebellion that drives Metal Gear Solid. He is ultimately killed by FOXDIE, with Snake being the vector for the virus.

It should be noted that he had a huge issue with being the ‘inferior’ son of Big Boss, since his genetic make-up expounds all the recessive genes he inherited. Interestingly enough, it’s revealed towards the end of the game that Solid Snake is actually the inferior son.

Liquid Snake lives on (literally, as you’ll see below) in Revolver Ocelot.

Solidus Snake/George Sears

Solidus Snake.jpg

Solidus Snake is the main antagonist of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. He is the third clone of Big Boss, created from the same government project that also created Solid and Liquid. He is first mentioned by name in the original Metal Gear Solid, where he is revealed in the game’s cliffhanger ending to be the President of the United States at the time (George Sears) and the mastermind behind the Shadow Moses island incident. After the events of Metal Gear Solid, Solidus resigns his presidency and goes into hiding after being targeted by his former masters, the Patriots. During the ‘Plant’ chapter of , he leads the terrorist group “Sons of Liberty” while claiming to be Solid Snake. He is ultimately killed by Raiden at the end of the game.

When revealed to be a ‘lost’ brother of Solid and Liquid, the game took a decidedly soap-opera twist, leaving many fans cold to the idea. Even now, a lot of questions remain about Solidus, foremost how he managed to fight as a mercenary in a civil war in Africa – even training child soldiers – yet still becoming the president of the United States. Hopefully, some answers will emerge in Guns of the Patriots.

Revolver Ocelot/Shalashashka/Adam

Ocelot_Snake_Eater.jpgOcelot is strongly implied to be the son of the Boss (from Snake Eater) and the Sorrow (a fellow team member who served alongside the Boss when she formed the Cobra unit during World War 2.) He first appeared as Ocelot, commander of an elite unit of SPETSNAZ soldiers in Snake Eater. While ostensibly an enemy, Ocelot is actually a triple-agent, working for both the KGB, CIA and the Patriots during these events.

He gets the ‘Revolver’ moniker due to his favouring the Colt Single Action Army revolver after losing a confrontation with Naked Snake. The latter pointed out to him that his technique of shooting is far more appropriate when using a revolver as opposed to a pistol. His appearance, interestingly enough, is also based on Lee van Cleef, the same inspiration for Old Snake – very much a Western gunslinger.

In Metal Gear Solid, he is one of the FOXHOUND terrorists involved with the hostile takeover of Shadow Moses Island. He is described as Liquid Snake’s right-hand man, he is the sole surviving FOXHOUND member by the end of the game, losing his right arm from the elbow down. After the ending credits, it is revealed that Ocelot is in league with Solidus, the third surviving offspring of the Les Enfants Terrible project and the then-current US President, George Sears.

Remember when I said that at some points, the plot truly stretches belief? Well, here’s the big example. To replace Ocelot’s arm, they attach Liquid’s arm during a transplant operation. However, this results in Ocelot having a dormant personality – Liquid’s – which can literally possess him and influence his actions. Crazy as hell? You bet. This is possibly the biggest leap in the entire series, which has been somewhat grounded in reality for the most part.

Anyway, in Sons of Liberty, Ocelot is under the employ of his old friend Sergei Gurlukovich during the introductory Tanker chapter, but ends up betraying him and his mercenaries when he hijacks Metal Gear RAY. He then forms part of the terrorist group “Sons of Liberty” during the Plant chapter with Solidus Snake, but ends up betraying him as well, revealing his true allegiance with the Patriots. By the end of the game, Ocelot is taken over by Liquid and escapes once again, this time with the Metal Gear RAY prototype.

MGS4 Liquid Ocelot.jpg

In Guns of the Patriots, he’ll serve as the main antagonist. Liquid has completely taken over Ocelot’s body, and as such, the character is now called Liquid Ocelot.

Again, credit must go to Wikipedia and Gamefaqs for a lot of the original research that I’ve adapted here.

In our next edition of the Metal Gear retrospective, we’ll take a closer look at the plot of the series, and in the week before launch, we take out the tinfoil hats to discuss some conspiracy theories regarding the ultimate fate of Snake and the Patriots (thanks to JP for the idea.)

Last Updated: May 27, 2008

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