‘Metal Gear Solid 3’: When the final boss isn’t really the enemy


Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater

Boss battles are a large part of what makes the Metal Gear Solid franchise stand out against its contemporaries. Director Hideo Kojima might’ve missed his calling for motion pictures with his broad storytelling and incredible set pieces. Throughout the history of Metal Gear Solid, Kojima has continually upped the ante of what players can expect from the confrontations with the series many memorable villains.

There are countless signature fights to reminisce about when talking about Metal Gear Solid. Even just sticking to the boss fights in Metal Gear Solid 3 would be a difficult endeavor. Whether it be the battle with The End, which is one of most realistic sniper duels ever portrayed in video games, or the early confrontation with Revolver Ocelot, Metal Gear Solid 3 has its fair share of classic battles. What makes the battle of Snake vs The Boss so extraordinary, is the cinematic aspects of the encounter.

Set in the Cold War-era Soviet Union, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater centers around a FOX operative known as Naked Snake and his mission to locate and secure a weapons designer. During this originally brief operation, Snake realizes that the enemy has already begun to develop the weapon and that his mentor, The Boss, has defected to the Soviet Union. Snake must confront his mentor and stop this nuclear threat before nuclear war breaks out between the US and Soviet Union.

Snake’s final confrontation with The Boss takes place after he has dealt with the other members of the Cobra Unit, the code name for the group The Boss commands. American ex-NSA operative EVA has been traveling with Snake throughout “Operation: Snake Eater”. Snake and EVA are attempting to leave the region when they are confronted by The Boss. The mission is particularly difficult for Snake since The Boss has been more than a mentor to him, perhaps more of a mother figure.

Snake confronts The Boss in a field of flowers. Following a blast that destroys some of the nearby wildlife, The Boss states “Life’s end. Isn’t it beautiful?” The Boss has been waiting for someone to put her out of her misery. After the second world war, the politicians have entered the picture and had made their presence known. These demands turned friends into enemies. In 1944, The Boss and her team, The Cobras, were sent to Normandy to locate and destroy enemy rocket installations. The Boss was pregnant at the time and gave birth in the middle of battle. She gave up her body and her child for her country. She isn’t so much an enemy as just another victim of war.

With most boss encounters players are eagerly awaiting their opportunity to finally get their revenge or tie up loose ends. While the battle with The Boss allows for that, it is a battle neither Snake or the player feels particularly excited about finishing. The only thing The Boss can give Snake now is her life. The battle is given a definitive finale when The Boss tells Snake that in 10 minutes MIGs will come and bomb the hell out of their location. Snake has to beat The Boss in under 10 minutes so he can escape with his life. “Let’s make this the greatest 10 minutes of our lives, Jack”, The Boss states before the battle commences.

Metal Gear Solid 3 was a graphical wonder for its time and this final battle shows just how much it pushed Playstation 2 to its limits. The flowers move back and forth while Snake and The Boss devise their next attack and countless pedals are flying through the air. Also the combat sequences, when Snake and The Boss are in CQC aka “Close Quarters Combat” are extremely detailed.

The battle begins with only the sounds of running through the grass or bullets flying. As the time comes closer to the limit the theme song, “Snake Eater”, starts to play. Most of the time this wouldn’t be such a big deal, but “Snake Eater” sung by Cynthia Harrell evokes the feeling of classic James Bond theme songs and is an extremely gratifying way to experience this final battle.

Battles in Metal Gear Solid are never as straight forward as here are your weapons and defeat your enemy. The Boss will respond differently depending on whether or not the player attacks with guns or with CQC. Furthermore, Metal Gear Solid 3 offered players the ability to unlock unique camouflage options if they were able to defeat bosses non-lethally. This meant using the various tranquilizer guns to sedate the enemies as opposed to killing them.

After the epic confrontation, it is clear that Snake hasn’t really won anything. While he has earned the title of, “Big Boss”, he has lost a lot more. In addition to the revelations of the finale, Snake now has the burden that comes with the title of Boss. At the end of the confrontation, The Boss hands Snake her gun and asks him to pull the trigger on her life. The player is given control of Snake and has to confirm the final shot. Snake leaves the battlefield before the MIGs come and the flowers turn from white to a crimson in a flourish. With the combination of the music, level design, and story, the battle with The Boss might be as close to a true cinematic experience Hideo Kojima has come. It takes a lot to be one of the most satisfying battles in Metal Gear Solid history, but the final confrontation with The Boss leaves an indelible impression.

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