There are moments in video games that bring out various emotions consisting of excitement, shock, or even sadness to the point where you say “I can’t believe this is happening.” There is one moment in particular for me that executes on all these emotions, but combines them with a brilliant pace and nostalgia to create a truly epic section. The game I am referring to is Hideo Kojima’s masterpiece, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. The sequence begins with shock when you discover that Solid Snake is going back to Shadow Moses, the place where the Metal Gear Solid series started.
You find out you are going back to Shadow Moses during the Mission Briefing right before Act 4: Twins Suns. The pacing at this point of the game is incredible. Act 3: Third Sun begins with Snake sneaking through a city in Eastern Europe, your typical Metal Gear gameplay. There are a couple sections of the city the game tasks you on getting through before the action picks up with a motorcycle chase scene. This leads into a boss battle with Raging Raven which concludes the gameplay section of the act. After the boss fight, one of the most epic sequence of cutscenes unfolds involving the main antagonist of the game, Liquid Ocelot. This sequence lasts for about 40 minutes before it concludes. The scene never feels like it is dragging along, you just end up realizing the length when you look at your clock after it is over. When the scene concludes, you are taken to the mission briefing section between acts.
You may have about five minutes to relax and take in the events of what happened at the end of Act 3 before the bomb is dropped that you are going back to Shadow Moses Island. Combine this huge reveal with the pace the story has been on the past two hours and it makes for one of the most fascinating moments in gaming history. The moment is even more special because all the characters that are interacting in this scene were major characters in Metal Gear Solid 1 too. These characters are as stunned and shocked as you are when they find out Snake has to return to Shadow Moses. At this very moment, I had the first of many “I can’t believe this is happening” thoughts during the course of Act 4. After further discussion between characters of mission objectives and expectations, that’s when Act 4: Twin Suns officially starts.
The whole act is filled with amazing moments. It starts with the flashback to MGS1. The act opens with you replaying the initial portion of MGS1 in all of its glory. From the graphics to the mechanics, everything you expect when you actually play MGS1 is here. When the section is completed, Old Snake wakes up telling Otacon “I’m having that dream again.” Old Snake is then dropped off to that same location you just saw in his dream to begin infiltrating the facility. As you are going through the helipad there is an nod to the first game as the vocal song “The Best is Yet to Come” is played. The entire beginning of this act sets the tone for a nostalgia trip you will encounter throughout the act.
When inside the Shadow Moses facility, you revisit areas that are easily recognized by anyone that has completed MGS1. You will see the lab where you fought Gray Fox. You can see the generator that you blew up using the Nikita Missile. There is a boss fight with Crying Wolf that pays homage to the fight with Sniper Wolf. At the point in the first game where you are suppose to change discs, Otacon will tell you to do that only to realize that you are using a blu-ray disc and don’t need to do that. It’s a culmination of all these little things that make the act feel really special compared to the rest of the game.
There are two parts in Act 4 that bring up all kinds of emotions alongside the nostalgia. The first is the boss fight with Vamp, one of the main antagonists in MGS2. The fight starts with Snake against Vamp and only ends when Snake injects Vamp with a poison that stops his health regeneration abilities. After this section, Raiden, the main protagonist in MGS2, comes into the fight against Vamp. The game then goes split screen. You control Snake holding off hordes of metal gears called Gekkos. On the other half of the screen shows a cinematic hand to hand battle between Vamp and Raiden. The battle against the Gekkos is hard enough, but you want to see the brilliant cinematic right next to you unfold as you see two of the main characters from MGS2 go at each other. This goes on for about ten minutes and then the battle is over ending with Vamp’s death. The scene ends with the death of Naomi as well, another character from MGS1, which brings Otacon to tears and leaves you sad for him. If all that nostalgia wasn’t enough, this entire sequence occurs in the location where Snake fought Rex in MGS1.
The second part of the act is the end. It contains one of the best boss fights the series has to offer. Liquid Ocelot vs. Solid Snake in a metal gear show down. You control metal gear Rex from MGS1 and Liquid Ocelot controls metal gear Ray from MGS2. Being able to control Rex in MGS4 was something that I never thought would happen. Then, having to face-off against Ray, using Rex, compounds the awe you are in as a player to the whole situation that is unfolding. It is surreal that you put into this situation and that makes it a highlight that I will remember forever and the icing on the cake of one hell of an ct.
All these emotions you experience as a player throughout this section of MGS4 are not uncommon to other games. I have experienced them playing many different things, but it’s a combination of the pace and the nostalgia that separates this act from other moments in games. It all leads to the thought “I can’t believe this is happening” time and time again. I don’t know if I have ever seen another game match the story-telling that went on in this section. I know for me personally, it will be very hard for that to happen.