I’m still in a dream.
My battery on my Vita is near dead. I’ve just beaten The Boss. I know what comes next.
“Take this, keep it safe,” she says, handing off the Philosophers Legacy to Snake. “Take this too,” she adds, giving him her trademark Patriot rifle.
“A patriot? Why are you giving me this,” he says. “Jack, or should I say Snake? You’re a wonderful man.”
After pleading with him to kill her, her final words are uttered, a sentence that’ll live in Metal Gear canon forever in one form or another.
“There’s only room for one Boss and one Snake.”
It’s at that point for the briefest of seconds the game hands back control to you. The game doesn’t expect it to kill The Boss for you. It’s something that you, and only you, will have to do. And in doing so, set off a chain of events that will lead through 50 years of conflict and war. Not to mention, the powerful meaning in that mechanic in itself.
Just as the game hands control over to me, the battery on my Vita goes dead. I couldn’t help but laugh a little for some reason. I then snap out of it and realise where I am once again. I’m in a chair sitting beside a hospital bed next to my unwell mother.
A month later, she’d pass away.
Friday, March 4, 2005
I was 14 when Metal Gear Solid 3 came out. For some reason or another, I was massively excited by it, even though by right, I shouldn’t have been considering how petrified I was of Metal Gear Solid 2 after the Colonel’s skull face moment and how, despite my mum’s best attempts to try and get me past that bit so I would never have to see it (she had never played a game in her entire life until that night in 2002), I traded that in a few days after that night (I would rebuy it, then trade it in again, then rebuy it and then keep it and then buy MGS2 Substance if anyone wants the dramatic conclusion to that story).
I remember seeing all the trailers for MGS3 that I could possibly see from the old PSW DVDs, remembering OPM UK reporting on the fan rumour theory that it was all a VR mission (hey, after what happened in MGS2, nothing was off the table).
But when it came to that fateful day in March 2005, at the risk of massive hyperbole, all the theories and trailers in the world wouldn’t matter. I didn’t really know how much this game would change my life
And I’m not being flip when I say that, I mean that literally. Metal Gear Solid 3 changed my life.
There were a few hoops to jump as I was still a year under the game’s BBFC rating of 15 at the time. So I had someone with me to cover all bases on a legal side. I got the game and the strategy guide for an extra tenner, which I think I still have in my wardrobe somewhere.
I begged my mum for the money to get the game and after a while, she eventually gave in. But the one thing I didn’t expect was to be given a day off from school for it. It wasn’t half-term, there wasn’t a public holiday as far as I remember – I certainly never asked anyways – I was given straight up a day off from school for this game by my mum. I still don’t know why even now and I won’t ever know, but I wasn’t gonna look a gift horse in the mouth.
Got home, plopped in the disc and went through the same section of the game I had played a month or two earlier on the OPM demo disc, but only there was a lot more to come from where the demo ended on.
Saturday, March 5, 2005, bleeding into Sunday, March 6, 2005
I had never cried or shed any tears at any form of medium (I even saw The Pokemon Movie and that scene with Ash & Pikachu did fuck all to me) until Metal Gear Solid 3. The emotional punch the ending leaves you with isn’t so much a punch as it is a stabbing.
The entire truth of The Boss’s mission being told to you by Eva, who herself has just made her own reveal of being a Chinese agent, is massively heartbreaking considering the stature of the woman and the vision that she had of the world.
It’s in the game’s final cut-scene, that seven minute stretch where you meet the President to be honoured for what your done only to then refuse to shake the hand ot the DCI and walk out, that it slowly hits on you. The Boss’s sacrifice for her country, the courage she had, the will and strength within. This didn’t feel right.
By the time you were at her unmarked grave and Snake giving her the famous salute that has become a synonymous moment with the series and Debriefing having already hit its crescendo, the tears were already rolling down my face. It is still to this day the greatest ending I have ever seen in a game.
I wasn’t full out sobbing, but, as I said, I’d never experienced that kind of emotional impact in any form of entertainment. And I’m always of the belief that if a form of entertainment has made you feel something it intended you to, it’s done its job well as a piece of entertainment.
MGS3 did its job.
The Cold War setting, finally playing as Big Boss for the as we discovered the origins of the Metal Gear saga for the first time, the Cobra bosses, *THE* Boss, CQC (once I had mastered it), the Guy Savage mini-game from Zone of the Enders 2 director Shuya Murata, the silly Codec ramblings of Para-Medic and Snake, the emotion of its ending plus subsequently the little tweaks made with the Subsistence version and Metal Gear Online 1. I could go on and on, but then we’ll have a piece that’ll come in at 6,000 words.
But I mention all of the above because they are all linked.
Personally, Professionally. My career, my family. The difference being a game I loved to become a game that is massively special to you on so many levels.
Metal Gear Solid 3 became my favourite game. And was my favourite game for eight years through to 2013. But even then, it always held a place in my heart as an incredible game. The reason why it was already a massive part of me is because I loved it so much, it made me want to write about games as a living.
It made me want to look upon other games sites properly outside the brief, occasional visit to IGN (I remember The Mirror having some sort of games column with a link to IGN for the E3 2003 trailer of the game – that was the first time I saw any mention of the game).
And for ten years this coming May, I have written about games – as an enthusiast then as a specialist – and all because of Metal Gear Solid 3. It made me want to pursue a career in games writing and I’ve written for every place that I could ever hope to write for, my 14 year-old self is probably simultaneously crying and laughing at the same time – Polygon, Official Xbox Magazine UK , Official PlayStation Magazine UK and a three-year stint at VG247.
Not to mention, the one place that truly inspired me to write about games that I love so dearly – Eurogamer and now ex-EIC Tom Bramwell.
But ten years on, MGS3 is now a lot more special to me in a way I can’t even begin to describe (but I’ll try anyways). It helped in what was the hardest period of my life. When I was there in hospital with my mum, who was still unwell at the time but seemingly starting to crawl out of the worst of it at least, it helped passed idle time when playing it on my Vita for the amount of time I was there per day up until the end came.
I’m also proud of the fact that up until the end, she fought to the bitter end with massive courage and strength, traits that incidentally enough could be found within The Boss, someone who is admittedly a character with motherly traits by Hideo Kojima’s own confession to me during a BAFTA seminar in 2012.
It’s with that in mind that I hope one day, I sit down one-on-one with Kojima for even 15 minutes to talk solely about MGS3. Not Silent Hills, not a future Metal Gear game (unless it is about The Boss), not even Zone of the Enders. Just Metal Gear Solid 3 and only Metal Gear Solid 3.
Because of Metal Gear Solid 3, I wanted to write about games. Because of Metal Gear Solid 3, it helped me through the darkest period of my life. Ten years on from its European release to the day, thanks to the woman who gave me the money for it to play it and have the day off school for it, because of Metal Gear Solid 3 – and my mum – it makes me more determined to fulfil my Masterplan.
Happy birthday, Metal Gear Solid 3. You really have no idea how special you are or how much you mean to me now after a decade.