Saturday, December 29, 2018

Venom Snake

By: Patrick "TheLaw" Morris

Hey everybody welcome back to LegalSpeak a ColdNorth Production. I'm TheLawMorris and this is the video essay series in which I get to talk about the games I've been playing and what I think of the video game industry as a whole. You can find everything we do all in one spot over at Today we are going to be talking about Metal Gear Solid and more specifically the significance of Venom Snake. Now I do have to take a moment to issue a major spoiler warning: If you haven't played Metal Gear Solid and you don’t want any spoilers stop watching, listening, reading or whatever right now! 

Despite not starting to play the Metal Gear games until earlier this year I have a fairly memorable history with them. They have always intrigued and stuck with me when I came across them. When the first game came out my dad's friend from work raved and insisted my dad needed to buy it. When the second game came out my friend who was about four years older than me and much more ready for a more mature game like Metal Gear played through it and was offered 50 cents when trying to resell it because the store had so many copies they needed to sell. When I bought my PSP my friend James Hamilton loaned me Metal Gear Acid and I had no clue what was going on. When I bought a PS3 a friend of mine bought Solid 4 and would sit in my parents basement playing it even when I wasn’t there. Over the years Kojima's flagship series and I have crossed paths many times and I even bought copies of many of the games with the intention of playing them but I was always a bit intimidated and unsure of where to jump in.

Choosing the games from the series to play and the order in which to play them is one of the most important aspects of how one can experience Metal Gear Solid. I personally chose to only play official canon games and as mentioned by Kojima himself if the game doesn’t say "A Hideo Kojima Game" at the start then its non canon.  After choosing to play only canon games I was left to choose what order to play them in. The obvious choice is order of release to experience the story in the same order that everyone who played them as they came out did. But I chose to play the games in the order of the story. So I played Solid 3 Snake Eater, Peace Walker, Ground Zeroes (which from here forward I will lump into Phantom Pain because that’s what should have happened anyway), Solid 5 The Phantom Pain, Solid 1 The Twin Snakes, Solid 2 Sons of Liberty, and Solid 4 Guns of the Patriots. 

After playing through and falling deeply in love with the Metal Gear games I couldn’t possibly be happier with the order I chose to play. I've always wondered what it would be like to watch the Star Wars saga in the story order ignoring anthology films and episodes 7 and 8. When embarking on this Metal Gear journey I was afforded a similar opportunity. The series can be broken down into two trilogies, the Big Boss trilogy which goes Snake Eater, Peace Walker, and Phantom Pain, followed by the Solid Snake trilogy which goes Twin Snakes, Sons of Liberty, and Guns of the Patriots. Playing the games this way left me completely in the dark to who Big Boss was and why he was so important and as a result I was 100% behind him every step of the way as he transformed from the hero Naked Snake into the villain Big Boss. When he felt betrayed by the Boss I felt his pain, when he toyed with Ocelot I experienced that mutual respect, and when he learned the truth I supported his defecting. I was Naked Snake throughout all of Snake Eater and Peace Walker and I was happy to see him reject the title of Big Boss because it was one given to him by the corrupt system that had used him as a tool in their twisted power struggle.

When Phantom Pain came out in 2015 it was divisive to say the least. Audiences loved it for its tight gameplay and incredible expansion on the Metal Gear lore but almost unanimously hated and were confused by the ending and as a result the character Venom Snake was fairly widely disliked as well. It's a fairly unpopular opinion to hold but not only do I love the character of Venom Snake and how he and his story was presented to the player but I also think that Venom Snake is fundamental to the Metal Gear series and without him and his story the entire Big Boss arc falls apart.

Big Boss started his trilogy as Naked Snake a highly experienced and effective agent with very little knowledge of the more inner workings of the global intelligence game. At the beginning of Snake Eater Naked Snake says to the Boss "I follow the will of the leader, no matter who's in charge." and by the end of the game Naked Snake learns the last lesson his mentor had for him, free will. Upon his return Naked Snake is dubbed Big Boss but then defects from the CIA and goes into hiding. Early in Peace Walker is when we as the audience see the the hero Naked Snake start to become the villain Big Boss. There is one particular scene where he swaps back and forth almost as thought the two personalities are fighting within him for supremacy. When Naked Snake rescues Chico he comforts the boy telling him its nothing to be ashamed of and that the pain gets the better of us all. Immediately after Chico wishes he was dead and Big Boss points a gun at him offering to put him out of his misery. Over the course of the Big Boss trilogy the audience sees Naked Snake become Big Boss who will go on to be the viallain of the Solid Snake trilogy. The transformation is subtle and well executed and takes place over the course of three games and almost two decades but it couldn’t have been complete without Venom Snake.

Venom Snake starts his story as an insignificant medic on motherbase who happens to be on the helicopter Big Boss is on when Paz explodes during the raid at the end of Ground Zeroes. Out of dedication and loyalty to Big Boss' cause the medic throws himself between Big Boss and the explosion. He actively demonstrates that he is instinctually willing to give his own life to save Big Boss. How Big Boss reacts to this act of pure unadulterated loyalty is what solidifies his succumbing to the game and becoming the exact type of war lord whose actions caused him to defect at the end of Snake Eater. Big Boss manipulating Venom Snake and allowing him to believe he was Big Boss while the real Big Boss hid behind the curtain pulling the strings was the final nail in the coffin of the hero Naked Snake. His willingness to go to the same lengths that the CIA, KGB, and Chinese Intelligence had in Snake Eater is evidence that at the end of Phantom Pain what remains of the hero Naked Snake is gone and all that remains is Big Boss.

So the end of Phantom Pain wasn’t bad. Considering it was cut short and tensions between Kojima and Konami were high in the final stages of development it probably wasn’t as good as it could have been but it certainly was in no way bad. People hate on the ending and Venom Snake calling him "some asshole in the desert" but without Venom Snake what is arguably one of the greatest character arc's ever conceived couldn’t have reached the highs necessary to justify a satisfying end.

What do you think of the Metal Gear Solid series and the ending of Phantom Pain? Let me know in the comments down below.

If you're new here make sure to subscribe for a new video and new podcasts every week. And if you're not new here thanks for coming back! Don’t forget to check out our video game podcast HardReset for more free form video game discussion and our movies podcast NoRefunds the podcast that watches bad movies so you don’t have to! Where this week we discuss one of the many sequels that should have never been made, Bad Santa 2. You can find those on iTunes, Spotify, iheartradio, YouTube, and SoundCloud and you can find everything we do all in one spot over at I will be back next week talking about Tom Clancy games so until then just go play some games.

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