Plot twists. They are staple of the Metal Gear series, and we have seen many of them over the years. But which ones are the most unexpected, the most emotional, or left the biggest impact on the overall story?
Metal Gear Solid 1/ The Twin Snakes – After inserting the PAL card keys in order to deactivate Metal Gear REX, much to Snake’s surprise the cards activate REX instead of deactivating it. It turns out that Snake was a pawn in Liquid’s scheme all along. Pretending to be Master Miller, Liquid has used Snake to find out how the card keys worked, and in fact activate Metal Gear for him.
The entire time during the game you’ve been talking to a disguised Liquid, and you have been doing his bidding unknowingly, and now you even activated the weapon that you were trying to bring to a halt. In a way, there are two plot twists bundled together here: the fact that REX hadn’t been activated after all, and the fact that Miller isn’t Miller. Snake has been played.
Metal Gear Solid 2 – Nothing is what it seems during the Big Shell Incident. As the story progresses, Raiden becomes more and more confused about what’s real and what’s just a deception. Near the end of the game, his commanding officer starts acting stranger and stranger. Raiden doesn’t know who to trust anymore, all the more when he realizes he’s never even met the colonel. Then Otacon reveals a stunning truth: Raiden has been talking to an AI the whole time. The colonel as a person only exists in his brain, composed of Raiden’s own expectations and ideas.
Raiden’s sense of reality is crumbling away, and the border between what happens in his head and what happens in the real world becomes increasingly vague. Where does an AI even fit in?
Metal Gear Solid 2 – Close to the end of the game, Raiden finally learns the truth behind the Big Shell Incident. He learns of a conspiracy of staggering scale and complexity. The Patriots are planning to extend their power by means of manipulation on a massive scale.
The whole incident was an experiment orchestrated by the Patriots, with the resulting data being their ultimate goal. Raiden learns he is just a byproduct of the experiment, and has unknowingly contributed in the organization’s ability to control society as a whole. Aside from the Patriots, no one knew what was really going on, including Solidus and Ocelot. And now, as they reveal their true intentions and the real meaning behind the whole incident, it starts to become clear how great their power really is.
Metal Gear Solid 4 – This is one of the most shocking and unexpected events in the entire series. Just when it seemed like Metal Gear Solid 4’s story was over, Big Boss appears on stage to put the entire event in a new perspective. As unexpected as his arrival is, in retrospective it was foreshadowed throughout the game, such as EVA’s and Liquid-Ocelot’s comments that ‘unless the light is put out, erasing shadows will do no good’.
Big Boss didn’t come to fight, but to give closure to his life. He faces his past mistakes and passes on the torch to his son and former enemy, Solid Snake. His story is over, his sins have been corrected, and Big Boss can die a more peaceful death than he ever expected, close to the grave of the one who started it all. His final message to Snake is clear: forget about us. Stop fighting, start living.
Metal Gear Solid 3 – At the end of the game, Big Boss learns the truth behind The Boss’s defection. She didn’t turn to the Soviet Union after all, but in service to her country she sacrificed not only her life, but also her reputation – all for the cause of her motherland.
This plot twist wasn’t necessarily as unexpected as some of the others mentioned above – it was clear all along The Boss wasn’t telling Snake the whole story -, but it carries great importance for the saga. This event is the catalyst for all other events in the series. In MGS4 EVA rightfully remarks that ‘if she had survived, the world of the 21st century may have been a very different place’.
The Boss’s death caused a chain reaction that directly and indirectly led to The Patriots, Outer Heaven, Les Enfants Terribles and the Sons of the Patriots system. It completely changed the landscape of the entire world over a period of about 80 years. It is the single most significant occurrence in the entire storyline of the series. It would change Big Boss for good. Add to that the emotional impact of MGS3’s ending, and you have the number one plot twist in the Metal Gear series.