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This article is by Metal Gear Confidential (careful, site seems to be infected) creator Mad Jackyl, who kindly emailed it to me and gave me permission to publish it. It's an honour to be able to present it here, and we thank him for giving more Metal Gear fans the opportunity to enjoy his insight.

Author: Mad Jackyl 

Back to Metal Gear Solid 2

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The storyline of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, with its confusing presentation and intriguing elements has been discussed at length by people all over the internet as well as in real life. It is sometimes considered the first post-modern videogame because of its unique approach to storytelling. Since it was released, this heady and easily misunderstood work by series creator Hideo Kojima has been the subject of debate perhaps more than any other current game on record. While insights into the various intricacies pertaining to the plot and motives could be detailed here by me, I feel enough has been said and discussed about those subjects already that I won’t go into them myself. What new insight could I really have on the matter that hasn’t already been said?

Instead, I would like to point out something that I feel has gone unnoticed by the scruples of many casual and hardcore fans of the Metal Gear series. Contained within the original game disc in the “Special” section on the main menu, a “Previous Story” sub-menu section is able to be viewed. Three selections are able to be accessed from this menu: a newspaper review for Nastasha Romanenko’s book, written after the events of Shadow Moses Island, entitled, “In the Darkness of Shadow Moses: The Shocking Truth”, an 129 page editorial, and the book itself. While these three texts appear to be complementary in giving us further insight into the events that take place during the Shadow Moses Island incident, they are only this when taken at face value. While the newspaper review and the editorial seem to be superfluous material that serves no further purpose other than fleshing out the unseen world outside of the espionage-laden battlefields represented in the Metal Gear series, they serve a much higher, nearly concealed purpose. It is my hope to show to the reader that these articles are not superfluous by any means and their contents were deliberately written, arranged and contained within the disc to prove a certain point, however obfuscated and non-intuitive that point should be. After reading this essay, I hope you, reader, will see that the “Previous Story” section has less to do with Metal Gear Solid and what we already know about that and more to do with the ideas relevant to Metal Gear Solid 2. Proceeding forward, I will now attempt to deconstruct and analyze each article for you in an attempt to prove my proposal.

The first article available from the “Previous Story” sub-menu is a newspaper review for In the Darkness of Shadow Moses: The Unofficial Truth, from the fictional newspaper The New York Mirror reviewed by one George Franklin. It begins by addressing the memetic legacy that some places hold in our collective imagination; “The Grassy Knoll” and “Roswell” are cited as examples. Think of one or the other and you think things such as “Dealy Plaza, 1963”, “JFK assassinated” or respectively, “Aliens!” They also might conjure thoughts of conspiracy. Both concern highly secretive events whose truth may never be fully known. Franklin contends that “Shadow Moses” is bound to become one of these. He also reminds us that the official history, which happens to be drastically different from Romanenko’s version of the events, is that the nuclear weapons disposal facility on Shadow Moses was taken over by a radical right-wing group demanding the release of incarcerated group members in federal penitentiaries and that the incident was speedily resolved by the deployment of a commando unit. Nothing is mentioned about a secretive government project or the struggle to control it. Franklin’s review sees him as somewhat lenient towards the truth Romanenko sets forth in her book as he cites the growing number of eyewitness accounts cropping up on the internet that further back up her claims. By doing this, he offers validity to Romanenko’s version of the truth over the massive government denials and denouncements of her work. This first document serves to bolster confidence in such eyewitness accounts as Romanenko’s and sets the reader up to more readily accept the non-governmental take on the events of Shadow Moses, which segues into the second article able to be accessed.

This next article available is a long-winded editorial by author Gary McGolden entitled, The Shocking Conspiracy Behind Shadow Moses. The story is written from the first-person perspective, taking place shortly after the events of Shadow Moses. It begins with the author bound to a chair in a small weather station outpost on the remote Alaskan island of Shadow Moses. He explains how he has been brutalized and interrogated for hours on end by unknown assailants about the contents of a disc, which he later explains as being a copy of Romanenko’s In the Darkness forwarded to him by a friend, Max Smithson. When McGolden’s captives explain that they “have the disc back,” he gathers for himself that everything recorded on the disc is true and that there is indeed a conspiracy involved, as Romanenko so convincingly demonstrated. This short introductory exposition lends credit to the truth that we, the gamers, know by now since we have experienced the events of Sons of Liberty. Since Romanenko’s account of In the Darkness is how we know the actual facts to be, we are granted a privilege that many of the characters themselves do not have; we, like Nastasha, know the truth of the matter. So now we know that the author, Gary McGolden, knows the truth about what really happened at Shadow Moses. We are on the same page as the author now that both he and us, the gamers, share this knowledge. This works tremendously in favor of his credibility and cements the notion that this account is the real deal.

Shortly after his interrogation, McGolden is rescued by an unknown hero who we may assume is Solid Snake. We never find out for sure, however, and the story takes a drastic turn next to earlier events which happened one month prior- the obtaining of the disc and his decision to undertake a journalistic endeavor which lands him on Shadow Moses. Before getting into these events though, the author piques our interest by relating a tale of being abducted by aliens in his childhood. This is a key point in the story because it is the point from which we start to doubt the author. As he diverges on this tangent about aliens, he reveals more about himself that really hurts his credibility. Searching his body for proof that he was abducted after the incident as a boy, he admits that you “learn a little something when you watch as much TV as I did.” This paints our author as one prone to having both an overactive imagination and someone who is open to suggestion by something as questionable as TV programming. Further compounding upon his depreciating credibility is his admittance that no one in the area saw this UFO which supposedly abducted him. When next, in the present day, the optical disc is mailed to him by a longtime associate, we find McGolden to be a very high-strung individual. This is demonstrated by his conspiratorial notions that the envelope containing the disc is actually a letter bomb. Clearly paranoia is one of his neuroses. The envelope, it turns out, had been mailed to him by one Max Smithson, Editor-In-Chief of MEGASURPRISE magazine, who offers the disc along with a letter suggesting he gather more info in order to publish a book.

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