Was Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater a Virtual Mission?

The Indoctrination Theory has been a major point of debate over the past several weeks, with players arguing both for and against the Mass Effect 3 conspiracy. I’ve got a theory, too. Metal Gear Solid 3 isn’t exactly what it seems.

Oh, and spoilers abound, obviously.

Even though it seems like a prequel starring Big Boss, it actually takes place after Metal Gear Solid 2. How? We’re witnessing Solid Snake live out the Virtuous Mission and Operation Snake Eater through VR simulations.

The first hint is given almost immediately when the game starts, when Major Zero is explaining Naked Snake’s initial assignment, the Virtuous Mission. To which Snake promptly responds, “Virtual Mission?”

The line sticks out like a sore thumb, but after the node/nerd debacle in MGS2, it’s easy to overlook. What’s not so easy to overlook, though, are the “Time Paradoxes” that are spread throughout the game.

If Snake ever kills Revolver Ocelot, he will be chastised for it by none other than Roy Campbell. He’s not talking to Naked Snake, he’s talking to Solid Snake. The words “Time Paradox” also appear if you leave any of the “Snake is Dead” screens on for long enough. These paradoxes aren’t that Snake is actually changing the timeline. He’s just breaking the simulation. He’s supposed to be accurately reliving the events that led Naked Snake to becoming Big Boss. As soon as he begins to break the timeline, he is pulled out to start over.

Why would such a simulation exist, though? I would say it’s a pretty safe assumption that the Patriots would have some sort of simulation of these events. With the vast amount of simulations that Raiden was put through, it makes sense that they would want a simulation of what made the man who started it all, Big Boss. Even though the S3 Project didn’t turn out to mean Solid Snake Simulation, you can bet that they had VR programs of Big Boss’s adventures just like they did of Shadow Moses. In fact, if they wanted to raise a corps of perfect soldiers, the teachings of The Boss would be a downright necessity. Even the idea of being taught how to fight is a major theme running throughout the entire game. The Boss teaches Naked Snake, Naked Snake teaches Ocelot, and everyone learns because of it.

Even more convenient is the fact that two living members of the Patriots were there when it happened. Between Revolver Ocelot and Major Zero, the two biggest players in the Patriots saw more of the events than anyone else. Using their combined knowledge, it would be no problem for them to recount an accurate depiction of both the Virtuous Mission and Operation Snake Eater. With Major Zero guiding Naked Snake through the entirity of the mission and Ocelot working as a triple agent, they could piece together the events better than anyone.

Campbell and Snake weren’t necessarily working together between the events of MGS2 and MGS4. That’s a fair criticism. There is reason to believe that they were in contact, however. After all, Colonel Campbell was the man who gave Solid Snake the mission to assassinate Liquid Ocelot in the first place. My interpretation is that Otacon hacked a working simulation out of a Patriot database in order to learn more about the founding of the Patriots. Having just found out that all of the group’s members were long dead, finding out more about them when they were alive seems like pertinent information to me. Perhaps Campbell was approaching Snake to explain his mission to kill Ocelot around this time and decided to join in? The information about what happened during this time is lacking at best, so it’s hard to find any hard evidence either way.

Maybe I’m looking into things too much, but it also gives at least some reason to why Solid Snake suddenly knows CQC in MGS4. Sure, it could be chalked up to iterative improvements to the series, but it’s more fun to think that there’s a definitive reason. He’s never been able to employ it before, but now that he’s gone through a VR simulation as Naked Snake, he’s been able to learn it. If this program really was supposed to be used to train men to be the perfect soldiers, then Snake could obviously learn a technique or two along the way.

Am I right? Hell, I don’t know. It’s fun to theorize, though, and this series could drive a man insane for trying to comprehend everything that’s going on. So, what of it? Do you like this idea? Do you think I’m crazy? Have a way to prove me wrong? I’m all ears.

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