Whether you’re new to the world of Metal Gear Solid or if you’re a series veteran, I think we can all agree that the story here is one hell of a clusterfuck. With the release of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain looming over us like a colossal shadow, I’m sure newcomers and fans alike will be scrambling to catch up with the story before diving into the next chapter of Big Boss’s life.
Before jumping straight into The Phantom Pain, you’ll need to at least be familiar with the events of Snake Eater, Portable Ops, Peace Walker, and Ground Zeroes – all the entries that have focused on Naked Snake and his transformation into the legendary soldier, Big Boss. Considering the convoluted nature of the story in Metal Gear Solid, I’m well aware that there may be little details that I might miss in this lengthy story summary, or plot points that I may flub. If you spot any inaccuracies, do let me know in the comments and I’ll fix them post-haste.
Alright. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s start talking Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater.
The game is set in the 1960s during the Cold War period, and Naked Snake is part of the FOX unit – a special division to handle top-secret sneaking and infiltration missions and other black ops. Basically, it’s one of those ‘if the enemy captures you, we’re gonna pretend we don’t know you’ type deals. The two founders of the FOX unit were Major Zero and The Boss, Snake’s mentor.
The game kicks off with Major Zero telling Snake that the US government needed someone to retrieve a nuclear scientist within Soviet territory and bring him back to the States. The scientist, Nikolai Stepanovich Sokolov, had originally wished to defect to the USA back in 1962. It seemed that Sokolov wanted to defect because he had become afraid of whatever nuclear weaponry he was working on for the Soviets and the kind of destruction it could bring about. The CIA was successful in bringing Sokolov and his family over the Berlin Wall. However, soon after that, President Kennedy got word that the Soviets were planning to place missiles in Cuba, thus kicking off the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Considering the threat of having Soviet missiles aimed directly at the States from Cuba, the US government decided to resolve the issue by striking a deal with the Soviet Union. In exchange for removing the missiles in Cuba, the Soviets wanted Sokolov back. That’s right, history students; the history books tell us that the incident was resolved when the US removed their own missiles from Turkey, but that’s actually just a big cover up for what the Soviets really wanted: Sokolov. Everything you learned in school was a lie.
However, The Boss soon finds out from her contacts that the weapon Sokolov was working on was nearing completion, and if they wanted to prevent the Soviets from obtaining a nuclear trump card, they had to extract Sokolov once more. And thus, the Virtuous Mission was born. Naked Snake was tasked to enter Soviet territory, find Sokolov, and get him the hell out of there.
Snake’s support team on the Virtuous Mission included Major Zero (though he calls himself ‘Major Tom’ during this prologue chapter), Para-Medic, and The Boss herself, whom Snake hasn’t heard from in five years. So yeah, there’s some tension going on with those two.
The mission goes rather swimmingly, and Snake eventually finds Sokolov in Rassvet. However, Sokolov warns him that there’s an anti-Khrushchev faction within the Soviet Union that plans to overthrow the Premier, and come after Sokolov themselves. This faction is led by GRU colonel Volgin, who happens to be a large man with the ability to deliver lightning punches. Volgin’s plan was to kidnap Sokolov and use his weapon to overthrow Khrushchev and gain control over the Soviet Union.
Before Snake and Sokolov can escape the area, however, they are ambushed by a group of KGB operatives. Thankfully, the Ocelot unit, led by GRU major Ocelot, quickly takes down the KGB men. Snake tells Sokolov to run on ahead, while he takes on Ocelot with his impressive CQC (close-quarters combat) techniques – a fighting style developed by The Boss and himself.
Snake quickly catches up with Sokolov but before they can get any further, he encounters The Boss herself on a rope bridge. She isn’t there to act as an ally; Snake finds out that she’s defected to the Soviet Union and is aiding Volgin in his quest to overthrow Khrushchev. The Boss’s own elite Cobra unit kidnaps Sokolov, and she also explains that Sokolov himself, along with two miniature nuclear shells she’d stolen from the military, were gifts from her to her “new host”. Volgin also makes an appearance on the bridge and tells The Boss to kill Snake if he isn’t there to join them.
The Boss engages Snake in CQC, breaks his arm, and throws him over the bridge into the river. Snake manages to grab The Boss’s bandana as he falls. After doing so, she joins Volgin on a chopper and watches as he launches one of her nukes to destroy the OKB-754 research facility, also known as the Sokolov Design Bureau. I know it doesn’t seem like a terribly important detail, but Volgin blowing up the facility is a terribly important detail. But more on that later.
At the end of the Virtuous Mission, which was, of course, a massive failure, Khrushchev accused the US of having launched that nuke because they had detected an American aircraft within Soviet airspace. President Lyndon Johnson then explained that the US was not responsible for the nuke, and also revealed that The Boss had defected and had taken two portable Davy Crocketts with her. In order to prove the US government’s non-involvement in this issue, Khrushchev demanded that they send another man in to kill The Boss and clean up the mess they’d made.