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 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: Peace Walker.
A Military Without Frontiers
The year is 1974. Snake has left the CIA and The Patriots. His reason for leaving? He found out about Zero’s Les Enfant Terribles project and its attempts to produce clones of Big Boss. Turns out Zero wanted to use Big Boss as an icon and figurehead for the Patriots, and to prepare for Big Boss’s eventual death, he decides to try cloning him in secret. Yeah. Finding out that one of your trusted allies wants to clone you is pretty fucked.
Snake sets up his own organization, the Militaires Sans Frontieres, roughly translated to ‘Soldiers Without Borders’, or ‘Military Without Frontiers’. His MSF right-hand man, Kazuhira Miller (a real stand up guy), informs Snake that they have two visitors: Ramon Galvez Mena, a scholar from the Costa Rican government, and his student Paz Ortega Andrade.
Galvez explains that a mysterious armed force has entered the country, and he wishes to employ the MSF as a deterrent to stave off these forces. Due to Costa Rica’s own peace constitution, they are unable to bear arms, which is why they need the help of the MSF. During the meeting, Paz also establishes herself as a passionate young girl with a strong desire for peace, and an equally strong hate for war. She’s at this meeting because she had been taken prisoner by the mysterious forces while looking for her friend, but she somehow managed to escape. However, Snake and Miller begin to suspect that Galvez might be working for the KGB.I am so kawaii desu!
When Galvez senses their suspicion, he drops the act and sends Paz out of the room and reveals that the mysterious armed forces in Costa Rica were likely associated with the CIA, and that the Soviets wanted the MSF to help them drive out the CIA and establish a Soviet foothold in Central America. Galvez also produces a cassette tape that Paz’s friend had recorded before their capture by the mysterious armed forces. The tape contained the voice of The Boss, which shocked Snake, as he had personally killed her during Operation Snake Eater. Snake is initially reluctant to accept the mission, as this would mean making enemies of his country of origin, but hearing The Boss’s voice again leaves him with no choice.
Kaz suggests that Snake allies himself with the local Sandanista guerrillas to obtain more intel on the lay of the land, and to confirm if there were any nukes in the country. Snake makes contact with the hidden Sandanistas and their commander, Amanda Valenciano Libre. Amanda confirmed that the new forces in the country were indeed affiliated with the CIA and shares her suspicions that they could be planning a coup. Snake also rescues Amanda’s 12 year-old brother Chico, who asks Snake to kill him as punishment for confessing during torture. Instead of shooting down the small boy like a complete monster, Snake recruits him into the MSF to give him a chance to redeem himself.
Oh and this doesn’t really come into play till much later, but Chico totally develops a crush on Paz.
While infiltrating a military base, Snake meets Huey Emmerich, a wheelchair-bound engineer who had gotten into an argument with Hot Coldman (yes that’s really his name), the CIA Station Chief of Central America. Coldman wished to use Huey’s creation to launch a nuclear warhead (of course), but Huey disagreed with his motivations. Snake also finds out that the nukes he’s been tracking down were being loaded onto a bipedal machine, also known as the Peace Walker, which is really just another type of Metal Gear. What else were you expecting? This series is named Metal Gear Solid after all. The purpose of the Peace Walker project was to create a way to launch a retaliatory nuclear strike at a target without the need for human input and the uncertainty of a human’s decision-making process.
Snake soon learns that Dr. Strangelove was responsible for developing the AI for the Peace Walker. However, Strangelove’s motivations aren’t as clear-cut as they initially appear to be. She decided that the AI should be based on The Boss’s personality, as she believed that The Boss would’ve been the most capable of selecting nuclear targets. However, she also chose The Boss so that she would have access to all of her personal history and military records. Strangelove wanted to uncover the truth behind The Boss’s death and she believed the answer would lie in that information.
Later on, Coldman manages to kidnap Paz. He hopes that by kidnapping her, he would be able to throw a wrench into MSF’s plans of interfering with the Peace Walker project. Snake then travels to Nicaragua to rescue Paz, who tells him that Coldman was preparing for the Peace Walker’s launch. Galvez also makes an appearance here, and he reveals his true name: Vladimir Alexandrovich Zadornov. He states that he’s been in cahoots with Coldman this whole time, but now, he has plans of his own: to launch a nuclear strike at Cuba. He shoots Coldman and he begins to bleed out.
By doing this, anti-America sentiments would spread throughout Central America, giving the Soviet Union a much-needed edge in the Cold War. Thankfully, Amanda and the Sandanistas show up in the nick of time to rescue Snake and Paz.
However, unbeknownst to Snake, Coldman managed to key in a nuclear input for Peace Walker, so Snake destroys the machine after that. The act of destroying The Boss’s AI made Snake decide that he wanted to walk a path that was different from The Boss’s. Snake also comes to the realization that The Boss had put down her gun and her life for her country, and he saw this as a betrayal to him. She had put her country and mission over her own beliefs, and while those were the acts of what can only be described as a true patriot, he wanted to be a soldier who followed his own values and morals. He removes his bandana (which he’d taken from The Boss during the Virtuous Mission) and salutes her one final time before he’s finally ready to accept his title as Big Boss.
But that’s not all! Zadornov became a prisoner at Mother Base, and Big Boss also employed Strangelove to help create a new AI weapon, Metal Gear ZEKE, for the defense of MSF. As a prisoner, Zadornov attempted to escape many times. On his final attempt, Big Boss killed him in self-defense, but Kaz quickly informs him that ZEKE was somehow making its way out of the hangar.
It turned out that while Zadornov distracted Snake with his multiple escape attempts, Paz had been making modifications to ZEKE and that she was going to take it back to Cipher. Paz also reveals that her real name is Pacifica Ocean. Cute name.
Paz chastises Big Boss for leaving the Patriots all those years ago. She also states that Cipher’s intentions were to unite the various intelligence agencies across the world and control the flow of information to guide people’s minds. Yes yes, I know. You’re wondering who the whackadoodle Cipher is. Thankfully, I have a pretty simple answer. Cipher’s really just another codename for our old friend, Major Zero. You remember him, yeah? He was Snake’s commanding officer during the Virtuous Mission and Operation Snake Eater, and later embarked on the Les Enfant Terribles project to clone Big Boss. Anyway, Paz is actually working for Cipher. She makes an offer to Big Boss, telling him that MSF could act as a military deterrent to external forces that threatened the construction of this new world order.
Needless to say, Big Boss refuses the deal, destroys ZEKE, and Paz gets forcefully thrown into the ocean, where she’s presumed dead. After the entire ordeal, Big Boss announces that from now on, MSF would serve under anyone, with no consideration for nationality or ideology, thus making the MSF a true “Military Without Frontiers”. He also expresses his desire to build a nation that they would eventually be able to call their own, and he calls it “Outer Heaven.”
But of course, Paz didn’t really die. Because of course. No one really dies in Metal Gear. Well, except for The Boss. She’s really dead. So Paz didn’t really die when she got forcefully ejected from the Peace Walker, but we’ll pick this story up again with Ground Zeroes.