The Metal Gear Solid franchise has memorable boss encounters galore. Ranging from the absolutely timeless Psycho Mantis encounter that played with the fourth wall in gaming, to the hordes of Rays and even the patient sniper fight with The End. However, across all of the boss fights in all five games, the one that stood out most to me was the final battle in Metal Gear Solid 4. Now, given that this is the final fight in the final game in the series, chronologically, there will be spoilers for not only the game but the whole series.
So, time for some context and pay attention because this is going to get wacky. Solid Snake travels all over the world trying to find a cure for his rapidly deteriorating body while also trying to stop a quickly growing private military force led by his sort of brother, Liquid Ocelot. He does this to stop them from effectively plunging the world back into the dark ages.
Solid Snake is on board the giant nuclear arms submarine, Outer Heaven, that houses an all-powerful AI that controls the worlds internet and military networks, named GW. After fighting through legions of nanotech enhanced soldiers, dealing with a psychic possessed with the soul of a different psychic from the first game, crawling through a tunnel of radioactive microwaves (burning his suit and his flesh in the process) in one of the most nail bitingly intense moments in all of gaming, you are now face to face with the GW AI.
Snake uploads a computer virus to the AI, essentially alleviating its control over the military networks, and thus thwarting the plans of Liquid Ocelot. For those of you who might not be aware of Liquid Ocelot, he is the spirit of Snake’s clone brother, Liquid Snake. He possesses one of Liquid’s old henchmen, Revolver Ocelot, through the nanomachines in Liquid’s arm, which Ocelot sewed on to himself to replace the one he lost to a cyborg ninja. It turns out Liquid wasn’t actually possessing him but instead The Patriots. Essentially a world governing body hypnotised Ocelot into believing he was being possessed by Liquid.
After passing out from exhaustion in the AI room, Snake wakes up to find himself high on top of Outer Heaven (shirtless for some reason) with Ocelot looking over him (who is also shirtless for some reason) as he goes off on a long monologue about The Patriots. To be completely honest, the details of Ocelot’s plan confuse the hell out of me! But that’s not what why we’re here. We’re here for one final showdown between two arch rivals; Ocelot throws Snake a serum to get him back on his feet and the fight begins.
And the fight is simple. Two men in hand to hand combat. But it’s how the fight is designed that is its beauty. Every punch has such a weight behind it that you can feel it in the controller. It’s simple, yet executed so well. The entire fight pays homage to the whole franchise by, firstly, entirely mimicking the final boss fight with Liquid in the first game atop Rex. Secondly, each round of the fight plays the theme from each game in the series while also having the health bar from each game, starting with the original blue health bar from Metal Gear Solid. It’s a complete clash of titans and the culmination of a rivalry built across three games.
After coming to odds multiple times over the franchise in over the top encounters including a high speed car chase, a Rex vs. Ray fight and that time Snake snapped a pair of handcuffs to jump in the ocean after Ocelot stole a Ray. This relationship could only end in a ‘mano e mano’ battle of pure strength. Plus in a game franchise that is renowned for being over the top and is directed by gaming world’s own mad scientist, Hideo Kojima, I think it is absolutely hilarious that the finale of such an epic saga is just two old men on a submarine kicking the crap out of each other.
So, while this might not be the biggest fight, the most dynamic fight or even the most emotional fight in the franchise (see the fight with The Boss in Metal Gear Solid 3 for that last one), this fight has such weight behind it knowing the two characters and shows a beauty in simplicity. Most importantly, it brings about the end of an era. This is the last fight in the Metal Gear Solid chronology and I think it wraps everything up quite nicely. Metal Gear Solid 4… you’re pretty good.