Plot hole #6: The magical floating holographic platform
So there’s this really important part of Metal Gear Solid 2 where you team up with Solid Snake and blow up a ton of Metal Gears in a row because every other plan has failed. It’s pretty much the climax of the whole game, because it’s the part where you actually fight the Metal Gears that the “Metal Gear” series is all about. But it’s kind of funny what happens.
See, there’s this elevator where Snake and Fortune are about to fight, and a ladder that Raiden has to climb up to get to the next area. We don’t see Raiden climb all the way to the top, but when he gets there, he shows up on what can only be described as a magical floating holographic platform.
There’s no trace of the ladder anymore, or even a hatch to climb out of. Just this… holographic platform. Call anyone you want on your Codec, but everybody just ignores that you’re standing on a magical floating platform. Because the platform isn’t given any attention by the plot, it may not count as one to some people, but look at what happens on it.
Olga and Solidus both show up on the platform eventually, but they just kind of… pop out of nowhere. Olga literally falls out of the sky, and Solidus just zips in like he’s skating – even though we can clearly see that there’s an empty area with a bunch of water all around it for a mile (unless we toss a grenade out there, which seems to land on dry ground). So where does Solidus appear from? Where did Olga come from? Where does Solidus zip off to? He just vanishes into thin air like a ghost.
And why can we just keep running on this platform forever? There’s this glowing blue boundary that stops us from going anywhere. Is this a real physical location? How does it work?
And why was this place built in the first place? If this is a real place that actually exists inside Arsenal Gear, why would anybody go through all the trouble of building a perfectly useless magical floating holographic platform above an elevator shaft? Think about it.
So here’s what I imagine. There was this engineer–maybe his name was Sam–and he was told to design a fully holographic platform that looks exactly like the VR platform that exists in the VR Missions game, where Solid Snake previously stood while taking pictures of Mei Ling and Naomi Hunter…
And Sam was like, “Okay, but it’ll take a lot of work since — as you can clearly see — we aren’t inside a VR simulation. This will be a real physical place which somehow needs to be constructed out of holograms.”
And they were like, “Yeah that’s okay, just build it as close as you can to that holographic platform in the VR simulation, and make sure that there’s the same glowing blue boundary around the edge so that you can keep running forever on the spot instead of hitting a wall.”
Then Sam was like, “What about when somebody shoots it – should there be this really suspicious hexagonal effect that pops out of the ground for no reason? Might take a while to get that to look right.”
And they said, “Sure, if you can do that.”
Sam laughed at that. Shrugging his shoulders, he replied, “Hey, if you don’t mind a huge gaping plot hole at the climax of the game, I can do anything!”
Sam is good like that.
It’s probably a sign that you’re dealing with a plot hole when, every time you ask any of the natural, logical questions that anybody would ask in real life, you can’t come up with an answer.
Other people try to get really clever about this part, and they say that it just looks to Raiden as if it’s the same VR platform he remembers, but it’s really a big warehouse where the Metal Gear RAYs are being kept. They’ll look at the “Game Script” that was included with The Document of Metal Gear Solid 2, and they’ll see that it talks about a massive hanger that’s really gloomy and dark where you fight the RAYs. Then they’ll say, “See? In the script this is a hanger, not a VR platform, so obviously this platform is some kind of augmented-reality hallucination. Raiden’s nanomachines are blah blah blah!”
But here’s the problem with that: everything. Everything is wrong with that stupid explanation.
Imagine that it was really a hanger that Raiden was fighting in, and not a magical platform made by Sam. In other words, Raiden is hallucinating his surroundings, but the events happening are real. Logically speaking, he would still be able to run away from the Metal Gears and not stay in place. Are we supposed to believe he’s somehow altering his own perception of himself, pretending to run in a direction while running on the spot? That still doesn’t explain why the warehouse is flooded with water, which splashes up when the RAYs are walking. Is the “real” Raiden fighting a dozen Metal Gears while standing in shoulder-high water? That’s a really impressive accomplishment, and also impossible.
Everything about this place is a nightmare in terms of story writing. No explanation whatsoever! Nobody even mentions it. Nobody notices it. Nobody except the player. Every natural question about the platform is impossible to answer. Then you just wake up in a different place, and it’s like you never were there.
By the way, the name of the holographic platform area? “Arsenal Gear Rectum”.
Oh, Sam… You crazy guy.
Part II Conclusion
There should be no doubt that the story of Metal Gear Solid 2, absent some grand secret, seems to be as convoluted and nonsensical as the critics have said.
I hope you’ll agree that none of those are minor problems. If all you want is a mindless action game it won’t matter to you, but if you want to believe that the story is a coherent series of events that can be logically explained, they’re some of the biggest problems you can get.
Why did Kojima betray his fans? The answer is hidden somewhere within this convoluted, ridiculous story. Despite its plot holes and silliness, the recurring themes of the game hint at what Kojima wanted when he decided to sink his own unsinkable ship. This was, after all, his Titanic, perfectly set to become the greatest game in history. It would be doomed to hit the rocks on its maiden voyage, and it wasn’t an accident.
But, I can’t just tell you my theory like this. You wouldn’t believe me. Hell, I wouldn’t believe myself if I didn’t know about the man behind it all first.
PART III: The Selfish Meme
(Part III deals with Kojima himself. Is he a shrewd con man, or a misunderstood genius? Why did he do it?)