Part IV (MGS2: A Complete Breakdown)


The VR Theory

In order to encourage, challenge and even trick players into thinking about the deeper meaning of his games, Kojima designed the whole plot to collapse on itself.  Would players still miss the point?  (Of course they would.)


It’s easy to see that Metal Gear Solid 2‘s story doesn’t make sense as a logical series of events, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to accept the alternative.  There’s so much smart stuff in the game that it feels wrong to label it nonsense, especially since it’s so hard keep track of what the truth is even supposed to be.  We know that Kojima is very smart, at least, so maybe we should just appreciate the mystery of the game and not try to explain it, right?  Wrong.  That wouldn’t be doing it justice at all.

We can see how, following the mixed feedback from Metal Gear Solid and the positive reception of VR Missions a year later, it became clear to Kojima that the “cool stuff” from the game had accidentally stolen the spotlight from the “smart stuff”.  He didn’t want it to happen again.  That’s why everything about Metal Gear Solid 2 was carefully engineered to expose whether players were able to look past the unimportant aspects of the game and think about the deeper messages of the story.  When we combine the purposefully misleading E3 trailers, the game demo included with Zone of the Enders, and the whole Tanker chapter, it becomes clear that it was all nothing but bait, engineered to get people to volunteer for this new, grand experiment.  Ultimately, Raiden and the silly Plant Chapter would bulldoze all the distractions which had stopped people from paying attention last time, and replace the powerful, immersive world with a sterilized and surreal one.  It would do this over and over, until all that remained were Kojima’s memes.

The revenge of MGS2

In a very methodical way, the smart stuff of MGS2 was given the spotlight while the cool stuff was beaten up and shoved to the side.


If players still refused to look past the now paradoxical, now silly fictional universe and think about the actual messages implanted in it, then they deserved to feel betrayed and confused.  And likewise, if the game still could not succeed in passing on its “memes” – its core ideas – then perhaps it too deserved to suffer the wrath of the idiotic masses.

Understand that the plot holes of MGS2 are no accident.  Kojima isn’t a bad writer.  Far from it, he is a genius in his own right and the plot holes of the game were deliberately included to not only raise doubts in the minds of players who paid attention, but to reveal the stupidity of those who ignorantly tried to defend it.  He understood that as long as players were able to cling to the illusion, they would accept it without questioning the deeper meaning; thus the so-called “fourth wall” was now seen as an obstacle to appreciating the game’s real meaning, and this is why Kojima smashed some pretty big plot holes in it.  We needed to see that it was all just a game.

The fourth wall is the imaginary wall that separates the audience from the actors on stage, and by removing it, even momentarily, you force people to stop feeling immersed in the fiction, waking them from the spell you’ve cast on them, and generally making them feel silly for getting so carried away with the fiction.   But that alone wouldn’t be good enough for his experiment.  He also needed to implant a radical alternative for those who wanted to find out what was really going on.  That alternative is the VR Theory.

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