I LOVE college. I'm a fiend for fried rice and rhythm games. I have dreams about Tekken and lately, Modern Warfare 2 these dreams involve being on the *wrong* side of the "No Russian" mission. Metal Gear Solid 4 made me laugh, cry and pee. I also consider it the greatest game I've ever played. I'll understand if you don't agree with that. Go DUKES!
In this issue of DtWT, I wanted to explore a less evil decision that lies more on the side of selfishness. One that involves the unwilling sacrifice of another for the world, your survival and... your saved game.
I was Solid Snake, the morally neutral, but obligated protagonist of Metal Gear Solid. Snake has had no real connection with the outside world since the operation on Zanibar. No family. No friends. Just huskies.
Around the beginning part of my struggles through Shadow Moses, I encountered Meryl Silverburgh, the naïve but loyal soldier who was at the wrong place at the wrong time. Nevertheless, she plans to fight as hard as I have against the terrorists who overran FoxHound and the nuclear facility, even if it means being a complete bitch to me at the beginning.
Through some hardships and troubles, I reconnect with her once again in order to get closer to Liquid and disabling Metal Gear. During this time, I found out more about Meryl's past. How her blind admiration for me and her father led her to become a soldier. How she is a rookie who thought she understood war, but was only recently facing the harsh reality. How, despite the fact that she's a rookie, she'll do anything to make sure I succeeded, even going as far as to say “you can shoot me.” if she even slows me down in the slightest. Her humbleness and selflessness shows what her character is: a hard-ass with compassion. I could not help but feel sympathy for her, her nativity and her misfortunate.
Despite this emotional connection blossoming, the mission had to go on. We fought Psycho Mantis together, and while I almost thought I lost her, a few stun grenades and FAMAS bullets helped me pull through as the victor. After a little encounter with some wolves, who by the way loved Meryl, we trekked on expecting a tag team strong enough to take down the greatest of foes.
Then, the unexpected happened...
Bullet after bullet went through her like butter. I was in disbelief: why did they made me so connected with this character if this was going to happen to her? How could Kojima take this away from me? The only chance I had of saving her was backtracking to get a weapon powerful enough to fight Sniper Wolf. Despite getting to the armory and obtain the PSG-1 as fast as possible, I returned to area to see Meryl gone, and Sniper Wolf still being a Cunty McBitch.
After a hectic, but satisfying battle, my next priority was to find Meryl. Being stupid enough not to save for a while and just running ahead, I put myself in quite a compromising position. Captured by the enemy, they could do anything to me. And they did. I was left with a decision...
...fight for my life or ensure my survival and sacrifice Meryl.
The rules of this “game” were cut-and-dry. Survive torture or die. If I couldn't hold my strength and got myself killed, there were no continues. Literally. And my last saved give was a long ways back. Were they really going to kill her if I gave up? It was a question that I kept asking myself. Young girls shouldn't be faced with a dilemma like that ><
Not taking any chance, I tried to endure the torture. At the time, it was harder than I thought. Watching my health dwindle farther and farther had me panicking like no one's business. Thinking about all the backtracking I had to do didn't help either. Knowing that there was absolutely NO way I could possibly get through this, a tick of selfishness kicked in.
I mean, the woman did say if I slowed her down, I could shoot her. How could this be any different? Was I really being evil or was I just being efficient? She knew what she was getting herself into when she signed up for this. Hmm... maybe she didn't. These questions were ones I kept asking myself when deciding whether to submit or endure death and massive repeating. Time was running out.
As my health bar dwindled to bits, I finally choked. Fuck that bitch. I pressed the Select button and saved my own life at the expense of another. I've got a mission to do and I didn't want any thing to get in my way, no matter how much it meant to me. Sure, I probably cut the only human connection my character has had for years, but even he looked like he didn't want to endure anymore pain. It was selfish. It was somewhat immoral, but fuck it... I wanted to live.
The consequences for this action aren't truly felt until the end of the game, when I realized that Snake was fighting not for the world anymore, but for Meryl, which was in vain, as Liquid and Ocelot ended her life before I could even see her again. It was depressing yes, but I knew what I choose and what it might lead to. I also made me realize the how the effect of one intense moment can completely change consequences in the future, no matter how simple the decision might be.
I'm not gonna lie – this might be the least morally ambiguous game in this Monthly Musing's, but for me, this moment was the first encounter with a real moral decision in a video game. It made the emotion transcend from the game and into the gamer who struggled to press Circle, but was too weak and gave up. Although we learned that she survived the Shadow's Moses incident, at the time, the consequences will left somewhat unknown. By breaking the action hero into a human, who is forced to make a human decision with human consequences, Kojima once again displays the genius of his storytelling and the emotions it can provoke. While the franchise has taken in turn for the crazy and hasn't made gamers make such decisions again, the one choice during the torture scene is an unforgettable moment among many that have made MGS the classic it is today.