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Metal Gears Solid 2 - Story Explanation

No, I am not going to delve into every aspect of the Metal Gear Solid 2 Sons of Liberty Story, but I will attempt to defend this highly criticized story. The big deal with MGS2 is two-fold: 1- You play the majority of the game as Raiden and not Snake and 2- The ending/VR thing with Raiden at the end makes little sense. The reason for the confusion and ambiguity - PostModernism. Postmodernism is blatantly present throughout Metal Gear Solid 2. Largely influenced by the disillusionment induced by the WW2, postmodernism tends to refer to a cultural, intellectual, or artistic state lacking a clear central hierarchy or organizing principle and embodying extreme complexity, contradiction, ambiguity, diversity, and interconnectedness or interreferentiality. Now having a nonsensical plot is not an argument for PostModernism, but take for instance the ambiguity of Raiden himself. Raiden is a character in MGS2, but we also learn that he has played through VR missions and Shadow Moses (or MGS1) as Snake. In fact, his codename is changed from Snake to Raiden at the start of his mission. The parallels between Raiden's experience and the players is certainly there. Raiden not only represents the videogame player, he could very well be the video game player/you. This type of contradiction and ambiguity is present in nearly all postmodern works. Another huge aspect of the MGS2 story is Deconstruction which is a central theme in many postmodern works. I will let wikipedia explain:

"In its original use, a "deconstruction" is an important textual "occurrence" described and analyzed by many postmodern authors and philosophers. They argue that aspects in the text itself would undermine its own authority or assumptions and that internal contradictions would erase boundaries or categories which the work relied on or asserted. Poststructuralists beginning with Jacques Derrida, who coined the term, argued that the existence of deconstructions implied that there was no intrinsic essence to a text, merely the contrast of difference. This is analogous to the scientific idea that only the variations are real, that there is no established norm to a genetic population, or the idea that the difference in perception between black and white is the context. A deconstruction is created when the "deeper" substance of text opposes the text's more "superficial" form."

The ending of Metal Gear Solid certainly toys with the reality of the universe and makes you aware that your character was involved in a VR game and that you are indeed playing a game based on a false reality. Sons of Liberty undermines its own authority and plays with both the player and character of Raiden in order to erase the boundary of game/reality even while making these contradiction all the more obvious. I think the quote above: "This is analogous to the scientific idea that only the variations are real, that there is no established norm to a genetic population" is a pretty good one sentence description of the theme (at least one of them) in Metal Gear Solid 2. Just something to consider.

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