There are few plots out there as convoluted as Metal Gear Solid's and when you have about 11 games going all the way back to 1987, it’s bound to get convoluted. When you add in clones and cyborgs, it gets even more weird. If you want a “simple” breakdown of the plot, I’d suggest the Starbomb song. Other than that you just have to play these insane games to really get the feel of them and try to connect the dots. The creator of the game is the legendary Hideo Kojima and, while I have to applaud his amazing level of creativity, it sometimes feels like his ideas are just dropped in there with the general idea of “because I said so!” which, as a writer and a gamer, is never my favorite way to go about things. Sure you can reason a lot of this away (especially by screaming nano-machines over and over again until the words lose all meaning), but I prefer games to be clear and direct. If it’s dumb enough to be called a plot hole, then it’s an oversight in the game and a HOLE.
Sure, you can come up with some crazy convoluted way this all makes sense in the end, but really you shouldn’t have to put down your controller to yell, “What??” and then think about it for a couple days. With a series this big, it’s bound to have a couple weak points in the fabric of the game and yes, even some plotholes. Let's look at some of them now with 15 Glaring Plot Holes in Metal Gear Solid. Enjoy!
15 Deus Ex Laser Cannon
Remember when Gray Fox just whipped out an arm mounted laser cannon and completely destroyed Rex’s radome in the original Metal Gear Solid? Was anyone else thinking “Where did you get that???” Because I had to stop for a second and do some deep breathing. Like, he’s busy wailing on Snake during the boss fight and yet this never comes up? If I had a laser, I’d be sure to remember to use it when I wanted to kill a guy. I know that Gray Fox stated that he wanted a fair fight with hand to hand combat. But it still seems pretty ridiculous. Just an, ‘oh by the way I have a laser cannon. No big deal.’ And there’s no way he could have found it between the boss fight and the explosion, since the armory and storage building were wiped clean. So, he probably had it the whole time. Or he only has it when he needs to blow stuff up, then it magically disappears again.
14 Evil Children
Are we just going to ignore the psychic child that can control Sahelanthropus? We are led to believe that the psychic child is the same one as Mantis from Metal Gear Solid, but then why did he not use that power to control Rex and Shadow Moses? It’s kind of the same thing as Gray Fox and his Deus Ex Machina, except in this case they aren’t using their Godlike weapon. I know you can simply say “that would make the plot too easy,” but that is also my least favorite explanation for plot holes. On top of that, Liquid knows and uses Mantis’s abilities, so it’s not like they’re exactly hidden? It does seem like another case where the writers just hoped the gamers wouldn’t notice this glaring detail.
13 How Old Are They Again?
Ahhh, retconning. It’s done in so many series that it’s almost common place now. When you have an idea for something, but it doesn’t really line up with your previous work, just ignore it and keep going! In this case, I’m talking about the literal time when this all takes place. In Metal Gear Solid, they say that Big Boss goes into a coma around the time of Les Enfants Terribles project in 1972, but he didn’t actually go into a coma until 1975. I mean it’s not a huge difference, but still. Some of the messing around with dates probably has to do with the developers wanting to play with different time periods, as for Metal Gear Solid 3 and the Cold War, but they didn’t want Solid Snake to be 50 something years old.
12 And the World Is Saved, Thanks to...Nanobots!
A big part of the Metal Gear franchise is the energy crisis. It begins with Metal Gear Solid and then in Metal Gear Solid 2 it was solved when Kio Marv’s created OILIX, a microorganism that creates oil. Enter Big Boss kidnapping Marv and Snake having to swing in and save him to prevent the collapse of the world economy. Yet, then in Metal Gear Solid 4, no one ever even mentions OILIX? Again, it seems a case of just ignoring an entire game’s plot for the sake of another game. Wouldn't it have been so easy just to say something like, “We created our own microorganisms that eats oil” or any throwaway line that nods at previous games, but lets you run free with whatever it is you want to write?
11 Living Dead Gray (Fox)
Here’s another little piece of magic that pops up and then disappears. Part of Gray Fox’s backstory is that he is resurrected from the dead, like Frankenstein or something, by Dr. Clark. But then after that, it’s never used again. I mean they have the technology to bring people back to life and yet that technology just magically disappears like the OILIX microorganisms. I mean they didn’t even really need to resurrect Gray Fox, they were just looking to build a prototype for an exoskeleton and gene therapy techniques. I don’t see why Dr. Clark even needed the dead Gray Fox. I mean, they may have not gone through with more tests because obviously Gray Fox was crazy and it was only moderately successful in that regard. But still, you can’t introduce technology and then have it disappear.
10 But What’s My Motivation?
When you jump into a video game, you get a pretty solid idea of where the main character’s head is at. In Super Mario, you want to rescue Princess Peach. In Dragon Age, you are trying to protect yourself or your family/friends. In games previous to Metal Gear Solid V, we follow Snake, in whatever version it may be and we get to see who he is. Why he’s doing what he’s doing and even how freaked out he gets. Then, in MGSV, the first hour of game play has a giant fire whale (also that makes no sense. Why a whale? It’s a water mammal and yet suddenly it’s fire monster thing??) and Snake just goes with it. We won’t even get into Ocelot’s motivation for riding in on a horse to save the day. Snake is so silent that when we finally get the line out of him, "’I'm already a demon,’" it feels like a throwaway. It seems like no one has much of a reason to do anything anymore.
When it comes to Metal Gear Solid V, there’s a lot of character craziness going on. I mean when you have cyborg ninjas and clones running around, it makes sense. But when you specifically say a character has an ability and then just ignore it? That’s not okay. We learned that Quiet can breath through her skin, which is why she doesn’t wear clothing. I mean it sounds like a dumb reason to have a naked girl running around, but fine, whatever floats your boat. But she wasn’t entirely naked and was wearing torn tights. Doesn’t that completely defeat the point of that whole character trait? Also, speaking from the point of view of a really pale girl, she’d burn in that sun. I really hope she’s wearing sunscreen.
8 Sahelanthropus Is No Longer With Us
This is another case where a major plot point seems to vanish into thin air. We are told one thing in the series and then something else pops up that makes us scratch our heads. In this case, I’m talking about how Sahelanthropus seems to be based off of Metal Gear Rex designs, which we can assume reached the hands of it's creator after they were stolen from Huey Emmerich, after Sahelanthropus’s designer Soviet scientist Aleksandr Leonovitch Granin sent him the designs. What seems so strange though is that even though Rex came before it, it seems that it is more advanced, considering its bipedal form. It just seems strange, even if Huey Emmerich was forced to make Rex. Not to mention it seems these two just magically appear in someone's hands. That seems to happen a lot in Metal Gear.
7 The Human Torch
In the Metal Gear wotld, if it’s not nanobots, it’s parasites. One thing that never sat right with me is Volgin sitting in a coma for twenty years or so, before the electric parasites burn with rage when they realize that his enemy woke up from his own coma. Suddenly he’s the human torch, with the new found ability to move thanks to the god-like Mantis. His powers are almost God-like, with no real limits when it comes to firepower and that stupid flying unicorn. Being blown up in Russia and put into a vegetative state isn’t enough to take Volgin, but then getting stepped on is his breaking point? It just seems silly and convoluted, plus full of holes.
6 The Cardboard Boxes
Okay, this one is a bit silly, but I’m still going for it. Where in the world does Solid Snake get all of those cardboard boxes? I know it’s a videogame trope to have random items that work for weird purposes, but I feel like it’s such a random thing to have all over the place. Also, why a cardboard box in the first place? It’s probably for shipping the smaller stuff, like rations maybe, but, in the end, it still seems kind of silly, especially with all of the other craziness going on. You have all this technology, but are leaving boxes around? Not only that, but you're then using these boxes to fool the people who are using the technology. Sorry, I know I’m attacking an icon of the game, but I really couldn’t help myself.
5 Stealth Camo
Okay here’s where things get even trickier. There’s a lot of arguing online over this and - feel free to correct me if I’m wrong - but how in the world did anyone get the technology for stealth camo in Metal Gear Solid 3 when it’s stated that Otacon didn’t even develop it until the 1970s? Hideo Kojima seems to really like to mess with timelines in the MGS series and this seems no different. Maybe Otacon lied and actually developed it ten years earlier (when he was what, 18 years-old or so?) but that seems like a cheap excuse, when in reality it’s just a gaping continuity error.
4 Blowing His Cover
I have a huge problem with the apparent use, or lack of use, of CQC on the part of Ishmael (who is supposedly being Big Boss). In the the first few games, we learn that Solid Snake doesn’t use CQC because he didn’t want to use techniques he learned from the man that betrayed his unit. Ishmael obviously didn’t want to blow his cover when Quiet came to assassinate him, but his sloppy work with the unarmed combat technique is pretty awful. It’s like the writers couldn’t make up their mind if Ishmael was supposed to know CQC at all, so they gave him some weird in-between point of knowing. yet being terrible at it. And, yes, I know he woke up not too long ago in a hospital, but if they can ride backwards on a horse through a forest (riding a walking horse through the woods can make you lose your balance), then he can pull out all the techniques he knows.
3 Gender Confusion
In Metal Gear Solid, it was known that Dr. Clark was a man, then is suddenly a woman in the later games? I’ve read up that this is claimed to be a translation error (which is again, not an excuse I’m a huge fan of. It’s okay for some of the older games but definitely not the newer ones), but it turns out that they even use a male pronoun in the Japanese game. So either this was a mistake from the beginning or they decided to retcon and make Dr. Clark a female. Sure no one really knew their gender, so that ‘mistake’ was woven into the story itself, but it’s still seems pretty patchy. Like it’s not a whole in the wall of the plot, but it’s definitely a weak spot.
2 More Motivation
Why does Big Boss still hate Zero in the later games? Zero has gone out of his way, risking his own life and security, to save Big Boss. He shouldn’t know about the parasite in Zero’s brain, so why in the world would he still hate the guy? Again, it seems to be a character motivation hole, rather than a full blown plot hole. Instead of giving the character real motivation, they just flung in that he was still angry. I love all the tech and craziness in the Metal Gear Solid series, but the writing gets really fuzzy when it comes to some of the reasons behind the character’s actions. It doesn’t make sense and it seems like they only do things for the sake of the plot sometimes.
1 Wasn’t She British?
You know when you’re watching a series, particularly an anime series, and suddenly the voice actor/ess changes? Like, all of a sudden in the final season of a show, they get a brand new person to play the most iconic character (totally not thinking of any show in particular that I’d been waiting years to watch the end of…). That’s kind of how it felt when Naomi suddenly lost her British accent and became American. It didn’t make much sense that she even had the accent in the first place, considering she grew up in an American household, but there really wasn’t much explanation for the switch. And hey, if something isn’t explained and just thrown in there? I’d call that a plot hole.