Solid Snake is the lead character of Hideo Kojima‘s Metal Gear stealth action series and was first introduced in 1987 in the first Metal Gear on the MSX computer. Since then Snake has been considered to be a video game icon.
Born in 1972, David (whose last name has never been stated) was the result of the “Les Enfants Terribles” project. He was brought into existence for the purpose of creating the perfect soldier using the genes of Big Boss. Using the ludicrously-named “Super Baby Method”, eight cloned fetuses were conceived using Big Boss’ DNA and eggs from a Japanese woman. However, six of them were aborted for the good of the remaining two (despite that not making sense in the real world), which were then introduced into EVA‘s womb.
Nine months later, the twins were born and were dubbed ‘Solid’ and ‘ Liquid‘. The two clones were genetically modified, with David inheriting the majority of Big Boss’ recessive, inferior soldier genes. It is never revealed if Solid Snake actually knew this. Liquid, in fact, believed Solid had the superior genetic material, and resented him for it, causing an intense rivalry.
He spent the first decade of his childhood in Oregon and during the summer he would visit “Kiddieland”, a theme park. In 1991, David enlisted into the Green Berets and engaged a mission to infiltrate Iraq during the Gulf War. Sometime later David received his codename “Solid Snake” when he joined FOXHOUND. Snake, like all FOXHOUND members, underwent Close Quarters Combat training, personally taught by Big Boss.
Operation Intrude N313
Snake’s first mission as a fresh-faced FOXHOUND operative came in 1995. He was given the task of infiltrating the military nation located in southern Africa: Outer Heaven. Snake’s objective was to rescue Gray Fox, a captured FOXHOUND operative who would eventually become best friends with Snake and become a vital character to the series. Prior to his capture Gray Fox had transmitted a garbled message to FOXHOUND detailing reports of a new Metal Gear, and FOXHOUND tasked Snake to gather intelligence regarding this.
Snake eventually found Gray Fox with the help of Outer Heaven’s POWs and Kyle Schneider a.k.a Running Man, leader of a resistance movement against Outer Heaven. Gray Fox then informed Snake about Metal Gear: a bi-pedal tank capable of launching a nuclear ICBM from anywhere.
Metal Gear TX-55 was still located in its hangar in Outer Heaven and fortunately, had not been activated yet. Fox then ordered Snake to find Dr. Drago Pettrovich Madnar, whom the leader of Outer Heaven had kidnapped to create the Metal Gear TX-55, as he was the only person who knew how to destroy it.
Snake succeeded in saving Dr. Pettrovich Madnar and with the help of Gray Fox destroyed Metal Gear. It was then that the leader of the Outer Heaven uprising revealed himself to be none other than Big Boss. The two engaged in battle and Snake came out as the victor. He left Big Boss to his own devices as Outer Heaven’s self-destruct sequence was initiated. The mission was a success but Snake found himself having nightmares about Operation Intrude N313, possibly a result of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
After the betrayal by Big Boss, as a rejection of his former mentor, Snake refused to utilize his CQC training in the field until 2014, when CQC became wide-spread among soldiers and he found himself reacting instinctively. (In reality, the reason Solid Snake never used CQC before the fourth game was that the concept was only introduced in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, a prequel starring a young Big Boss as “Naked Snake”)
Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake
Zanzibar Land Uprising
Solid Snake was brought out of retirement to once again serve FOXHOUND, this time under Colonel Roy Campbell. His mission was to infiltrate Zanzibar Land, a military base rumored to house a new Metal Gear project. Snake was tasked to rescue Dr. Kio Marv and investigate reports of this new Metal Gear. There, Snake battled an old ally, Kyle Schneider, who disguised himself as Black Ninja. After fighting, Kyle pointed Snake in the right direction into finding Dr. Marv. Instead, Snake found Dr. Drago Pettrovich Madnar, who informed Snake that he had been captured yet again and forced to build another Metal Gear. He also revealed that Big Boss survived Outer Heaven’s demise, and was in fact the leader of Zanzibar Land.
Snake then engaged another former ally, Gray Fox. Fox piloted the new Metal Gear D in a battle against Snake, but Snake easily destroyed the weapon with Dr. Marv’s aid. Gray Fox and Solid Snake then engaged in hand-to-hand combat, with Snake emerging the victor. After saying his goodbyes to a dying Gray Fox, Snake fled Zanzibar Land but was confronted by Big Boss yet again. Having little equipment left, Snake improvised a flamethrower from a lighter and an aerosol spray, catching Big Boss unaware. Snake then escaped, quit FOXHOUND (after which he began a brief stint as a CIA operative), and began living as a recluse in Alaska.
Metal Gear Solid
In 2005, Snake’s old commander Roy Campbell informs him that there has been an uprising on Shadow Moses Island, an isolated American nuclear weapons disposal facility, and that FOXHOUND is behind it. Snake begrudgingly accepts this mission and infiltrates the island via submarine. Snake quickly discovers that the leader of the insurrection is none other than his genetic twin, Liquid Snake.
Snake becomes continuously frustrated as the hostages he is sent to rescue die after interacting with him, and his being kept in the dark during the mission. Shadow Moses, as Snake discovers, is home to the latest incarnation of Metal Gear (Metal Gear Rex) which Liquid plans to use to hold the world hostage and demand the remains of Big Boss. He is reunited with Gray Fox once again, although he is housed in a cybernetic ninja suit and barely retains his old personality. With help from Otacon, Meryl and his radio support crew, Snake destroys Metal Gear Rex and takes down FOXHOUND. In the end Snake realizes that he was just a puppet in a carefully organized plot by the Pentagon to erase the existence of Metal Gear and the members of FOXHOUND using the genetic FOXDIE virus injected into Snake’s body by Naomi Hunter before the mission. Snake is left to wonder when the FOXDIE virus will take his life too. Leaving it to be a mystery.
Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty
The Manhattan Incident
After the FOXHOUND Rebellion at Shadow Moses, Snake joined Philanthropy, an anti-Metal Gear organization established by Otacon and Nastasha Romanenko. In 2007, Philanthropy received an anonymous tip that a new version of Metal Gear was being developed and was codenamed RAY. The tip revealed that RAY was being transported on a Tanker down the Hudson River. Snake infiltrates the Tanker with the hope of obtaining photographic evidence. However, before this is possible, Revolver Ocelot appears and steals RAY, sinking the Tanker in the process. Snake is left extremely perturbed by the revelation that Ocelot has replaced his severed arm with Liquid‘s. This is made even more disturbing by the fact that Liquid seemed to be capable of controlling Ocelot through the arm.
Two years later, the Big Shell (which had been built to deal with the aftermath of the Tanker’s oil spill), is taken over by terrorists, calling themselves the Sons of Liberty. Snake infiltrates the Big Shell, posing as Navy SEAL Lieutenant JG Iroquois Pliskin. At the Big Shell, Snake met FOXHOUND operative Raiden.
During his time in the Big Shell, Snake discovers that the leader of the Sons of Liberty is none other than Solidus Snake, yet another clone of big boss. Furthermore, he finds out that another Metal Gear is being built, codenamed Arsenal. Arsenal Gear is being built to house information relating to a group named the Patriots, a group which supposedly controls how the world is run and which wishes to restrict the flow of information. Snake and Raiden succeed in obtaining a virus to partially destroy the AI inside Arsenal, but this alone does not stop Solidus Snake.
Snake and Raiden later fight their way through Arsenal Gear, finally reaching the top of Arsenal. At this point, Ocelot, once again under the control of Liquid Snake, escapes in a Metal Gear RAY, but not before Snake attaches a tracking device to it. Snake then meets up with Raiden one last time outside Federal Hall and tells Raiden that he intends to pursue Ocelot and find the Patriots.
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
Liquid Ocelot’s Insurrection
In 2014, Revolver Ocelot (now controlled by the personality of Liquid Snake and going by the name “Liquid Ocelot”) reappears in an unnamed Middle Eastern country, and Snake is sent to kill him at Colonel Roy Campbell‘s request. By this point, Snake is suffering from accelerated aging, and has the appearance of an elderly man, even being given the new codename “Old Snake”. While there, he makes contact with a “gun launderer” named Drebin 893, who injects Snake with nanomachines that allow him to access the world’s nanomachine-controlling system, Sons of the Patriots (SOP), and use SOP-controlled guns. However, before he can carry out his orders, Snake is incapacitated when Liquid Ocelot hacks into SOP, part of an overarching plan Liquid calls “Guns of the Patriots”.
After escaping the Middle East, Snake and Otacon receive a coded message from Naomi Hunter who tells them she is being held hostage by Liquid Ocelot in South America. Snake travels to South America to find Naomi. She explains that Snake’s rapid aging is actually intentional; the scientists who created him modified his genetic code in order to prevent the seed of Big Boss from getting in the wrong hands – Snake was always intended to die young, with the original intention being that more clones of Big Boss would follow him and Liquid. Naomi also explains that the receptors in the FOXDIE virus she injected him with are wearing down; while the original virus was only harmful to those whose DNA was specifically coded into the virus as targets, the mutating FOXDIE will eventually reach a state where those targeting sequences break down completely, leaving the virus in a state where it will target and infect anyone, which could lead to a devastating world-wide FOXDIE plague, unless Snake dies before the virus reaches that stage. Naomi begs him to complete his mission, and then commit suicide. Although he succeeds in rescuing Naomi, Snake fails to locate Ocelot.
After the events in South America, Old Snake and Otacon receive Intel that Ocelot has relocated to somewhere in Europe. Snake goes to Europe with the intention of finding Big Mama, a local anti-PMC resistance leader for help in locating Ocelot. With the help of Big Mama, who is actually an aged EVA, and refers to Snake as her son, Snake eventually finds him, but Ocelot has already gained unilateral control of the SOP system, rendering any guns registered to the System useless. Snake is beaten rather brutally, Big Mama dies from severe burns sustained when trying to rescue the body of Big Boss from a fire, and Ocelot once again escapes.
Ocelot next shows up at the abandoned base on Shadow Moses Island, and again, Snake follows him there. During the course of events on the Island, Raiden finally confronts and defeats Vamp, and Naomi kills herself as penance for her role in everything that had happened because of her nanomachines. Snake eventually finds Ocelot, and the two of them fight. Snake, with the help of Otacon, manages to start up the dormant Metal Gear REX, with which he beats Ocelot, even though Ocelot was in control of Metal Gear RAY, which was specifically designed to destroy REX. However, in the process of defeating Ocelot, Snake is badly injured, giving Ocelot another opportunity to escape. Raiden saves Snake’s life, and Snake watches Liquid escape in an Arsenal Gear unit which Ocelot has named Outer Haven.
Old Snake gets aboard Outer Haven to destroy GW, and face Liquid Ocelot for the last time. With the help of a computer virus originally written by Emma Emmerich and recently modified by Sunny Gurlurkovich, Snake destroys GW; the “FOXALIVE” virus then (without the previous knowledge of Snake and Otacon) spread throughout the other Patriot AIs, wiping them all out. Seconds later, Naomi, in a pre-recorded message hidden in the virus, explains that she had Sunny modify the virus to destroy the AIs, while also preserving society (as part of EVA and Ocelot’s plan to destroy The Patriots). She thanks Snake and Otacon for helping her realize the true joy in life. Snake then proceeds to fight Liquid Ocelot on top of Outer Haven in a hand-to-hand brawl, eventually defeating him, whereupon he learns that Revolver Ocelot had long since replaced Liquid Snake’s arm with a cybernetic prosthetic and had pretended to be under the control of Liquid through hypnotherapy, nano-machines and auto-suggestion, essentially arranging events so that everything would happen exactly as it had. After shaking off his self-induced brainwashing, Ocelot begins conversing with Snake but mysteriously dies.
Snake, knowing that his war was finally over, visits the grave of Big Boss and attempts to kill himself in order to prevent the FOXDIE virus in his body from causing an epidemic. However, Big Boss, who was revived once the System was destroyed (Big Mama had his body reconstructed, using pieces of the bodies of Liquid and Solidus. The latter was actually the body that Ocelot burned on the volta), explains that when Drebin injected Snake with the SOP nanomachines, he also injected him with a new version of FOXDIE, and that was what really killed Big Mama and Ocelot. He further explains that Naomi ran a follow-up report that determined that the new FOXDIE strain was preventing the old FOXDIE from reproducing, preventing any outbreak. She left him a message, begging him to save Snake. However, he instead watched his “son” to see what he would do, and was proud when Snake’s will to survive was too strong to let him kill himself. After realizing the Boss’ true will, and that Snake was the true heir to the Boss’ legacy, he decides to abandon his Outer Heaven ideals, kills Zero, and makes up with his son, even though the new strain of FOXDIE is programmed to kill him too, just in case. Before dying, Big Boss reiterates Naomi’s speech from the end of the FOXHOUND rebellion, begging Snake not to waste the rest of his life fighting.
Snake takes Big Boss’ advice. He lives what little life he has left in peace, with his closest friends including Otacon and Sunny. A small reward for a great hero.
- Snake’s appearance on the boxart for Metal Gear is based directly on a screenshot of actor Michael Biehn, in character as Kyle Reese, in the 1984 film The Terminator.
- In addition to the above listed adventures, Solid Snake appeared in an American-made sequel to the original Metal Gear called Snake’s Revenge, which features Snake battling a resurrected Big Boss, who has been rebuilt as a seemingly invincible cyborg. Hideo Kojima has made it abundantly clear that the entirety of Snake’s Revenge is non-canon in the storyline of Metal Gear, and that the canonical sequel to Metal Gear is Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake.
- Metal Gear 2, which is set in 1999, features an older-looking Snake than seen in Metal Gear Solid, which is set in 2005. However, there are numerous inconsistencies between the Metal Gear Solid games and the previous incarnation of the series. Most of the portraits used in Metal Gear 2 were based on real actors, Snake being modeled after Mel Gibson. In re-releases of Metal Gear 2, Snake and the other characters were redesigned to match the artstyle of Metal Gear Solid.
- Snake’s real name, David, which was revealed at the end of the original Metal Gear Solid, is a reference to one of two fictional characters depending on which ending the player gets. In the ending where Snake saves Otacon (Hal Emmerich) it’s a reference to 2001: A Space Odyssey, where David Bowman is terrorized by the computer HAL 9000. In the ending where Snake saves Meryl it’s a reference to Policenauts, another game created by Hideo Kojima. In Policenauts Dave Forrest is in love with Meryl Silverburgh, whose name and design were reused for Metal Gear Solid. While Snake shares the same given name as his English voice actor, David Hayter, this was not intentional (contrary to popular belief) and is merely coincidental.
- Hideo Kojima based Solid Snake on a number of different characters, including Snake Plissken from the films Escape from New York and Escape from L.A., who also inspired both the character’s codename and the alias he uses in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, “Iroquois Pliskin”. In addition, the word “Iroquois” has a triple meaning. The Iroquois were a confederacy of Native American tribes headquartered in New York, and “Iroquois” was also a Huron word meaning “Black Snake.”
- An argument can be made for Snake being an Nietzschean übermensch, keeping in mind the franchise’s discussion on issues such as eugenics (or “Gene”, as Kojima oddly refers to it). Despite having the worst genetic material among the four Snakes, he constantly transcends his limitations, achieves his goals against all odds, and becomes the greatest of them all.
- Another argument could be made that Snake is a Voluntaryist. Philanthropy clearly has an ideology, but it doesn’t use force to get close to it, instead opting for getting it across by example, hence the group’s anti-Metal Gear activities. While Voluntaryism does oppose the initiation of aggressive force (hence Snake’s strong disapproval of Big Boss, Liquid, and Ocelot’s shared ideals for Outer Heaven), it does not prohibit self-defence.
- Snake’s military training philosophy is very strictly traditionalist, as he reveals to Raiden his beliefs that Virtual Reality training will never be an acceptable substitute for actual combat experience.
- Snake made his Smash Bros. debut in Super Smash Bros. Brawl for the Nintendo Wii as an unlockable fighter. In his arena, Shadow Moses Island, Snake can contact Mei Ling, Otacon and Roy Campbell and they can talk about his current opponents during the fight when you use him. He can also contact Slippy Toad from the Star Fox franchise, who has a grudge against fellow Star Fox character Falco Lombardi, and will give Snake advice on how to defeat him.
- According to Ryan Payton of Konami, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots will be the final canonical Metal Gear game to feature Solid/Old Snake as the main character. Kojima himself has stated that the series will continue, but doesn’t want the character to be handled by anyone else. Although he doesn’t canonically make an appearance in the Raiden focused spin-off Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, a Japanese only DLC adds a wooden sword infused with the soul of Solid Snake that talks to the player during gameplay.