"In the not too distant future. On a tired battlefield. War has become routine."
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, the sixth main entry in the Metal Gear storyline, launched on the PlayStation 3 in mid 2008.Nine years have passed since the Shadow Moses Incident. After the Big Shell was destroyed, the world descended into near-anarchy. With the entire world's economy dependant on constant, ongoing warfare, the world's war zones are controlled by private military companies, or PMCs for short, fighting proxy wars for the highest bidder. Connected to the Sons of the Patriots network, which allows soldiers to share each others' senses, the PMCs are the pinnacle of military training and efficiency. A world of perpetual war where soldiers will always be needed and have a place, Big Boss' dream... or is it?Moreover, the PMCs, the FROGS (an elite all-female unit separate from the PMCs), and the Beauty and the Beast Unit (four traumatized women "coping" through the use of cybernetic suits inside custom war machines) are at the beck and call of none other than Revolver Ocelot, who seems to have become possessed by the ghost of Solid Snake's brother, Liquid Snake, and is now plotting to unleash his insurrection and take over the world. Solid Snake, whose body is now aging rapidly for unknown reasons, is brought out of self-imposed retirement for one last mission. Snake considers it a 'hired hit.' Otacon considers it their duty. Together, they have one final chance to kill "Liquid Ocelot".Metal Gear Solid 4 features a new camera and aiming system along with a high-tech camouflage suit for Snake and the ability to pick up enemies' weapons, and the gameplay is a lot more dynamic than in previous installments, with Snake often sneaking through warzones — or shooting his way through it, should the player choose to do so.Often considered more of an interactive movie than a game, MGS4 is simultaneously acclaimed (among those interested in the characters and story) and infamous (among those who just want to play the missions) for its epic-length cutscenes, particularly those between missions and with one lasting more than an hour.Since the rest of the series has a theme associated with it, "gene" for Metal Gear Solid, "meme" for Metal Gear Solid 2, and "scene" for Metal Gear Solid 3, the major theme for Metal Gear Solid 4 is the unique sense a given human being has about the world around them and how it's lost forever when they die.Showcasing the return or cameo of virtually every major figure of the Metal Gear Solid storyline, Metal Gear Solid 4 tries its best to tie up every loose end from the entire franchise up to this point, including the infamous and confusing ending of Metal Gear Solid 2. Metal Gear Solid 4absolutely ends the saga for Solid Snake.
This game uses the following tropes:
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Absolute Cleavage: Big Mama needs to learn how to button her shirt. Naomi also has an unbuttoned blouse and is clearly not wearing a bra. Believe it or not, the lack of a bra turns out to be important, as when you're trying to track Naomi down when she's being carted off by a bunch of soldiers, you find a discarded bra left behind as one of the soldiers' many fake-outs (maybe she was just carrying it around in her pocket?). She never bothers to reacquire one later.
Absurdly Sharp Blade: Raiden's high-frequency sword can carve through war machines and soldiers like they're made of paper.
Abuse Is Okay When It Is Female on Male: Meryl Silverburgh's method of disciplining Akiba is from the "grounds for court martial" school of military discipline; the scene would likely be considered unacceptable if the genders were reversed. Johnny's status as butt monkey is also a contributing factor for why it's "okay" for her to smack him.
Accidental Truth: Liquid convinces the BB Corps that, by killing Snake, their minds will finally be cleansed. Naturally, they don't manage to do so, but as it turns out, just fighting Snake, according to Drebin, turns out to be exactly the therapy they needed.
Adam Westing: David Hayter appears in one of the live-action TV spots at the beginning, promoting his "new movie" in full Sneaking Suit garb. Lee Meriwether plays the host who asks the hapless Hayter inane questions.
Added Alliterative Appeal: All the maps in Metal Gear Online and its expansions have alliterative names (Silo Sunset, Hazard House Virtuous Vista).
Adult Fear: First: Snake facing his declining health and dealing with a terminal illness. Part of Otacon's emotional arc is about coping with the long-term illness of his close friend and partner. There is also the question of children growing up — and possibly outgrowing you ("It's okay if you want to live outside now"). Hideo Kojima said in interviews prior to the game's release that he hoped the story and emotions would resonate with older players, ones who had been following the series for some time.
Afraid of Needles: Johnny is revealed to be this. This is actually a plot point, since it turns out to be the reason Johnny is unaffected by the SOP because he was never injected with the nanomachines.
A.K.A.-47: Averted; all the guns use their real names, though they tend to avoid using the manufacturer's name: the Springfield Operator is just the "Operator," for example.
All Men Are Perverts: Even with the nanomachines supposedly regulating their emotions, male soldiers can't help being attracted to Playboy magazines.
Snake may be midway through a vital mission, and he may have just successfully tracked down his old friend Naomi, who appears to have major health problems of her own, but he still finds time to fake dropping his cigarette so he can try and look up her skirt. (Very possibly a bit of lampshading aimed at the player; in the game, cutscenes are interactive at times, with the option sometimes given to switch to Snake's POV. A player used to this might expect the POV option to appear at this point, but it does not.)
Indeed, just such a POV option - allowing the player a close-up view of a woman's butt - is offered during one of the boss battles.
All There in the Manual: Newbies generally don't find out about the rewards the game offers for not killing people (Drebin points, unique gear) until they read a walkthrough.
Almost Kiss: Between Naomi and Otacon during the sitcom episode-length cutscene between Acts 2 and 3.
Aluminum Christmas Trees: The Stun Knife, believe it or not, is based a real weapon, The Shocknife. Though, there are some differences (the shocknife is a training weapon with no sharpness to the blade), the basic concept of a knife with an electric shock capability seems less ridiculous.
Also, those helicopters that were seen in fixed-wing mode in Act 1's cutscenes and in helicopter mode during gameplay. Those were actually real helicopters.note Although granted, they certainly couldn't see any use by the time of that game in real life as they were cancelled due to the prototypes failing to meet expectations.
Amazon Brigade: The FROGS, although they're not designed as eye candy as, for once, an all-female group wears decent body-armor. Their stormtrooper helmets are sufficiently intimidating enough that at a distance you wouldn't even notice they're female, if they didn't have high-pitched voices and breasts. There's also the Beauty and the Beast Unit, four female soldiers with powerful powered armor themed after animals. It's never made entirely clear why they're all women. Wild Mass Guessing ranges from pragmatic explanations (such as merely Author Appeal; Kojima is shameless) to technical justifications, such as women having, on average, lighter frames and lower centers of gravity than men, two things that would come in handy for all the acrobatics they do.
Ambiguous Robots: The Gekkos appear to be giant organic legs with an AT-ST head on top. They bellow like cattle when entering combat and spew black fluid when "killed".
Supplemental materials reveal that the Gekko's body is a robotic frame with an artificial intelligence. The legs, meanwhile, are organic. They are made of artificially-grown muscles, created using stem cells from ungulate embryos. This makes their legs extremely strong. When they "puke", they are ejecting excess lactic acid that builds up after continuous intense use. This also means that you can use a tranquilizer on their legs. It does not affect the inorganic upper half, but the organic lower half "goes numb" and renders the Gekko immobile.
America Saves the Day: To a degree anyway. The USS Missouri, a World War II battleship manned by sailors and Marines without the benefits of SOP systems take on Outer Haven, buying time for Snake to do his job. And they win.
A Father to His Men: As if her title wasn't enough, Big Mama almost exclusively refers to the Paradise Lost Army as her "children."
Remember how Liquid Snake wanted the corpse of Big Boss as part of his demands at Shadow Moses? It turns out that after your last fight, Zero and the Patriots grabbed Big Boss, chopped off his limbs, stuffed him in a life support machine, and pumped him full of nanomachines to cut his brain off from his body. They left his higher brain functions fully operational.
Wonder what Solidus has been up to since Metal Gear Solid 2? As part of their master plan, Big Mama and her Paradise Lost group rescued Big Boss and shoved Solidus in the life support machine. After chopping off his limbs to serve as replacement parts for Big Boss, and possibly to further make him a decoy to Big Boss. And then he got thrown in a fire.
And Your Reward Is Clothes: Altair's robe from Assassin's Creed is available for Old Snake to wear , as well as corpse camo for dying too many times and Snake's suit from the intro. Additionally, there face camos that Snake can wear based on other characters, including the Beauties and Big Boss' corpse (actually Solidus Snake's).
Arms Dealer: The Drebin Network, who are your one stop shop for ammunition, unlocking weapons and porno mags. And its all 100% Patriot free. Not.
Artifact Title: The game is more about resolving the ongoing plot than stopping a specific Metal Gear this time around. There is a nuclear launch you're trying to prevent, however, and one specific Metal Gear does turn out to be very important. The closest thing to stopping a specific Metal Gear in the plot is in Act 5 when it turns out that Ocelot plans to overthrow JD and place GW in its place using Outer Haven, which is an Arsenal Gear unit that Ocelot somehow stole between the events of Metal Gear Solid 2 and Metal Gear Solid 4. It should be noted that Outer Haven is not the same Arsenal Gear as the one that crashed into Manhattan.
Artificial Limbs: Ocelot replaced Liquid Snake's transplanted right arm with a cybernetic one after the Big Shell incident.
Ate His Gun: Snake does it if you wait long enough at the title screen. Why he would do it takes the whole game to explain.
Bad Black Barf: After the boss fight with Laughing Octopus, she proceeds to vomit black fluid till a pool forms around her. It's not clear if this is ink, referencing her codename, or a part of her condition.
The Bad Guy Wins: A subversion. Ocelot succeeds in his plan to upload a virus into the SOP system, destroying both the Patriots and the Crapsack World they created, but not replacing it with the anarchic Outer Heaven like he wanted thanks to Sunny's tinkering with the virus.
Bad Future: The entire game is, in essence, the Bad Future of the Metal Gear saga. The world's entire economy is based on endless warfare, evil Mega Corps command armies bigger than most countries' militaries, and the world's population is controlled by nanomachines.
Bad Boss: Liquid Ocelot shows shades of this during his SOP hacking test in Act 2. When Vamp warns him that they don't know what could happen, Liquid nonchalantly states that he's "willing to make a few sacrifices"; the end result is that several of his mooks suffer brain damage and become Technically Living Zombies. During the Act 3 mission briefing, Naomi states that Liquid in fact knew from the very beginning that said test would be a failure, and yet he chose to go through with it anyway.
Badass Baritone: Ed, the token minority on Meryl´s team, has a noticeably deep voice, which we only hear more than a couple lines of when he´s playing the role of the priest during her´s and Johnny´s marriage.
Badass Grandpa: Snake, although technically he's really not that old he is physically, so it still applies. And, technically Ocelot as well, even if he's the villain.
Badass Longcoat: Raiden, Vamp, and Ocelot all sport one and cast them off at different points.
Badass Mustache: Both Liquid Ocelot and Old Snake. Interesting in that it makes them (along with Snake's premature aging) look more like brothers than they would otherwise (since Liquid now lives in Ocelot's body). This is in part because both Old Snake and Revolver Ocelot were modeled off of Lee Van Cleef, best known from the Dollars Trilogy.
Badass Normal: Oddly enough, Akiba qualifies for this trope. He's patently useless in the majority of appearances, but his actions at the end of the game cement his status (considering he was just a normal completely unmodified human soldier).
Beard of Sorrow: Snake in the Briefing to Act 4, having had half his face toasted off.
BFG: There's a whole stack of light machine guns, heavy sniper rifles and rocket launchers for Snake to play around with, as well as a motorbike-sized railgun just like the one Fortune used.
Big Bad Ensemble: Liquid Ocelot is the primary threat, though the Patriots also get into it.
Big Damn Heroes: Raiden shows up just in time to save Snake when he reaches his limit just outside the server room and is at the mercy of a squad of Haven Troopers.
Big "NO!": Snake lets one out when Raiden is crushed by Outer Haven.
Bilingual Bonus: In the beginning cutscene of Act 3, the player can see multiple posters written in Czech. The translation of the posters state "This area is monitored by industrial camera."
Bittersweet Ending: Yes, the Patriots' computer system has been disabled by a large part, cutting down the war economy that has tortured Earth for years. Also, Meryl and Johnny are happily married, and Raiden reconciled and reunited with his family, having learned that Rose's marriage to Roy Campbell was a sham and that Raiden's miscarried child is alive and well. However, Otacon lost Naomi, who essentially killed herself out of atonement, and Snake, whose father has come back from the dead, told Snake he respects him, and died, has less than a year to live.
However, while Snake only has less than a year to live, he also plans on spending that last year in peace and he will also spend it with his best friend, Otacon, and Sunny by his side.
Bishonen Line: With a twist, the person going through the line is Ocelot during the final battle on Outer Haven, and the changes are mental rather than physical due to Ocelot shifting personas.
Blade Run: Vamp does this to Raiden in their fight in South America at the end of Act 2.
Blood from the Mouth: Raiden vomits blood after being critically injured in the aforementioned fight with Vamp. Upon being stabbed by several FROGS inside Outer Haven, he briefly coughs up blood as well.
During the final boss, both Snake and Liquid also briefly spit up blood after taking a hit to the gut.
Also, Solid Snake in the originial Metal Gear had to traverse through a permanently generating electric floor in order to get to the TX-55 and destroy it. Near the end of Act 5, he has to do something similar: traverse through a microwave hallway in order to access GW's server room to upload FOXALIVE. Ironically, the specific method for doing so in Metal Gear Solid 4 was a lot closer to the NES version of Metal Gear (where they replaced the TX-55 with a super computer).
Boring, but Practical: In tried and true Metal Gear Solid fashion, the Mk. 22 tranquilizer pistol you start the game with is going to be your best friend if you're going for a pacifist run — or, in other words, if you want the massive score bonuses at the end of each chapter for never killing any soldiers and never being spotted.
Bottomless Magazines: The FROGS appear to have these at the end of Act 3, probably because the "Guns of the Patriots" sequence would be a lot less dramatic if they had to keep stopping to reload.
Breaking the Fourth Wall: During a cutscene in which a character discusses events being just like a game, a succession of images goes by - the cover art for the earlier Metal Gear Solid games, ending with the logo of the game you're now playing and a brief clip of Snake from earlier in the game.
Bring My Brown Pants: While helping Snake fight off FROGS in the Middle East, Akiba loses control of his bowels in the midst of battle and shits his pants right then and there, much to the disgust of Meryl and his other teammates.
Cacophony Cover Up: In the first two Acts, it is much easier to sneak past guards because they are too focused fighting the rebels to notice you. Your camo index even artificially rises when there is a lot of commotion around you. This can also work to your disadvantage as wind and explosions can disrupt your Solid Eye information, making it hard to determine enemy positions. This even works against human players in Metal Gear Online.
Chainmail Bikini: While the FROGS do have fairly consistent body armor, they still seem to have straps under their breasts that emphasize them. Just a little.
Character Outlives Actor: Kōji Totani, the Japanese voice actor of Metal Gear villain Revolver Ocelot, died during the production of this game. As a result, the role was recast to Banjō Ginga (Liquid Snake's Japanese voice), with Liquid Snake's persona having apparently taken complete control of Ocelot's mind as a convenient excuse for the recast. This wasn't much of an issue in the English version, since Ocelot's English voice actor Pat Zimmerman was still alive and reprised the role anyway.
Chase Scene: A particularly memorable one through the streets of Eastern Europe in Act 3. The first half of it is pretty standard. But in the second half, Raging Raven and her flyers show up to join the fun.
Cloning Blues: For once, there's no real identity dilemma going on with this trope; now that he's old, we see that Solid Snake is clearly a different man than his father and both he and Liquid realize this. "We're not total copies of our father after all!" Which is not to say that there aren't a lot of other sucky things about being a clone that were forced upon him.
Clothes Make the Superman: A mild example, in Snake's OctoCamo suit. It electrically stimulates his muscles to keep him at top performance. While it does not enhance him much beyond what he could always do, it does keep him in the game despite his failing body. In Otacon's words, "It's kind of a crutch."
Coat Cape: Raiden shows up in the final act wearing his leather duster like this. Since he's lost both arms by then, he holds it in place with one of Snake's flak jackets.
Combat Breakdown: Snake and Ocelot's final showdown atop Outer Haven. It starts out as a big-time martial arts smackdown, and by the fourth and final round, consists simply of two exhausted old men slugging at each other as hard as they can.
Comic Book Fantasy Casting: Both Liquid Ocelot and, to a lesser extend, Old Snake greatly resemble the late actor Lee Van Cleef. Van Cleef was in two of Sergio Leone's Dollars Trilogy of which Kojima is a huge fan.
Composite Character: The members of the BB Corps. Their codenames are based on the emotions of the Cobras and the animals of FOXHOUND and they wield the weapons of Dead Cell. A much more literal case can be made with Liquid Ocelot, who is Revolver Ocelot possessed by Liquid Snake's personality.
Continuity Lockout: If this is your first Metal Gear game, you will not understand anything that's happening or why. If you've played Metal Gear Solid 3, at least seen some of the major scenes of Metal Gear Solid 2 (at least one with each character), and been sprinkled with bits of info from a bunch of other scattered sources, note you might be able to make just enough correct assumptions and ignore just enough off-hand remarks referencing stuff from the previous games that you don't know about that the barest possible minimum of what's going on may be in your poor, befuddled grasp. Maybe. Simply put, your knowledge needs to be more advanced than "Solid Snake fights giant robots with a cardboard box," and sometimes even more than the essential "Nanomachines, son."
This applies to gameplay as well. The game literally drops you in the deep end and if you aren't intimately familiar with the franchise's stealth-play nature, you'll find it very hard to survive more than a few minutes once the game proper begins. And the fact the game rewards you for not using lethal force is not made evident to newbies until well into the first, perhaps even as far as into the second act. (The fact non-lethal weaponry and ammo is not clearly provided doesn't help.)
The start of Act IV ( Which begins with a simulation of the very first mission from the very first Metal Gear Solid game) is likewise a treasure trove of confusion.
Continuity Nod: The entire fourth Act, including a playable flashback of an area from the original Metal Gear Solid (with PS1 graphics, no less) and too many audio flashbacks to mention.
The final battle deserves a mention, as the entire battle consists of a battle atop a wrecked Metal Gear of sorts — Outer Haven being a nuke delivery platform, if not quite wrecked — complete with flashback segments, background music and health meters that change as the fight changes which game it's referencing, and Liquid Ocelot's final line as a callback to Metal Gear Solid 3.
"You're pretty good", which itself is a callback to Ocelot's immediate line to Solid Snake after their first boss battle in Metal Gear Solid.
Some of the guns available for purchase were carried by characters in previous games (Meryl's Desert Eagle, Fatman's Glock 18, The Boss' Patriot pistol, Big Boss' custom 1911).
Conspicuous Trenchcoat: Snake dons one in Eastern Europe to bypass Raven Sword's checkpoints, and a trio of Dwarf Gekko do the same to follow Snake to Big Mama's hideout.
Continuity Porn: The sheer number of continuity nods and shout outs to past entries, both subtle and blatant, is absolutely ludicrous, reaching all the way back to the MSX2 games. For example, Liquid's crashed Hind from the tower fight can be found in a corner.
The game doesn't point it out explicitly, but you can notice that Meryl and her Rat Patrol are wearing mass-production versions of Snake's old Sneaking Suit underneath their combat webbing. They have the iconic three dots on the shoulder, with the words "Sneaking Suit" printed underneath.
Cool Boat: Ocelot's base is pretty much a boat version of a Base on Wheels, being a new version of Arsenal Gear (a floating fortress so huge it had its own series of giant robots to protect it).
Cool Guns: Lots. Perhaps most notably, the use of the XM8 assault rifle and its variants as a weapon of the Rat Patrol and the U.S. military, despite the fact that it'd been canceled prior to the game's development. Pure Rule of Cool in effect.
Cool Plane: The Nomad, Snake and Otacon's mobile home/base. The game also has a big thing for coaxial rotor helicopters; usually based on modern ones.
Cool Tank: Well, more Cooldozer: Israeli Cat D9R dozers appear several times during the storyline, usually doing something awesome. There are still a few tanks, but most of them end up destroyed in short order.
Cross Counter: Happens more than once during the final boss fight.
CPR (Clean, Pretty, Reliable): Johnny gives CPR to Meryl's bulletproof vest. The first thing she does is spit up water, but then it goes straight to clean pretty romantic and they kiss.
Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Liquid runs four of the biggest PMCs in the world; his armies outnumber the standing forces of most countries and he's making money hand over fist. Apparently this just isn't enough for him, so he tries to take over the system entirely and rule the world. Of course, all of that power and money was never his motive, just a means to his ultimate goal.
Cutscene: And how. MGS 4 currently holds an official Guinness World Record for longest cutscene within a game. Several cutscenes last for 20 minutes or more (and while they can be skipped, see "Unskippable Cutscene" below for reasons why this isn't a good idea), with the granddaddy being the cutscene that ends the game, which is a movie unto itself lasting more than an hour. An urban legend emerged when some media reported rumors of the game featuring a 90-minute-long cutscene, but this was denied via Word of God prior to the game's actual release.
Snake is in a very bad condition because of his accelerated aging, and this is very noticeable during cutscenes: Snake often groans in pain, collapses because of a sudden attack and needs to relieve his pain with the syringe. During normal gameplay, Snake is fit as ever. The worst age-related things that can happen are back pains caused by rolling and crouching.
The FROGS suddenly become far stupider and easier to kill in cutscenes, particularly during the last chapter.
Also, Snake is sent to kill Liquid, and despite having unavoidably collected an assault rifle and almost certainly owning a sniper rifle, insists on doing it with his sidearm and taking so long about it that Liquid can put his plan into action and incapacitate him. Roughly the same inventory-related Gameplay and Story Segregation happens again later on the Volta, with Snake not thinking to hand his sizable arsenal of non-ID weapons out to Meryl's team after their own weapons fail, although it could be handwaved as his other weapons not being on the boat (since the M4 and Operator were discarded earlier).
Gekko suffer routinely from a combination of this and mook chivalry: during gameplay, they're extremely deadly, but in cutscenes they're stunningly dumb and often forget they're armed. The one that chases Snake near the start of the first mission repeatedly has an M2 heavy machine gun pointed directly at him but never fires, while Raiden-versus-Gekko has them attack him one at a time for most of the sequence, and they pause after each attack so he can murder them to death more easily.
The SOP nanomachines suppress emotional responses in their users, turning them into soldiers who feel no pain, anger, fear, or guilt in the name of increased battlefield efficiency. When Liquid hijacks the system, the sudden loss of it is incapacitating, and in some cases lethal.
Furthermore, Raiden is shown to be a far darker and more violent character since becoming the new Cyborg Ninja, though this is attributed more to the memories of his Dark and Troubled Past and PTSD than this trope.
Damn You, Muscle Memory: This is part of the reason Snake decided to use CQC again. When someone tries to use a "cookie-cutter imitation" of CQC against him, he reflexively responds with the original CQC techniques he learned directly from Big Boss.
Darker and Edgier: This is one of the grimmest and most somber of all the Metal Gear Solid games. It occasionally has its iconic, no-fourth wall humor, but that doesn't change the fact that the protagonist is genuinely and irreversibly dying. The usual comic relief from Snake's support team is all but absent, too.
Deathbringer the Adorable: The chickens on the Nomad, who do little besides hang out in their cages and lay eggs for Sunny to cook, are named Solid, Liquid and Solidus.
Deliberate Injury Gambit: During Raiden and Vamp's fight in South America, Vamp grabs Raiden in a chokehold, which prompts Raiden to quickly drive his sword through both his own and Vamp's body. Vamp turns it back around by driving the blade in even further and then twisting it.
Defictionalization: Sony released a bluetooth headset styled after Snake's Solid Eye around the game's release, which was even compatible with the game itself and could be used to listen to Codec calls.
Degraded Boss: Vamp can still put the hurt on, but he's not nearly as fancy as he was in Metal Gear Solid 2. He doesn't dodge bullets as much or pull any tricks like stabbing your shadow this time. His nearly-limitless regenerative abilities and the loss of his "Queen" have apparently caused him to become a bit of a death seeker; he's constantly daring you to kill him off for good, so maybe he's not even really trying.
Demonic Spiders: Deliberately invoked in the Gekko, which are semi-sentient walking tanks with extremely flexible organic legs. They do have a couple of exploitable weaknesses (you can tranquilize their organic legs, and a specific weak point on top of the head is vulnerable to any form of gunfire) but if you're not careful, they can kill you with one sweep of their legs. They're also surprisingly agile for creatures so huge, and if they can't chase you, they'll throw grenades at you with their little manipulator arms.
Dirty Communists: The South American rebels are strongly implied from their wearing red armbands and red berets that they are strong supporters of Communism. The implication is strengthened further in the Novelization, where it mentions that they adopted similar guerilla tactics to that of Mao Zedong.
Distaff Counterpart: The FROG/Haven Troopers are the female versions of the Arsenal Tengu from the second game, with the same basic look, nearly the same loadout, and the same role.
The game pretty much opens with explaining that Snake's body is failing and that he will most likely die within months. While often near the point of giving up, he gets a grip on himself and gives everything to stop Liquid Ocelot.
And then there's the entire final act of the game. There's really not much the recruits on the Missouri can do against Outer Haven, but with only a few hours left before Ocelot's rule over the world becomes perfect and being the last military unit not under his complete control, Mei Ling leads them into a full out attack anyway.
After their Metal Gear showdown on Shadow Moses, Snake ends up dislocating his right shoulder as REX powers down, leaving him unable to aim properly at Liquid with a machine gun as he makes his escape on Outer Haven.
Snake's Solid Eye and OctoCamo suit get fried as he makes his way through Outer Haven's microwave corridor.
Driven to Suicide: At the end of the game, Snake puts his gun in his mouth and the camera moves away, then we hear a gunshot. Its subverted though, he did not actually kill himself.
It is heavily implied that this was Vamp's main goal now. However, he really can't do it himself because of his rapid healing, requiring someone to find a way to kill him (likely in battle).
Big Boss hugs Snake, knowing full well that he'll contract FOXDIE, effectively committing suicide.
Dummied Out: After Metal Gear Online's servers were shut down, the option to access the game was removed in a patch.
Dying Alone: Subverted for Snake twice. First, he almost commits suicide in front of Big Boss' grave by himself in the cemetery. However, he doesn't go through with it and with some pleading from Big Boss, Snake decides to live out the rest of his life in peace. Second, after Snake tells Otacon he doesn't need to accompany him to the end of his life, Otacon nevertheless decides to stay with Snake and stick with him to the end.
Subverted also for Big Boss. Despite their long-standing relationship as enemies, Big Boss peacefully dies in front of his son.
Dying as Yourself: Ocelot's personality returns to normal right before kicking the bucket, as his last words make this very clear.
The BB Corps seem to come to their senses a bit when you defeat their beast forms.
Dying for Symbolism: Solid Snake's advanced aging and terminal illness (ending the game knowing he will die in a few months), is used to hammer home Kojima's message that the series is a Franchise Zombie.
Easter Egg: Tons of 'em; much more than would be productive to list here (though GameFAQs is sure to help you in that department).
Elite Mooks: The FROG units under Liquid. They're able to leap about 20 feet in the air and cling to walls (likely why they're called FROGS) and they can hear the noise produced by the Solid Eye in night vision mode. They've also got strangling wires they can use to turn around any attempt at CQC you try on them (unless you catch them by surprise). No in-game explanation is given why they're all female, or why the nanomachines inside their bodies immolate them when they die. According to stuff not in game, it's to stop the enemy from capturing their equipment (besides weapons, which are protected with a nanomachine lock that Snake can bypass).
Embarrassing Nickname: Snake really hates being referred to as "Old Snake." In cutscenes, being called as such actually takes an entire quarter out of his Psyche gauge.
End of an Age: The game chronicles the end of Solid Snake's career and life, how magic like psychics and ghosts are becoming irrelevant due to advances in science, the end of the original Patriots and their AI successors and the end of an economy only based on war, the end of information being vastly controlled and kept from the public, and more. In many ways, Metal Gear Solid 4 is the Ragnarok of the series.
Enemy Civil War: The first two major areas of the game feature a unique twist for Metal Gear; you're sneaking through a battlefield as two sides shoot at each other. It's possible to get on the good side of the local militia, so they won't go into Alert Mode when they see you, but it still requires you to be careful.
And the original Patriots fighting among themselves is the real reason behind the events of the entire series.
Enemy Detecting Radar: Tweaked heavily from previous incarnations. When Snake crouches and holds still, a "threat ring" appears around him, a sort of wave with spikes depicting nearby enemies. The default mode of his Solid Eye item also detects sounds and other disturbances and puts them on a minimap, but if there's too much wind, gunfire, or interference in the area, its usefulness decreases.
Enemy Scan: The Solid Eye also does this. It's a little hard to see unless you're zoomed-in, but you see the emotional state, affiliation, gun type, health and psyche meter of any soldier you look at. It also counts as a justification for some of the acceptable breaks from reality like seeing the names of items floating over them.
You can also use the Scanning Plug if you capture a soldier in a CQC hold. It will make every soldier linked to him through SOP flash momentarily, allowing you to see every enemy soldier in the area.
Everything Sensor: Scope, IR / NV, threat detector, sound detector, scent detector, object identifier, footprint scanner, emotion sensor...It probably even has one of those things for getting stones out of horses' hooves on it somewhere.
Everybody Was CQC Fighting: Between the events of Metal Gear Solid 2 and Metal Gear Solid 4, Big Boss' files were declassified by the Pentagon, and his CQC techniques became widespread enough that practically every soldier in battle at least knows about it. Snake himself learned CQC directly from Big Boss, but refused to use it in the previous games due to his disrespect for him, although in this game he decides to play along with everyone else, while also being grossly dissatisfied with the enemy soldiers' "cookie-cutter imitation" of CQC.
Everyone Owns A Mac: Thanks to a Product Placement deal with Apple, almost any computer seen in the game is a Mac: There are two PowerMacs on the Nomad alone (one for Otacon and one for Sunny), Otacon is seen using a MacBook in a few cutscenes, and Snake brings a 30-gigabyte iPod with him onto the mission.
Everything's Better with Monkeys: Literally; Kojima thought Drebin was too bland on his own, so he gave him a pet monkey. The monkey's movements were apparently motion-captured by the same motion-capture actor who did Raiden.
Evil Brit: After all the intricate power games and misdirections throughout the series, the ultimate Big Bad of the Metal Gear universe (beyond the pettiness of human government) is Zero. A British man who took control of the American government. Somehow. However, going by EVA's backstory, Zero's a well-intentioned Brit.
Exploding Barrels: Large drums of explodium are present in numerous areas including on the streets of a European city, despite one character mentioning that oil and biofuel are now as valuable as diamonds.
The setting as it's been explored up to this point gives this a justification; it's not that oil and fuel have hit Hubbert's Peak, but that the world devolving into constant conflict in the name of the war economy has simply made it hard to get, along with anything else we take for granted. After all, there hardly seems to be an energy crisis, what with all the stuff requiring fuel working fine, and the PMCs holding down martial law in Prague the Eastern European town would surely need to cart some fuel around for themselves to keep their APCs running.
Not to mention the existence of OILIX, which has yet to be retconned or anything aside from possibly Big Mama's comment about how fuel and other commodities have become as rare as diamonds shortly after the chase/crash in Act 3.
Explosions in Space: Averted. Why does Liquid Ocelot go through all the trouble of implanting REX's railgun on Outer Haven and having it fired as close to target as possible, while in Metal Gear Solid, it's stated that the railgun is strong enough to launch nukes to any target on the globe? It's because a nuke's effective detonating radius in space is only 300 m, while JD is moving at 10 km/s speed, so he needs all the help he can get. Oh, and EMP? It doesn't work in vacuum, either. Shown Their Work indeed.
Exposition Break: Used throughout the game. Many longer breaks are characterized by switching to ambient animation with little to watch, allowing the player to concentrate on the exposition.
Expy: Metal Gear Mk. II, the little robot that Otacon remotely controls to follow Snake around, is imported directly from an older Kojima game, Snatcher. Snatcher's Mk. II was based on the original Metal Gear, so it's a double expy.
Face Ship: Outer Haven has the faces of Solidus Snake, Liquid Snake, Solid Snake and Big Boss on it that resembles Mt. Rushmore. It has been dubbed "Mt. Snakemore" by fans.
Face With An Internet Connection: Averted for the most part with Metal Gear Solid 4's Codec: literally half of the storyline-based Codec calls (ie, Drebin, Raiden, Meryl/Rat Patrol 01) don't actually show the face of the caller. Only Rosemary, Campbell, and Otacon's faces were actually shown in Codec calls, and at least in Otacon's case, it is implied that communications with them were actually utilized via Metal Gear Mk. II/Mk. III.
Fan Disservice: After Snake defeats a BB Corps member, the victory cutscene can be relied upon to spend more time than is really necessary on long, lingering shots of those areas of a woman which are generally considered most attractive, although usually not while the woman in question is sobbing, screaming, vomiting, collapsing into totally unresponsive catatonia, or all of the above. Also of note is that the BB Corps' members Octo Camo suits, no doubt for good and sensible military reasons, switch to "bra, panties, and thigh-high stockings, complete with garter belt" mode during these cutscenes, and also for the "sexy photo shoot" sequence which can take place should Snake unlimber his digital camera during the coda between destroying a BB Corps member's suit and defeating her entirely.
Finger Gun: "Bang! Bang!" This one disables entire armies.
Fingore: During the final boss cutscene, Snake breaks Liquid Ocelot's index finger in order to steal his syringe and pull off a Heroic Second Wind. Liquid, after a moment, simply pops it back into place.
Flynning: Exaggerated in the second fight between Vamp and Raiden, sparks fly as they clash their knives together. Knife fights do not work like that. It would actually be much easier for both of them to aim for each other's body and not their weapon.
Happens again with the final fight between Snake and Liquid, this time with their fists colliding.
It's very easy to miss, but when "Big Boss"'s body is destroyed by Ocelot in Europe, it zooms in on his eye for a second... his right eye. Big Boss's right eye was shot off, which is why he has the eyepatch there. It makes sense later, though, because it's really Solidus' body.
The flowers on The Boss' grave.
Meryl's line about Johnny not being a "team player" after it is explained that the nanomachines help the team function as one is foreshadowing to the fact that he doesn't have nanomachines in him.
Sunny tells Naomi that her Sunny Side Up eggs are a form a fortune telling (the better the eggs, the better the mission outcome). Throughout the game, it's made clear that she's not very good at cooking eggs. During the montage of everyone battling/struggling during the microwave hallway scene she celebrates because they came out well.
In Metal Gear Solid 2, we saw Ocelot being possessed by Liquid, and Liquid had his own, easily recognizable voice whenever he spoke through Ocelot. Come this game, this never happens even though Liquid is supposed to be permanently in control of Ocelot, because Ocelot has since removed Liquid's arm and is faking it. However, see Real Life Writes the Plot below.
During the final battle, all of the flashbacks seen in the transitions between phases of the battle are flashbacks of Ocelot, and never of Liquid Snake. Furthermore, one of the flashbacks goes to the events of Metal Gear Solid 3, which Liquid was never involved in.
Framing Device: As suggested by the post-credits voiceover, which in the Metal Gear Solid games is reserved for information that forces mindblowing recontextualization of the games' plots:
Otacon: You said it yourself, Snake. There's nothing inside you can pass on to the next generation. No genes, no memes... You're man-made... You're a beast.
Snake: I know... A blue rose. There won't be any happy "Beauty and the Beast" ending for me. What little time I have left will be spent living... As a beast. A shadow of the inside... Of the old age.
Otacon: Exactly. That's why you need me. As a witness.
Snake: A witness?
Otacon: Yeah. Someone on the outside to bear witness to your final days. Someone to pass on your story... Not that I'm the only witness. But I'll remember everything you were... And stick with you to the end.
For the Evulz: Liquid Ocelot takes a turn towards this in the second half of the game, what with the finger machine gun charades and making "nah nah nah boo boo" gestures at Snake while running away.
Gainaxing: In Metal Gear Online, female characters' breasts jiggle with every movement as if they were made of Jell-o.
Not to mention Naomi, Rosemary (shake the controller to make them bounce to your heart's content) and the BB Corps.
Gallows Humor: Snake's response to the reveal of Outer Haven's microwave hallway is:
"You'd have to have a death wish to go in there. Sounds like the perfect job for me."
Gameplay and Story Segregation: Snake's inventory can be up to 70 weapons, but he'll usually stick to the M4 Custom with no mods or the Operator with no silencer in cutscenes, with other weapons rarely acknowledged. Mods do occasionally show up, however. Also, Snake's worsening health in the cutscenes has far less significance once you get to the actual game, except when your Psyche gets too low.
Gangsta Style: Justified - the model of gun it's used with is for a tactical purpose.
Generation Xerox: Overlaps with Book Ends. Naked Snake fighting (and eventually killing) The Boss essentially marked the conflicts of the series. It ended with Old Snake defeating Ocelot, who are the sons of Naked Snake and The Boss (clone in case of the former), respectively.
Going Through the Motions: While the cutscenes themselves are lovingly and intricately motion-captured, the Codec animations use a set of pre-determined gestures repeated again and again. It's particularly amusing whenever Otacon pokes the bridge of his nose even when he's not wearing glasses, purely out of habit.
Although the above example is justified by being Truth in Television: People mostly using glasses will tend to "correct" their glasses even when using contacts.
Grand Finale: The entire game is this for the Metal Gear saga. Practically every major plot thread is tied up, and every surviving character from the previous games has some role in it. For the game itself, the assault on Outer Haven is the Grand Finale.
Groin Attack: You can knock out a male enemy by crushing their balls. Performing it on a FROG, however, turns it into a grope and a very angry FROG.
Strangely enough, the Gekkos are apparently vulnerable to groin attacks, as there is a plate right between their legs that states that they shouldn't attack this part.
Gun Accessories: A fair percentage of the guns can equip custom parts like flashlights and scopes, using a mounting point-based system with up to five possible accessories on a given gun (barrel, handguard left / right, underbarrel, scope). There's also a fair few weapons with non-detachable scopes. The sheer number of attachments you can stick onto the M4 Custom makes it basically the single best weapon for most players.
Gun Porn: If a weapon has appeared in a previous Metal Gear game, but has previously been unavailable to the player, you can damn well bet that it's available in this game.
Guns Do Not Work That Way: The Javelin. The real missile is a self-guided fire-and-forget system while in game it's command guided for its entire course, and when reloading you're supposed to detach the CLU and attach it to the next tube, not throw the entire launcher away.
Hand Cannon: Three examples available to the player. The standard and long barrel Desert Eagles are pretty much to be expected. Then there's the Thor .45-70.
Heal Thyself: Resting in hidden areas in Metal Gear Solid 4 restores health. Also, there are at least two iPod songs that specifically increase Old Snake's recovery rate. Those songs are essential for getting 100% Completion, as using healing items otherwise lowers one's final score.
Heroic RROD: After going through a whole game's worth of physical trauma, including multiple seizures, a stab wound, electrocution, shoulder dislocation, on top of being very, very old and nowhere near peak physical condition, Snake finally hits his limit just outside of the microwave corridor. As Naomi puts it, "The only thing keeping you together is the strength of your will."
Heroic Second Wind: During the final boss fight, Snake is initially outmatched by Liquid and ends up on the receiving end of a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown, but when Liquid gets tired and whips out a syringe to use it on himself, Snake breaks one of his fingers, swipes the syringe, and uses it on himself.
Honest John: Drebin 893 is a deconstruction of the trope. His deals in regards to laundered weapons are actually very beneficial and not rip-offs, and it is hinted that he's the reason Snake is able to use certain weapons (IE: The Milkor MGL-140), and the one line he will not cross is betraying his customers. However, he does have some tendencies of the trope: Namely secretly injecting Snake with transmitters to spy on him, and a FOXHOUND base under Patriot orders.
How Much More Can He Take: The final battle between Snake and Ocelot is a seemingly endless fist-fight which has both combatants dishing out and taking incredible beatings. The fight takes place as much in cutscenes as in gameplay, and at the end, both Snake and Ocelot look like they can barely stand, not to mention fight.
Ho Yay: Vamp and Raiden in Act 2. Who do they think they're kidding?
Human Weapon: taken to its logical conclusion with the SOP system, where the economy has become utterly dependent on constant war, and nanomachines ensure that the soldiers used are utterly under control.
Hyperspace Arsenal: You can carry seventy weapons, but only five at a time in the quick-access menu. Taken to the point of intentional parody with the oil drum, which is larger than Snake himself. Supposedly you access this equipment through your Robot Buddy and keep equipped items in your invisible backpack but given the Metal Gears buddies are about half a foot tall and one of the guns is the size of a motorcyle, this really makes no sense whatsoever. There is, however, a downside to carrying too much heavy stuff in your "active" inventory at one time; you get tired quicker and your running speed slows.
I Cannot Self-Terminate: Snake has decided he cannot die until he completes his mission, in spite it being quite clear he has very little left to live for, is aging so rapidly that he'll die within the year, and will become a literalPerson of Mass Destruction within a few months. Of course, the latter turns out to be false
I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: As per series tradition, averted with flying colors. Practically everyone in this game practices trigger discipline, even if they're just using their gun to threaten each other. Snake in particular practices incredibly good gun safety much of the time: he carefully engages the safety whenever putting one rifle down, and he's very cautious around new guns; the intro has him very gently testing a fallen rifle with his knife for booby traps (an occasional tactic used by guerrilla fighters) before picking it up; later he field-strips the M4 before actually accepting it.
There is one instance where the trope is played straight besides Johnny, however: At one point, there were two Middle Eastern militiamen bragging about gaining a laundered HK 21 E from a gun launderer (implied to be Drebin), and one of them is clearly shown ignoring a lot of gun safety rules while bragging about it by waving it around in front of his friend, as can be seen here◊.
If I Wanted You Dead...: When Big Boss and Snake meet again during the debriefing, Snake quickly draws his gun at him and assumes that he's back to settle the score. After a few tense moments of holding one another at gunpoint, Big Boss drops his gun, easily overpowers Snake, and gives him a combination Cooldown Hug/Final First Hug, softly reassuring his last living son that he didn't come all this way to pick a fight.
Infinite Supplies: Drebin can sell you as much ammo as you can pay for. On harder difficulties, however, he doesn't sell non-lethal ammo, which means if you're going for the Big Boss emblem you'll need to actually find tranq ammo and use it sparingly.
Infinity–1 Sword: The VSS more than falls into this category; it's a powerful selective-fire sniper weapon that has a scope and an integral silencer that never runs out, and it only requires that you go a little out of your way in Act 2 to get it. The P90, M14 EBR and M4 Custom are also candidates, since all three are extremely capable and easy to get hold of, and don't require rare ammo; all three can also be silenced. Unless you're doing a no-kills run, you'll probably be using some combination of the above more often than not.
Infinity+1 Sword: The Barrett M82A2 is one of the most expensive weapons in the game (only the Lethal Joke Item costs more) and it's unlikely you'll get hold of it before Act 4 at the earliest. It's also ridiculously powerful, one-shotting Gekko and demolishing bosses. Heck, even the description says, "Recommended by Hideo Kojima!"
Informed Equipment: Otacon's description of the inventory says Snake stores weapons he has equipped but isn't using in his backpack. Snake isn't actually wearing a backpack. He's wearing heavy combat webbing, but unless those pockets are hyper-dimensional, he ain't fitting a rocket launcher in there.
Having Metal Gear Mk. II carry all his equipment is a little more logical, except that Mk. II is still pretty tiny, so it can't exactly haul a giant rail gun around whenever Snake isn't using it.
Instant Awesome, Just Add Mecha: The mech battle at the end of Act 4. Piloting REX proves why Otacon's design was the most badass weapon ever developed in a semi-realistic setting.
Besides MAYBE the final boss battle, it´s easily the most awesome fight in the entire series. The music is also an extreme example of Crowning Music of Awesome.
Insurmountable Waist High Fence: Some of the things used to block off routes fall into this category; rubble is often easily low enough to climb over, and it's only not possible to backtrack into Naomi's lab because Snake can't be bothered to climb through the windows.
Interrupted Suicide: Inverted. Big Boss witnesses Snake attempt suicide at the end, but doesn't actually try to stop him; Snake stops himself from doing so, and Big Boss commends him for it.
It's Not You, It's Me: It's heavily implied that the reason why Raiden left Rose was because he was started to become haunted even further by his Posttraumatic Stress Disorder from his days as a Child Soldier.
Jiggle Physics: Several characters, most notably Rose; tilting the Sixaxis during a Codec call with her makes her breasts bounce. Beyond that, the jiggle is mostly only noticeable during the occasions when the suit-less BB Corps start writhing in agony, which is exactly the one time jiggle physics would be called for (and they don't even have large breasts). This is also present in every female character in Metal Gear Online, with boobs that act more like Jell-O.
Kansas City Shuffle: A fiendishly complicated one is pulled off by Ocelot, EVA and Naomi in order to destroy the Patriots and revive Big Boss.
Knife Nut: Several! Vamp, the "wizard with knives," returns to torment us (and is unsurprisingly good with them in Metal Gear Online). Raiden uses some knife-fu of his own to face him, but sparingly. Screaming Mantis has six extra cybernetic arms and can throw around knives with all of them.
Snake might qualify, if players pay attention to his left hand. He never really puts away that knife of his either. Bonus points for actually using it a couple times in cutscenes too. A bit ironic as well, as he mentioned in Metal Gear Solid 2 that he is not a fan of blades. On the other hand, Snake is now using CQC again as taught to him by Big Boss himself. And as Naked Snake explained in Metal Gear Solid 3, the knife is an integral part of CQC and often the better weapon in close proximity encounters.
Know When to Fold 'Em: In a cutscene during Act 1, when the Middle Eastern militiamen's cavalry arrives in the form of a BMP-3 Infantry Fighting Vehicle, one of the Praying Mantis soldiers were seen throwing a smoke grenade while fleeing with his comrades, having evidentially realized that their chances of taking down the militiamen shrank dramatically at that moment and wisely called in a tactical retreat.
Kudzu Plot: There are some minor plot details which aren't completely resolved even by the game's conclusion.
Dr. Drago Pettrovich Madnar, the man who developed the first ever Metal Gear unit, TX-55 (until it turned out it wasn't the first), is casually referenced as still being alive, and was even integral to Raiden's survival as a cyborg. How / What? How did he survive? How did he escape Zanzibar Land? Why is Snake not surprised to discover this after Madnar betrayed him in Zanzibar Land?
Lampshade Hanging: On Shadow Moses, there are a whole stack of conversations with Otacon about sillier aspects of the original game, including trying to fight a tank with hand grenades, fighting an attack helicopter solo, and the fact that the Nikita missile's powerplant and guidance would be so complicated there'd barely be room for a warhead.
A subtle one in Act 5, when Meryl asks Johnny why Mantis couldn't control him, and he tells her that he guesses Mantis' control is actually nanomachine hacking, and he has no nanomachines, Meryl asks him if he knew this was going to happen as if she's expecting yet another layer of Gambit Roulette.
Hint: He had no idea. He's just afraid of needles.
Lap Pillow: After Raiden has his breakdown in the Act 4 briefing and collapses, Sunny immediately goes to him and puts his head in her lap. Despite the circumstances, it actually is pretty cute.
Snake: "I can't describe the sensation. It's like I died and restarted the mission. I also get the sense that I'm watching myself from a distance... over my own shoulder..."
Legacy Boss Battle: Crying Wolf carries the legacy of Sniper Wolf, and Screaming Mantis is literally possessed by Psycho Mantis; both of their fights are reminiscent of the originals, but with new twists. Crying Wolf even fights you in the same snowy canyon that Sniper Wolf did, and arms herself with a sniping rail cannon. Screaming Mantis employs People Puppets to control Meryl's actions—first she uses Meryl to shoot at you, then threatens to make Meryl shoot herself, just like Psycho Mantis did.
Legacy Character: Each of the Metal Gear games (except the original and Metal Gear Solid 3, which was set in the past) had a different Cyborg Ninja. Raiden's the new Cyborg Ninja in this one. He was gearing up towards this by the end of Metal Gear Solid 2 anyway, as he had already inherited the Absurdly Sharp Blade.
Lethal Joke Item: The Tanegashima costs a million Drebin points; for this, you get a muzzle-loading single-shot musket which can only be reloaded standing up. Seems useless, until you realize that firing outdoors has a one-in-three chance of producing a gigantic whirlwind that blankets a massive area with item drops.
Life or Limb Decision: Done by Raiden in Act 4, though it was really more of a decision between Snake's life and his limb.
Loads and Loads of Installing: The game uninstalls and reinstalls large amounts of data between each major chapter of the game, which can take up to six minutes at a time, even after the regular 8-minute installation at the very start. This does make the chapters otherwise seamless, though.
Although you do install each Act separately, the game does have a loading time after entering and exiting virtually every area. Granted it's only a second or two each time, but it is annoying nonetheless since you have to press the start button after most of the loading times.
By the time of the trophy patch at least, there is now the option to install all five Acts at once, which takes about sixteen minutes.
This also comes with a nice reference from Snake himself once it finishes and the player presses Start.
Lost in Translation: "La Li Lu Le Lo" are missing vowel sounds in Japanese; the point of the name is that it's not technically possible to write or say it in Hiragana (because there's no distinction between "L" and "R" and the string is usually "Ra Ri Ru Re Ro"), so the Patriots censor their name to something that can't be written down or spoken. This is never really gone into in the dub (since English doesn't do that), so it just seems to be meaningless babble.
Snake: So it's technology, then, not magic? Otacon: With technology this advanced, who can tell the difference?
The Magic Goes Away: There's a noticeable transition in the series between characters who have clearly supernatural abilities like the Cobras to characters who have nothing technology doesn't give them, like the BB Corps. Vamp seems to be the transition between the two personified, with supernatural healing that is nonetheless augmented by technology, and Charles Atlas Superpowers that let him dodge bullets through practiced skills with added technology to let him run up walls (though his ability to run on water and swim in the non-buoyant Life Reaction Pool isn't explained). His presence in this game next to the all-tech BB Corps creates a sense that the magic-users are the old guard, on the way out and being replaced by something new.
Let's see... first, there's the obvious Liquid Ocelot controlling several PMCs from behind the scene while the Patriots run the American side of things, along with several other PMCs. Then, it turns out that Patriots don't really exist and are, in fact, a self-perpetuating set of non-sapient AIs routinely continuing obsolete orders set up by Zero after he lost faith in humanity. It also turns out even later that Liquid Ocelot, who supposedly is trying to take Big Boss's place in legend and Zero's in power, and who it is said again and again is Ocelot's body taken over by Liquid's arm, is actually Ocelot pretending to be Liquid mind-controlling Ocelot. And it turns out this was all part of a plan by Ocelot and EVA to remove the Patriots from power and rescue Big Boss from his artificially induced coma. It works.
A more local, less-convoluted man behind the man reveals that the psychic commander of the BB Corps, Screaming Mantis, is herself the puppet of the psychic influence of an older Mantis.
May-December Romance: Campbell and Rose. Needless to say, it disgusts both Meryl and Raiden; even Snake, who has a history as a Handsome Lech, calls him out on it. It's to make sure the Patriots aren't going to go after Little John.
Meaningful Name: Not a character but rather a level. The first two acts of the game are called Liquid Sun and Solid Sun so it seems logical to call the third act Third Sun but it's also a hint that the chapter revolves around the third of Big Boss's clones, Solidus Snake. Of course, the player doesn't realize this until the end of the game. Also, the fourth act is called Twin Suns, and takes place on Shadow Moses Island, the setting of Metal Gear Solid, as well as its remake, The Twin Snakes.
Mechanical Monster: The Gekko are as much life-form as machine; they're about as smart as an animal, make appropriate sounds when they're in distress, and, of course, have organic legs. They also follow the basic use of the Mechanical Monster trope in that they are much more dangerous and intimidating than a simple robot would be.
Meta Casting: Both Akio Ohtsuka (Snake's Japanese voice actor) and his father, Chikao Ohtsuka, happened to be accomplished voice actors in their own right, so the latter was a perfect fit for Big Boss in the Japanese version.
Mexican Standoff: During the debriefing, Snake and Big Boss get in one for a minute before Big Boss drops his gun.
Mind Rape: On a new game plus, you can purchase ammunition that influences the emotions of the soldiers you shoot. You can cause them to become enraged, terrified, sad, or hysterical (mimicking the emotions of the BB Corps).
Mind Screwdriver: This game more or less makes sense out of pretty much everything that happened, especially in the ending, of Metal Gear Solid 2.
Molotov Cocktail: Used frequently in Act 1 under the name "petrol bomb" (which is the technical name for them).
Monster Clown: Not in Metal Gear Solid 4 itself, but the add on Metal Gear Online invoked this with the "Clown" facepaint (note, the point of Metal Gear Online was to fight against other soldiers resulting in either the soldiers being killed or knocked unconscious).
Mood Whiplash: Be it the entire game, coming after the often light-hearted and goofy Metal Gear Solid 3, the scene where after a big, serious fight scene Ocelot and Snake re-enact the "FOXDIE" scene from the original and then Ocelot runs away giggling while Snake falls over, or the disturbing use of Zero, previously a frequent source of light-hearted humor.
Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: You can hardly get any more morally ambiguous than Naomi. In the first game, she was tricked into becoming a pawn for the Patriots, but in Metal Gear Solid 4, she's completely aware of what she's doing, but we never learn what it exactly was she was trying to do until right after FOXALIVE spreads throughout the Patriots' AIs and takes them offline.
In the Nostalgia Level, if you mess with the camera so it's over Snake's head, he'll comment that it's "just like the old days!" He has the same comment if you equip the SOCOM.
If you pay attention, you'll notice Snake always manually pulls the charging handle or slide of his gun to eject a round after reloading. This is the same "Middle East Technique" that backfired on Ocelot in Metal Gear Solid 3, except here, it's a technique of habit, instead of vanity.
The Solar Gun, when fully charged, can take out Vamp in one hit. This is because it's from the Boktai/Lunar Knights games, where the weapon is designed to kill vampires.
Ed and Jonathan, Meryl's two squad mates in Rat Patrol 01, are named after the protagonists of Policenauts, Kojima's previous game where Meryl first appeared.
Nausea Fuel: In-universe. Snake's Codec call to Otacon while hiding in a trash can/dumpster. When Otacon asks Snake how he knows how it is where the household dumps their waste, Snake explains in full, such as it smelling bad from last nights leftovers from dinner, as well as bugs crawling around his face, apparently roaches, a lot of them, as well as something crawling up his leg, leaving Otacon completely grossed out by the end. When questioned by Otacon whether he even feels sick from this, Snake mentions that he's perfectly willing to even crawl into a toilet as long as it at least allows him to hide from the enemy effectively.
Nerf: It's a numerical nerf rather than a functionality nerf. The game is abundant with robots big and small that want to destroy you. The series' anti-technology weapon, chaff grenades, would therefore be of immense use in this game. Unfortunately they're so rare you're likely to only find three of them in one playthrough.
Never Got to Say Goodbye: Naomi, EVA/Big Mama, and Ocelot all went out of their way to revive Big Boss, and all three of them died before they ever got to see him again.
New Game+: Everything you got in previous playthroughs is available as soon as Snake finds the Mk. II. There are also unlockable rewards for completing the game in certain ways.
New Media Are Evil: The Patriots are all for perpetuating the constant state of war globally, using those terrible first person shooters to indoctrinate people as soldiers.
New Powers as the Plot Demands: Given Fortune and now Raiden, we can safely say you can gain superpowers in the Metal Gear universe just by really, really wanting to have them.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In Act 1, Liquid's Haven Troopers track down Snake and Rat Patrol by seeing the sunlight reflect off of Johnny/Akiba's binocular lens, leading to a brief Heroic BSOD from Akiba.
Nintendo Hard: To get the best goodies and the "Big Boss" emblem, you need to beat the game in 5 hours, without dying (you can save-scum, though), causing no alerts, and using only non-lethal weaponry (except against robots), on the hardest possible difficulty level, using no healing items. You can try to lay down to recharge slightly in a few missions, but good freaking luck getting through the rail shooter missions in one piece, especially the one in Europe. For extra annoyance, you can't purchase any non-lethal ammo from Drebin on the hardest difficulty mode, too. Yikes.
If one is careful to meet the proper prerequisites on prior playthroughs, this becomes much easier. Healing music tracks for the iPod can greatly speed up Snake's health recovery time without counting as "healing items" for score purposes. The Solar Gun, normally Awesome, but Impractical for its (literally) flashy use, becomes a godsend for rail shooting segments, where its noticability is a non-issue.
No Communities Were Harmed: The "Middle East" is somewhere in Maghreb (possibly Morocco, as seen in the credits), "Eastern Europe" is quite obviously Prague, Czech Republic and "South America" is somewhat less obviously Peru, but the countries are never named (outside of the credits). The only location explicitly stated matter-of-factly is the fictional Shadow Moses Island, the only new section of which is the interior of a Japanese steel mill.
No Fourth Wall: It got to the point of Lampshade Hanging: during Act 4, Otacon calls Snake and tells him to put in Disc 2. Then he remembers that, because the game is on a dual-layer Blu-ray disc, there is no Disc 2 (Snake tells Otacon to stop fooling around, while players freak out due to the exact location of this conversation). Then, when Psycho Mantis shows up again, he tries to pull the same tricks. However, he can't read your memory since the PS3 doesn't have a memory card, and he can only make the controller vibrate if the player is using the DualShock 3. And again in the previous boss fight, where the Colonel recommends using the same tricks against a different psychic boss, only to have them all shot down. The Colonel even nonchalantly explains to Rose that they beat Psycho Mantis with controller-based tactics.
If you remembered Metal Gear Solid and try to switch controllers again, Snake calls Otacon and tells him he can't move. Then Otacon berates Snake and the player for thinking the same tricks would actually work again.
The first cardboard box you see has "No place for Hideo" printed on it, which was a throwback to when Kojima claimed he wasn't working on Metal Gear anymore.
No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Ocelot to Snake at the end of Act 3. Snake gets his own back at Ocelot later at the end of Act 5, however.
Nostalgia Level: The entire fourth act, plus at least one nostalgia boss fight in Act 5. In Act 4, Snake returns to Shadow Moses, the setting of Metal Gear Solid. He even has a dream before getting there where the player plays a portion of the original game, and when you die in Act 4, the Game Over music from the original game is played.
The aforementioned boss fight, on the other hand, was intended as a callback to the Liquid fight in Metal Gear Solid, except instead of fighting with Liquid on top of the ruins of Metal Gear REX, you're fighting with Liquid Ocelot on top of the ruins of Outer Haven. The fight goes through all four Metal Gear Solid games phase-by-phase, changing Ocelot's fighting style, life bar and background music to match each game, until the very end where the fight boils down to two old men throwing very slow haymakers at one another.
Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Both played straight and averted. The Praying Mantis and Pieuvre Armement troops themselves do not have a British or French accent, respectively. However, the female PA Announcers for each of them do possess a pretty articulate accent representing each PMCs nationalities. Also, the Middle Eastern soldiers seemed to speak with a slight accent (at the very least, they sounded deeper and more gruff than the other characters).
Possibly justified at least in the case of the latter: in the 7th Circle game show, it's mentioned that Pieuvre Armement at the time of the game employs a bigger armed force than the populations of Mexico and Canada combined, which according to current data, would be equivalent to roughly double the entire population of France, meaning they (and thus presumably Preying Mantis as well) employ mostly foreigners, much like the French Foreign Legion.
Not So Different: Briefly discussed by Drebin at the end. He tells Otacon that the United Nations will now likely play an important role in stabilizing the world in the coming years, now that the Patriots' demise has caused a massive political vacuum. He cynically notes that, as a giant political body committed to uniting the world under one government, the UN really isn't that different from the Patriots.
Obi-Wan Moment: Big Mama and Big Boss' deaths. Whilst the former admittedly experiences a great deal of stress beforehand, both have a quiet moment to reconcile with their son. Big Mama even mentions her love for David as she dies in his arms, whilst Big Boss admits his respect for Snake whilst he has one last smoke.
"This is good, isn't it?"
One Last Smoke: Big Boss has his last cigar lit by Old Snake as he sits dying near The Boss's grave. Also counts as one last smoke for Snake, as he decides to quit smoking afterwards.
Only 0.2% Different: Solid Snake and Liquid Snake are retconned into being 0.2% different, to explain why Snake's FOXDIE infection isn't killing him. This leads to plot holes seeing as 0.2% difference is actually significantly larger in genetic terms than the practical difference between Solid and Liquid (who are identical twins).
Overly-Long Gag: The soldiers cock their guns and point them at Ocelot's boat! Gasp! Then... The soldiers cock their guns and point them at Ocelot's boat! Gasp! Then... Repeat so many times you start to wonder if this is how the series is going to end.
Pacifist Run: You receive a lower score at the end if you kill everything, and no-kill runs are required to unlock special weapons and certain Emblems.
The Password Is Always Swordfish: It's possible to make out the password Johnny keys in to shut off the laser grid as an all-lowercase "meryl (something)," presumably "meryl silverburgh."
Pet Peeve Trope: Kojima really hates changing discs in the middle of a game, as is evidenced by an in-universe Codec conversation celebrating Blu-ray.
Playing Gertrude: David Hayter's performance as Old Snake is a voice acting example. After spending years voicing a thirty-something Snake, his performance in Metal Gear Solid 4 makes Snake's accelerated aging very believable.
Playing Possum: Snake can now play dead, either by lying down and relaxing his body, or remaining motionless after being knocked over by an attack. Enemies who are actively searching for him will check bodies though, giving them a little kick as they pass by, so this ability is mostly useful when Snake wants to be overlooked during a larger battle between PMCs forces and their enemies, where no one has time to check the bodies anyway. Alternatively, if Snake lies down among a bunch of already present bodies, patroling soldiers might simply consider him another corpse on the pile.
Playing with Syringes: Vamp, it turns out, was an experiment by the Patriots developed out of the very same nanomachines Naomi developed for Metal Gear Solid and it is this which allows him his Healing Factor. Also, it is revealed that Naomi has a lesser version of this, which keeps her cancer under control. Somewhat Narmified by the fact that as soon as she suppresses her nanomachines, she dies.
Potty Failure: Next generation technology means the series' running gag of people wetting themselves can be one-upped with a scene of a man shitting his pants. Um, thanks Kojima.
Precision F-Strike: Laughing Octopus delivers quite possibly the first f-bomb in the entire franchise (or at the very least the first f-bomb to make it past localization in the English version), which makes it just that much more unsettling.
During Snake and Otacon's discussion of the tank battle in Metal Gear Solid:
Otacon: ...Now I know it. You're nuts! Single-handedly taking out a tank? That's crazy! You're insane!
Old Snake:(annoyed) Otacon, is this your idea of a compliment?
Otacon: Yes! You're the toughest, craziest, most hardcore badass on the planet. You're... the shit!
"Say 'Good night!'" Pieuvre Armement soldier, just before pulling the trigger and executing a rebel soldier after the latter was captured.
Product Placement: The iPod and MacBook, Playboy, Regain, PlayStation 3, and even Assassin's Creed are all prominently promoted in the game. Sunny can be seen playing with a PSP during the briefings, as well (and the game she's playing is the first one Kojima ever made). Apparently Red Bull was also planned to be used, but was replaced with fictional "Narc Cola".
Bland-Name Product: "Narc" is the shortened name of one of the skills in online. You can actually find this alot in online only maps, all of them taking off ether references, thunderbolt coffee. In case you can't tell, it's referencing Volgin from the third game, and then general product tags in the mall area.
Private Military Contractors: One of the themes in the game. With first world countries bogged down in other affairs, corporate mercenaries are a cheap, reliable, and expendable way of waging war for the most pointless of reasons.
Reality Is Unrealistic: When using weapon-mounted flashlights, Snake only turns them on for a seemingly-useless split second rather than keeping them on as with Metal Gear Solid 2's USP taclight. This is actually how you're supposed to use a flashlight; it's called "light discipline" and prevents you screwing up your night vision or giving your enemy a nice bright target to shoot at.
This is situational. Inside a building, a light is almost always on. Outside, it is never on unless you hear or see something that needs to be revealed now.
Also, one of the criticisms of the game was the inclusion of the iPod as an item for blatant product placement purposes. However, militaries in real life do actually use the iPod during combat. For instance, the BulletFlight application for iPod Touch, which covers bullet trajectory calculations, are used by real world snipers.
Real Life Writes the Plot: Ocelot's "Liquid Ocelot" persona was created because Kōji Totani, Revolver Ocelot's Japanese voice actor, died prior to the production of the game, resulting in the recasting to Banjō Ginga (the Japanese voice of Liquid Snake) for the role.
Bizarrely, the English version went with Patric Zimmerman (Ocelot) voicing Liquid Ocelot, despite that Cam Clarke (Liquid) had voiced the Liquid Ocelot persona in Metal Gear Solid 2.
Possibly a Woolseyism applied to literary devices; the fact that Liquid spoke with his own voice in Metal Gear Solid 2 but always sounds like Ocelot in Metal Gear Solid 4 is a giant hint that it's Ocelot all along, to the point where many players aren't surprised at all.
The U.S. Army/Marine Corps task force (though they later fend off a horde of FROGS).
The rebel militia in the Middle East in the beginning of the game. They have a tendency to get mowed down in droves, both in-cutscene and out.
Relationship Voice Actor: In the Japanese version, Big Boss is voiced by Chikao Ohtsuka and Solid Snake is voiced by Akio Ohtsuka, the father and the son, respectively. Word of God stated that this was deliberately invoked because they weren't on speaking terms prior to this.
Respawning Enemies: A subtler version than you'll usually notice. Enemies will enter battlegrounds by hopping over fences, cliffs and whatnot to replace their dead comrades. This means that between rebels and PMCs there will be effectively limitless fighting unless you intervene, and sometimes even then. One incentive for a Pacifist Run is that tranquilized enemies are not replaced.
Retcon: This game does a lot of them. Not only does the story develop in a way which invalidates many plot points in earlier games, but it also retcons its own continuity for the ending.
Re Vision: Metal Gear Solid 4 does this to all the previous games, providing backstory that links Metal Gear Solid 3 with the more distantly connected Metal Gear Solid and Metal Gear Solid 2, in addition to the first two games. See Mind Screwdriver for more details.
Snake turns out to be extremely competent at CQC, which he learned from Big Boss himself. The reason why he doesn't use CQC in earlier games is reluctance to use Big Boss's technique, and the reason he starts using it is that soldiers knowing CQC is common now that Big Boss's files have been declassified.
Right Place, Right Time, Wrong Reason: Johnny turns out to be immune to the nasty side effects that arise when the nanomachines are shut down by the Big Bad, and this later allows him to have a big damn hero moment in rescuing Meryl, all because he never got the nanomachine injections in the first place. Meryl asks him how he knew something like Liquid's hijacking of the system would happen, and Johnny says he didn't. He was just so afraid of needles he avoided all the mandatory injections.
Rule of Symbolism: Sunny's eggs, as their condition represents (and sometimes foreshadows) the progression of the Snakes. For example, "Act 3 — Third Sun" has Sunny cracking one single yolk egg and one double yolk egg, alluding to third, non-twin brother Solidus Snake and his return.
Additionally, she cooks eggs one-sided and uncovered as a type of fortune telling. Throughout the plot, she constantly makes bad eggs as things keep getting worse for Snake; when things start looking up in the conclusion, however, she finally makes decent eggs.
Running Gag: Anytime anyone take a swig of Narc Cola, they belch, even the female characters and the monkey.
Sanity Has Advantages: The BB Corps are all psychologically damaged. Rose points out that this probably doesn't help their combat abilities and that only a monster would put such broken people on the front line, especially since they'll eventually break down completely and be useless. Snake agrees on all points, but he also notes that it's to his advantage if they're not fighting at their full combat effectiveness.
The series' normal use of a dramatic name scream is inverted near the end of Metal Gear Solid 4 when the Dwarf Gekkos start piling on Snake, which causes him to scream for Otacon, rather then the inverse as usually happens. This also happens earlier, when he gets half of his face burned very badly.
Sequel Non-Entity: Nastasha Romanenko is the only surviving character from previous games who does not appear in Metal Gear Solid 4.
Sequel Reset: Metal Gear Solid 2 had established by the Plant chapter that Snake had been framed as an ecoterrorist by the Patriots and that the entire world believed him dead. Here, characters like Campbell and Meryl not only know he's still alive and didn't do what he was accused of, they barely register surprise to see him; Campbell even tracks Snake down himself to ask him to deal with Liquid.
Serious Business: Metal Gear Online is arguably more in-depth than other games that have multiplayer, in that matches are not randomly made from a set of pre-established rules, you create a character with their own name (you don't use your PSN name) and each game can be tweaked greatly to the host's choosing. There are even "official" matches — Tournament and Survival, which award players in-game points they can use to customize their character. Consequently, there is still a decently sized community that plays the game, even 3 years after its release. However, some people will deliberately lag the game...and recently have even gone so far as using a Direct Denial of Service attack to force other players off PSN.
Shirtless Scene: Snake gets one in Act 2 when Naomi performs an extensive medical exam on him. Of course, given his accelerated aging, it's more along the lines of Fan Disservice, and Naomi reacts with horror at the sight and is reduced to tears at what is happening to him.
Show Within a Show: Upon starting a new game, players will see a variety of expensive, live-action short clips from television shows that (more or less) take place within the Metal Gear universe, followed by advertisements for various PMCs. They include a grotesque cooking show, a "paid programming" segment advertising a workout regiment with nanomachine enhancement, a Discovery Channel-like show about Octopi and so forth. The most memorable of them all is David Hayter (playing himself) being interviewed by a bizarre talk show host played by Lee Merriweather.
Shout-Out: To all sorts of stuff. A few examples below:
Drebin's name comes from the protagonist of The Naked Gun. This is because he sells "naked guns" without ID locks on them.
The Rat Patrol refers to the old show of the same name, a group of soldiers who would patrol the desert.
Kill enough guys with a knife, and you unlock Altaïr's outfit from Assassin's Creed. This isn't the only time the series references Assassin's Creed, either; they do it again in Peace Walker with the Assassin's Straw Box. Kojima apparently is a big fan of Assassin's Creed.
Also, some bonus weapons in a second playthrough have either grenades that emit colored smoke that causes a victim to emit an emotion relating to the color of the smoke, or shoot the enemy with a special type of ammo that has them undergoing a certain emotion, depending on the ammo's color, when shot with it. The yellow smoke grenades/yellow ammunition behave in a very similar fashion to a certain trademark toxin used by The Joker.
Speaking of Batman-related references, Snake and several of Liquid Ocelot's PMCs having to inject themselves with syringes in order to suppress their nanomachines enough to not be driven insane by the hacking of SOP or their nanos malfunctioning/being manipulated and driving them insane is similar to the Fear Toxin vaccine, as well as Batman, Rachel, and Lieutenant Gordon's use of the vaccination when infected with fear toxin in Batman Begins.
Also, after Liquid Ocelot's failed attempt at hijacking the SOP system in the Middle East causes all SOP-linked soldiers in the area to experience uncontrolled emotions boiling up relating to their participation in the battlefield, the Rat Patrol member Ed is seen laughing maniacally. This isn't the only "Ed" who often laughed maniacally.
Speaking of the Rat Patrol, two of its members are named Ed and Jonathan, as in Ed Brown and Jonathan Ingram from Policenauts, right down to their Japanese voice actors and even quoting Policenauts Ed and Policenauts Jonathan's final lines from that game. To add to that, Meryl now wears a bullet earring just like her Policenauts self.
Sleep It Off: Your health will regenerate at a very slow rate over time, but if you want to recharge fast, find a nice, shady spot out of the sun and just lie down. As long as there aren't any nearby explosions driving your stress meter up, anyway.
Smoking Is Cool: Okay, it's pretty cool to see Snake light up in the beginning (he even has a storage container for half-finished cigarettes) but this trope becomes cruelly subverted as it goes on; a guy who's coughing up his lungs, sucking on an oxygen mask, and still keeps asking for a light is not cool.
Soundtrack Dissonance: You can pick which songs you want playing in the background with the game's iPod. This means you can have this song playing during tense, life-threatening situations.
Unfortunately, skipping all but a few will rob you of the free Drebin Points you could otherwise gain through flashbacks.
The ending is by far the longest cutscenes ever made according to Guinness World Records. It has a total combined running time of seventy-one minutes. This is almost the length of a standard movie.
A skilled player can complete all the actual game play in far less time than it takes to view the cutscenes. For example, the extensive series of cutscenes that ends Act 3 runs about twice as long as the complete "follow the resistance member" and "shoot from the motorcycle" elements of the act.
Sympathy for the Devil: Rose expresses pity for the B&B Corps due to their Dark And Troubled Pasts, remarking that Liquid is truly a heartless monster for putting such mentally-damaged people into combat situations. Snake agrees, but also points out that, since they're crazy and thus not fighting at their full effectiveness, he has the advantage.
Drebin's comments to Snake after defeating each B&B boss also invokes this, especially if Snake kills them rather than just knocks them out.
Talking to Himself: Averted. Big Boss, who is normally voiced by David Hayter, is instead voiced by Richard Doyle in his scene with Old Snake.
Similarly averted in the Japanese version, where Big Boss, who is normally voiced by Akio Ohtsuka, is instead voiced by his father Chikao Ohtsuka.
Tech Marches On: Repeatedly lampshaded. Apparently, everything really was canonically blocky back in Metal Gear Solid, as shown in the flashbacks and MGS1 mask (it's a replica of the polygon model of Snake's head from the first game).
In-universe, as well. Otacon uses one of his remote robots to interface with a computer in the Nostalgia Level and complains that it's ten years out of date.
Stealth camouflage, the technology that made Snake and his enemies invisible in previous games, is now considered outmoded because it doesn't hide you from infrared sensors, and Gekko and other unmanned weapons all use infrared sensor technology now. Snake has upgraded to an "OctoCamo" system that mimics an octopus' instant-camouflage abilities and blocks your heat signature. Unfortunately, one of your enemies also uses OctoCamo, which means you can't use the standard tactic of sniffing out the invisible enemy by using IR Goggles any more.
Early in the series, military-grade nanotechnology is highly experimental and only used by few. By the time of Metal Gear Solid 4 pretty much all the armies in the world use it, and if the live action mock ads are canon, then it's so freely available that people use nanites in diet and fitness programs.
Temporal Paradox: Otacon tells you to go and find Metal Gear Mk. II on a Codec interface with "Metal Gear Mk. II" written in the bottom corner.
Title Drop: Ocelot's plan is called "Guns of the Patriots," referring to the nanomachine "system" used to control the world's small arms. [[Spoiler:The first on-screen invoking of the title, courtesy Naomi, is delivered with the subtlety of a grenade.]]
That Man Is Dead: Raiden tells Snake as much when the latter refers to him as Jack. Considering how eerily peaceful and quiet his voice now is, it's not hard to imagine you're talking to a dead man.
There Are No Therapists: Averted. You actually have a therapist as one of your two contacts (Rose). She mostly just gives you advice on what actions you can take within the game to increase your psyche meter and keep stress levels down, rather than give real advice, but considering Gameplay and Story Segregation, this is probably for the best. (When introduced, it is at first implied that speaking to her will increase psyche, but this ends up not being the case.) Her presence is also justified in another way, because therapy for combat veterans is a growing, highly necessary field.
The Unseen: Otselotovaya Khvatka is the only PMC group mentioned that you never actually encounter. Likewise, Werewolf are the main opposing faction in Act 4, but Snake only encounters their unmanned units in Shadow Moses.
Those Two Guys: The only really important members of the Rat Patrol are Meryl and Johnny. The other two, Jonathan and Ed, barely get any lines.
Thou Shalt Not Kill: Most missions can be completed without using deadly force, although the availability of effective tranquilizer ammo isn't made obvious. Even the bosses can for the most part be defeated non-lethally. The game offers numerous rewards to players who minimize or avoid killing in terms of Drebin points and special gear. NP Cs may also react negatively to Snake - and Snake himself may experience physical problems - if too many mooks are killed. (Also, when one of the FROG soldiers dies at Snake's hands - these are the female soldiers - their screams and movements as they expire are somewhat disturbing.)
Throw the Dog a Bone: The Johnny family. Throughout the series, they've been limited to butt monkeys. Suddenly, at the end of Act 3, Johnny turns into an actual character and even gets a happy ending as opposed to the usual fate of being beaten up or spending their final appearance locked in a toilet.
Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Subverted when Raiden throws his katana at Vamp, and at close range too, but Vamp dodges it. It worked when he intentionally convulses during his duel, ejecting the dozen or so knives stuck in his exoskeleton and tearing Vamp to shreds with those same knives.
Toilet Humor: Johnny (a.k.a. Akiba) continues his long-running streak as the franchise's resident bowel-issue-ridden butt monkey, starting with his very first appearance in the game, where a sentry finds him in the middle of dropping a deuce in a metal barrel. In the very same act, he flat-out craps his pants in the middle of a firefight. Stunningly, even this becomes a plot point in the end: Johnny was never imbued with any nanomachines, so he remained exempt from the System...and his bowel movements were left uncontrolled, as such.
Tongue Tied: While it's not very explicitly shown, the Patriots' nanomachines also make sure that no-one under their monitoring can even say the word "Patriots", which instead comes out as the nonsensical "La-Li-Lu-Le-Lo", five syllables that are impossible to say or write in Japanese (a trait that wound up Lost in Translation).
Too Awesome to Use: Chaff grenades. The fact that there's many more unmanned weapons in this game, especially in later chapters, makes them doubly useful. Naturally, you'll be likely to only find three of them over a normal playthrough.
Raiden, while technically on the same skill level as Solid Snake in Metal Gear Solid 2, has, in this installation, had most of his body replaced with cybernetic parts and turned into something akin to a ninja-themed superhero.
Johnny, a.k.a. Akiba, suddenly becomes a lot more competent when Meryl's life is threatened.
Took a Level in Jerkass: Meryl is a lot more aggressive in this game than she was in the first one. She yells at Johnny, makes fun of Snake's age, and swears a lot more in combat. Justified in that Johnny is pretty much useless at first, and she was having tough times with the fact that Colonel was married to Rose. She simmers down at the end though.
Tragic Monster: The members of the Beauty and the Beast Unit are portrayed as this, having been so badly traumatized by the horrors of war that they only way they could cope was by becoming what they are now. Rose even explicitly says she feels sorry for them, but Snake, being himself, doesn't really have time for pity.
Trailers Always Lie: Deliberately. The trailers featured cutscenes from the later game mocked up in parts of the Middle East setting, to make the multiple environments a surprise. The first major cutscene trailer (featuring the bit where Snake meets the Mk. II and gets his weapons and eyepatch) is generally similar but entirely different in all the little details. It showed off Snake getting and customizing the M4 Carbine (something he'd get from someone else entirely) and lighting a cigarette on a nearby piece of smoldering wood. Funnily enough, even though he doesn't do that in the actual game, you can still see the smoldering wood right next to him.
Translation Convention: Heavily implied if not outright spoken. No matter where in the world you are, be it the Middle East, South America, or somewhere in Eastern Europe, everyone not only speaks English, but speaks it in the same accent (well, kind of: the Praying Mantis PMC PA announcer and the Pieuvre Armement PMC PA announcer spoke with, respectively, a British and French accent, and the Middle Eastern soldiers are possibly speaking with a Middle Eastern accent).
Averted with the Pieuvre Armement PMC TV ad, the female announcer for it is clearly speaking in French.
Trick Boss: Vamp would be this unless you use the syringe given to you by Naomi to end his nanomachine-enhanced regeneration.
Twenty Minutes into the Future: Well, all of the Metal Gear games are set in more futuristic versions of the present day (excluding prequels set in the sixties, but even those were pretty futuristic, for the sixties). This one explicitly starts off with the words, "In the not too distant future..." We see what looks like your standard Middle East conflict between two groups and then HOLY CRAP GIANT ROBOTS ARE STEPPING ON PEOPLE!
Unexpected Gameplay Change: Surprisingly often. Naomi's escape in Act 2 mixes Zombie Apocalypse and turret gunplay and there's more on-rails shooter stuff with EVA again in Eastern Europe (albeit you're limited to one-handed firearms), mecha combat in Shadow Moses - REX versus RAY, and, as if that wasn't enough, the final battle with Ocelot is an arcade-style fighting game.
Speaking of Shadow Moses Island, there's Snake's "dream". You get to replay the first area of the original Metal Gear Solid. The exact same area with the exact same gameplay, same graphics, same controls, everything.
Unexplained Recovery: Raiden's Heroic Sacrifice to save Snake on Shadow Moses is given a very definitive air of finality, as he cries out for Rose and remembers their first date as he is being crushed beneath the charging Outer Haven ship, complete with a sad piano interlude and a fade to black as his cyborg body shuts down. Which makes it really jarring when Snake and Otacon are seen not 10 minutes later chatting fairly nonchalantly about the fact that he survived. Also, resident Butt Monkey Johnny Sasaki falls into the ocean after being launched from a rocket powered catapult, but later on, he suddenly comes back in a Big Damn Heroes moment.
Unskippable Cutscene: Although there is in fact an option to skip most of the rather long cutscenes in this game, the fact many of them are interactive and the game rewards the player with "Drebin point" currency for triggering flashbacks when prompted within the cutscenes, it pretty much forces you to sit through them, even though some of them last 20 minutes or more (it takes forever for the actual gameplay of Act 3 to begin).
Unusable Enemy Equipment: Averted, even though this game has just about the strongest justification to use this trope of any video game ever made.
The game's chronological predecessor, Metal Gear Solid 2, used the same explanation for why you can't use enemy equipment: They're all using lockout technology that prevents unregistered users from using the gun. In Metal Gear Solid 4, however, early into the game we meet Drebin, the gun launderer, who happily removes those locks, and gives us credit at his store for every spare gun we pick up off of enemies.
Unwitting Pawn: Snake, in the plan to destroy the Patriots. He delivers Naomi's virus to the GW server room thinking it's only going to release Liquid's control of the system, when it's actually designed to wipe out the Patriots altogether.
Not to mention Snake became vector of new FOXDIE, and Meryl's team, Rat PT. 01.
Upgrade vs. Prototype Fight: Snake and Liquid face off inside Metal Gears, Snake in the original REX mecha, and Liquid in the RAY mecha designed to hunt down REX. Of course, it's highly likely that Liquid's RAY was one of the mass produced models rather than the Marines' original Super Prototype, as REX is able to hold its own against and beat it.
Videogame Caring Potential: The first two major areas of the game have a unique twist for the Metal Gear Solid games: You're sneaking through a battlefield between opposing factions, either of which will shoot you if they see you running around. But if you help out the locals against the mercenaries, the locals will take a shine to you, accept food from you, and compliment you when you shoot a PMC mercenary (plus there's the added bonus that you don't need to sneak by them and/or tranq or kill them all the time). It's particularly heartwarming if you help them push through one area and clear out all enemies, because they'll cheer and yell "We did it! Yeah!"
Villain with Good Publicity: In an optional Codec call, Snake bemoans that, now that the files regarding Operation Snake Eater have been declassified, Big Boss is once again viewed as a hero by the general public.
Visual Pun: When Jonathan (The Big Guy) gets up from his couch, we see an exclamation point shaved in his head in the form of his mowhawk. The "!" sound plays.
Voodoo Shark: The explanation offered for Ocelot's "ghost arm" makes that particular plot point better or exponentially more ridiculous.
Wallpaper Camouflage: Snake's OctoCamo suit perfectly mimics any surface he's touching, including carpet patterns and, in one cutscene, a watermelon.
War for Fun and Profit: The "war economy" featured in this game is an extreme case: The entire world economy is dependant on war, whether it's the PMCs who fight to make a living, arms dealers who keep them supplied, or gun launderers like Drebin, who all make their daily bread on war. And it's portrayed realistically; as investing in war doesn't create new resources, the world is falling ever deeper into a depression where "oil and gasoline are as precious as diamonds." Drebin remarks that if the situation continues, eventually everyone on Earth is going to be a green-collar worker in one way or another - but if war were to simply disappear overnight, all those investments would become worthless and a massive economic collapse would ensue.Which is exactly what happens with Liquid takes over Sons of the Patriots. It's pretty much the Aesop Kojima is trying to convey: war isn't about right and wrong, it just is.
War Is Hell: Snake explains that the rise of disposal, augmented mercenaries and unmanned technology make killing even easier. You don't even need a reason to fight anymore, as war itself is propping up the world's economies. And when all you have is a hammer...
Warrior Heaven: Big Boss and Liquid Snake try to make this ideal on Earth by making the world into "Outer Heaven," a world where warriors will always be needed, honored and respected, although it appears that Big Boss' true motive may have been to create a world free from the Patriots... that was certainly why Liquid Ocelot claimed to have had Outer Haven, at least.
What Could Have Been: The game had a bigger emphasis on the factional warfare between the PMC and whatever rebellion is in the area, and the war aspect was more played up, with the war afflicting the environment - and thus, places to hide, such as tanks blowing out buildings or the vehicle you're hiding in being driven off to fight. Enemies didn't even sound an alert when spotting you - they shouted to inflict Psych damage.
In an "MGO Eyes" video, it was revealed that Metal Gear Online had three additional maps that did not make it into the game: the first being "Desert Duel," the second being a remake of the Town stage from Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops that was never officially named, and the third is "Lethal Leviathan," which was actually the ship bow of Outer Haven. The first and third were eventually added to the game's arcade version, Metal Gear Arcade.
Not from the game itself, but there was originally going to be more novels besides the novelization for this game written by Project Itoh, specifically Metal Gear Solid 3 and Peace Walker. Obviously, these plans were dropped as a result of Project Itoh's death from cancer.
What the Hell, Player?: If you kill a very large amount of people in a single Act, you will suddenly get a flashback of Liquid Snake taunting Solid Snake, saying "You enjoy all the killing, that's why!" which will cause Snake to vomit and lose some of his psyche.
Par for the course in this series, Otacon will also be disgusted with you if you kill any of the wolves in Shadow Moses, or let Meryl die in combat. "You're no hero!", indeed. In the case of the wolves, Rose explicitly warns Snake that he will be subjected to extreme psychological profiling after the mission.
Also invoked in that when any female soldiers are killed, they don't just drop dead like male soldiers do, but rather cry out and appear to expire painfully with clear intent to make the player feel guilty about killing her (even though they otherwise attack without mercy).
Where The Hell Is Springfield?: Largely averted, with some exceptions: Several scenes clearly showed Arlington National Cemetary in Virginia (the flashback in the beginning of Liquid Sun, and parts of the ending). In addition, the locations in Solid Sun and Third Sun are all but stated to take place in Peru and Prague, Czech Republic, respectively, the former from the strong implications of it being near the Andes Mountains (Muna is seen growing there), and it being within driving distance from the El Dorado International Airport, and the latter from various places that strongly resembled locales at Prague, not to mention the not-so-subtle hints at their use of Czech as the official language. Shadow Moses Island's location was already made obvious from Metal Gear Solid, and the location of Outer Haven during "Old Sun" was stated to be 494 nautical miles South of the Bering Strait. The only locations not elaborated on are the Middle Eastern country from Act 1 note The credits state that the country was based on Morocco, but we don't really know if that was the intended country, as there's nothing specifically identifying it, unlike the Muna in Act 2 or the locales and language in Act 3, the Hospital area that Raiden was undergoing surgery for a more normal Cyborg body in the endingnote The novelization for this game stated that it was in Maryland, however., and the location where Meryl and Johnny had their military wedding.
With This Herring: Defying past games' convention, Snake now picks up the AK-102 assault rifle at the start of the first act, and then gains the obligatory pistol and tranquilizer gun afterwards, instead of the other way around as in the past.
Xanatos Gambit: Ocelot's plan is practically foolproof for ensuring a victory of some sort. If Snake had failed to infect GW and the other AIs with FOXALIVE, Ocelot could've still destroyed JD with the railgun. If destroying the satellite had failed, he would've still had the Guns of the Patriots to guarantee him almost total monopoly in military affairs. Even if Snake could've stopped him from activating Guns of the Patriots in the first place, Ocelot would still retain control of his vast military conglomerate.
You Cannot Grasp the True Form: The Patriots are behind everything, but we don't even hear them speak like we did in Metal Gear Solid 2. We know what they are, technically, but they're still a faceless, voiceless organization. There's a reason why their leader is called "JD." It's short for "John Doe."
Zombie Apocalypse/Technically Living Zombie: One of Liquid Ocelot's tests in messing around with the System that influences all nano-enhanced soldiers more or less results in this; if you use the Solid Eye, you can see that the soldiers in the area are experiencing emotional highs (overwhelming anger, sadness, and fear) far beyond normal limits. In fact, they're brain-damaged; they now no longer feel pain and stumble toward your escape vehicle grasping onto it in crowds, clambering onto it while moaning and hitting you in a very zombie-like manner, very similar to scenes in some zombie movies.