John Konrad did literally nothing wrong
Throughout the game we're shown evidence of grave atrocities committed in the last six months in Dubai, but we are shown very little evidence that Konrad is personally responsible for any of it. My theory: Konrad and the 33rd started trying to keep order through relatively civil, but still martial law. Riggs and his CIA buddies didn't believe this would work, so they began massacring civilians that resisted and blaming it on the 33rd. Riggs isn't afraid the world will learn about KONRAD'S crimes, but his own. Konrad killed himself when he realized that he would be held accountable for the CIA's crimes.
- Interesting, although it does conflict with a number of the intel items.
John Konrad is directly related to Joseph Conrad by ancestry
Why then is his name spelled with a K? John decided to legally change the C to a K so that Walker wouldn't get the reference and be Genre Savvy
about the themes that the game's story was borrowing from Heart of Darkness and Apocalypse Now. John C
onrad was so Genre Savvy
that he knew he had to make Walker Wrong Genre Savvy
in order to succeed.
- The name is spelt with a K when it's Polish - which is what Joseph Conrad was, originally. He was born Josef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski. He shortened and Anglicised his name when he moved to Britain. At some point, his descendants may have switched it back (perhaps the Colonel's full name is John Teodor Konrad). Korzeniowski was Conrad's last name originally, so it is a pretty big difference - among other things "Josef" would have been pronounced "Yo-seff", more or less. But between Konrad and Conrad? Nope. Conrad's descendants may have just gone with the C - K switch because "Korzeniowski" is kind of a mouthful.
John Konrad is actually Captain Willard from the Vietnam War
Captain Willard stayed with the American Military and eventually ranked up to Colonel, but after many years of service got so depressed from the trauma of having killed Colonel Kurtz so many years earlier that he tried going on many different missions to redeem himself. The events of Spec Ops The Line is just his last in a long line of failures, and now he has gone insane just as Colonel Kurtz, assassinated so many years before, had lost his mind.
The events of Uncharted are a continuation of Walker's delusional fantasy
After he returned home to America Walker was psychologically evaluated and deemed unfit for duty. Ever since then he has been in a mental hospital imagining the events of the Uncharted series, as Nathan Drake is the idealized version of the action hero. Nathan Drake is basically Indiana Jones, with all the associated genius level knowledge on history, languages, archeology, etc. and cool-headed personality. Add in a little bit of spice from pretty much every action hero from the past 30 or so years and Nathan Drake is the perfect hero, Walker is realizing his fantasy of being a hero behind padded walls. However there is some good news, the ending of Uncharted 3 showed Nathan Drake settling down so this may be symbolic of Walker's hero fantasy settling down as well.
Alternatively, Walker and Nathan Drake are the same person
Officially speaking Nathan Drake doesn't exist, that is just a name that he chose to call himself. The identity of Captain Martin Walker could very well just be a cover identity he created in the U.S Military, the training of the Delta Force being relatively easy for him to adjust to given his athletic ability and stamina as seen in the Uncharted games, for the sake of cover operations where he needs to pose as a Military Officer. Uncharted 3 exposed Nathan Drake to some very heavy hallucinogens that gave him a bad Mind Screw
, I say that the events of Spec Ops The Line is Nathan Drake suffering from dissociative disorder as a result of side effects from the drugs he was exposed to, only at the end of the story where he meets Konrad does the illusion finally shatter and he realizes it is time to go home and go back to being Nathan Drake.
Konrad was present in the story, even if not in the flesh
The representation of Konrad seen by Walker is not a hallucination but rather a ghost. The ghost of Konrad is haunting Walker until he can learn to come to terms with what he has done. Whether Walker decides to become the villain he thought Konrad was or to go home Konrad decides to leave Walker alone after that because he has finally made his choice.
- Alternatively, Konrad's spirit enters Walker's mind. Perhaps as some kind of mission from beyond the grave, Konrad enables him to hear and see what he wants, and willingly plays the role of the scapegoat at first, until Walker is too broken to deny the truth any longer. At the climax, Konrad takes control of Walker's body and puts the pistol to his head; Walker can allow Konrad to shoot him, or "exorcise" himself of the spirit, in which case Konrad leaves him be.
Heavy Troopers are no more durable then regular soldiers
They only seem that way because Walker is missing due to his progressively unhinged nature and is rationalizing it as super human durability. The fact is no nation on earth has that many 8 foot tall soldiers who can absorb multiple direct hits from RPGs. The Heavy shows up frequently in Walker's more obvious hallucinations, culminating in the HaLugoNation. The first heavy also appears in after a horrific white phosphorous bombardment under poor visibility conditions. So rather than absorbing whole clips and multiple grenades, Walker is simply unhinged by something in the Heavy's appearance and can't shoot straight. It's possible that the Afghanistan incident involved an IED and Walker has bad associations with EOD workers. That or it's something we weren't keyed into by the game.
- Better yet this may be Walker's mind falling prey to the mindset of a generic shooter. Think of all the shooters you have played, how many of them had a "heavy" enemy? Virtually all of them. Walker may very well be imagining the events of his story as if they were a video game, Walker is imaging an "8 foot tall behemoth who can tank RPG rounds" because pretty much every game he has ever played has had them, the fantasy wouldn't be complete without a heavy trooper!
Walker killed the Radioman.
The Radioman hasn't actually snapped from being in the city; unlike the soldiers, he can mostly keep to himself and not directly see the horrible things happening. Walker's state of mind is making the Radioman worse than he sounds when he broadcasts. This is why Lugo suddenly seems to break character in order to flatter the Radioman enough that he'll give them instructions on operating his equipment; Lugo should be more than smart enough to figure that out on his own, like he says he can earlier, especially considering the Radioman setting the mic to broadcast requires him to press all of two buttons. The scene we see of Lugo killing him is Walker filling it in with something different so, as usual, he can blame someone else for his actions.
- Similar to how in Call of Duty: Black Ops, Mason thought he saw Reznov shoot Steiner when it was actually him? That would have been pretty cool actually. A good way to execute such a revelation would be to maintain the original scene of Lugo shooting the Radioman when you first see it, but when Konrad reveals what actually happened during all of his hallucinations in the ending show Walker pulling the trigger instead. That would add a lot of extra depth to how insane Walker really is.
- It helps that the transition to the cutscene in which the Radioman is killed is white, which according to Word of God is an indication that Walker's hallucinating or otherwise deceiving himself...
Big Boss is Walker's father
Furthermore Walker's full name is Martin Peace
- He'd have to be a clone, as Big Boss is sterile.
The ending of Uncharted 3 is what led to Dubai's sand storm
In the ending of Uncharted 3 Ubar, an ancient lost civilization/city, collapses into the ground when Drake accidentally causes a chain reaction with just a few bullets. There is a possibility that the massive collapse of such a giant city sent shock waves across the landscape building up a sandstorm of apocalyptic proportions. Dubai isn't the only city that was affected by it but that just so happens to be where the sandstorm came to a standstill; it took so long to reach Dubai because there was so much devastation that the rest of the world has had its hand's full trying to rescue everyone. Consequently, if Nathan Drake really is Walker as stated above, then he is trying to redeem himself by saving Dubai.
The incident in Kabul was a case of friendly fire, required by the circumstances
What makes the White Phosphorous incident so terrible for Walker is the fact that the circumstances required him to use it, the size of the Damned 33rd gathered at the Gate made it impossible to handle them any other way. Those civilians that were burned to death were just a side effect of the fog of war, the circumstances forced his hand. In the same way I propose that back in Kabul Walker was forced to call in a danger close air strike to save his comrades from being overrun by the enemy, unfortunately allies and civilians were caught in the cross fire. In the aftermath of this air strike Colonel Konrad came onto the scene and rescued Walker who was too injured to continue fighting. When Colonel Konrad said that Captain Walker performed admirably under the circumstances he means that Walker had no other choice but to sacrifice the lives of others in order to save himself and that of his comrades. That is why Walker doesn't like to talk about the incident, he wishes that he had been strong enough to not have to use such tactics, and in the same way he wishes he never had to use the White Phosphorous.
By this stage Walker's mind is almost completely gone. Flying through Dubai in the helicopter reminds him of some incident in Afghanistan, and he's so messed up in the head that he can no longer tell the difference between the past and the present. Instructing Adams to fly into the sandstorm might, in his bizarre dream-logic, be an attempt to break out of the apparent "Groundhog Day" Loop
he finds himself trapped in. As to why he does not say "we did this already" in the opening of the game might be chalked up to Unreliable Narrator
- New multiplayer mode: Dodge the white phosphorous!
- A new ending where you retreat and call for backup upon first encountering hostiles, thereby doing what you were supposed to do.
- Play as Konrad! You were kind of playing him already.
In the "good" ending, Walker suffered no consequences for what he did.
- As horrible as it is, he actually ended up accomplishing what the CIA tried to do in the first place: bury the truth. He avoided court martial and imprisonment by reporting that he aided the efforts of the CIA and succeeded after they failed to carry through the mission. He's a free man, and the only punishment he suffers is his own guilt.
- Sure Walker broke multiple rule of engagement protocols but his actions would make him look like a saint compared to what the CIA did in Dubai. To publicly court marshal Walker would bring out their misdeeds to the surface. At the very least they'll debrief Walker and tell him to pretend none of what he saw ever happened. At worst they would lock him up in some secret prison if he refused to stay quiet about the affair.
- There's no way Walker would go to trial anyway, the guy was completely incapable of separating his delusions from reality and is a complete psychological wreck, it would be a media firestorm to persecute someone so obviously suffering severe PTSD.
- Alternatively, who said that Walker's mission was public in the first place? As far as we are concerned his team was on secret mission in no-man's land. He could not even be present there for the public and will be court-martialed for his crimes without anyone even learning about them or his existence.
At some point Walker started hallucinating about the Radioman
- After the water truck incident, the radioman uses the same radio that Konrad is using to talk directly to Walker. He cuts off communication with the team, but neither team mate ever mentions hearing him either, and the Radioman references several things that there is no possible way he could have seen (recall that one line about beating someone to death with a gun?). Notice that after the water incident, the Radioman starts mocking the situation in an increasingly maniacal tone. We do know that to some extent the Radioman is talking to the squad, but it's entirely fitting with Walker's slipping insanity that the Radioman also became a voice in his head.
The Gray Fox Team was unaware of Riggs's plan
- Riggs kept his plan to kill the survivors of the sandstorm secret because he felt that the team wouldn't go along if they knew about it, instead convincing them it was a simple reconnaissance mission. When Daniels was being interrogated by the 33rd, he claimed the CIA were there simply to search for survivors, and the interrogator thought he sounded truthful, meaning Daniels was a convincing liar, or he honestly believed the Gray Fox team was simply doing reconnaissance.
- That being said, Gould definitely knew about it. When Riggs tells Walker about his plan, Walker calls him insane, and Riggs observes, "Funny. Gould said the same thing."
- Daniels has been dead for quite some time when Walker and his team reach him, so it is entirely possible that Riggs came up with that plan after they lost him - maybe out of desperation?
The Middle East would have never declared war on the US if the truth got out.
- "American Colonel disobeys orders to save civilians" is not going to be a casus belli against the US; if anything, it's going to lessen anti-American sentiment in the Middle East. The whole idea that the region would go to war if the truth got out was just another excuse by Walker to justify his I Did What I Had to Do attitude and keep his perception of Konrad as the Big Bad in check.
- Um, it was Riggs, not Walker, who cooked up the "kill the population of Dubai by dehydration plan." Walker, for his part, was unaware of the plan until he had already helped carry it out.
- Same thing. Even if Walker just an unknowing pawn, Riggs cooked up his genocidal plan most likely under the same form of Sanity Slippage Walker was going through and manages to convince himself he's doing the right thing despite it clearly not.
Walker is a figment of Konrad's imagination, not vice versa
- This is mostly based on a line in the final confrontation: "This is all in my head." "Are you sure? Maybe it's in mine." Maybe Walker is the representation of Konrad's Villainous Breakdown (or Heroic BSOD, if you prefer). The CIA and the sandstorms destroyed everything he tried to build, and he imagined a human face for it - an unstoppable warrior who was personally responsible for every bad thing that happened in Dubai. The confrontation at the end is him questioning whether he will give up, or still try to be a hero after everything that's happened.
- Then perhaps the endings mean what happens to Konrad, if he kills Walker then he regains control over himself and is able to lead the remaining 33rd out of Dubai. If he lets Walker kill him he become the villian and lets his soldiers die and waits for rescue to come. This is why when Walker is rescued he is wearing Konrads jacket because it is really Konrad giving in to the personality of Walker.
Lugo and Adams didn't disobey Walker, because they thought they were the ones who were crazy
- What if Lugo and Adams didn't mutiny, because they thought they were the ones who were losing it. The WP incident had a profound effect on all of them and it wouldn't be too far fetched to assume that they were also beginning to lose it in some respect. So when Walker was talking to on the broken radio or making a choice between the two skeletons, they thought that Walker's sanity was still in check and they had no choice but to trust him.
Dubai has literally become a supernatural purgatory, ala Silent Hill.
The conditions that produce the Dubai of this game are, at best, wildly improbable
. The eternal sandstorm, the steady descent matched with constant ascent, the unearthly environment of sand-blasted Dubai, the strong implications that this is a Dying Dream
or Purgatory and that Walker has "done this before", the tortured psyches and increasingly mad motivations of the 33rd and other characters, the endless supplies of ammunition and still-functional hellicopters and trucks in an environment that would destroy their engines quickly, the mysteriously-active electricity whenever it's convenient...
And Dubai is repeatedly equated with Hell. The final confrontation at the Bridge, in particular, is as hellish as anything in the game.
Maybe it's a bit more literal than anyone thinks. Maybe no one inside is leaving - or dying - until they come to grips with their demons. Walker certainly isn't.
- Along these same lines (Silent Hill certainly shares a lot with it), Dubai could be a Domain of Dread from Ravenloft. The sand replaces the Mists. Konrad/Walker is the Dread Lord, constantly trading places which one is the "hero" and which one is the "villain," when in reality, they're both aspects of the same person repeating their atrocities with themselves as their adversary.
Konrad became a Colonel after killing a rogue officer in The Vietnam War
During the opening sequence, Konrad is shown, amongst all his medals, to have a Vietnam Service Medal. While this might be a reference to the movie Apocalypse Now
, which was also was adapted from Heart of Darkness
, It's possible that in Vietnam, Konrad was tasked with killing a rogue American officer who retreated into the jungle-just like how Captain Benjamin Willard from the movie had to kill Colonel Kurtz. This would explain why Konrad, seemingly the game's Kurtz expy, has a name similar to Joseph Conrad, the author of the source material, who based the book on his experiences in The Belgian Congo
. Konrad had seen the horrors of a man isolated from civilization and driven to madness. The army made him a Colonel for it.
- So when Konrad sees himself become just like that rogue officer in a sandstorm torn Dubai, he opted to put a bullet in his head.
The Story is all an unreliable flashback
One way to explain all the contradictory or weird spots is that 'The Road Back' is the true ending, and the game is the debriefing Walker gave after recovery; or, if any other ending is true, its what someone coming behind him was able to piece together. After being 'rescued' Walker's sorry mental state causes him to give a garbled, contradictory report of his mission. For example, the "We already did this" during the second helicopter battle was him initially saying the had been flown into Dubai (the opening helo chase), then later remembering that it had actually happened after attacking the radio station. The teleporting Heavy was just him walking into a dark room and spending five minutes blasting at mannequins; later, he insisted "There was someone there! I know it! He took hundreds of bullets, and he seemed to move so fast he was teleporting, but I know it happened!" Heavies in general were either vehicles or especially well dug in enemies, and he just remembers them as un-killable walking tanks. For all we know, the six month contact gap and apocalyptic sandstorm weren't real, they were just his after-the-fact rationalizations on why he kept going rather than fall back or call for help- Dubai was just hit by a terrorist attack or something else that crippled it for a week or two.
The text under the loading screens is what Walker is thinking about.
Sometimes, Walker was thinking about basic military strategies, which explains the tutorial and advice on guns. After the WP incident, he began imagining Adams assuring him this wasn't his fault (You're still a good person), Lugo still freaking out about it (This is all your fault), the Radio man taunting him (How many Americans have you killed today?) or Konrad's anger and logic (Do you feel like a Hero yet, There is no difference between what's right and what's necessary).
The studio behind this game are fans of GenUrobuchi
Given the heavy Deconstruction
elements, the theme of War Is Hell
, and potential CounterpartComparisons
Walker can be compared to (Sayaka Miki and Kiritsugu Emiya), its a possibility.