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1. Unexpected New York Attack
Do you remember the ending of Metal Gear Solid 2? If so, you might remember how abrupt the transition was between the fight with all the Rays and then your final duel with Solidus.
That is because the game originally included footage of Arsenal Gear utterly destroying New York. This predicted the 9/11 attack on New York enough that after it happened, the devs removed most of the footage to avoid the comparison to a terrorist attack!
2. The Power of Memes
It’s worth emphasizing that Metal Gear Solid 2 came out back in 2001. That is important because the Colonel Campbell AI basically warned us about the popularity of internet memes.
That’s right: the fake Campbell warns against this: “In this digitized world, trivial information is accumulating every second, preserved in all its triteness.” It seemed like an odd warning nearly two decades ago. But after we have had memes influence multiple elections, it looks like Kojima was right on the mark!
3. Fake News
Metal Gear Solid 2 came out before social media as we know it. Nonetheless, the game gave a striking prediction about social media, telling us about how those who encounter incorrect information online are likely to be swayed by it.
That’s right: nearly two decades before Donald Trump turned it into a catchphrase, Hideo Kojima effectively predicted “fake news.” More to the point, he predicted the fact that even bad news that really happened can be deflected in the eyes of the public by declaring it “fake news.”
We see this most clearly when Snake tells Raiden that “There's no such thing in the world as absolute reality. Most of what they call real is actually fiction. What you think you see is only as real as your brain tells you it is.”
4. Online Echo Chambers
In theory, the best part about social media and the wider internet is that users will be exposed to a multitude of different viewpoints. In reality, though, users flock towards communities that share their existing perspectives. On top of that, things like social media algorithms make sure you mostly engage with sources you already agree with.
This was yet another thing that Hideo Kojima tried to warn us about. Through the Campbell AI, Kojima warned us about the fact that “the digital society furthers human flaws, and selectively rewards the development of convenient half-truths.” Of course, believing “half-truths” are whole truths defines how most people have spent the last five years!
5. Secret Forces Controlling the Government
Perhaps the wildest claim made by Metal Gear Solid 2 involves a secret force known as the Patriots. Specifically, the game claims that powerful figures such as the president are merely figureheads to be controlled by these secret forces.
Now, we have not (so far) had a smoking gun about a secret force controlling the government. But the idea of secret forces within the government was popularized by the crazy pants QAnon movement. And on a more mundane level, it is clear when higher forces decide to change the narrative being pushed by politicians and pundits. The biggest recent example of this is when various Republican politicians and members of the press suddenly began discussing the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine after they spent over a year demonizing the use of that vaccine.
Is Rupert Murdock the Patriots? All signs point to “yes!”
6. Dangerous Russian Liaisons
Despite coming out in 2001, Metal Gear Solid 2 reflected many Cold War-era tensions. This included Russians working as bad guys along with Dead Cell and Russians like Olga providing the necessary “Good Russian stabs the bad ones in the back” vibe.
In a perfect world, these narratives would have been left in the past. But the idea of Russians helping out the US President (in this case, the former president who turns out to be Solidus) would be echoed in ongoing controversies about Putin’s Russia helping Donald Trump succeed as president.
7. Watch Out for Drones
One of the more annoying bad guys in Metal Gear Solid 2 was not a “guy” at all. Rather, it was armed drones that would instantly trigger an alarm as soon as they spotted you.
Back in 2001, armed spy drones felt like a thing out of science fiction. But now, you most likely live in a neighborhood filled with spy drones. The future is here, and Kojima really called it!
8. Predicting the BP Oil Spill
Do you remember the BP oil spill of 2010? This ended up being one of the worst oil spills in history and dramatically changed our national conversations about the need for regulations.
Of course, it all felt pretty familiar for Metal Gear Solid 2 fans. In that game, the sinking of the USS Discovery in the first act requires the creation of The Big Shell, a major plant designed to help clean up the water. The BP spill of 2010 may have taken place in the Gulf of Mexico, but the very idea of a mysterious major oil leak in US waters felt all too familiar for fans of Solid Snake.
9. Freedom vs. Free Will
If you had to describe the theme of Metal Gear Solid 2 in one sentence, what would it be? One possible answer is that the theme is “freedom vs. free will.”
After all, the game celebrates Raiden’s ability to choose his own destiny while acknowledging the need to stop the Patriots from manipulating nature. If left unchecked, they might manipulate half the world into everything from slavery to violence. As the “Colonel” bluntly tells Raiden, “Your persona, experiences, triumphs, and defeats are nothing but byproducts. The real objective was ensuring that we could generate and manipulate them. It's taken a lot of time and money, but it was well worth it considering the results.”
In this, the game inadvertently predicted our modern world where the average user is challenged to discover hard truths in the face of lies, deceitful memes, and outright government manipulation. By the time Donald Trump ran for president, he was already borrowing lines from a presidential candidate in the 2013 game Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, a game that coined the term “make America great again.” But it turns out that 12 years before, the series was encouraging us to look past slogans and media manipulation and figure the truth out for ourselves.