Moments Out of Time: Nostalgia in Metal Gear Solid 4

Spoiler Warning: If you still haven’t played through Metal Gear Solid 4, don’t read this article.

“Getting old isn’t all that bad, you know.”

That familiar, beautiful song kicks in and stirs up all kinds of emotions. Nothing’s better at evoking specific moments in your life than music you were listening to at the time, and this song takes me back to 1998: the year when reading EGM made want to write about games for a living, when I had a crush on a girl named Amanda in high school but was still a little too shy to say anything, and when I beat Metal Gear Solid — which immediately became an all-time favorite.

And here I am 11 years later, back on Shadow Moses Island. Act 4 of Metal Gear Solid 4 returns you to the setting of the original MGS, and re-exploring familiar virtual territory over a decade later was one of the most revelatory moments I’ve had playing a video game. I don’t think any other game has made me feel my mortality as potently as this.

It’s only been nine years for Solid Snake within the story of Metal Gear Solid 4 (recall the game came out in 2008 — I’m late to the party), but he’s feeling the nostalgia, too. Old conversations ring in his head and specific places recall specific memories: “…A surveillance camera?” Yes, a surveillance camera, but now old and destitute and collapsing to the ground. A once cutting-edge hazard now a limp, sterile relic. Time moves on, and even virtual spaces decay with age.

Time moved on for me, too. I wouldn’t call 26 going on 27 old, but I am older, and this is about the age where age starts to mean something to you. Can anyone else remember the first time you watched a show on TV Land and suddenly realized you could remember when you used to watch it when it originally aired? If not you’ll be able to some day, and believe me when I tell you it’s one of the most depressing thresholds you’ll cross in life.

[…]

(Full article originally posted on Bitmob — although unfortunately the images no longer show up)

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