The lights are on
Recycling an area from a previous game may seem like a lazy way to approach a sequel, but Metal Gear Solid 4 pays respect to the series' fans with an homage to the place where Solid Snake became a video game superstar.
Even with two previous missions to his credit, Snake's infiltration of Shadow Moses in Metal Gear Solid is what catapulted the series into the spotlight. The game was many gamers' introduction to Snake and his near-future world, and the abundance of interesting characters, thrilling boss fights, and other memorable moments created an experience that sticks with people to this day. That's why returning to it in Metal Gear Solid 4 has so much power.
In the nine years since Snake's original mission, the formerly high-tech base has not held up. It's snowed in, abandoned, and falling apart. Of course, it doesn't take much of a metaphorical leap to make the connection to Snake. When he first visited the installation, he was in his prime; when he returns, he is old and sick. As he walks past familiar landmarks – like the elevator and the helipad – snippets of old conversations play to show the contrast between the capable young operative and the feeble dinosaur. The return to Shadow Moses brings players (and Snake) full circle as he nears the end of his mission in Metal Gear Solid 4.
Apart from depressing meditations on mortality, this section of MGS 4 also has a lot of Easter eggs for longtime fans, like items in familiar places (the pistol under the truck) and a bittersweet song originally from the ending credits of MGS 1.
Some fans were unsatisfied by MGS 4's gameplay or its explanations (and retcons) of the series' events. However, no matter your opinions on the rest of the game, you can't fight the wave of nostalgia as you explore the decrepit base. The whole sequence pays tribute to the character, the series, and all of the fans who have been along for the ride since the late '90s.
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