Last month in our Head to Head feature we compared two video game franchises. This month we're going to switch it up a little and present two video game characters that gained notoriety in the gaming world: the renowned mercenary Big Boss and the legendary soldier Solid Snake. To the untrained eye, Big Boss and Solid Snake may appear to be the same character, but series creator Hideo Kojima has done a stellar job over the years defining these iconic legends, allowing them to stand apart in their own right. In order to properly explain the differences between the two, I must first divulge the similarities and backgrounds of these two legends.
Big Boss and Solid Snake both appear in the series' debut, Metal Gear. Solid Snake is the protagonist and the player eventually finds out that his superior, Big Boss, is the antagonist. The hardware limitations hindered the ability to have the flashy cutscenes the franchise is known for today, but the game conveyed to the player that Big Boss was the mastermind behind the events of the original game. Almost a decade later, the Metal Gear franchise entered the limelight with Metal Gear Solid. Once again Solid Snake was back and looking better than ever.
MGS1 went more into the personality of Solid Snake and portrayed him as a pure soldier who followed the orders of his superiors and didn't question what went on around him. Snake rarely shows emotion in the battlefield and is always putting the mission before himself. Snake is also a highly skilled soldier who knows his way around a plethora of different weapons. He is also a close quarters combat expert. The events that occur in Shadow Moses turns Solid Snake into a legendary hero and is praised among his peers.
Fast forward six years and Big Boss is reintroduced in Metal Gear Solid 3. Big Boss' character was built to look identical to Solid Snake because he is Snake's father. I'll try not to dig too deep into the complex story by throwing too many characters and events into the mix, so basically Solid Snake was cloned from his father. Surprisingly, Big Boss is not the antagonist this time around. MGS3 serves as a prequel and allows us to see why Big Boss became the enemy we know him as today.
Big Boss is portrayed as a deeply emotional character in contrast to Solid Snake. Arguably, no scene shows this more than when Big Boss is forced to kill his mentor The Joy at the conclusion of MGS3 only to find out he was tricked into doing it. Big Boss visiting the grave of the woman he loved and killed was easily one of the most emotional scenes I have witnessed in a video game. The events of MGS3 were crucial to understanding Big Boss' motivations behind becoming the "bad guy" of the series. Throughout the entire game, his mission is fueled by this hatred and lust for revenge against those he felt had done him wrong.
While Big Boss and Solid Snake share the same goals of ending the Patriots' war, the way they go about doing so is what separates them the most. Big Boss has an "end justifies the means" approach and does what he feels needs to be done by any means necessary. Big Boss has done evil things such as authorizing torture, killing innocents and even the construction of nuclear capable Metal Gears. Solid Snake, on the other hand, is always shown to be a hero and goes out of his way to save lives even if it might mean sacrificing his own.
As stated in MGS4, Big Boss never looked at Solid Snake as a son, but always respected him as a man. Even with their completely different paths for stopping the Patriots, at the end of MGS4 both characters are able to hash out their differences in their final conversation. This shows that through it all both characters never really hated each other. It was their outlook on how the Patriots should be brought to an end that kept both characters from being on the same page.
Hideo Kojima has done a superb job creating these two characters over the last 27 years. Solid Snake, the series hero has always had pure goals and despite what he has gone through over the years he maintains his way and eventually brings an end to the Patriots. Big Boss, while initially similar to Solid Snake eventually loses his way and descends into darkness during his quest for revenge and that makes him out to be the antagonist that he is today. MGSV: The Phantom Pain will dig deeper into the downward spiral of Big Boss and give us even more insight of the mind of this deeply troubled character.
This has been your Head to Head Feature of the character comparison of Big Boss and Solid Snake. Stay tuned here on Darkstation.com for more upcoming features and also go to our feature pageto catch up on the previous features.
Writer for Darkstation since 2014. I've been playing games my whole life and starting writing about them in 2010. Outside of gaming I enjoy anime and watching my Philadelphia Eagles let me down every Sunday.