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5 memorable homages to David Bowie in Metal Gear Solid

A look at how David Bowie influenced Hideo Kojima.

The world of pop-culture suffered a tragic loss when David Bowie passed away on January 11, 2016. During his career; he released many memorable songs and performed in many critically acclaimed films while influencing a generation or artists.

Among those Bowie inspired was Hideo Kojima and that influence could be experienced in the Metal Gear Solid series. The game has made many references and taken influence from the works of Bowie.

These are the five memorable moments in Metal Gear Solid that were inspired by the works of David Bowie.

5. Diamond Dogs

One of David Bowie's most memorable album and song was also the name of the mercenary army that succeed Militaires Sans Frontières after the events of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes. It may appear that Kojima just made another nod to Bowie, but there is actually a hidden meaning behind the use of Diamond Dogs.

The album Diamond Dogs focuses on a dystopian future with themes of totalitarianism that were inspired by George Orwell's 1984. The use of this title could also be a nod to the phrase, "the dogs of war," a term often used to describe mercenaries thanks to Frederick Forsyth.   

The concept of totalitarianism and the role of mercenaries in modern combat are both common themes that the series has examined.

4. Major Zero’s code-name

Major Tom is a character who has become subject of several David Bowie songs with "Space Oddity" being the most well known. He is an astronaut that meets a tragic demise after technical problems hurl his spaceship into the darkness of space.

During the Virtuous Mission in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, Major Zero informs Snake that he will use the code-named Major Tom during radio chatter. While Major Zero claims its reference to the movie The Great Escape (named after a tunnel), it's actually a reference to the character from “Space Oddity.”

3. A plethora of androgynous characters  

Besides his contribution to the musical arts, David Bowie will be remembered for his androgynous style that was best represented with his alter ego, Ziggy Stardust. This made him an icon in the LGBT community as he paved the way for other transgender leaders and icons as he took gender fluidity to the mainstream.

Ziggy Stardust also played a major influence on Hideo Kojima and the creation of many characters in the series. Among the most notable examples are Raiden and Vamp's depiction in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. One also has to note how Solid Snake underwent a transformation from being masculine figure in Metal Gear Solid to an androgynous figure in Guns of the Patriots.

The influence of Ziggy Stardust was not limited to male characters as several female characters were also created with an androgyny style. Strangelove from Peace Walker and Olga Gurlukovich from Sons of Liberty would be among the best examples to look at.

2. The Fury

Another tribute to “Space Oddity” in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater comes in the form of a cosmonaut who is engulfed in total rage. The Fury is a member of the Cobra Unit who is deployed to stop Snake before he could infiltrate Groznyj Grad.

Like Major Tom, The Furry was a space explorer who suffered after the computers in his spaceship malfunctioned. Rather then drift away into space, he was burned alive upon returning to Earth. The pain he suffered gave him a new vision of life as he was from that moment consumed by anger.

The Fury is just one of many moments in the game that explores the forgotten dark side of the Space Race.

1. The Man Who Sold The World (Spoiler Alert!)

This iconic Bowie song is played at the beginning of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain and is the name of Episode 46. The song tells the tale of a person meeting their doppelganger while exploring the themes of multiple personalities. However, its inclusion was a major spoiler as fans were quick to deduce that the character they are playing as is not the real Big Boss.  

During the events of Ground Zeroes, an MSF medic was badly injured while Big Boss fell into a coma. After undergoing facial reconstruction surgery along with hypnotherapy, the medic became a body double known as Venom Snake.

When the real Big Boss returned to the world, Venom Snake was also awoken and are immediately hunted by XOF. Following their escape from a military hospital, Big Boss begins establishing Outer Heaven while Venom Snake helps spread the legacy of Big Boss with Diamond Dogs.

This could either be the most brilliant twist or one of the dumbest endings, but it could be denied that "The Man Who Sold The World" played a major role in creating this plot line. 

The world may have lost David Bowie, but his legacy will live on through his music, films, and the works of those he influenced.

Published Jan. 12th 2016
  • Si_W
    And, of course, the song at the start of the game is a cover version by Midge Ure.

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