Metal Gear Solid 4 character countdown: Otacon

Thumb - Image 1We have several weeks left before we finally get our hands on Konami Digital Entertainment’s Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, and the home stretch of the waiting period is killing us. To keep you preoccupied, we decided to feature some of the key characters of the game on a weekly basis to freshen our memories on their roles in the series. This week, we’ve got the creator of Metal Gear REX and nerdy sidekick extraordinaire Hal “Otacon” Emmerich.

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Welcome to this week’s edition of the Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots Character Countdown. As some of you probably know, we’re on the third leg of the weekly article series that we’ll be running until the launch of this potential masterpiece from Konami Digital Entertainment and Kojima Productions.

In the first two posts, we had a look back at two of the meanest bad guys that the Metal Gear franchise has known: Liquid Ocelot and Vamp. This time, we’re switching over to the good side as we’ve got Solid Snake‘s famous sidekick on the spotlight. Yup, fans will have no trouble recognizing Dr. Hal “Otacon” Emmerich.

Character history

Otacon - Image 1 Dr. Hal Emmerich was introduced in the first MGS as a weapons designer working on Metal Gear REX. He was held captive in Shadow Moses Island by Liquid Snake’s FOXHOUND unit and was attacked by the Cyborg Ninja. He was then rescued by Solid Snake and Hal in turn aided him in his mission.

After Snake beats the Cyborg Ninja, Hal asks for the hero to address him by the callsign Otacon via Codec. The term “OtaCon” is derived from the “Otaku Convention” event – a Japanese culture reference. If you’re wondering why, it’s because Dr. Emmerich is a big manga and anime fan. He loved mechs as a kid and grew up with a fire in his belly for designing robots.

Otacon becomes to Snake what Q was to James Bond, dishing out all the technical advice needed to deal with some bosses. His knowledge of Metal Gear REX’s design allows Snake to deal with the monstrosity by busting its radome (with a little help from Gray Fox).

After the Shadow Moses crisis, Hal joins Snake in an organization called Philanthropy. Their group’s objective is to blow the cover on Metal Gear projects around the world in order to stop the proliferation of these weapons. In Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, the plot thickens as Otacon and Snake tangle up with the likes of Solidus and the Patriots in their quest to prevent a new arms race between nations.

MGS2 starts with Otacon and Snake infiltrating a tanker to photograph a new type of Metal Gear being shipped by the US Marine Corps called Metal Gear RAY. The duo succeed in their goal, but things get complicated when the tanker is hijacked by Revolver Ocelot and his Russian mercenaries. Metal Gear RAY is stolen, and the tanker sinks, leaving Otacon and Snake thought of as dead.

One of the lighter sides of MGS2 is Otacon replacing Mei Ling as the person in charge of saving Snake’s game data. He makes a desperate attempt to provide Snake with Chinese proverbs the way the cute Mei Ling did, but he fails miserably as he ends up choking on geek-speak on most occasions.

In the second part of MGS2, Hal joins Snake again to infiltrate Big Shell in hopes of taking out the super weapon known as Arsenal Gear. He’s also in this one for a more personal reason: rescuing his estranged sister Emma Emmerich, creator of Arsenal Gear’s operating system.

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It’s also in MGS2 that Otacon laments how Metal Gear and nuclear weapons are tied to his lineage. His grandfather was among the scientists who worked in the world’s first nuke tests while his father was born when the first nuclear weapon was detonated. He and his sister later ended up working to build some of the most fearsome weapons known to man.

Otacon makes his way through the end of the MGS2 ordeal which came to a head in Manhattan where Raiden defeated Solidus. He has been confirmed for a return in MGS4, though not a lot has been revealed as to what exactly his role will be. He’s been seen in some early trailers controlling a small assist robot remotely to help Snake out, but things have been pretty quiet for him since then.

He’s been sporting a new look of sorts as of late, showing off an unshaven face. Character design lead Yoji Shinkawa was once quoted as saying that a “tougher look” may help Hal’s popularity a bit come MGS4‘s release. We’ll see about that, won’t we?

Dirty Hal’s crazy love affairs

Emma Emmerich - Image 1 In most action film storylines, the ultra-masculine hero, like Snake, always gets to have the girls, maybe two or three depending on how macho the story writers want him to be. The MGS series is different from the rest in this regard because the nerdy sidekick has the more adventurous history with women than his rugged partner.

Hal’s first love interest, chronologically, was his own stepmother who is Emma’s biological mother. He reveals this after Vamp finishes Emma following MGS2‘s sniping missions. In his grief, Hal recounts that his stepmom seduced him, causing his father to take his own life once he found out.

In Shadow Moses, Hal develops feelings towards the alluring but dangerous Sniper Wolf while in captivity. He tells Snake that she’s different from the rest of FOXHOUND because she’s the only one who treated him well. After the second battle between Snake and Wolf, the FOXHOUND sharpshooter is mortally wounded, and Snake delivers one last honor shot to her in warrior-to-warrior fashion. Hal is saddened by what happened, but he seems to harbor no ill feelings towards Snake.

Jumping back to MGS2, Hal continues to have strange in-family emotional attachments, this time with stepsister Emma. The young programming whiz confesses that she’s had feelings for Otacon since they were kids, and she even wore glasses even if she has good eyes to emulate him. They reconcile in Big Shell, but it’s short-lived as Emma met an early demise while trying to help Snake and Raiden.

As Hal puts it, the people – particularly the women – that he grows close to often leave him in this world alone. Like always, Hal calms down, gathers himself, wears his spectacles, and carries on. Will there be a happy ending for him in MGS4? This blogger certainly hopes so.

Originally Posted on May 02, 2008 at 1:37 p.m.

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