Learn about the true life stories behind the Soviet scientists and the secret weapons programs of the Cold War that provided the basis for the story of Metal Gear Solid 3.
The story of the Soviet scientists and the secret weapons programs during the Cold War was a vital setting for the story of Metal Gear Solid 3. The characters Nicholas Stepanovich Sokolov and Alexander Leonovich Granin were based on several real people who worked on the Soviet space and secret weapons program. Through understanding the real people we can gain a better understanding of why the characters were created the way they are.
Before understanding the real people whom the characters we based on, we must first understand the world they lived in. After the Bolshevik revolution, the Soviet ideology was to bring a once-agrarian state into an industrial communist superpower. Under communism every member is treated as an equal and those who do not comply with orders are forced, including scientists. Nearly all of weapons research scientists during WWII were held in gulags, a network of forced labor camps in the Soviet Union. Stalin believed the scientists would work much harder if ruled with fear, and as such the intellectuals were held under the claim of “enemy of the people.” No one knows precisely why Stalin was so hard on his scientists; some believe it was because he had a fear of flying and most of the research went toward aircraft.
After WWII the wartime policies changed and subsequently the scientists were released. One of the most famous imprisoned Soviet scientists was Sergei Korolev (1907-1966), the man widely considered as the father of the Soviet space program. Korolev had his hands in almost everything from evaluating and restoring German V-2 rockets to development of later cruise missiles, but most importantly he bridged the gap from rockets used as a weapons to those that carried cosmonauts. While he is now famous, during the time of his work from the gulags in the 1940s to his rise in rank to head of the Soviet space program his existence was barely known. It wasn’t until after his death that the Soviet authorities recognized the great contributions he had made. Even in death his identity was held together by rumors both true and false, and as a result he became a man of somewhat mythical proportions within the Soviet science community. It wasn’t until 1994 that an accurate biography of him was written; surprisingly enough he was never bitter about his imprisonment or the harsh treatment he incurred under Stalin. Sergei Korolev himself was not the basis for the characters Stepanovich Sokolov or Leonovich Granin, but he was the ideal individual for any abstract model of a Soviet scientist of that age, having suffered and accomplished so much.
The character Leonovich Granin was very closely modeled after Vladimir Nikolaevich Chelomei (1914-1984). Chelomei had a very good education and found his way into a very prestigious “Stalin” doctoral program, and he was able to remain in school for much of the war. Near the war’s end he was successful in reproducing German engines and cruise missiles, but after the war his work was unsuccessful and he lost his position as chief designer of Pl. 51 when it was made a branch of OKB-155. But then Stalin died, and as a result the new administration took Chelomei back in. After regaining a position, he rose in the ranks developing cruise missiles and eventually working in the space program. Like Granin, Chelomei was credited with the mobile ballistic missile system SS-1C. The SS-1C is nothing really spectacular as far as missiles go; it was noted as the AK-47 among missiles, due to its reliability and simplicity. Chelomei was awarded the title Hero of Socialism for his work in missile technology, like Granin. The character Granin portrays a patriotic scientist who is proud of his country and in this he is still much like Chelomei.
The character Stephanovich Sokolov depicts a Soviet scientist who is fed up with Soviet oppression and seeks refuge in the West. Sokolov was modeled after a man named Andre Sacharov (1921-1989). The only thing these two have in common is ideals and a similar last name. Sokolov was a rocket scientist while Sakharov was nuclear weapons scientist, but the ideology they shared is one and the same.
At the end of WWII, Sakharov was recruited to a top-secret Soviet weapons project. He is now known as the father of the Soviet hydrogen bomb. In 1957, his personal beliefs told him the Soviet Union was on the wrong track, and for ten years he lobbied with his government in an attempt to change policies. In 1968, he published an essay, "Reflection on Progress, Coexistence and Intellectual Freedom" in the New York Times. It was a scathing indictment of the Soviet totalitarian system, urged an end to the cold war and set forth a constructive blueprint for remaking the Soviet Union and the world.
Sakharov saw a way in which the East and West could find common ground and on which they would not be at odds with one another. Some saw his essay as an act of treason. Not long after he was exiled to the small town outside Moscow called Gorky. In 1975 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize; the Nobel citation called him “the conscience of mankind”. It wasn’t until 1986 when Sakharov was brought out of exile under Gorbachev. In 1989 Sakharov was instrumental in the final emergence of a free society and the end of the Communist Party’s dictatorship and drafted the constitution for the "Union of Soviet Republics of Europe and Asia.” He died later that year, but not before he was able to witness the fall of the Berlin Wall. On top of all of this he was one of the greatest voices of his age against Nuclear Proliferation, one of the central themes within Metal Gear Solid.
The characters Granin and Sokolov give the audience both ends of the political spectrum with which Soviet scientists had found themselves. Much like soldiers, scientists are political tools, to be used, exploited and sacrificed. Their mission is to build man’s potential means of destroying and controlling other men. For as long as there has been war there have been those who seek an advantage, but it has only been in most recent history that inventors and scientists have been exploited for war. The “Times” of civilization can be defined by politics and technology. The politics, or reasons, for war are almost immaterial and harmless without some technological might to back it up. The politics may change through the times but the technology builds upon itself and is therefore inherently more important. As wars are waged the men behind the technology become as vital as the weapons they create, and as such wars can be won or lost by the will and abilities of a single man. Just like a soldier.
-- Article by Solomon Snake