As Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots' first act draws to a close, the villain's first experimental step toward his grand scheme goes awry. Unexpectedly, this prompts him to gloat to series protagonist Solid Snake that his failure has proven, at last, that both hero and foe are more than mere duplicates of their "father," the legendary soldier from whom they were cloned. In his triumph, he repeats a motif that's run through the entire Metal Gear saga: the struggle for individualism and freedom in the face of the deterministic rules laid down by society. This conflict has surfaced in every chapter of the series to date -- whether in a patriot's sacrifice for her nation, a supersoldier declaring himself to be more than a tool of the government, or in Snake himself telling his protégé that life isn't merely a struggle to survive and propagate -- and finds its ultimate expression in MGS4. Snake's tale comes to its climax as he teams up with allies drawn from 50 years of continuity, all in an effort to thwart a global scheme that threatens the very notion of free will. It is, in short, precisely what the grand finale of a legendary franchise should be: grand, final, and thoroughly steeped in its own lore.