I had already expected it, and in the end I was right: the person you play becomes Big Boss. Big Boss is the head of the Foxhound unit in the original Metal Gear game, so that makes sense.
The ending scenes, while long, are crucial in understanding the character of Big Boss. You can see the transition from relieved war hero into grizzled, disillusioned war veteran -- the very reasons why Big Boss founded Outer Heaven.
Still, there is a gap there. In most timelines I found (this one and this one), it is stated that Big Boss founded Outer Heaven at some date, and that Foxhound set Solid Snake on the case some time later. But that doesn't make sense: at the beginning of Metal Gear, Big Boss is still Solid Snake's commanding officer!
I see two possibilities, and none of 'em makes sense:
- Big Boss might want to pull off the same thing as The Boss did, but that just doesn't make sense: he wasn't ordered by the US to found/create Outer Heaven -- there was no third party to appease/deceive. Also, why would Big Boss create the stronghold in Zanzibar Land after being defeated, if this had been the case?
- Big Boss really is a bad guy in the first game, but has kept this secret from his fellow Foxhound members. If that is true, then he is necessarily still in active duty (he does send Solid Snake to Outer Heaven), and so he can't have dissapeared and founded Outer Heaven in secrecy.
It also doesn't make thematic sense. millenia made an analysis of the Metal Gear continuity. One of the main themes of the Metal Gear series is how an out-of-control military power dreams of reshaping the world through military power. I quote page 17 of the paper:
"[...] the big, overarching spectre is the exercising of power and the terrors of war. The threat of a nuclear strike on innocent civilians or the escalation of international conflict to the extent that nuclear weapons are used hangs over the heroes of all three games."If I interpreted the MSX2 games and Liquid Snake's comments in Metal Gear Solid correctly, it was Big Boss' vision to reshape the world into a 'might-makes-right' world.
And that is just so against the character of Big Boss as we see him at the end of MGS3. Disillusioned, yes, but not ready to pull a Volgin on the rest of the world.
Then there is the whole Philosophers/Patriots angle. I can imagine Big Boss not being too fond of the Philosophers. EVA did make off with the test data of the Shagohod, but didn't Granin give the plans for his walking Metal Gear to Naked Snake? That's where Metal Gear comes from, obviously...
But what would push Big Boss into actually building the Metal Gear? Perhaps to be free of the medlings of the Philosophers? But how does that turn into 'a might-makes-right, war-filled world'?
I hope that Metal Gear Solid 4 will clear this up: perhaps it'll show us the period between Snake Eater and Outer Heaven. Or maybe it'll be a remake of the Outer Heaven incident...