1) Breaking the 4th wall
Usually applied to the (*yawn*) theater world, the “fourth wall” is the imaginary wall at the front of the stage that separates the audience from the play. When the actors acknowledge the audience - usually in a sardonic way - they’re “breaking the 4th wall,” and essentially acknowledging that the viewer exists. Videogames do this to an extent every time you enter a tutorial mode - “press the Jump button to jump. You did it!” MGS keeps players talking with its decidedly cool “4th wall” moments; the times that get the other chunk of your gray matter pumping as they become a form of puzzle solving.
Early in the game, you’re told to find a Codec signal on the back of your CD case. It’s only after a few minutes of dawdling and worrying about overlooking a crucial item that you realize the game means the actual CD case the game came in. The boss fight with Psycho Mantis alone is a cornucopia of 4th-wall breakage; enough to fill an undergrad term paper. Not only does he read your memory card and move your controller with his mind (or rumble), but during the fight you’ll have your TV’s video input screwed with and you have to consistently switch controller ports to avoid him predicting your next move.
Above: Yeah, we know, we used this one already - but the video sums up our point nicely
MGS2 literally tells you to turn the console off and go outside, which is not only slightly creepy but will hit your self-esteem harder than a slow jam by Radiohead. Not only that, but in the middle of a tense climactic firefight, the screen shifts to the Game Over screen, now reading “Fission Mailed” for the dyslexic.
MGS4 may contain these little nuggets of joy when unwrapped next spring. In keeping with the “Old Snake” theme, we suggest a Codec conversation will scold us for not calling our grandparents more often? Or will Snake just look at the screen and shout, “Get off my lawn!”?
For more tasty top 7 goodness, visit our Top 7 Compendium, home to such greats as Top 7...Lamest Ninja. While you're at it, feel free to tell us what you think the definitive MGS moments are in the forums.