With Metal Gear Survive out and available for players, I look back at the five numbered Metal Gear Solid games. While there are more Metal Gear games in existent, such as Metal Gear 1 and 2, Metal Gear Rising, or the PSP games, I figured sticking to the core series would be best for this feature.
To describe what this feature is, I scoured the internet and my own personal memory of Metal Gear Solid 1 through 5 to write briefly about the game’s premise and villains you face. So, let’s jump right in.
Metal Gear Solid
Metal Gear Solid released for the PlayStation on September 3, 1998. Series creator Hideo Kojima served as the game’s director, producer, designer, and co-writer. On the development team were other familiar names: Yoji Shinkawa, the game’s artist, and Kazunobu Uehara, programmer.
Set in 2005, protagonist Solid Snake is sent on a mission by Colonel Roy Campbell to Shadow Moses, a remote island located in Alaska’s Fox Archipelago. The base has been seized by the game’s enemy faction, FOXHOUND. FOXHOUND is a special forces group which has taken many forms throughout the series. In this game, FOXHOUND has turned rogued under leadership of Liquid Snake and the Sons of Big Boss.
FOXHOUND threatens to use Metal Gear REX against the U.S. government if they do not receive $1 billion in ransom and the remains of Big Boss. Solid Snake’s mission is to stop all this.
Metal Gear Solid introduced some of the series’ most iconic bosses. The Sons of Big Boss include Decoy Octopus, Psycho Mantis, Vulcan Raven, Sniper Wolf, and Liquid Snake, Solid Snake’s twin brother. Psycho Mantis in particular had one of the most unique game mechanics, which involved the player switching their controller to another input. Mantis could even read the data on the system’s memory card to taunt the player.
Metal Gear Solid would be remastered for the Nintendo GameCube on March 9, 2004 as Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes. The game would also make its way to Windows on September 24, 2000 as Metal Gear Solid: Integral.
Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty
Sons of Liberty released on November 13, 2001 for the PlayStation 2. Kojima returned as the game’s director, producer, designer, and co-writer. Shinkawa and Uehara returned as the game’s artist and programmer respectively. New to the team was co-composer Harry Gregson-Williams, who would lend his talent to future games in the franchise.
Set in 2007, two years after the Shadow Moses incident, the game opens with Solid Snake infiltrating a tanker to investigate the development of the new Metal Gear RAY. After the mission goes south, the tanker is destroyed and sinks to the bottom of the Hudson River.
Two years later, Raiden is tasked with infiltrating Big Shell with aid from his commanding officer Roy Campbell and girlfriend Rosemary. His mission is to rescue hostages including the U.S. president from a terrorist group called Sons of Liberty.
Raiden fights bosses from the enemy faction known as Dead Cell, featuring Vamp, Fortune, and Fatman. Vamp is a seemingly immortal human, no bullets can touch Fortune, and Fatman loves to skate around yelling “laugh and grow fat!” at you.
The game has many twists and turns such as labelling Solid Snake a villain, Solid Snake not being the game’s main protagonist – despite being heavily featured in promotional material – and blatantly recreating of the previous game’s plot, which was intentional.
Sons of Liberty would later re-release as Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance for PlayStation 2, Original Xbox, and Windows. Substance included VR missions, the option to start from the Tanker or Planter chapter, and a new set of collectable dog tags (PS2 only). Substance also included Snake Tales, five story missions following Solid Snake in Big Shell, and one set in the Tanker with Meryl Silverburgh as the antagonist.
An HD version of Substance would release as part of the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection in 2011 for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PlayStation Vita.
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
Released on November 17, 2004 for PlayStation 2, Kojima would once again return as the game’s director, producer, designer, and co-writer. Shinkawa, Uehara, and Gregson-Williams would also return with the same roles.
Snake Eater went back in time with its plot set in 1964 with Naked Snake (later known as Big Boss) as the game’s main protagonist. Snake was tasked with rescuing a defecting USSR scientist naked Sokolov who is working on a nuclear-capable tank called Shagohod. The mission is failed after Snake is defeated by Colonel Volgin, with aid from the Boss’ Cobra Unit.
With Snake’s mentor The Boss defecting to the USSR, Snake is given a new mission: return to the USSR and defeat Volgin and The Boss if necessary to stop the development of Shagohod. Along the way, Snake meets Eva, an agent whose side is never quite clear.
Snake must first defeat members of the Cobra Unit: The Pain, The Fear, The End, The Fury, and The Sorrow. The End in particular, has some of the most unique options to defeat him. One includes killing him when he is first seen in the game, another is simply waiting for him to die of old age.
Snake Eater would receive the same treatment Sons of Liberty did with a re-release titled Metal Gear Solid: Subsistence. Like Substance, Subsistence included VR missions, but also introduced a new 3D camera option, plus Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake instead of new side-story missions. Subsistence also introduced online multiplayer to the franchise with the inclusion of Metal Gear Online. Unlike Substance, Subsistence was only released for PlayStation 2.
Subsistence was also included in the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PlayStation Vita; however, it did not include Metal Gear Online.
Snake Eater received one last port with the release of Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D for the Nintendo 3DS. The game was released on February 21, 2012 in North America.
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
Guns of the Patriots released on June 12, 2008 for the PlayStation 3. Like previous entries, Kojima returned as director, designer, co-producer, and co-writer. Shinkawa returned as the game’s artist, but Uehara was replaced by Yuji Korekado. Gregson-Williams would once again return as the game’s co-composer.
Set in 2014, Solid Snake (now dubbed Old Snake) is given a mission by Roy Campbell to assassinate Liquid (now titled Liquid Ocelot) in the Middle East. Liquid has managed to control soldiers at will with the nanomachines in their bodies. The game has many callbacks to previous entries in the franchise, so that’s as deep as I’ll go with the story. Its character and story re-introductions should be experienced in-game, granted you’re familiar with the lore.
The bosses you face, titled The Beauty and the Beast Corps, all elude to the Sons of Big Boss you faced in the first Metal Gear Solid. Laughing Octopus, Raging Raven, Crying Wolf, and Screaming Mantis should all sound familiar.
Unlike previous entries, Guns of the Patriots did not receive any re-release or remaster. Since the game launched without PlayStation Trophy support, a patch was added at a later date adding them. The game did make a brief appearance on Sony’s PlayStation Now service.
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes
Considered to be the prologue to The Phantom Pain, Ground Zeroes released for the Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation 4 on March 18, 2014.
To no surprise, Kojima returned as the game’s director, designer, co-producer, and co-writer, with Shinkawa returning as artist, and new programmer Junji Tago. Gregson-Williams would lend his composing talents for the last time in the series.
Set in 1975, Big Boss infiltrates a prison camp to rescue fellow comrades Chico and Paz, who are held captive by Skull Face, leader of XOF. Boss is successful in rescuing the two, but it is soon revealed Paz has two bombs located in her body. Only one is successfully extracted while the other explodes, killing Paz and crashing the chopper with Boss in it.
Due to its nature as a prologue, Ground Zeroes was criticized for being just a “paid demo.” The main story mission could be completed in minutes if you were familiar with it, and only a few side missions existed.
Ground Zeroes would make its way to Windows on December 18, 2014.
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
Released on September 1, 2015 for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, and PC, The Phantom Pain continues the story where Ground Zeroes left off.
Kojima and Shinkawa returned as their previous development roles, while the team had many programmers due to its large open-world nature. Replacing Gregson-Williams was Ludvig Forssell.
Set in 1984, Boss awakes from his coma and is immediately under attack in the hospital he’s staying in. With the aid of a mysterious patient, he is rescued and reunited with Ocelot. The two then get reacquainted and set out to find Miller, who is being held captive in Afghanistan. After finding and saving Miller, Big Boss (now going by Venom Snake), Miller, and Ocelot form Diamond Dogs, and try to take down Skull Face and XOF.
The game’s bosses include Quiet, Skull Face’s Skull Unit, Eli, and Sahelanthropus, a prototype Metal Gear. Quiet could be added as a companion once defeated.
The Phantom Pain would be the last Metal Gear Kojima worked on, as he was fired from the company late in the game’s development. Kojima is currently working on his new project titled Death Stranding.
Both Ground Zeroes and The Phantom Pain re-released as a bundle titled Metal Gear Solid V: The Definite Experience on October 11, 2016.
Konami recently released Metal Gear Survive, a spin-off of the series and alternate continuation of Ground Zeroes, on February 20, 2018.