Metal Gear Primer

Metal Gear Primer:  Your guide to the history of the most awesome/convoluted series in gaming.

The Metal Gear Solid series can be considered the granddaddy of stealth/action games since it, along with the Thief games, created a completely new genre for gamers. Not only did it give us gameplay where stealth and patience were rewarded, but also gave us memorable boss fights and great action when it called for it. Not content with just having a straight forward military themed plot, the overly complicated stories, ridiculous amount of cut scenes, and over the top action are trademark to the series. Aside from the sometimes ludicrous (and even retconning) plot points, one of the major complaints is you are watching a movie rather than playing a game. It’s true with the earlier games, but I will tell you right now that it’s part of the charm. This is a series that has been cultivated and cared for by the mastermind Hideo Kojima and the attention to detail shows.

Now with Phantom Pain here on our doorstep, those that have never dipped their toes with the previous games can easily feel lost or intimidated by the huge history the game has. Don’t worry. We got you covered. be a kid again and go back to Shadow Moses.  

Metal Gear Solid

Overview: Stealth. Hiding bodies. Giant robots threatening nuclear doom. Super science. This is the game that stated it all.

Plot: You start as Solid Snake, a genetically altered clone of Big Boss (“The Greatest Warrior of the 20th Century”) tasked with infiltrating the nuclear weapons disposal plant Shadow Moses and rescuing two hostages. Standing in between him and the mission is an army of genetically enhanced soldiers, an elite crew of super-soldiers named FOXHOUND, and Solid Snake’s clone brother Liquid Snake. To further complicate matters, the bad guys also have control over a giant robot that can shoot nukes named Metal Gear REX and are threatening war unless they get Big Boss’s remains. Their ultimate goal use the body to cure the genetic defects of the clone army and to recreate Big Boss’s dream of Outer Heaven, a sort of nationless collection of soldiers and mercenaries that choose to fight their own battles rather than the will of a government. Solid Snake ain’t having that shit, so he systematically takes them all down with the help of a commando named Meryl and a cyborg that can turn invisible has an electric katana.

Worst Line:  “Do you think that love can bloom even on a battlefield?”

Best Boss Fight:  There are a ton, but one that sticks out the most is fighting Psycho Mantis, a mind controlling member of FOXHOUND. He would read your movements, mind, and even your save card in your Playstation. Seriously. After getting a tip from your radio, you found that you could plug your controller into the second player port so he couldn’t read your mind.

MGS 2 had a first person feature and allowed you to hold up enemy soldiers.  

Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty

Overview: This is the most divisive of all the Metal Gear games. With Snake not being the main character and a post modernistic plot, there is not a lot of middle ground between those that think it’s genius or the worst of the series. It added a FPS looking feature and enemy soldiers actually working in teams to hunt you down. It’s worth a playthrough for the sheer WTF factor as the plot progresses. Nanomachines.

Plot: Bait and switch. You are in the shoes of Solid Snake for the prologue where you are investigating a new Metal Gear that the U.S. is developing named RAY. His search leads him to an oil tanker where Russian forces led by Revolver Ocelot (Bad guy from the first Metal Gear that lost his arm in a fight between the cyborg ninja but now has it replaced with Liquid Snake’s arm. Don’t worry. Shit gets much crazier.). The Russians steal RAY, destroy the tanker, and let the whole thing get blamed on Snake. For the rest of the game, you play as Raiden, a new member working for a restructured FOXHOUND. An ocean rig complex named Big Shell has just been taken over by those same pesky Russians from the tanker and are keeping hostages to include the president of the U.S. He teams up with Snake disguised as a SEAL team agent to get the job done.

They soon find out that Big Shell is actually used to house a new Metal Gear known as Arsenal Gear and is run by an AI that can control digital information. After rescuing the president, it’s revealed that a shadowy organization known as The Patriots actually run the country. Shit starts to gets bananas right here. After fighting a fat guy on rocket skates, a vampire that likes knives, finding out the 43rd U.S. president is actually another clone of Big Boss trying to stop the Patriots, and having an almost never ending stream of mindfucks, Raiden takes on 25 Metal Gear RAYs and wins. The Patriots now force him to take on the president revealed to be Solidus Snake threatening to kill a kid and the girl he kinda likes. Solidus wants to kill Raiden to use his nanomachines to track down and stop the Patriots once and for all. After a showdown over a now wrecked Arsenal Gear, Raiden comes out on top. Snake eventually tracks down information on the Patriots only to find out that they have all been dead for around 100 years. GASP!

Worst Line:  “No, I was sent in by the La-li-lu-le-lo, just like you. Switch over to nanocommunication, so no one can listen in.”

Best Boss Fight:  Shooting down a plane piloted by the president and a vampire. Fuck that vampire.

Your camo index was important in MGS 3. Having it high made it tougher for the enemies to detect you.  

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater

Overview:  Steering clear of the batshit crazy path Sons of Liberty took, this one is a little more direct in comparison. The game was set in a jungle, so the environment was worked into the gameplay. Managing your inventory and camouflage was just as important as avoiding detection. Using the environment to your advantage was essential. For most, this is considered the pinnacle of the series.

Plot:  Instead of Solid Snake, MGS 3 focuses on the origins of Big Boss who was then known as Naked Snake. In the prologue, Snake is tracking down a defecting Soviet scientist that has information on a mobile nuclear platform. The mission goes to shit when The Boss, a mentor to Snake, betrays him over to the side of a Colonel Volguin who is stealing a couple of nukes and the mobile platform. To cover their tracks, one of the nukes is detonated while Snake is left for dead. The Boss was blamed.

Since this happened in Soviet territory, Russia is understandably pissed and blames the U.S. There’s a secret conference between the two countries and it comes to an agreement that the U.S. needs to stop Volguin, destroy platform (Shagohod), and kill the Boss. Snake infiltrates their compound taking on a guy that controls bees, an insane cosmonaut, and a guy that can make it rain blood. He eventually confronts Volguin who reveals the existence of a shadow government known as the Philosophers. They had an insane amount cash referred to as the Philosopher’s Legacy. Volguin stole it and Snake learns that the Americans are trying to get it back. With Volguin killed and the Shagohod destroyed, showdown between the Boss and Snake is imminent. Snake eventually kills Boss, but finds out after his escape the real reason she defected. The Boss was sent to infiltrate Volguin’s ranks so that she could steal back the Philosopher’s Legacy and use her death to prove America’s innocence in the affair. Snake is awarded the title Big Boss for his success in the mission, but his disenchantment for his country is already seeded.

It should be noted that members of Snake’s support team (Major Zero, Signit, Para-Medic) play a big role in future games as they are founding members of the Patriots and had a hand in creating the Les Enfants Terribles project; the same project that created Solid, Liquid, and Solidus Snake.

Worst Line:  “I dunno. I was just looking at it, and suddenly I got this irresistible urge to get inside. No not just an urge - more than that. It was my destiny to be here; in the box.”

Best Boss Fight:  The sniper duel with The End, an old man that is an expert sniper. The fight can last a long time your first time through and is one of the most memorable. What makes it really cool is that you can actually kill him well before the boss fight if you catch him in his wheelchair by a warehouse, but where’s the fun in that?

MGS 4 brings the control scheme in a much more accessible state allowing you to pull off some crazy evasion.  

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots

Overview:  Fan service: The Game. MG3 was supposed to be the finale of the series but fans demanded answers to all the ambiguous questions the previous games set. This games tries really, really hard to answer every little thing and, plot-wise, it’s a fucking dogpile of themes, ideas, and closures. Gameplay follows suite with the attention to detail being staggering. Gameplay changes include the much needed free camera view and a control system that it easier to wrap your head around unlike previous games. If you stuck through the series, this one is essential due to the amazing overhaul of gameplay and as closure for Solid Snake’s story.

Plot:  Set five years after Metal Gear Solid 2, private military companies having nanomachine enhanced soldiers are a staple in a constant wartime economy that was set in place by the Patriots. Snake is now feeling the effects of his clone body and accelerated aging is taking his toll on his health. Accepting his final mission, he begins his hunt through a war ravaged land searching for Liquid Ocelot (Remember how Ocelot took Liquid’s arm for himself? Liquid’s mind eventually took over. Yeah, I know.). After gunning through an elite “Beauty and the Beast” unit, Raiden fully adopting a cyborg ninja persona, and wading through a metric fuckton of side plot closures and nostagia, Old Snake discovers that Liquid is planning on taking down the Patriots, whose shadowy organization is now revealed to be an AI, and replace their AI with his own. Snake stops this with a virus and brings down the entire system to include the Patriots’ control over the wartime economy. Snake eventually takes down Liquid in an epic fight over a downed Metal Gear and completes his final mission. The rest of the cast gets happy endings.

In a final scene, Old Snake is standing in a grave about to commit suicide, when Big Boss appears with a catatonic Zero in a wheelchair for closure and to explain the origins of the Patriots. The Patriots were formed by Big Boss, Major Zero, Signit, Para-Medic, Ocelot, and EVA who all made their appearance during MGS3. They formed the group to enact the original Boss’s will which was “To make the world whole again.” As they grew in power, the interpretations of that will made the group splinter with Big Boss seeing this as creating the soldiers’ refuge known as Outer Heaven; soldiers acting of their own will rather than the will of a government. Zero’s interpretation was complete control which resulted in the Patriots’ AI running the world through data and economy manipulation. Big Boss cuts Zero’s oxygen, killing him, while he dies next to the Boss’s grave as a result of a failsafe virus. Before Big Boss dies, he tells Snake to find a new reason to keep living. Snake then lives the rest of his years in peace.

Worst Line:  “You've got it all wrong. You were the lightning in that rain. You can still shine through the darkness.”

Best Boss Fight:  The fight between Old Snake and Revolver Ocelot/Liquid Snake. It is one of the most intense fights of the series even though it’s two old men beating the shit out of each other ala “They Live” style.

Metal Gear co-op is fucking awesome.  

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker

Overview:  Developed originally for the PSP, it continues the history of Big Boss (Snake) in 70’s Costa Rica. Game play featured the same stealth gameplay and similar controls from Metal Gear Solid 4, but combined missions, an Extra Ops mode, and a base building feature. This was also the first to feature co-op. The game also had Monster Hunter missions that were unlocked over time. While being essential to the history of the recent Metal Gear games, the addictiveness of the many gameplay aspects make this an awesome addition to the series.

Plot:  In the aftermath of events from Metal Gear Solid 3, Snake goes on his own to run his own mercenary unit with his partner Kaz Miller. Their first job is from a professor from a local university and girl named Paz who want to investigate mysterious army movements on the island. They decline the offer once they figure that the professor is actually a KGB agent, but later accept once they hear a recording from Boss that Paz has who was thought killed at the end of MGS 3. Snake confirms that nuclear weapons have been brought on the island and that a mobile nuclear launch platform named Peace Walker has been developed. Snake stops Peace Walker after it was discovered the AI running it was created in the image of the Boss. CIA agent Hot Coldman (probably the dumbest name in the Metal Gear series) want to use a nuke launch to prove that an impartial AI system will be the ultimate deterrent system and end the cold war. Shit doesn’t work out that way. A mishap causes a datalink to NORAD which makes them think the Soviets have launched nukes at them. To prevent this, Snake has to take down Peace Walker. Snake blows the hell out of it and nuclear war is prevented. Snake now has his own nuclear armed deterrent named Metal Gear ZEKE with a complimentary nuke from Peace Walker.

It is revealed that Paz was actually an agent for Cipher who Major Zero is now using as a codename. Paz takes control of ZEKE to try to strong arm Snake into working for Zero or she will launch a nuke at America. Snake cripples ZEKE and Paz is dumped into the ocean. Snake then accepts his title as Big Boss and declares his army living in Outer Heaven.

Worst Line:  “Yeah, that's right... from now on... call me BIG BOSS!”

Best Boss Fight:  The mech fights are great, but the Monster Hunter missions make the concept of firing a rocket launcher at a dragon amazing.

The debut of the Fox Engine is pretty. Very pretty.  

Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes

Overview:  This was originally designed to be a free demo for the new Fox Engine that MGS V was going to be built on top of. It features a sandbox base on an island where there are different missions and playstyles that you can run through. There’s an extremely short story mission in there that acts as a prologue to Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. For those that aren’t completist, you can probably skip this straight to Phantom Pain and watch the story on Youtube.

Plot:  Big Boss is sent to rescue the child soldier Chico and Cipher agent Paz from a camp in Cuba worried that they could leak their operations to the wrong parties. Complicating matters is an upcoming U.N. inspection. Rescuing them both, they depart only to find out Paz has a bomb surgically implanted in her. They remove the bomb but arrive at Mother Base to find the inspection was a ruse and a spec-op force named XOF is wiping out thier crew. Paz revels that there is another bomb and attempts to jump out the chopper knowing her time has come. The bomb explodes sending shrapnel into Big Boss and taking down their chopper. In a final cutscene, a mysterious skull faced man is questioning Paz on the location of Zero. Paz agrees to cooperate.

It is revealed that Paz was actually an agent for Cipher who Major Zero is now using as a codename. Paz takes control of ZEKE to try to strong arm Snake into working for Zero or she will launch a nuke at America. Snake cripples ZEKE and Paz is dumped into the ocean. Snake then accepts his title as Big Boss and declares his army living in Outer Heaven.

Worst Line:  “They played us like a damn fiddle!”

Best Boss Fight:  There’s no bosses, but using an anti-aircraft gun on an LAV is pure sex.

Honorable Mentions

Metal Gear/Metal Gear: Solid Snake(Snake’s Revenge):  The originals for the NES. While they were great, the gameplay is obviously radically different than their next gen family. Worth a run if you have nothing but time and patience.

Metal Gear: Ghost Babel:  Created for the Gameboy Color. I personally haven’t played this, but it’s touted as one of (if not THE) best in the series. Not bad for a Gameboy game. It doesn’t stay with the main story and not considered canon.

It is revealed that Paz was actually an agent for Cipher who Major Zero is now using as a codename. Paz takes control of ZEKE to try to strong arm Snake into working for Zero or she will launch a nuke at America. Snake cripples ZEKE and Paz is dumped into the ocean. Snake then accepts his title as Big Boss and declares his army living in Outer Heaven.

Metal Gear: Revengence  Stealth is out and slashing people as a cyborg ninja is in. This game follows the aftermath of Raiden a few years after Metal Gear Solid 4. It is one of the best action games ever made and arguably the greatest end battle of all the series. You don’t have to know a ton of backstory to enjoy. Get this if you love action games.