Metal Gear series is considered to be one of the most influential and the most iconic video game series that ever came to existence. Thanks to its creator Hideo Kojima, Metal Gear games inspired a whole generation of gamers, and brought unique cinematic experience to the world of gaming. Featuring an intriguing story set in the time of Cold War, revolving around secret military projects, nuclear bombs, complex geopolitical conspiracies, and the famous special forces operative known as “Solid Snake”, Metal Gear brought an incredible amount of authenticity to the video game art form.
But besides having an incredible lore, all Metal Gear games could boast with stunning art style, beautiful graphics (at the time of their release), memorable soundtrack, and fantastic gameplay experience. Metal Gear (1998) was the first mainstream stealth game ever created, and as such influenced other famous video game series, like Splinter Cell, Far Cry and Hitman. According to Cliff Bleszinski, the creator of Gears of War, Kojima’s Metal Gear series had a major influence on his work, so it’s no surprise that many of its tropes were later brought to Gears of War games as well.
Metal Gear games are widely known for their extremely convoluted plots, featuring a large roster of eccentric characters that threaten the world’s security and strive to achieve global domination. Even hardcore fans of the series often have troubled putting the whole plot together, so its no surprise if you feel confused about Metal Gear’s story. For that reason, we’ve decided to list all Metal Gear games in chronological order. This way it is much easier to understand the whole story, and comprehend Solid Snake’s exciting life in its totality.
9. Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
Setting: USSR (1960s) | Platform(s): PS2, PS3, X360, 3DS, PS Vita | Release Date: November 17, 2004
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater is chronologically the first game in the series. It introduces Naked Snake, a young CIA operative which is a member of the Force Operation X (FOX) unit during the Cold War. The game tells a story of Snake’s rise in the CIA ranks from an apprentice to a legendary soldier, as well as the downfall of his female mentor, The Boss. MGS 3: Snake Eater also tells a story about Snake’s adventures in Russia, and it explains the origins of The Patriots, a secretive cabal whose main purpose is the create a new world order.
MGS 3: Snake Eater was a commercial success, and has scored 94/100 on Metacritic. It is considered to be one of the most important installments in the series, and has established a cult of its followers. The game is also very famous for the appearance of Shagohod, a nuclear-equipped tank which Snake has to destroy, as well as for the final boss battle with sniper called The End.
8. Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker
Setting: Costa Rica (1974) | Platform(s): PSP, PS3, X360 | Release Date: April 29, 2010
Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker is set 10 years after the events of of MGS 3: Snake Eater and tells the story about young Naked Snake, who has now took the codename Big Boss, and has been disbanded from FOX. As the head of a new private mercenary organization called Militaries Sans Frontières (MSF), Big Boss travels to Latin America in order to stop transportation of nuclear warheads. In Peace Walker gamers can also witness the first appearance of Kazuhira Miller, which will later play a major role in the Metal Gear saga.
Despite receiving universal acclaim, the PlayStation Portable version failed to meet expectations due to declining support for the system. Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker was the first game in series which introduced micromanagement of the Mother Base, as well as Outer Ops where players can deploy their combat units and captured vehicles on certain missions against computer opponents.
7. Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes
Setting: Cuba (1975) | Platform(s): PC, PS3, PS4, X360, XONE | Release Date: March 18, 2014
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes serves as a prologue to the critically acclaimed MGS V: Phantom Pain. The story of Ground Zeroes is set a few weeks after the final mission in Peace Walker, and covers the events of a mission in which Big Boss infiltrates an American black site in Cuba in order to rescue Cipher agent Paz Ortega Andrade and child soldier Ricardo “Chico” Valenciano Libre. The game also introduces Skull Face, the commander of paramilitary force XOF, and the major antagonist of MGS V: Phantom Pain.
The game features seven missions in total, all of which can be played on the same map. Many consider Ground Zeroes to be a demo for the FOX engine, which brought next-gen visuals, revamped threat detection system, enhanced AI, and dynamic weather system to the series.
6. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
Setting: Afghanistan, Angola-Zaire (1984) | Platform(s): PC, PS3, PS4, X360, XONE | Release Date: September 1, 2015
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is considered to be one of the best and the most ambitious installments in the Metal Gear series. It is the pinnacle of Hideo Kojima’s work with stealth-action games, and although its plot is extremely vague and distorted, it is nonetheless one of the best video games ever made.
The Phantom Pain serves as a direct sequel to Peace Walker, and is composed of two distinct chapters. The game focuses on Big Boss and his agenda to form a new private military company, the Diamond Dogs, and avenge the destruction of MSF and his past comrades. The game tackles many philosophical and psychological topics, and questions the true identity of Big Boss.
5. Metal Gear
Setting: South Africa (1995) | Platform(s): PC, MSX2, NES, Commodore 64, MS-DOS | Release Date: July 13, 1987
Chronologically, the original Metal Gear, the game that started it all, actually takes fifth place on our list, since its plot takes place after the events of The Phantom Pain. The game is set in 1995 and tells a story of a young FOXHOUND special operative Solid Snake, and his attempt to infiltrate a fortress called Outer Heaven in South Africa. His main goal is to save a missing squad member Gray Fox, and get intel on a new weapon known as Metal Gear.
Solid Snake completes his objectives, however, he finds out that Big Boss, his superior, is actually the leader of Outer Heaven. The two of them get in a fight, and Big Boss gets killed. However, later it turns out that this was actually the body double from Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Thanks to its interesting story and unique gameplay, Metal Gear was a major international success, and was also the first game to introduce the iconic bipedal walking mecha to the video gaming culture.
4. Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake
Setting: Zanzibar Land (1999) | Platform(s): MSX2, Mobile | Release Date: July 20, 1990
Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake takes place three years after the events of the original Metal Gear game, and serves as its direct sequel. In this installment, Solid Snake is tasked with a new mission to rescue Czechoslovak biologist Dr. Kio Marv from the forces of the Zanzibarland – a landlocked Central Asian conuntry established in 1997 after a successful independence war against Soviet Union.
While on his mission, Solid Snake eventually finds out that the real Big Boss runs the new military nation, and overseers the production of Metal Gear. He confronts Big Boss again, but this time he seemingly kills him for good. Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake was praised for gripping storyline and engaging gameplay, and is considered to be one of the best 8-bit games ever made.
3. Metal Gear Solid
Setting: Alaska (2005) | Platform(s): PC, PS1 | Release Date: September 3, 1998
Metal Gear Solid is one of the best known and the most popular entries in the Metal Gear series. It was the first 3D stealth game, and was also one of the first high budget action games for PlayStation One. The game’s story takes place six years after the events of downfall of Zanzibarland, telling the story of Solid Snake’s mission to destroy Metal Gear REX in a secret nuclear weapons facility in Alaska.
The game further elaborates the identity of Solid Snake, revealing him to be a genetic clone of the legendary Big Boss. His main enemy now is Liquid Snake, his twin brother, who has gone rogue, and has took control over the FOXHOUND. At the time of release, Metal Gear Solid proved to be a huge commercial success, and was regarded as one of the most unforgettable and mesmerizing games ever made.
2. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty
Setting: New York City (2007-2009) | Platform(s): PC, PS1, XBOX | Release Date: November 13, 2001
Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty is probably the most confusing, yet the most artistic game in the whole Metal Gear series. Compared to other entries, this game puts the player in control of Raiden, a soldier who fights Solidus Snake, a third Snake brother, and a former United States President. His mission is to neutralize Solidus who has now took control over the “Big Shell” offshore facility which houses Arsenal Gear, and a network of AIs designed to influence the development of humanity in accordance with the plans of secret cabal known as “The Patriots”.
Metal Gear Solid 2 is considered to be the first true postmodern video game, and as such has heavily influenced the development of video game as an art form. Its storyline tackles many complex philosophical, social and artistic themes, including meme theory, social engineering, existentialism, artificial intelligence, morality and literary theory. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty remains one of the highest-rated games on Metacritic, with a score 96/100.
1. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
Setting: Worldwide (2014) | Platform(s): PlayStation 3 | Release Date: June 12, 2008
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots is the final chapter in the storyline covering the life and the character of Solid Snake. The game takes place in 2014, five years after Sons of Liberty, and is set in multiple locations, including Middle East, South America, and North America. In this installment, Solid Snake is struggling with a rare disease that is causing him to age rapidly, and his main goal is to defeat Revolver Ocelot, which is now possessed with Liquid Snake’s consciousness.
Metal Gear Solid 4 is famous for the extremely long ending cutscene in which Solid Snake finally meets Big Boss, who unveils him all the secrets about The Patriots. The game was praised for stunning graphics and its artistic achievements, however, its storyline was heavily criticized for confusing narration and intrusive cutscenes.
Honorable Mention – Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
Setting: Worldwide (2018) | Platform(s): PC, PS3, X360, OS X | Release Date: February 19, 2013
Although it doesn’t cover the lives of Solid Snake and Big Boss, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance falls into official Metal Gear canon. Chronologically, the game’s plot takes place after the events of the original saga, specifically four years after the ending of Guns of the Patriots. The game’s main protagonist is Raiden, who has now been turned into a cyborg ninja, and his main mission is to destroy mysterious private military company known as Desperado Enforcement LLC.
The game was originally developed by Kojima Productions, but was later handed over to PlatinumGames due to Kojima Productions’ inexperience with games featuring melee combat. Despite that, Hideo Kojima retained responsibility for the game’s overall plot and Raiden’s design. The game was commercially fairly successful, however, both Konami and Kojima Productions weren’t interested in developing its sequel.