Metal Gear has been around since 1987. Being the first stealth game, it has set the standard for the stealth genre. Its mix of espionage action, captivating storytelling, passionate direction and humour has been at the core of the game's success despite being around for decades.
In this read, we look at the series of Metal Gear games from the first one ever released to the most recent. Whether you're looking to fortify your information on Metal Gear or simply immerse yourself in chronological gameplay, having a look at the Metal Game series in order might help.
The Main Series
Over the years, there have been many releases of the Metal Gear games. The main series features entries that are part of the canon Metal Gear universe.
Release date: July 13, 1987
Platform: MSX2, NES Commodore 64, MS-DOS, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Xbox 360, Wii Virtual Console.
This was the first instalment of the series. It was initially developed for the MSX2 and the game was an action game. But it later pivoted towards being a stealth game mainly because of the technical limitations of the MSX2.
Today, the game is known for its intricate and convoluted storylines, but the storyline of Metal Gear was relatively simple and straightforward.
Despite the limitations and simplistic approach, Metal Gear was well ahead of its time both as a game and also in its storytelling ability.
Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake
Release Date: July 20, 1990
Platform: MSX2, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Xbox 360, Wii Virtual Console
The first direct sequel to the game had to wait for about three years. The game was named after its protagonist and was developed for the MSX2, but other platforms would later be added into the mix.
Not much changed in the game in terms of the mechanics and the plot. However, the addition of sound as a stealth factor introduced an exciting angle to the game. It was possible for the enemies to hear the player. It was now prudent to use ammunition and firearms sparingly and use the newly added prone position.
In the new sequel, once the enemies heard some noise, they would come rushing in off-screen, making stealth a vital part of the game.
The protagonist had a wealth of new options they could use to maintain stealth, including robotic mice. You also had to deal with the random kids knocking around the fortress. Annoying as they could, you couldn’t shoot them because you would be penalised with a loss of health.
Metal Gear Solid
Release date: September 3, 1998
Released for: Playstation, Playstation 3, Playstation Vita, Nintendo GameCube
It took eight years for the third main entry of the game to be released. But it was worth every bit of the wait. It became the first 3D game and one that would define the games that followed.
Although there were some mishaps leveraging the third dimension and the overhead position, it made some significant improvements in terms of storytelling, which is a critical aspect of the game.
When the game was released for the Nintendo Game Cube in 2004, the graphics got a much-needed update, and several aspects of gameplay also got improved.
Solid Snake remained the protagonist for the game once more. But his brother Liquid Snake and a few other rogue elements like Revolver Ocelot and Psycho Mantis made their debut.
This is one of the games in the series that is still playable if you want to take a trip down memory lane. It boasts of clear mechanics, and the world of Shadow Moses is as vibrant and detailed as ever.
Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty
Release Date: November 13, 2001
Platform: PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Xbox, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows
Metal Gear Solid 2 made a giant leap replacing the main character – Solid Snake, with Raiden. The move was met with backlash, especially because the new character was the complete opposite of the beloved experienced veteran (Solid Snake) who players loved and were used to.
Revolver Ocelot makes a return to the game and steals one of the new weapons photographed by Solid Snake.
The game also takes a slightly different approach bombarding you with tonnes of information, making it hard to decipher the truth. As the game proceeds, it's revealed that Raiden is a rookie soldier trained through VR videogames. It’s easy to see why players would reject the new character.
The game has undertones of great ideas with an even better twist. It’s still a playable game but not one that many gamers want to indulge in because of the conspicuous absence of the seasoned Solid Snake.
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
Release date: November 17, 2004
Platforms: PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Xbox 360, Nintendo 3DS
MGS3 is easily the most revered sequel in the franchise. The game had received its first significant upgrade of the 21st century and one that gamers actually loved.
For the first time, players were donning combat boots of Naked Snake. The game had more camouflage, some survival elements and advanced melee combat.
The creators of the game – Kojima, were under pressure to redeem themselves after the mess they created with the introduction of Raiden. Pushing themselves to the limits, they made a game that feels more like a bond movie set right in the middle of the Cold War.
The protagonist in this game – Naked Snake shifts camp and is given a new assignment. He has to fight through an exceptional collection of enemies setting the stage for a final fight against the big boss – a 100-year old sniper. The battle can take hours in the backdrop of an expansive environment.
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
Release date: June 12, 2008
Platform: PlayStation 3
In MGS4, Solid Snake makes a return as the protagonist once more. Unfortunately, this would be the last time for this character to make an appearance in the game. The game’s developers also seemed to buckle down on the focus of the game, making this the most plot-centric game in the franchise.
The game has long cut scenes—some long enough to compete with full-length films and the new release was glaringly lacking in terms of its single-player campaign. The camouflage feature was made mostly redundant by the adaptive camouflage system.
It's not the best of the sequel, and the returning characters don't do justice to the initial impact they had in the game. These include Psycho Mantis, Eva and Meryl.
In the final fight, Solid and Liquid fight to the death in what is surprisingly a super showdown despite the many pitfalls in the game.
The cutscenes are quite exhausting. But if you do away with them, the game still has some great content and has its fair share of redundant stuff as well.
Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker
Release date: April 29, 2010
Platform: PlayStation Portable, PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
In the Peace Walker, the limelight shines brightly on the Big Boss as he tries to establish a private military organisation in Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis. It’s during his endeavours that the big boss discovers the existence of an AI-controlled nuclear Metal Gear upon which the story is based.
Mechanics wise, the new installation is very similar to MGS4. It has a new base management element and a co-op. The storyline is exceptional and is well executed and very firm. Unfortunately, the bosses in this series can't hold a candle to those of the past sequels.
An exciting addition to the game is the introduction of Fulton surface to air recovery systems that let you hook balloons to injured guys and return them to the mother base.
The game makes an excellent PSP game. It has numerous challenges and objectives, and it is still a decent main game. It's a masterpiece designed for an appropriate platform.
Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes
Release date: March 18, 2014
Platform: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
Ground Zeroes doesn't deserve the title of the main series in the eyes of most. It cuts across more like a paid demo and feels like it's a prologue for the Metal Gear Solid V. But, the franchise decided to sell it separately, so it has to be considered a separate entry.
The sequel picks up from where Peace Walker left off. The storyline revolves around the kidnapping of Chico and Paz, who are being held in Camp Omega. While Big Boss works to break them out, it turns out it's a setup and that Mother Base is being razed down.
This is one of the sequel's best incarnation as far as gameplay is concerned. Unlike the previous games driven by a passionate storyline, this one feels like it has more to do with an experiment and showcase of imagination more than anything else.
It's a great game starter for gamers that want to get a piece of the MGS franchise without having to deal with the intricate storylines, and it gives you hours of action.
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
Release date: September 1, 2015
Platforms: Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Microsoft Windows
The Phantom Pain is the most disruptive series in the franchise. It had too much gameplay and a scanty story. It was easy for hardcore fans to note the pivot, and most weren't happy with the general direction and how the game was wrapped up.
The release of the game was also quite controversial because of the popularised Kojima-Konami break-up. For life-long fans, the game felt like an incomplete epilogue.
Although the storyline was in tartars, from a gameplay perspective, this is possibly one of the best games in the series. It featured plenty of action and stealth despite some slight repetitiveness.
One aspect of the game that gamers can appreciate is the value the game places on building your base and managing it. It expands on the foundation that was set by the portable games that came before it. It also features an open level design and an impressive Fox Engine the drives the game.
Most of the spinoffs of this franchise are built by third-party developers. They are usually games that are not a part of the Metal Gear Canon, and most of them, as you will see in the list, don't adhere to the stealth-action theme but explore other genres.
Nonetheless, some of them make a great distraction. While others prove to be excellent releases and are part of the fibres that make the Metal Gear franchise.
Metal Gear 2: Snake’s Revenge
Release date: 1990
Snake's Revenge is a great game to consider if you're a true die-hard fan of Metal Gear. The game was not designed by Konami or Kojima, and you can see this throughout the game. The meticulous attention to detail that is common with other Metal Gear games clearly lacks in this one. It's not one of the most revered games in the series, but it has its share of loyalists.
Metal Gear: Ghost Babel
Release date: April 27, 2000
Platform: GameBoy Colour
Ghost Babel is one of the most overlooked non-canon entries in the series. The game is a reimagining of the original Metal Gear game that was released in 1987 and is solely available for the GameBoy Colour.
The game was a creation of Konami, who also included twists of Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake. Although frequently overlooked, it's a solid game and one of the best-kept secrets of the non-canon empire that gives you a true-feeling Metal Gear.
Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes
Release date: 2004
The Twin Snakes is a creation of Silicon Knights. It was a remake of Metal Gear Solid for Nintendo's Gamecube. It also introduced some of the mechanics used in MGS2. One of the pitfalls of this game was that the voice talent of the game was recast. New voice-over takes away from the authenticity of the game, and most gamers can't relate.
Although the game is playable, it feels light-years away from the Metal Gear franchise, but it's worth a shot if you have some downtime and would like to try your hand at something slightly different.
Metal Gear Acid
Release date: December 16, 2004
Platform: PlayStation Portable
It's easy to tell that Metal Gear Acid is nowhere near the game's signature stealth or action theme from the onset. Instead, it's a turn-based collectable card game. The player guides familiar characters through various situations with a little help from action cards in the game.
The game was only released for the PSP and was never ported to any other system.
Metal Gear Acid 2
Release Date: December 8, 2005
Platform: PlayStation Portable
Metal Gear Acid 2 borrowed more than just the name of its predecessor. It did not deviate much from the already established card-based formula. The developers were kind enough to throw in a few new features, albeit minor. This improved the gameplay to a certain degree. The game also had better graphics and aesthetics, although they did look slightly off for a Metal Gear game. Much like its predecessor, Acid 2 also remained a PSP exclusive.
Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops
Release date: December 5, 2006
Platform: PSP, PSVita
Portable Ops was released specifically for the PlayStation Portable and later ported to the PlayStation Vita 10. This spinoff came ten years after the original was released.
The game is often considered as one of the weak links in the main story, a flaw that is highlighted by its lacklustre storyline.
The gameplay, however, wasn't that bad. It borrows heavily from the Peace Walker and The Phantom Pain and includes the feature base-building mechanics and ally recruitment. Portable Ops also received an expansion plan called the Portable Ops Plus. It made a few changes to the gameplay and the mechanics of the base game as well. It was also the first game to do away with the single-player campaign and instead opted for procedurally-generated infinity missions. In the expansion, FOX has broken their allegiance with the CIA and gone renegade and targeted Snake. He is captured by the FOX unit, tortured and interrogated by Lieutenant Cunningham as he tries to locate the missing half of the Philosophers’ Legacy.
The Big Boss has to build his own squad to respond, and while most of the game cannot be faulted, the kidnapping mechanics are terribly off and linger in your mind long after the scene is complete.
Portable Ops and Portable Ops+ are great games for obsessives only. Even then, you still need to have a stomach to overcome the shoddy kidnapping scene.
Metal Gear Solid Mobile
Release date: March 19, 2008
If you've been around long enough, you remember Symbian was the dominant force before Android and iOS. So much so that Metal Gear Solid Mobile was released exclusively for the Symbian OS. The game was intricate, offering a near similar experience to MGS and MGS 2.
Metal Gear Solid Touch
Release date: March 18, 2009
Metal Gear Solid Touch was a minor mobile game released for Apple's iOS and followed in the footsteps of MGS 4. The game had simple turret-based gameplay, and the graphics were sprite-based.
The release was plagued with compatibility issues and was later removed from the App Store in 2015 before the release of iOS 9.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
Release date: February 19, 2013
Platform: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows, OS X
This spinoff started as a tech demo for the Fox Engine. It was titled Metal Gear Solid: Rising. The would-be test turned out to be an excellent hack 'n' slash action game developed by Platinum Games.
The game is set in the aftermath of MGS 4, and Raiden is the protagonist once more as he strolls through the post-Patriot world. The game does not stray too far from what you'd expect of the genre.
What stands out with this release is the ability to obliterate objects and enemies into thousands of pieces in a feature called “zangeki.” This had been mentioned in the tech demo.
For gamers looking for a short but sweet gaming experience or to wet their feet with a Metal Gear Solid experience, this is the perfect game. It is easily one of the most fun and memorable gear spinoffs in the market.
Metal Gear Survive
Release date: February 20, 2018
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
Metal Gear Survive was the first release after Kojima, and it was evident it wouldn't be the last. Compared to the other Metal Gear games, Survive is a decent game, but it's nowhere close to the other main series sequels.
The game isn’t remarkable by any means and features a generic zombie survival game. The game re-used many of the assets from Metal Gear Solid V and still couldn’t attract attention from the gamers. It is considered to be the laziest game not just in MGS history but in the history of gaming as a whole.
The MGS franchise also features two remakes. These are games of previously released games that are released a fresh with new features that are not included in the originals.
Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes
Twin Snakes is a game that was developed by Silicon Knights and Konami. It was published in 2004 for the Nintendo GameCube and is a remake of Metal Gear Solid.
The game offers graphical improvements with new cutscenes and re-recorded voice acting. The development of the game was supervised by Kojima and a colleague to ensure the game allowed the player to experience Metal Gear Solid the same way it was meant to be played.
Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D
Snake Eater 3D was a remake of the Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. It was released on February 21, 2012, in North America and on March 8, 2012, for Europe and Japan. It was the first game developed for a portable system since Metal Gear: Ghost Babel. As you would expect, most of the game components, including the background music, was heavily borrowed from the original Snake Eater.
There you have it. All the Metal Gear Games in chronological order from the main series sequels to the remakes and a few tips on the ones that are worth your time as a hardcore fan or as an enthusiast looking to get your hands on a classic.