is a critically acclaimed series of stealth games created by Hideo Kojima and developed and published by Konami. In the series, the player takes control of a Special Forces Operative (Solid Snake in most games) repeatedly facing off against the latest incarnation of the eponymous superweapon "Metal Gear"; a bipedal walking tank with nuclear launching capabilities. The series is famous for pioneering the stealth game genre, for its lengthy cinematic cut scenes, intricate storylines and its exploration of the nature of politics, warfare, censorship, genetic engineering, artificial intelligence, loyalty, reality, subjective vs. universal "truths" and other philosophical themes.
The original Metal Gear
, designed by Hideo Kojima
, debuted in 1987
for the MSX2
computer platform in Japan
. A heavily modified port produced by a different team was shortly released for Nintendo
's Family Computer
in Japan and its counterpart, the Nintendo Entertainment System
(NES), in North America and Europe. Konami then decided to produce a sequel
for the NES, titled Snake's Revenge
, which was also done without Kojima's involvement and released in 1990
in North America and Europe. One of the designers who worked on Snake's Revenge
became acquainted with Hideo Kojima and asked him to do a "real Metal Gear
sequel". Kojima accepted his request and began development on his own sequel
, titled Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake
, released in Japan
for the MSX2 in 1990.
After Metal Gear 2, Kojima worked on other projects (notably Snatcher and Policenauts) before directing his third Metal Gear game, Metal Gear Solid, which was released for the PlayStation in 1998. The success of Metal Gear Solid inspired a series of sequels and prequels. Metal Gear Solid was followed by Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater for PlayStation 2, Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops for PlayStation Portable, and Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots for PlayStation 3.
Expanded versions and remakes of the games were produced as well such as Integral, Substance and Subsistence. A few spinoffs were also produced, but set outside the series' main storyline.
Disregarding remakes and supplemental releases, there are seven games that officially fall into the Metal Gear canon
- Metal Gear - Originally released for the MSX2 in 1987 in Japan and Europe. The plot centers around Solid Snake's mission to infiltrate Outer Heaven and destroy Metal Gear. Metal Gear was one of the first games to fall within the stealth game genre.
- Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake - Originally released for the MSX2 in 1990 in Japan. The plot centers around Solid Snake's infiltration of Zanzibar Land to save a kidnapped biologist. The game mainly adds several improvements to the enemy behavior, such as an extended field of view and the ability to recognize noises.
- Metal Gear Solid - Released for the PlayStation in 1998. The story centers around Solid Snake's infiltration of a nuclear disposal facility to disarm his former team, FOXHOUND, and puts him at odds against his twin brother, Liquid Snake. This is the first Metal Gear game to use full voice acting and a 3D environment, allowing the usage of items and weapons such as sniper rifles and Stinger missiles.
- Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty - Released for the PlayStation 2 in 2001. It is the first Metal Gear game where players could neutralize enemies via non-lethal means. It is also the first game to replace the established hero, Solid Snake, with a new character, Raiden, after an extended prologue sequence.
- Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater - Released for the PlayStation 2 in 2004. The story is set during the Cold War and centers around Solid Snake's predecessor, Naked Snake, who must infiltrate the Soviet Union to assassinate his defecting mentor. A camouflage system was added that allow players to customize Snake's appearance to better blend with his environment. He also has the ability to hunt for food.
- Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops - Released for the PlayStation Portable in 2006. The story takes place after Snake Eater and centers around Naked Snake's attempt to combat his former unit by creating his own team of operatives. It is the only canonical Metal Gear game for a portable platform and features a squad-based approach to the stealth game genre instead of the traditional solo missions.
- Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots - Released for the PlayStation 3 in 2008. The story centers around a prematurely aged Solid Snake (now called Old Snake) and his final mission to assassinate his nemesis, Liquid Snake (whose "will lives on in the body of the man once known as Ocelot"). Several new features are added, including destructible environments and the ability to team up with allied units.
- Metal Gear - A version of the first Metal Gear was released for the Family Computer in 1987 and its western counterpart, the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), in 1988 in North America and Europe. Although the plot is the same, much of the game design (such as areas and bosses) was changed. Kojima has been vocal about his dislike for this version of the game.
- Snake's Revenge - Released in North America and Europe for the NES in 1990. The game was produced as a sequel to the NES version of Metal Gear. It features side-scrolling segments in addition to the regular overhead gameplay of the original. Like the first NES game, it was produced without the involvement of Kojima nor his team, and its characters and plot are unaccounted in later Metal Gear games.
- Metal Gear Solid: Integral - An expanded version of the original Metal Gear Solid based on the English-language version released in Japan for the PlayStation in 1999. The game came packaged with an additional disc of 300 goal-based training missions, which was released by itself in North America as Metal Gear Solid: VR Missions and in Europe as Metal Gear Solid: Special Missions. The Windows PC version of Metal Gear Solid is based on Integral.
- Metal Gear: Ghost Babel - A Game Boy Color game released in 2000. The game features overhead 2D gameplay similar to the original games, but with elements from Metal Gear Solid such as the Codec and VR training missions. The story is not part of the regular Metal Gear continuity and therefore is not canon. Released outside of Japan as Metal Gear Solid.
- The Document of Metal Gear Solid 2 - Released for the PlayStation 2 in 2002. It is a digital encyclopedia containing information on the game's development with viewable polygonal models, music and cut-scenes.
- Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance - First released as a timed-exclusive for the Xbox in North America and Europe in 2002, with the PlayStation 2 versions released shortly afterward in all three territories. A Windows version was also released in North America and Europe. It is an expanded version of Metal Gear Solid 2 featuring over 700 goal-based training missions, as well as 5 plot-based missions starring Snake.
- Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes - Released exclusively for the Nintendo GameCube in 2004. It is an enhanced remake of Metal Gear Solid with the graphical quality and gameplay features of Metal Gear Solid 2.
- Metal Gear Acid - Released for the PlayStation Portable in 2004. It is not an action game like traditional Metal Gear games, but a turn-based strategy game using a card-based combat system. Like Ghost Babel before it, it is not part of the Metal Gear continuity.
- Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence - Released for the PlayStation 2 in 2005 in Japan and in 2006 in North America and Europe. An expanded version of Metal Gear Solid 3 with a new camera system is added to the main game, with an additional disc containing an online multiplayer feature and the original Metal Gear games released for the MSX2.
- Metal Gear Acid 2 - Released for the PlayStation Portable in 2005 in Japan and in 2006 in North America and Europe. It features the same card-based gameplay of the original, with twice the number of cards. Like the original, it is not part of the main Metal Gear continuity.
- Metal Gear Solid: Digital Graphic Novel - Released for the PlayStation Portable in 2006. It is a video game version of the Metal Gear Solid comic adaptation by Ashley Wood. Released in Japan as Metal Gear Solid: Bande Desinée.
- Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops Plus - Released for the PlayStation Portable in 2007. It is an expansion of the original Portable Ops focusing primarily on online gameplay, featuring new characters, such as Old Snake from Metal Gear Solid 4, and new stages.
- Metal Gear Acid Mobile - A mobile phone remake of Metal Gear Acid. Several Characters and Locations have been removed due to the limited technology. There are two versions, one in 2D and one in 3D.
- Metal Gear Solid Mobile - Released for mobile phones in 2008. It is a mobile phone version of Metal Gear Solid. The story is not part of the regular Metal Gear continuity and therefore is not canon
- Metal Gear Solid 2: Bande Desinée - Released in Japan in 2008 as a DVD-Video. It contains a DVD of the original Digital Graphic Novel. Both, the original and the sequel, feature full voice acting. The Plant Chapter is told from Snake's point of view.
- Metal Gear Online - Originally a feature in Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence and Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops. A PlayStation 3 version is available as a free "starter pack" within Metal Gear Solid 4, which will be built upon with paid downloadable expansion packs over time.
- Metal Gear Solid 4 Database - A downloadable application for the PlayStation 3 that features an encyclopedia, timeline, and character relation charts covering all the canonical games in the series up to MGS4. The encyclopedia requires a clear save file of MGS4 to unlock spoilers related to that game.
The seven games in the Metal Gear
series continuity create a narrative that spans five decades. Of these seven titles, two are prequels set decades before the events of the original Metal Gear
. The Metal Gear
continuity is as followed:
Tone and themes
Although the series has a war setting and is of the action genre, and thus contains large amounts of (occasionally graphic) violence, it has an underlying tone of pacifism
. This is reflected throughout the series which has dealt with such themes as the futility of war, the absurdity of nuclear deterrence
, the dangers of nuclear weapons in general, the psychological effects of warfare on children and adults, the concept that enemies are only enemies in relative terms, and motivations behind the different lifestyles people choose. This tone and some of these themes reflect the mindset of a large amount of the Japanese cinema
made since the bombings of Hiroshima
in 1945. Another recurring theme is the negative portrayal of centralized governments as seen in MGS2: Sons of Liberty.
The original Metal Gear, which was released in 1987 during the Cold War, dealt with the manipulation of soldiers by politicians of the East and West, countered by the concept of "Outer Heaven", a country without politics. Its sequel Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, which was released in 1990 at the end of the Cold War, expanded on this with themes regarding political intrigue, battlefield ethics, military history, and the negative effects of warfare.
The overarching theme of the Metal Gear Solid series is that of the "gene, meme, and scene" and how people are affected by these factors according to the game's producer Kojima — Metal Gear Solid deals with genetics and the moral implications of genetic engineering, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty deals with how identity can be affected by the philosophies of one's society (a 'meme') and the effects of censorship on society, and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater deals with how the time and place one lives in (a 'scene') affects their identity and how politics change along with the times.
The longest running theme of the series is the continued manipulation of soldiers by politicians, countered in the series by a concept called "Outer Heaven". The original main villain, Big Boss, attempted to establish a purely military nation run by mercenaries solely for mercenaries. The succeeding games' villains felt they shared this ideal, coming up with new ways to create this so-called country without politics. Recently, the series has shown Big Boss in prequel games as the protagonist: a mercenary that is continually manipulated and forced through subsequent tragedies for political gain.
"Outer Heaven" has been attempted in many forms. Big Boss attempted to build his ideal state in Southern Africa in Metal Gear and in Central Asia in Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake. Liquid Snake spoke of turning a remote Aleutian island into a sovereign mercenary state in Metal Gear Solid. Solidus attempted to free Manhattan from "the Patriots" or "the La-li-lu-le-lo" in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. In Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, "Outer Heaven" is a parent company for private military companies that employs thousands of soldiers without a country.
While every attempt to secure an "Outer Heaven" immediately results in violence, the series balances the argument with politicians continually throwing mercenaries and soldiers to the wind for personal or political gain. In Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, several protagonists from Metal Gear return as antagonists after being betrayed by their governments. In Metal Gear Solid, the game's protagonist is purposely infected with a bio weapon because he was expected to fail as well as repeatedly lied to about the nature of his mission. In Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, the main protagonist was raised as a child soldier and inducted into a non-existent covert ops group complete with artificial intelligence stand-ins for commanding officers and loved ones. The prequel game Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater shows Big Boss and his mentor's dialogue over the subject of loyalty to a fickle and temporary government while carrying out missions that only benefit politicians at the cost of a soldier's mind, body, heart, and future.
Another recurring theme is that of eyepatches. Each Snake has worn an eyepatch with the exception of Liquid. Another theme that has been used in the series a few times is that the hero must battle against the organization that he worked for in the past. In Metal Gear Solid, Solid Snake has to battle against 6 members of his former unit, FOXHOUND. And in Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops, Big Boss / Naked Snake is fighting against his former unit, FOX, by recruiting soldiers and forming a new squad called FOXHOUND to combat against them.
The main focus of the first two Metal Gear games for the MSX dealt with rivalry between protagonist Solid Snake, a rookie member of FOXHOUND, and antagonist Big Boss, who is initially introduced as the commanding officer of FOXHOUND in the original Metal Gear, but is later revealed to be the leader of the South African fortress of Outer Heaven. In the following game, Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, Big Boss returns, taking control of the hostile nation of Zanzibar Land in Central Asia, confronting Snake for the second time. Supporting characters during this period includes fellow FOXHOUND agent Gray Fox and Metal Gear designer Dr. Drago Pettrovich Madnar, both of whom were on Snake's side during the first game, but became antagonists in the second.
Metal Gear Solid elaborates on the storyline of the early games, by revealing Solid Snake's heritage as a genetic clone of Big Boss, created from a secret government project. Here we are introduced to a new antagonist in the form of Liquid Snake, Snake's long-lost twin brother and leader of FOXHOUND after Snake's retirement. A third Snake brother also exists in the form of Solidus Snake, who is first introduced as the US President in the end of MGS and serves as the main antagonist of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. Several notable supporting characters are introduced during this period, including Russian cowboy Revolver Ocelot, who serves as an evil henchman to both Liquid and Solidus, but is revealed to be a mole (and the main representative) of an organization known as The Patriots, Hal "Otacon" Emmerich, Metal Gear REX designer, who becomes Snake's sidekick and forms the Anti-Metal Gear organization of Philanthropy with him. Other notable characters include Roy Campbell, Snake's former commander from MG2, and his "niece" (Later revealed to be his daughter), Meryl Silverburgh, who is based on her namesake from Policenauts. Raiden, whose role as the surprise protagonist of MGS2, is considerably one of the most controversial characters in the series. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots features the return of several characters from all three MGS games.
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, which is chronologically the first game in the series, introduces a younger version of Big Boss during the Cold War, who goes by the codename of Naked Snake. The game focuses on the rise of Naked Snake from apprentice to legendary soldier, as well as the downfall of his mentor and matriarical figure, The Boss. The origins of the Metal Gear mecha, The Patriots, The Philosophers, and FOXHOUND are all explored in MGS3. The game also features a younger version of Ocelot, where his origin as a triple agent for the KGB, GRU and CIA is explored. The recent Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops, serves as a direct sequel to MGS3 and features some of the same supporting characters, as well as young versions of Roy Campbell and Gray Fox.
A motif in the Metal Gear Solid games is the presence of a specialized team of commandos with unique abilities that serve as the bosses in each game. Starting with Solid Snake's former unit, FOXHOUND, followed by Dead Cell and the Cobra unit in Sons of Liberty and Snake Eater, respectively. Portable Ops parallels Solid Snake's confrontation with FOXHOUND by having his genetic progenitor, Naked Snake, confront his own former unit FOX. In Guns of the Patriots there is new Special unit called Beauty and the Beast unit. Their names are reference to the names of FOXHOUND members from Metal Gear Solid and the Cobra Unit in Metal Gear Solid 3.
A recurring theme amongst the bosses of Metal Gear Solid is that they adopt a name in the form of "The Sons of...". Liquid Snake referred to his army on Shadow Moses as the sons of Big Boss, due to everyone possessing genes from Big Boss's remains. Solidus Snake labeled Dead Cell and the Gurlukovich mercenaries under the unifying name "The Sons of Liberty", to fit his goal of liberating a city from the Patriots. Though it was not mentioned as much in Snake Eater, The Pain and Colonel Volgin use the name "sons of the Boss" in conversations with Big Boss, referring to those who were trained and have fought alongside the Boss. In MGS4, the term "Sons of the Patriots" is coined.
Another motif is the presence of a Ninja-like character, starting with Black Ninja/Black Color in Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, who was really Kyle Schneider, one of Snake's contacts in the original Metal Gear. The Cyborg Ninja is featured in the original Metal Gear Solid, and revealed to be none other than Gray Fox, Snake's former war buddy turned enemy. The identity is later adopted by another character (Olga Gurlukovich) in Sons of Liberty. The tradition of Ninja-like is continued by Null (who is revealed to be a younger Gray Fox) in Portable Ops and even Raiden himself (who now dons a Cyborg exoskeleton) in Guns of the Patriots.
A novel based on the original Metal Gear
was published in 1989 as a part of Scholastic
's Worlds of Power
line-up of novelizations
created by FX Nine based on third-party NES
games. It was written by Alexander Frost. The Metal Gear
novelization is not based on the game's actual storyline (as Kojima was not involved in the production of the book), but rather on Konami of America's localization of the plot (as depicted on the game's manual). The book takes even further liberties by giving Solid Snake the name of Justin Halley (since refuted by Metal Gear Solid
) and by changing the name of Snake's unit from FOXHOUND to the "Snake Men". Since the books were aimed at younger readers, Snake doesn't kill anyone and only uses his handgun once to destroy a lock. The cover artwork was airbrushed to remove Snake's gun.
In Japan, a Metal Gear gamebook was published on March 31, 1988, shortly after the release of the Famicom version as part of the Konami Gamebook Series, set two years after the events of the original Metal Gear.
A novelization based on Metal Gear Solid by Raymond Benson was published on May 27, 2008. A Japanese-language novelization of Guns of the Patriots by Project Itoh was published on June 12, 2008.
A radio drama
based on the original Metal Gear Solid
aired in Japan
from 1998 to 1999 as part of Konami's syndicated clud DB
program. Directed by Shuyo Murata
and written by Motosada Mori
, the serial lasted over 18 weekly installments spanning three story arcs. The series was later collected as a two-volume set.
The series serves as an alternate continuation to the events of Shadow Moses, with Solid Snake, Meryl Silverburgh, Mei Ling and Roy Campbell going on further missions as FOXHOUND operatives (Mei Ling and Meryl are depicted wearing a BDU and a sneaking suit respectively), although the stories are not considered part of the mainstream Metal Gear canon. The Japanese voice actors from the game (Akio Otsuka, Kyoko Terase, Takeshi Aono and Houko Kuwashima) reprised their roles for the series, while new characters are introduced as well.
A comic book
adaptation of the original Metal Gear Solid
was published by IDW Publishing
in 2004. It was written by Kris Oprisko
and with illustrations by Ashley Wood
. The series is comprised of 12 issues and has been collected in two trade paperbacks as well as a single hardback collector's edition. A comic book adaptation of Sons of Liberty
has also been published by IDW, written by Alex Garner with illustrations by Ashley Wood.
In 1999, McFarlane Toys
, with the collaboration of Konami
, launched a series of action figures depicting key characters from the original Metal Gear Solid
video game. In 2001, following the success of the first series, and with the release of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty,
McFarlane Toys and Konami combined their efforts to produce a line of action figures depicting Sons of Liberty
's main characters. Each character has a piece of Metal Gear RAY, so collecting the entire set is essential to build the robot.
Konami has also released 4" scale blind box figures based on MGS2 released in Japan, sons of liberty in 2002 and substance shortly after in 2003; the substance series was eventually brought to the US and UK markets packaged on card rather than blind boxed. During the release of MGS3 Medicom toys released 12" figures of Snake as part of their Real Action Heroes line. Medicom continued to support the franchise with the release of Kubrick figures for Snake Eater and Guns of the Patriots, which also included seven- and 12-inch versions of the game's characters.
Several promotional DVDs
have been released detailing the Metal Gear
series. Metal Gear Saga vol. 1
was released in 2006 as a pre-order disc for MGS3: Subsistence
. It is divided into five chapters, each dealing with one game of the then five-part Metal Gear
series in chronological order (beginning with MGS3
), and each include discussions by Hideo Kojima. Metal Gear Saga vol. 2
was first shown at the 20th Metal Gear Anniversary Party, and then released as a pre-order disc for MGS4
. In this, the video is presented as a pseudo-documentary about Solid Snake and is divided into a prologue and four chapters: Naked Snake-the birth of Snake (chronicling the events of MGS3
, and MG2
), Liquid Snake-the second snake (MGS
), Solidus Snake-the third Snake (MGS2
) and Solid Snake-the first Snake (setting the stage for MGS4
In May 2006, Metal Gear
series creator Hideo Kojima
announced that a film adaptation of Metal Gear Solid
was in development. The film was purported to be in English, said to be released some time in 2009. Kojima also announced at the Electronic Entertainment Expo
later that month that he had negotiated a contract with a party in Hollywood to adapt the video game into a film. Kojima also considered Alaska
as the site of the film production, due to the game's setting in the state.
David Hayter, the English voice actor for Solid Snake, had submitted his take for the movie but executives have passed on his script. He has previously written the screenplay to X-Men and co-written X2 and The Scorpion King. There has since been a petition web site started in the hopes of getting David Hayter involved with the project.
Producer Michael DeLuca has expressed interest in having Equilibrium director Kurt Wimmer write the script for the movie. Later on Kurt Wimmer was opted to direct the movie adaptation. Konami's Aki Saito had commented that There Will Be Blood director Paul Thomas Anderson was interested, but DeLuca dismissed the claim.