There are countless gaming franchises out there, with many of them being monumental and inspiring to the industry’s growth. One of my personal favorites and admittedly one of the greatest gaming franchises of all time is, of course, the Metal Gear series. We even included it in our Best Single Player Games!
Originally created by, “the god himself”, Hideo Kojima in 1987, with many releases in 30 years, and all but 3 were created by Hideo Kojima. Unfortunately, Konami, the publishing company, parted ways with Kojima in 2015, marking the end of the MGS series shortly after.
Nevertheless, someone new to the series could be confused with the number and order of MG games, but thankfully we are here to list them all for you! Do note that we are gonna list the games in order of their release date since their order by lore events will be confusing to track.
Last but not least, some games are considered non-canon to the story continuity. We will still point out those games for our readers to see! Let’s begin:
This game was the start of it all.
Released in 1987 for the MSX2, Metal Gear followed the story of Solid Snake, as he infiltrates the fortress of Outer Heaven to find and destroy the Metal Gear, a bipedal weapon capable of launching nuclear strikes.
With overhead camera perception and stealth mechanics, the game was a big hit in Japan, being on the Top 20 best-selling MSX games for 5 months. Its success produced two different sequels. One was directed by Hideo Kojima. The other was an independent project, only released in the Western markets with Kojima being unaware of its existence for a while.
After the success of Metal Gear, Konami moved on to a sequel for the NES console, which would only be released in North America first, and in Europe later. The sequel was called Snake’s Revenge.
Gameplay-wise, the game stays true to the original, with the same stealth mechanics applying to the sequel as well.
Hideo Kojima had no idea about the development of the game, and according to the rumors, he learned about its existence from one of the new developers. Then proceeded to develop his own true sequel; Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake.
The true sequel to 1987’s Metal Gear, developed by Hideo Kojima this time, Metal Gear 2 was released exclusively in Japan back in 1990. The first time the Western market reached to the game was much later, with the release of Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence, which also included Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2 as bonus content.
Set a few years after the original, in a place called Zanzibar Land, the game improved almost every inconvenience that the original had, with the stealth mechanics being prominent. In addition, the storyline was improved a lot, along with the addition of themes of warfare and nuclear proliferation.
One of the most critically acclaimed games of the first PlayStation console, Metal Gear Solid was a masterpiece that influenced countless games for the years to come.
Set in 2005, six years after the events of Metal Gear 2, following the role of Solid Snake once again in order to infiltrate a remote Alaskan nuclear base on the island of Shadow Moses. The game featured a 3D environment, although it retained most of its overhead camera perspective. The Soliton Rader was also introduced, as well as new mechanics such as Alert Mode.
We should also mention the amazing soundtracks the game featured and, that we –the die-hard fans– silently still sing to this day!
Ghost Babel was the first game of the series to be released on a handheld console which was the Gameboy Color. The game is set seven years after the events of the original Metal Gear but is considered non-canon, as it is taking place in an alternate continuity.
While the game has many similarities to Metal Gear 2, it has some added elements, such as 8 direction movement, screen scrolling instead of flip-screens as well as being able to hug walls like in Metal Gear Solid.
Despite its non-canon storyline, the game had a big success, and it’s considered one of the best games to play on Gameboy color.
We could talk about this game for hours, days even. It is my personal favorite game of the series after all. Metal Gear Solid 2 takes place 2 and 4 years (prologue & main game) after the events of the Shadow Moses. It’s the first game that features two playable characters, one being Solid Snake and the other Raiden.
There were though a couple of dissatisfied fans, due to the fact that Raiden was the game’s main playable character, but we respectfully disagree. Raiden is an amazing character that was meant to be in later games.
The story will follow the return of many familiar characters and will definitely hit the player with some unexpected plot twists. It has a great duration and we urge everyone that will play it to pay attention to every cutscene and dialogue. We guarantee that the storyline will blow your mind!
A year later after its release, the Substance version was released. It is basically an extended version that contains VR Missions, Alternative Missions as well as some extra game modes like Snake Tales, which are missions set in areas of the game with Solid Snake as the main character. These missions are non-canonical.
Start it up and get pumped by the amazing intro soundtrack which will have you saluting and will haunt you for years to come!
The Twin Snakes is the remake of Metal Gear Solid, released only for the Gamecube.
Although the story is pretty much the same as the original, The Twin Snakes added some major gameplay-changing elements, for instance, you could now enter the First-Person mode like you could in MGS2. They also improved the AI so that enemies could now communicate with each other and detect you more efficiently.
The best improvement is the voice acting. Due to the Gamecube’s better audio quality, Konami re-recorded all the dialogues, with the majority of the original voice actors returning to their roles. The voices in The Twin Snakes are the “canon” voice, as these are the ones Snake hears when he reminisces the past in Metal Gear Solid 4.
And this one, my friends, if you ask me, is one of the greatest videogames of all time. It is the critically acclaimed, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater.
Snake Eater was the first game in which we got to follow the role of the “Big Boss” and witness his rise to greatness. Set in 1964, the game spans over two missions: Virtuous Mission (prologue) and Operation Snake Eater (main game). A tale of loyalty, betrayal, and sacrifice. A story that is crafted masterfully and will get you hooked from the beginning.
Gameplay-wise, MGS3 is an innovator for its time. Countless mechanics were added, more notably, the camouflage, depending on the area. For example, you can use a different camo suit for hiding in the grass and another one for hiding on rocks.
Another major gameplay addition is the animals and the plants. You can capture and eat wild animals as well as plants in order to restore stamina. Also, the jungle can be used in order to traverse and stay hidden by climbing trees.
An injury treatment system was also added. There are many cases in which Snake can get injured for different reasons, like poison or a broken leg or even by taking a bullet. The system asks you to treat these injuries yourself, and if left untreated there will be consequences.
We could be writing forever for this true masterpiece of the PlayStation 2 era, but we prefer that you go and have a taste for yourself if you don’t have already.
Metal Gear Acid was the first game of the series to be released for the PSP. It is a turn-based collectible card RPG and its story is considered non-canon.
Set in 2016, a plane carrying an important politician is hijacked by terrorists. They demand from the US Government to reveal a study that was being conducted in Africa. The US sends in Solid Snake to infiltrate the research facility and learn everything about the project and rescue the politician that is captivated.
While the game was not close to the previous ones, as the gameplay was extremely different. Received mostly positive reviews, and also spawned a mobile version called Metal Gear Acid Mobile.
The sequel to the first game, Acid 2, is set some years after the events of its predecessor and features no major gameplay changes, except for the Solid Eye.
The Solid Eye is a foldable cardboard box that comes with the game and it can be slid over the PSP. When in Solid Eye mode the PSP divides the screen into two different images and when you look through the Solid Eye the images overlap and produce a 3D effect.
Another difference to the first game is the use of cel-shaded graphics, replacing the dark graphics. Again, the game produced favorable reception.
Portable Ops sets the return of classic Metal Gear Solid gameplay for the first time on PSP. The story is canon and set 6 years after the events of Snake Eater.
The story revolves around Naked Snake, who has to fight his former unit after they revolt. The cast sees the return of known supporting characters from MGS3 as well as “new” ones.
The greatest addition to the game is the Comrade System. This mechanic allows the player to recruit enemies and turn them into allies who can then be sent on missions. Also, the game features a multiplayer portion, Metal Gear Online, which can affect the single-player portion and vice versa.
Portable Ops Plus is a standalone expansion of the previous game which now features many -mainly multiplayer- additions. Single-player-wise, the game eliminates the classic story campaign and replaces it with a mode called “Infinity Mission”.
MPO+ also added new multiplayer maps, raised the soldier cap to 200, and gave them new skills. A boss rush mode was added when the game detects a save file from the original game.
For those that want to follow the story, the original Portable Ops is recommended.
Release Date: 11 December 2008
Developer: Ideaworks Game Studios
The mobile version of MGS was released way back in 2008 when smartphones were not providing the convenience of a touch screen yet, so the game used the numbers pad as its controller.
Story-wise, the game takes place between MGS and MGS2. That being said, there were discussions over its canonicity in the Metal Gear main storyline. While it could be canon, there are no mentions of its events on any other game, hence the Non-Canon label. We might have some reserves for this one though.
It’s apparent that you will no longer be able to play this game.
Metal Gear Solid 4 is the next main entry to the series and the epilogue as well, so basically it is the closing of the main storyline.
We are talking about one of the last generation’s masterpieces and an era-defining game. Set in 2014, it follows Solid Snake, infected with a degenerative disease that has greatly accelerated his aging and now goes about as Old Snake (flexing an amazing mustache!?).
We won’t talk about the story much, cause it’s something players should experience themselves and shouldn’t be spoiled to the slightest. Gameplay-wise there were stealth elements added, such as the OctoCamo suit, which mimics the appearance of any surface Snake lays upon, hence making it difficult for enemies to spot you.
During specific moments in cutscenes, players will be prompted to interact and give out flashbacks that were nostalgic for those that followed the story from the beginning.
Truly a piece of art, MGS4 will strike your feelings like thunder. Have fun!
Metal Gear Online was released worldwide along with MGS4 and got a standalone release for Japan exclusively. It featured up to 16-player matches, a noticeable variety of modes, and satisfying character customization.
The Online mode had a respectable number of players in Japan, until its servers shut down in 2011, due to energy conservation needs after Japan’s Earthquakes of the same year.
The mode returned in 2015, with the release of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.
Metal Gear Solid Touch was released for iOS devices and it is based on MGS4.
The player moves through various stages and eliminates enemies in order to progress. Every so often boss based on MGS4 will also have their part in the game.
The gameplay and mechanics are pretty simple, so there’s not much content to analyze this game. A very trivial release.
Originally released for the PlayStation Portable and later ported as part of the Metal Gear HD Collection, Peace Walker gets us back in control of Big Boss and depicts major events in the storyline.
Set in 1974 in Costa Rica, the story follows Big Boss and his mercenary unit, Militaires Sans Frontières. The story ties in with both MGS3 and Portable Ops as a sequel and with MGSV as a prequel.
One of the most critically acclaimed games of the PSP, Peace Walker features the recruiting mechanics seen in Portable Ops, only this time they use the Fulton Recovery System, which can be attached to subdued enemies and they are auto-collected.
Also, the player can manage the Mother Base, where he can assign recruited soldiers to various teams, depending on where they are best suited. Recruited soldiers can also be sent on missions called Outer Ops.
There’s also a multiplayer mode, where players can undertake missions with another player or take up battles with enemy vehicles, up to 4-player combat.
Social Ops was released for Android and iOS devices in 2012. It featured many characters from previous games. Gameplay wise it was similar to Metal Gear Acid.
Apparently, it was shut down a year after its release.
Revengeance is the second game to feature Raiden as the main protagonist and featured more action-oriented gameplay, with much less emphasis on stealth.
The story is set in 2018, four years after the events of Metal Gear Solid 4. It follows Raiden, now a complete Cyborg Ninja, as he uncovers a plot to turn children into cyborg soldiers.
As much as different the game was, compared to its predecessors, it remained true to Metal Gear’s essence. The combat was smooth yet fast-paced and the Zandatsu mechanic was completely badass! The story was really satisfying, yet a bit short. Another plus was the boss fights, each with different mechanics.
The developers want a sequel. Apparently, the feud between Konami and Kojima was the reason why the developer team had to postpone their plans, at least for now.
Ground Zeroes is the prologue of “The Phantom Pain”, and it features one main story mission. Originally the mission was to be included in the Phantom Pain alone, but extended production time forced Kojima to release it as a standalone game in order to give the fans a good taste of what was coming.
The game has mostly positive reviews, although its short duration is to be considered. In addition, it was the first game that did not feature David Hayter as the voice actor of Snake, and it was something that obviously upset the loyal fans.
The full game, called The Phantom Pain, was released the following year. It picks up right where Ground Zeroes left off and follows the story of Venom’s “Punished” Snake.
Gameplay wise it is very smooth, with various mechanics that allow the player to navigate and execute missions however they want. One minus would be the constant loading times between missions, which was a bit time-consuming.
In addition, there’s a long-awaited return of the Mother Base mechanic, and thankfully very well improved. Weapons and items can now be developed in exchange for the game’s currency. The importance of recruitment of soldiers is now high, as it helps to raise your teams’ levels and develop better equipment.
There’s also the Buddy system which Snake can utilize in order to have support during missions.
Storywise the game is set in 1984 and ties in with the original Metal Gear of 1987. Some also long-awaited explanations will be given about things that might have been left a mystery before.
The story deals with moral themes and will strike the players’ feelings from time to time. On the downside, it tends to lose focus on the story’s flow sometimes, by giving the player some “not-really-necessary” story missions.
This was also Hideo Kojima’s last game since his feud with Konami resulted in parting ways eventually. This was, most likely, the last “true” Metal Gear game that was released. Unfortunately, this game was not the last taste we’ve been left with. There was one last release. Not a really good last taste to be left with, to be really honest.
Unfortunately, Konami didn’t let Metal Gear rest in peace, along with his partnership with Kojima. They released Metal Gear Survive.
You might think that we are a little harsh, but the “Metal Gear” series, need to be treated respectfully. It holds a huge legacy and has proved to be a great gaming franchise.
Metal Gear Survive is an action-survival game. The player lands in a world of zombies, by traveling through a wormhole that is set on the Mother Base (we won’t elaborate more as we might spill a spoiler or two).
There was no essence of Metal Gear anywhere in the game. It didn’t stay true to its legacy. Felt more like “milking” from Konami if anything. I struggled to even include it in this list, but a complete list has to be totally complete.
And this is it. This is every Metal Gear game ever released. Got a favorite? Feel free to tell us in the comment section below!