Metal Gear Series Retrospective

Did you know that the Metal Gear Series recently had its 25th anniversary? To help celebrate it, Kojima Productions revealed that all of their Metal Gear titles combined has sold more than 31 million copies worldwide at the opening of the Smithsonian Art of Video Games Exhibition. A hell of a run for one of gaming’s most recognizable and longest-running franchises.

Starting with the original Metal Gear for the MSX, the series has spawned some of the best and most loved games of the last 30 years. While popular, the Metal Gear series really took off after the release of Metal Gear Solid for the original PlayStation, followed by the not-so-popular Metal Gear Solid: VR Missions.

In 2000, Metal Gear: Ghost Babel relesed to much fanfare on the Game Boy Color and is still regarded as the 12th best game on the handheld with an aggregate score of 95.92% over at GameRankings. A year later, Metal Gear Solid 2 debuted on the PlayStation 2 after years of speculation and media hype. While amazing, the game became infamous for it’s bait-and-switch which had players taking control of series joke Raiden about 20% into the game.

The Twin Snakes (GameCube)

In 2004, the Nintendo Gamecube received its very own exclusive MGS game in The Twin Snakes, a remake/re-imagining of Metal Gear Solid for the PS1. Developed by Silicon Knights and directed by famed Japanese director Ryuhei Kitamura (VersusMidnight Meat Train) instead of Hideo Kojima, the game’s cut scenes had that signature Kitamura flair to it, with lots of slow-motion action choreography and over-the-top action that differentiated Twin Snakes from Kojima’s original vision.

November 2004 marked the release of what many consider the best game in the series with Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. Despite having some similarities with MGS2, the game introduced many gameplay additions that brought new styles of play to the tried-and-true stealth action MGS gameplay. It introduced camoflague, a new CQC (Close Quarters Combat) system, an injury/treatment system, as well as Cold War-era equipment and weaponry. It also told the story of Big Boss, the original soldier that Solid Snake was cloned from.

Metal Gear Solid 3 – The final battle with Boss

MGS3 was a critical and commercial success, having sold more than 3.96 million copies worldwide. It also spawned multiple remakes such as Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence in 2005 and Metal Gear Solid 3D for the Nintendo 3DS in 2011.

The early days of Sony’s PSP received two experimental Metal Gear experiences. Metal Gear Acid and Metal Gear Acid 2 were more focused on turn-based card game tactics as opposed to the standard stealth action gameplay found in older titles. The game also follows an alternate timeline separate from the main MGS saga. Before each round of gameplay, players had to organize and customize their card decks to be used in battle; each card had different elements and uses for each situation. Acid sold well enough on the PSP to warrant a new title. The sequel, Metal Gear Acid 2 continues on the story of the first game but replaced Acid’s realistic graphics with a uniquely colorful, cel-shaded look. It twice the number of cards available for play, a tutorial mode, Sneaking and Elimination missions, a new protagonist, and (in Japan) a Solid Eye box that attached to the PSP for stereoscopic 3D graphics.

Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops (PlayStation Portable)

In 2006 the world was introduced to the first-full on PSP Metal Gear Solid experience with Metal Gear Portable Ops. It featured the stealth-action gameplay that fans expected from the series along with an army recruitment system that allowed the main character (Big Boss) to recruit his army that would later become Militaires Sans Frontiers. Soldiers who fall in battle are eliminated from Boss’ army completely making each battle an important one. It also included an online multiplayer mode based on the MGS3: Subsistence Online game mode.

In 2008, Metal Gear Solid 4 was released for the PlayStation 3. The title became the fastest selling PS3 game that year and became the PlayStation 3’s first legitimate system-seller. It told the story of Old Snake in his final mission against Liquid Ocelot who is trying to Hijack the SOP (Sons of the Patriots) control network to use in his plans of global domination. Snake’s final mission is a depressing one; each act bringing tragedy to closer to the hero. However, even with everything stacked against him, Snake carries on with his mission, his final act as a hero and son of the legendary Big Boss.

MGS 4 – Snake’s final mission (PlayStation 3)

The other part of the MGS4 package was Metal Gear Online. The game, which could be played with 16 other people, offered several game modes that highlighted Metal Gear Online’s unique style of tactical team warfare. It featured the traditional third person style firefights along with the the series’ CQC manuevers for up-close fighting. While extremely fun and rewarding, Metal Gear Online had a high barrier of entry. Tutorials did not prepare new players for the MGO’s brutal tactical warfare. As well, MGO was plagued by cheating and DDOS attacks that pretty much broke the game because of directed server overloads.

In 2009, the iPod and iPod Touch received its very first Metal Gear game with Metal Gear Solid TouchMGS:Touch re-told the story of MGS4 albeit with shooting gallery-type gameplay. Basically Touch allows players to control Snake’s aim as he battles soldiers, tanks, choppers in various locations throughout MGS4’s story. After each level, the player’s performance is calculated and awarded with Drebin Points. Like in MGS4, Drebin Points allowed players to purchase rewards for the game as well as their iOS device.

Heralded as one of 2010’s best games, Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker was released for the dying PSP. In Peace Walker, players got to continue Big Boss’ adventure as he hunted down nukes  and uncovered a vast conspiracy deep in Central American jungles. All the while building his “Military without borders” into what would eventually be called Outer Heaven. Single player was fun, the story was top-notch, voice acting was perfect, and the shooting mechanics much improved upon from Portable Ops. Many even consider it the  near perfect Metal Gear Solid experience, second only to Snake Eater.

MGS HD Collection (PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360)

Finally, 2011 marked the release of Metal Gear Solid HD Collection for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. It included MGS2, MGS3, MGS: Peace Walker, Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2 in one feature-filled package. All of the games have been rebuilt and remastered for the both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 and featured improved controls, trophies and achievements, dual analog stick support (MGS: Peace Walker fans rejoice!) and cross-save functionality (aka. Transfarring) between PSP and PS3. This meant that players can use their MGS: Peace Walker save on the PSP, import it to the PS3 and play the game using the HD collection disc on the TV.


Which of the Metal Gear games was your favorite? Let us know in the comment section below.

(I originally wrote and published this piece for SonyRumors.Net)


About janhutchings

Canadian Game Industry Blogger / Contributor for @Sonyrumors & @ShogunGamer / Communications and PR Professional. Voice of Canadian and Indie Gaming.

Posted on March 30, 2012, in Opinions And Editorials and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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