The latest addition to the Metal Gear series, the non-canon zombie game Metal Gear Survive, is out tomorrow. The series has been around for an incredible 31 years – and oh boy, the things we’ve seen.
The Metal Gear series is one of the most famous video game series for a reason. Mainly that the games are really good, with era-defining graphics and deep, well thought-through gameplay. Each of the games has become a classic of its era. Metal Gear Survive, the first without the participation of auteur Hideo Kojima – and the first after a very public fallout with Konami, the developers behind the rest of the series – comes out tomorrow.
It’s an online squad-based adventure game where you kill zombies, essentially. Like many games which try to dress up zombies as not-zombies, they’re called ‘creatures’ here. But I will not be fooled. Humanoid husks who creep slowly, or even quickly, through a world with the intention of eating brains are zombies. They’re zombies.
More crucially, Metal Gear Survive is not a canon title, so it’s not contributing to the well-documented plot that the previous Metal Gear games have set up. Despite this, a game where you travel through a wormhole to an alternate universe might be the most normal thing ever to happen in a Metal Gear game.
So in honour of this new game (kind of – mostly I just though there needed to be a concise yet detailed documentation of the insanity that is the Metal Gear games), I give you a largely commentary-free list of things that have one hundred percent happened through the 31 years of this series.
In the words of Margo Channing, sadly a fictional character in a film released 37 years prior to the birth of Metal Gear: strap in, because you’re in for a bumpy ride.
(There are spoilers, obviously.)
You play as a character named Solid Snake, which is a euphemism for a penis.
Your commanding officer, the appropriately named Big Boss, ends up being the person running the militaristic nation state called Outer Heaven.
A tank on legs is regarded as an asset rather than a crushing inconvenience on the field of battle.
Actual Character Names: Shotmaker, Machinegun Kid, Dirty Duck, Fire Trooper, Dr. Drago Petrovich Madnar, Bloody Brad, Jennifer.
Metal Gear 2
NASA, the space agency, runs a project which allows them to cybernetically enhance unsuspecting government employees into becoming ninjas. They do not send these ninjas into space.
You fight somebody who can run really fast, and the way to defeat him is by laying landmines so he can run over them, like some kind of human Speedy Gonzalez.
You fight an ex-Olympic figure skater who has turned into a Russian agent-turned-terrorist.
You get vital mission information via carrier pigeon. This game is set in 1999.
You are required to lure venomous hamsters out of their hiding hole to gain intel that is vital for the mission.
The villain of Metal Gear, Big Boss, is revealed to be the mastermind behind the whole plot, is still alive despite being set on fire, is set on fire again, and is revealed to be your father. It will be frustratingly unclear within the canon of the series whether you find this out now, in the next game, or in between games.
Actual character names: Black Ninja, Running Man, Red Blaster, Ultra Box, Night Fright, Jungle Evil, Holly.
Metal Gear Solid
A terrorist group threatens to launch a nuclear strike so they can get the DNA of former US military hero turned dead terrorist Big Boss. The leader of this terrorist group is also a clone of Big Boss. So is the protagonist. They are called Liquid Snake and Solid Snake. They look nothing alike, and one of them has a British accent (the evil one, obviously).
For some reason, Solid Snake is assigned to this mission, despite being the very definition of ‘too close to the mission’, given that the terrorist leader is a fellow clone.
A helicopter manages to shoot down two F16 fighter jets.
A man with a rocket launcher manages to shoot down this helicopter.
A man with grenades manages to disable a tank. (Same man as above).
A walking tank is still regarded as a huge military advantage (probably because it’s equipped with a nuclear warhead this time).
A man (same man) defeats this walking tank on foot, armed only with unbelievably kinetic cartwheels and slightly homing rocket launchers.
The developer of this walking tank pees himself immediately upon meeting you. He does not change his pants for the entirety of the game.
The developer of this walking tank falls in love with a sniper within the terrorist group, despite never actually meeting her, and despite her dying within about five hours of him finding out she exists.
The protagonist is injected with a disease that only targets specific people he runs into, and kills them almost instantly upon meeting them. The person who does this is the aggrieved sister of someone he killed in the previous game, and someone he has to kill in this game because he returns as a cyborg ninja.
There is a cyborg ninja who recites the names of train stations in Tokyo for no reason. He calls himself Deepthroat.
A man kills another man with rockets and then ravens immediately eat his corpse.
It turns out the terrorist group was working for the US president, who is also a clone of the same guy the others are clones of. He is called Solidus Snake, not Gas Snake, which is objectively funnier.
Actual character names: Vulcan Raven, Sniper Wolf, Decoy Octopus, Revolver Ocelot, Psycho Mantis, Liquid Snake, Meryl.
Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty
(Strap in, because this is the full-on insane one that talked about meme theory a good ten years before they became a concrete part of our terrifying existence.)
A terrorist group takes over a ship carrying the newest iteration of this walking tank (which can now swim). The leader of this terrorist group is Revolver Ocelot, who, upon hijacking the walking tank, is possessed by the spirit of Liquid Snake. Liquid Snake is able to possess Revolver Ocelot because Ocelot had Liquid Snake’s arm grafted to replace his own, which was cut off by the cyborg ninja in the previous game.
Two years after this, the player has to play as a mildly effeminate blonde man and the series never recovers from making them play as somebody whose name isn’t a euphemism for a penis. This blonde man, codenamed Raiden, has to rescue the president (a different president from the former president) from a terrorist takeover of a oil cleanup rig intended to clean up the wreckage from the terrorist attack two years previous.
Someone says the line: “I killed my soul.”
A bomb disposal expert called Fatman rides around on rollerskates while drinking wine. He dies while exclaiming, “Laugh and grow fat!”
A man is shot in the head multiple times and survives because he is a ‘vampire’. His codename is Vamp. It is explained that his codename is Vamp not because he looks like and has abilities that correlate with most vampires, but because he is bisexual.
A man goes up against a fighter jet on foot and does not immediately die, but in fact, wins. Everybody survives.
A woman is shot in the heart, someone tells us that her heart is on the other side of her body, and he immediately shoots her there instead. Nothing is changed by this revelation.
The president of the United States grabs the protagonist’s crotch and is surprised to find out he is a man. You can see this in the above video, if that’s your dysfunction.
The terrorists actually kill the president, which I forgot happened in this game because a lot of crazier things happen.
There is another cyborg ninja pretending to be the cyborg ninja from the last game, but it is actually a Russian woman with a barely masked accent who is working for the AIs because they’re holding her child hostage.
The sister of the man who peed himself immediately upon meeting the protagonist in the last game also pees herself immediately upon meeting the protagonist. This woman dies when she is inexplicably made to sneak by herself, despite having no previous military or combat experience.
The entire world is controlled by AIs called The Patriots, and who are individually named after American presidents, which is a little cute. There is an hour and a half cutscene where they explain why they’re controlling the world; it’s basically to control information.
Your mission control chief man is revealed to be an AI. Your fiance may also be an AI. Everything might be an AI.
You have a sword fight with the previous president of the United States on top of New York City Hall. He is wearing cybernetic armour which gives him tentacles, for some reason.
Actual character names: Fatman, Emma.
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
(This is set in the 60s, and before the rest of the series. I hate that I have to clarify this.)
This game’s title is a direct reference to fellatio.
You play as Big Boss, the aforementioned military hero-turned-terrorist-turned-cloned-a-few-times man from the previous games. This takes place during his military hero phase.
You are betrayed by your lifelong mentor twenty minutes into the game.
This mentor is able to carry two nuclear warheads, each of which weighs about 150 kilos each. This is never addressed.
A Russian intelligence officer launches a nuclear warhead on his own country. This is somehow not an international incident.
You destroy a tank while shooting from the back of a motorcycle.
The antagonist can shoot lightning from his hands, and also hold bullets and fire them with this lightning.
A man can control bees with the power of his mind.
A man is the world’s most-feared sniper at well over one hundred years old. You can win this fight by waiting for him to die of old age.
A man can jump around like a frog and fire a crossbow.
A man in an astronaut uniform is possessed by a spirit of literal fury, somehow.
All these men used to be members of the US Special Forces, lead by the protagonist’s mentor. They also defected to Russia, which appears to be a really easy thing to do in this world, because of this mentor.
The villain has a gay lover and everybody is real cool about it, surprisingly so for 60s Russia.
This gay lover gropes you to find out if you’re a man, which is a strange motif for a mainstream game to have.
The entirety of the game’s acapella theme song plays while you climb a ladder for two minutes. It is incredible.
It turns out your mentor defected as part of a secret mission given by the US government for her to get them a boatload of money set up by a secret society like 50 years before the start of the game, but the cost is that her most prized mentee has to kill her very loyal team, and she is publicly known as a traitor to her country for the rest of history.
Actual character names: The Sorrow, The Fear, The Pain, The Fury, The End, EVA.
Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker
The head of the CIA is called Hot Coldman.
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
(Oh boy. This is also a doozy.)
Solid Snake is now called Old Snake, because being a clone has drastically shortened his lifespan. He now appears to be anywhere from eighty to three hundred years old.
Nanomachines. Everything in this game happens because of Nanomachines. Why the vampire is a seemingly immortal vampire? Nanomachines. Why that soldier always shits himself? Because he doesn’t have Nanomachines. Why this one guy suddenly has control over all the guns in the world? Nanomachines.
EVA, from Metal Gear Solid 3, reappears, now with the codename Big Mama. She is not played by Martin Lawrence.
Revolver Ocelot has now changed his name to Liquid Ocelot because he is now permanently possessed by an arm, but also it turns out he is faking it and hypnotised himself to be ‘possessed’, for some reason. Also he kisses Snake during the last fight of the game.
It turns out Big Boss, who you set on fire twice, is still technically alive but braindead, and Big Mama is carrying his almost-corpse around to be permanently on life support, for some reason. It also turns out that this almost-corpse is actually the corpse of one of Big Boss’ clones, the former US President George Sears aka Solidus Snake.
It also turns out that Big Boss is properly alive, despite being set on fire twice, and you run into him during a mid-credits scene (where his credit literally comes up on screen and it cuts to the scene, which is kind of cool) and he’s fine and looks younger than his clone-son. He then immediately dies because Snake is still carrying around that disease which kills other people but not him.
After the boss fights, each of which happens with an improbably proportioned woman and is followed up with a ten minute cutscene detailing the horrors of war visited upon her, they walk slowly and provocatively towards you even as you shoot them with bullets. It’s as horrible and weird as it sounds.
The villain of the game has a ship with a version of Mt. Rushmore on the front, but instead of the presidents it is Big Boss and all his clones. This is never mentioned or brought up again as a weird and unnecessarily time consuming thing to do with your time, especially as a terrorist.
The child of the cyborg ninja from the previous game rewrites the AIs controlling the world so that they actually save the world and stop being bad AIs. She is eight years old.
Actual character names: Laughing Octopus, Raging Raven, Crying Wolf, Screaming Mantis, Sunny.
Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain (also Metal Gear Solid 4: Ground Zeroes)
(This one is set in between 3 and Metal Gear. Yes, it’s confusing. Yes, it’s kind of dumb.)
Your private military base is bombed when you rescue one of your staff (who has had a bomb put in her by the protagonist) and you wake up nine years later and have to escape from hospital. Part of this escape includes riding away from a child with psychic powers, who is revealed to be Psycho Mantis from Metal Gear Solid 1, and a massive flaming horse, which is later revealed to be the possessed spirit of the antagonist from Metal Gear Solid 3.
A skimpily clothed woman is revealed to dress that way because she breathes through her skin, so if she wore more clothes it would literally suffocate her. This is because of ‘parasites’, which are the nanomachines of this game. These same parasites also render her speechless. It’s not great, you guys.
A group of soldiers are infected with parasites, which essentially make them the fast zombies from 28 Days Later, no matter what you call them.
Parasites break free on your military base, meaning you have to kill a lot of the soldiers you spent the game recruiting.
It turns out that even though you think you’re playing as Big Boss, you’re actually playing as a nameless soldier who was given extensive plastic surgery and hypnotherapy to make him think he was Big Boss, and that this nameless soldier, called Venom Snake, is the first Big Boss that was killed in Metal Gear 1, which brings the series full circle while making absolutely no sense whatsoever.
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The father of the walking tank designer from Metal Gear Solid 1 tries to get his son – at age two – to pilot the walking tank he designed (but actually stole from another walking tank designer from Metal Gear Solid 3) and when the child’s mother (another walking tank/AI designer) tries to get her child out of it, he locks her in the cockpit. The game has a six minute audio track of her making a speech while she slowly suffocates to death.
Actual character names: Skull Face, Quiet, Code Talker, Eli.
And that is the Metal Gear Solid series. Enjoy Metal Gear Survive, I can promise you it will be less insane than anything that precedes it.
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