Whoever said videogames have no cultural value needs a shot in the mouth - or they need to sit down with The Longest Journey, Metal Gear Solid or any of the other games on our list of Best Videogame Stories EVER. A good story isn’t necessary for a good game (Halo, Super Mario Galaxy or Tetris, anyone?) but that’s what makes the games on our list just that much more important. These are good games with amazing stories of epic battles, emotional intrigues, bloody betrayals and mind-bending existentialisms that do more than make you play the game. They make you love the game and remember it long after the tale is told.
Secret agent Solid Snake is yanked out of a well-earned retirement and sent to a remote island in Alaska, where a military black-ops team has gone rogue and seized a nuclear weapon. Once there, Snake meets a bunch of interesting people, snaps most of their necks and endures capture, torture and the company of a guy who pees his pants when ninjas menace him. He soon learns he's part of a government cloning project, and that his clone "brother" wants to use a giant, walking, nuclear-armed tank called Metal Gear to kill him. Moreover, some of his allies seem intent on betraying him, and there's no way to know whom to trust. Overcoming impossible odds, he ultimately saves the day (and the girl, if you're lucky) by accidentally infecting his brother with a lethal virus for which he was made an unwitting carrier. Snake is unaffected by the virus - but for how long?
Why it’s the Best:
A big part of what sets Metal Gear Solid and its sequels apart from other games is their moral ambiguity; while Snake is always on the right side of the law - or at least seems to be - the people he fights are almost never truly evil. Their motivations are complex, and more often than not, they're fighting on the "wrong" side because they're clued in to the monstrous, uncaring conspiracy that's operating behind the "good" guys.
Nowhere was this more true than in the first Metal Gear Solid. Each boss battle is a story in itself, and everyone you kill will deliver a strangely poignant monologue when you off them. One of the villains, Sniper Wolf, even has a weird romantic thing going on with Snake's new buddy, nerdy engineer Hal "Otacon" Emmerich - and her death at Snake's hands completely obliterates any notions Otacon had about the nobility of war. As the plot evolves - largely through "codec" radio conversations that drop in treatises on nuclear war and escalation of powers - you'll start to wonder if you're on the right side at all, thanks in part to several of your "allies" covertly manipulating you into doing their bidding the whole time.
Of course, all doubt about which side you're on goes out the window when you're captured and tortured by Revolver Ocelot, simultaneously one of the most likable and hateful villains in videogame history. He's a sadist, but he's also got a certain charm, and the broken-fourth-wall torture sequence ("Don't even think about using auto-fire, or I'll know!") remains one of the most memorable in the game - partly because something was actually riding on it. Fail to resist the torture, and the life of Snake's love interest, Meryl Silverburgh, is forfeit.
Then there's the eerie Psycho Mantis scene, in which the floating psychic reads your memory cards and moves your controller across the floor. And the strange appearances of the Ninja, a cyborg assassin who seems to know Snake. It all culminates in the final, inevitable confrontation between Solid and Liquid Snake, the latter of which refuses to die even when he's been blown up, beaten half to death and shot full of holes by a jeep-mounted machinegun. Gripping from start to finish, the first MGS still stands as the most compelling - and least confusing - entry in the series so far, and a damn good story to boot.