The complete history of Metal Gear

This feature comes courtesy of GamesRadar sister magazine 

With a storyline so baffling even Kojima doesn’t understand it, it’s only prudent we set straight the events leading to Metal Gear Solid: Rising. Be prepared for detail so utter, it may cause brainlock. Here is the complete timeline, including events not occurring directly in any of the games.

China, Russia and the USA form the Philosophers.

Jack/Naked Snake/Big Boss is born.

Otacon’s Grandfather begins work on the Manhattan Project.

President John Kennedy disobeys the Philosophers.

Kennedy is assassinated.

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
PS2 (2004)
Remakes: PS2 (2005) – MGS3: Subsistence; 3DS (2011) – The Naked Sample
Details: Most people who aren’t complete idiots consider Snake Eater to be the best Metal Gear ever. The controls are Kojima at his most mental but it’s one of the most technically impressive games on the PS2, and is even better in the Subsistence update with a full 3D camera.


The story: FOX agent Naked Snake – father of Solid Snake – parachutes into the Soviet jungle under orders from Major Zero to recover a Russian weapons designer and sabotage the new Soviet Shagohod superweapon. Snake is foiled by his own mentor, The Boss, whose defection and theft of the Shagohod by main baddy Volgin is covered up by the detonation of a nuclear bomb, ending the Virtuous Mission in failure.

With the US blamed for the bombing and the world on the brink of nuclear war, the US cuts a deal to prove its innocence and sends Snake to kill The Boss and destroy the stolen Shagohod. In the jungle he’s assisted by ex-NSA agent and defector EVA, fights Spetsnaz agent Ocelot, and learns of the Philosophers and the Philosophers’ Legacy – a $100 billion fund, illegally inherited by Volgin.

With the proto-Metal Gear Shagohod destroyed during a chase through a Soviet military base and Volgin and The Boss dead by his hand, Snake learns the truth about his mission. EVA reveals she was a double-double agent – a US agent pretending to defect to Russia but actually defecting to China – and was trying to secure the Legacy for the Chinese. The Boss, forever branded a traitor, was in fact loyal to the US and under orders to secure the Legacy and then die by Snake’s hand to prove the US’ innocence. With half the Legacy in American hands, Snake is named Big Boss but leaves a broken man, angry at his country and at the world.

Big Boss rescues Frank Jaeger – later, Gray Fox – from the Mozambican civil war.

Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops
PSP (2008)
Remakes and expansions: PSP (2009) – Portable Ops +
Details: Portable Ops was an ambitious and full-featured Metal Gear game, with neat little missions perfectly designed for Sony’s handheld, spoiled by controls apparently built for players with three thumbs. The first of three ‘proper’ MGS PSP games, it wasn’t until Peace Walker that Kojima’s team got it right.

The story: Six years after the events of Snake Eater and half the Philosophers’ Legacy is still in play, leading the now renegade FOX unit to capture and torture Big Boss in hopes of uncovering its whereabouts. In the cells of FOX’s base – an abandoned Soviet missile silo in Colombia – Big Boss meets Green Beret Roy Campbell and promptly escapes from the facility. When Big Boss makes contact with his comrades from the Operation: Snake Eater missions he discovers he has taken the blame for FOX going rogue and so Big Boss forms a new group named FOXHOUND to hunt the FOX rebels. His group includes Zero, Para-Medic, Ocelot, EVA, and Jaeger.

Having ousted Zero as FOX’s commanding officer a few years after Snake Eater, super-soldier Gene was the first soldier to undergo genetic alteration by the Philosophers in an attempt to create the perfect warrior. Big Boss brings FOX down and defeats Gene, who accepts Big Boss as the true successor to The Boss and hands him FOX’s soldiers, funds, and his plans to build a military nation-state named Army’s Heaven.

Behind the scenes the entire FOX rebellion was orchestrated by Ocelot and FOX’s former CO, Zero, to drive the CIA’s director out of hiding and grab the entire Philosophers’ Legacy. Tired of the inadequacy and internal politicking of the existing secret Philosophers government, Ocelot kills the head of the CIA, seizes control of the Legacy and forms a new group of American Philosophers with Zero, Big Boss, and the former FOX members from Snake Eater under a new name. Following a corrupted version of the original Boss’ dream of a united world, Zero’s ‘Patriots’ soon took control of every aspect of America’s government and made Big Boss a legendary figure and the figurehead of their organization.

FOXHOUND made a US Army unit.

Big Boss is injured and left comatose. With Zero’s dream threatened, Big Boss’s genes are used to birth three children, with EVA as their surrogate mother. Solid and Liquid Snake were twins – imperfect clones of their father – while the third brother, Solidus, was a flawless clone of Big Boss. Upon his recovery Big Boss learned of Zero’s betrayal and turned on the Patriots, leaving FOXHOUND and wandering around the Earth, later forming the Militaires sans Frontieres army during the events of Peace Walker.

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker
PSP (2010)
Details: Originally named Metal Gear Solid 5, Peace Walker takes the best bits of every Metal Gear game and squeezes them all onto one UMD. With a ‘westernized’ control scheme similar to MGS 4 it’s more easily enjoyed than Portable Ops and is among the two or three best games on the PSP.

The story: Returning to his Naked Snake codename, Big Boss and Militaires sans Frontieres – ‘Soldiers without Borders’ – is enlisted by Costa Rican agents to help liberate the country from a growing military presence. As Snake assembles an army he learns about Peace Walker – yet another prototype Metal Gear, designed as the ultimate nuclear deterrent. In a world where mutually assured destruction guarantees a world without nuclear war, human error threatens the ‘mutual’ part of the MAD acronym. Powered by an early AI based on the original Boss’s psychology, Peace Walker will return fire without hesitation, launching nuclear missiles at any target which fires upon it.

Shadowy CIA bastard Coldman is revealed to be the brains behind the events of Operation: Snake Eater and the man manipulating events in Costa Rica. He attempts to feed false data to Peace Walker to force it to retaliate against Militaires sans Frontieres’ Mother Base but is killed by the KGB, who are in turn attacked by the MSF. In his dying moments Coldman re-programs Peace Walker to fire on Cuba and send fake data to NORAD. As Snake fights one-on-one with Peace Walker the US prepares to retaliate against a non-existent Soviet launch. Snake is forced to take on the mantle of Big Boss again to convince the US joint chiefs of staff that the launch is a fake but when they refuse to believe him Peace Walker’s Boss AI chooses to drown itself in the ocean, killing the false signal.

With Peace Walker’s designers now among the MSF’s army, Big Boss’ organization builds its own Metal Gear, which is promptly stolen by Zero’s own secret agent Paz Andrade who plans to launch the Metal Gear’s nuclear weapon against America and frame the MSF. Snake does what Snake does and takes down Zeke before addressing his troops and promising them a nation of their own – Outer Heaven.



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  • stayinfrosty707 - October 18, 2013 5:39 p.m.

    Coming from someone whos never fully played a MGS game, this is great, and has got me up to speed on the MGS story. Now if only there was video footage for this....
  • SolidJohn - December 13, 2010 1:37 p.m.

    I love the Metal Gear storyline, but holy fuck is it hard to follow sometimes. Whoever wrote this deserves a cookie. However, he should bring up the fact that Ocelot was actually tricked into thinking he succeeded in his plans, hence his "this is just as I had hoped things would end!" line, and how he predicts that the world will descend into chaos, thus fulfilling Big Boss' will (ie Outer Heaven, a world where people will fight and know the fullness of life)... all of which Otacon contradicts when he explains how FOXALIVE cut off the Patriots, while also preserving society. I see people confuse this issue and think Ocelot actually WANTED FOXALIVE to preserve society (even though he actually said otherwise), so I think this should be cleared up here. Either way, this and The Snake Soup editorial "A World Of Men, Not Snakes" are my two favorite articles/analysis on the basic Metal Gear storyline.
  • miguju999 - October 21, 2010 6:34 a.m.

    portable ops+!!!
  • JESS - October 8, 2010 4:10 p.m.

    Finally!! I was basicly busting my head open to figure out what happend to Raiden body!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • zerate - October 6, 2010 3:22 p.m.

    Finally i understand ^_^
  • KippDynamite - October 5, 2010 5:01 p.m.

    Written by an xbox mag? huh . . .
  • lovinmyps3 - October 5, 2010 4:18 p.m.

    And Naomi wasn't killed by Vamp, Naomi allowed herself to be killed by the cancer that should have killed her a long time ago, but she was being sustained by nanomachines of her own creation.
  • cj12297 - October 5, 2010 4:05 p.m.

    why is this by a 360 magazine
  • lovinmyps3 - October 5, 2010 4:01 p.m.

    Holy shit! I didn't know that stuff about Paz! Apparently I haven't beat Peace Walker after all.
  • Sleepingdragon - October 5, 2010 3:12 p.m.

  • KiwiCommander - October 5, 2010 1:18 p.m.

    Awesome, I love Metal Gear and glad you guys made a time line. BTW, dont forget about ZOE too... IMO they are in the same universe :P
  • philipshaw - October 5, 2010 12:05 p.m.

    I already knew all of this. Also typical of a 360 mag to slag off MGS4
  • sleepy92ismypsn - October 5, 2010 8:30 a.m.

    Why is this from a Xbox 360 magazine? I bought MGS4 day 1 and even though it was my first MGS game it ended up being one of my favorite games of this gen. I recently played through 1 and 2 and I have 3 but haven't started it. Don't want to spoil anything so I'll favorite this article and read it after I finish 3 and Peace Walker.
  • Thequestion 121 - October 5, 2010 4:52 a.m.

    That has got to be the greatest history of the Metal Gear series I have ever read!
  • bamb0o-stick - October 5, 2010 3:55 a.m.

    Just wanted to add a correction: Naomi doesn't get killed by Vamp. She actually kills herself by allowing the nano-machines that were suppressing her cancer to stop functioning. I'm guessing it was acting as some sort of life-support and by injecting herself with Snake's serum it shuts them all down. There's probably some more crap I left out, but that's what I got out of that part of the game.
  • NightCrawler_358 - October 5, 2010 2:58 a.m.

    Very nice, but it made me feel like such a nerd to already know all this lol. But great for people being introduced to this great series.
  • batmanboy11 - October 5, 2010 12:42 a.m.

    I'm suprised it can be condensed so much. When I tried to explain everything to my friend, it took like an hour, and he just barely understood.
  • scrimbleshanks - October 5, 2010 12:35 a.m.

    Not a bad article but, Ocelot was G.R.U. not spetznaz.
  • RazielArcanum - October 5, 2010 12:22 a.m.

    Beautiful. The only reason I got my PS3 (this year, the wait killed me) was for MGS4 and the only reason I've ever considered getting a PSP is for the MGS games on that. Guess I'll take the plunge after Christmas.
  • FnKaiser - October 5, 2010 12:20 a.m.

    great article, i love gamesradar features for articles like this one. just awesome.