The complete history of Metal Gear

Big Boss and FOXHOUND fight in various African civil wars.

Solidus Snake kills Raiden’s parents and raises Raiden as a child soldier. Big Boss forms Outer Heaven in South Africa, a military nation-state populated by MSF members and built upon plans laid by Gene.

Solid Snake fights in the first Gulf War for the US. Liquid Snake fights for the SAS. He is captured in Iraq.

Big Boss returns to America to take charge of FOXHOUND.

Liquid Snake is freed.

Metal Gear
MSX (1987), NES (1987), MS-DOS (1990), Commodore 64 (1990), Mobile (2004)
Details: The first Metal Gear was released for the MSX in Japan but was changed significantly for its NES port. Many of the game’s key set pieces – the underwater infiltration, tank hangar, HIND battle, and final escape are mirrored in Metal Gear Solid.

The story: Following the failure of FOXHOUND agent Gray Fox’s own mission in Outer Heaven, Big Boss dispatches a rookie Solid Snake under orders to recover Gray Fox and investigate the possible existence of an Outer Heaven superweapon.

Snake secures Gray Fox, follows Big Boss’ guidance into a series of traps, and ignores orders to abort the mission. Only toward the end of the mission when Snake plans on destroying Metal Gear TX-55 on his own does Big Boss reveal himself to be the leader of Outer Heaven. He explains how Snake’s presence in Outer Heaven was designed to waste the United States’ time and allow Outer Heaven to finish construction of their Metal Gear.

Snake destroys the TX-55 and faces off against Big Boss before leaving the old man for dead. Considered a megalomaniacal madman at the time, Big Boss was really something entirely different - his motivations become clear in light of operations Peace Walker and Snake Eater and knowledge of the Patriots. His war was never directed at the US, but at Zero’s secret government. Snake inadvertently assists the Patriots by taking down Outer Heaven, but Big Boss survives and saves Outer Heaven’s refugees and soldiers from a series of NATO airstrikes, leading them to safety in the Middle East.

Much of the subtext behind the Outer Heaven Revolt wouldn’t become apparent until the 21st Century, and Solid Snake doesn’t learn of Big Boss’ war with the Patriots or his own origins until Shadow Moses in 2005. After the events of Metal Gear, Solid Snake joins FOXHOUND.

The Central Asian nation of Zanzibar Land gains independence from Russia, courtesy of its mercenary forces, secretly led by Big Boss. The world largely abandons nuclear weapons.

Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake
MSX (1990), Mobile (1994), PS2 (2005)
Remakes: NES (1990) – Snake’s Revenge
Details: Even better than the original, Metal Gear 2 was exclusive to the MSX in Japan until finally being translated for a PS2 port in 2005. Without Hideo Kojima’s knowledge, a second Metal Gear sequel entitled Snake’s Revenge was made exclusively for the NES and the western market. Kojima has since called the original’s NES port and Snake’s Revenge “crap."

The story: Now under the Command of Colonel Roy Campbell, Big Boss’ friend from the San Hieronymo Uprising, FOXHOUND sends Solid Snake to extract synthetic oil inventor Dr. Kio Marv from Zanzibar Land – one of the world’s only remaining nuclear powers.

Marv’s OILIX formula, the new Metal Gear D, and a cache of atomic weapons make Zanzibar Land the most dominant military force on a planet fast running out of oil. Shortly after infiltrating the country, Snake learns about the events which followed the destruction of Outer Heaven - the NATO airstrikes, the escape to the Middle East, and Big Boss’ position as Zanzibar Land’s leader.

Snake frees Dr. Marv but is attacked by Gray Fox in the cockpit of the Metal Gear D, and though Snake is able to escape he catches up with the doctor too late and finds him tortured to death. Shortly after retrieving the OILIX formula from Marv’s corpse, Snake fights the Metal Gear D once more, this time destroying the walking nuke launcher but losing the OILIX formula to Gray Fox. The two fight in a live minefield and Fox “dies” by Snake’s hand just in time for Big Boss to arrive and ruminate on the nature of war, the way he usually does. With all his equipment gone, Snake improvises and torches the Boss with an aerosol can and a lighter, but not before learning that Big Boss is his father. Snake would spend the next five years alone in the Alaskan wilderness; meanwhile, Big Boss’ body is recovered and placed on ice by the Patriots.

Still alive but in a nanomachine-induced coma, Big Boss’ genes are extracted and later form the basis of the Genome Soldiers on Shadow Moses; his body is placed in storage by a sentimental Zero, still missing his old friend.

Liquid Snake joins FOXHOUND as its commanding officer.

Zero loses faith in humanity and entrusts the Patriots’ legacy to five AIs, named GW, TJ, AL, and TR, with JD at the top.

Doctor Naomi Hunter perfects FOXDIE – a programmable retrovirus designed to infect and kill specific individuals.

Metal Gear Solid
PS1 (1998)
Remakes and expansions: PS1 (1999), PC (2000) - MGS: Integral; GameCube (2004) – The Twin Snakes
Details: The plot is lunacy and the storytelling is bonkers but Metal Gear Solid has some of the best action set pieces on the PS1 and some of the most memorable gaming moments of all time. The GameCube remake is good, even with the addition of game-breaking first-person shooting and silly Matrix-inspired cutscenes.

The story: During a routine training mission at the nuclear weapons storage facility on Shadow Moses Island the new Liquid Snake-led FOXHOUND and a battalion of Genome Soldiers rebels against the US government and threatens to launch a nuclear weapon against the White House. They demand Big Boss’ body and rename themselves the Sons of Big Boss – a literal truth in the case of Liquid and a semi-metaphorical truth in the case of the Big Boss gene-enhanced Genome Soldiers, who need Big Boss’ genes to halt their own genetic degradation.

Dragged out of retirement, Snake infiltrates Shadow Moses under the orders of Roy Campbell to rescue the DARPA chief Donald Anderson, ArmsTech chief Kenneth Baker and confirm the Sons of Big Boss’ ability to launch a nuke. Both Anderson and Baker die from heart attacks shortly after meeting Snake – victims of the FOXDIE virus secretly implanted in Snake’s body by FOXHOUND doctor Naomi Hunter. Assisted by Campbell’s daughter, Meryl Silverburgh, Snake sneaks through the base, fights Revolver Ocelot, and witnesses the return of Gray Fox as a cyborg ninja when Gray Fox slices off Ocelot’s pistol hand.

Snake confirms the terrorists’ ability to launch when he meets Metal Gear Rex designer Hal ‘Otacon’ Emmerich. Meryl is shot and Snake is captured but he escapes in time to rescue Meryl and battle REX, piloted by Liquid. Snake succeeds thanks to the intervention of Gray Fox but it costs Fox his life. Solid and Liquid Snake fight atop Rex’s hull and engage in a final chase as the Shadow Moses facility collapses around them. Liquid succumbs to the FOXDIE virus and Snake is left without knowing if FOXDIE will eventually kill him, too. After the events of Solid, Ocelot replaces his lost hand with Liquid Snake’s and begins selling Metal Gear Rex blueprints on the black market.




  • 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.

Showing 1-20 of 35 comments

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