The Right Way to Play the Metal Gear Solid Series

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Posted March 24, 2015 by Ryan Campbell in Video Games

There are many long lasting, diverse sagas in Video Games, arguably none are as convoluted or as scattered on the timeline than Metal Gear Solid. With Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain releasing this summer and closing the gap in the series a question I hear all the time is being asked again, “what order should I play the games in to catch up.” It’s a tough question as the timeline has spanned multiple generations and bounced around the different timeframes multiple times. So naturally there are two answers to this question but I’m going to tell you which one is the right one. First you can play the games in the correct timeline order experiencing the series in a linear fashion, second you can play the games in the order of release and bounce around the timeline filling gaps. The answer is simple, you have to do the latter and bounce around the timeline.

First let’s look at why playing them in the linear fashion is wrong. On a sheer playability standpoint you will make it very hard on yourself when you go from a ps2 classic to early ps1 title and even farther if you dare play the old games on Nintendo and MSX. The mechanics and graphics will bounce around and it can severely hinder your enjoyment of the franchise. The number one reason however to skip this method is because you simply miss out on all the fun.

What makes this series so special is being utterly and hopelessly confused, frustrated and lost. Then for a second it all clicks and the deranged madness of Hideo Kojima is revealed. Certain reveals and revelations will only have their impact if they are experienced in the same way they were presented to gamers originally. Now before I break it down most of you will fall into two categories the purist and the modern players. The Metal Gear Solid series was started in 1987 on the MSX2 and NES, the second game Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake was also released on MSX2. The purist will play these games as well as they are available to play on modern platforms, the modernist will simply skip them for more familiar experiences on more modern consoles (completely acceptable, I won’t judge). For the benefits of completion we will include them in the breakdown. So enjoy your trip down Metal Gear Boulevard and hang in there because the payoff will totally be worth all the lost hair.

 

*SIDE NOTE I did not include Portable Ops in this list. Give it a play if you can on PSP but it doesn’t offer much in the grand scheme of the story.

 

Game 1

Metal_Gear_cover

Metal Gear

Released: 1987

Takes Place: 1995

Original Platform: MSX, NES/Famicom

Current Platform: PS3 in Metal Gear Solid: The Legacy Collection, Metal Gear Solid: HD Collection, Xbox 360 Metal Gear Solid: HD Collection,

Mgeargameplay

 

Game 2

Metal_Gear_2_Boxart

Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake

Released: 1990

Takes Place: 1999

Original Platform: MSX2

Current Platform: PS3 in Metal Gear Solid: The Legacy Collection, Metal Sear Solid: HD Collection, Xbox 360 Metal Gear Solid: HD Collection

MSX2_Metal_Gear_2

Game 3

Metal_Gear_Solid_cover_art

Metal Gear Solid

Released: 1998

Takes Place: 2005

Original Platform: PS1

Current Platform: PSN, XBL (digital) PS3 in Metal Gear Solid: The Legacy Collection

*Metal Gear Solid: Twin Snakes is a remake of Metal Gear Solid on Nintendo GameCube

MGS_screen_psx

Game 4

256px-Metalgear2boxart

Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty

Released: 2001

Takes Place: 2007/09

Original Platform: PS2

Current Platform: PS3 in Metal Gear Solid: The Legacy Collection, Metal Sear Solid: HD Collection, Xbox 360 Metal Gear Solid: HD Collection, PSVita Metal Sear Solid: HD Collection

MetalGearSolid2-Substance_screenshot1

 

Game 5

256px-Mgs3box

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater

Released: 2004

Takes Place: 1964

Original Platform: PS2

Current Platform: PS3 in Metal Gear Solid: The Legacy Collection, Metal Sear Solid: HD Collection, Xbox 360 Metal Gear Solid: HD Collection, PS Vita Metal Sear Solid: HD Collection

MgsCamoExample

 

Game 6

Mgs4us_cover_small

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots

Released: 2008

Takes Place: 2014

Original Platform: PS3

Current Platform: PS3 in Metal Gear Solid: The Legacy Collection

Metal_Gear_Solid_4_gameplay

 

Game 7

Metal_Gear_Solid_Peace_Walker_Cover_Art

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker

Released: 2010

Takes Place: 1974

Original Platform: PSP

Current Platform:  PS3 in Metal Gear Solid: The Legacy Collection, Metal Sear Solid: HD Collection, Xbox 360 Metal Gear Solid: HD Collection, PS Vita Metal Sear Solid: HD Collection

MGS_Peacewalker_screenshot

 

Game 8

MGSV_Ground_Zeroes_boxart

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeros

Released: 2014

Takes Place: 1975

Current Platform: PS4, PS3, XBOne, XB360, PC

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes

 

Game 9

MGSV_The_Phantom_Pain_boxart

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Releases: 2015

Takes Place: 1984

Available On: PS4, PS3, XBOne, XB360, PC

 

If you follow this model I feel it conveys the best experience both mechanically and emotionally. It might not work best logic wise but as you will learn as you traverse the elaborate storytelling that logic goes out the window pretty quick with this series. Also don’t be afraid to hit up a good Metal Gear Wiki page to fill in some gaps as I’m sure you will have some.  So there you have it, you got a few months until Phantom Pain releases and closes all the gaps and answers every question we have ever had about the series (wishful thinking). So go grab a cardboard box and a pack of cigs and get to work, Snake is waiting.

 

 

 

 


About the Author

Ryan Campbell

Avid gamer from Cincinnati Ohio. Also love Star Wars and Wrestling. Big basketball fan and dabble in really every other nerd thing out there. I would rather have a Gundam then Superpowers, so there is that.