Metal Gear Solid: The definitive chronology
14th Sep 2010 | 18:30
Metal Gear Solid games tell great stories but the series as a whole is so baffling that Kojima himself probably lost track years ago along with the rest of us.
Fortunately for you, we're here set the MGS chronology straight so that you know exactly where you are when you delve into Metal Gear Solid: Rising.
1964: Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
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 super-weapon.
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 their 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 then die at Snake's hands to prove the US' innocence.
With half the Legacy in American hands, Snake is named Big Boss but leaves the Oval Office a broken man, angry at his country and at the world.
1970: Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops
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 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 organisation.
1974: Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker
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' organisation 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.
1995: Metal Gear
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 super-weapon.
Snake secures Gray Fox, follows Big Boss' guidance into a series of traps, and ignores orders to abort the mission. Only towards 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's 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.
1999: Metal Gear 2
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 makes 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.
2005: Metal Gear Solid 1
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 United States 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.
2007: Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty
Otacon is contacted by his sister and creator of the GW AI, Emma Emmerich, about the development of the new anti-Metal Gear Metal Gear codenamed RAY.
Snake and Otacon plan to intercept and expose RAY on board the oil tanker being used to transport the machine before it leaves New York's harbour.
Shortly after Snake arrives on board the tanker is hijacked by mercenaries led by Sergei Gurlukovich under orders from Ocelot, now 'possessed' by Liquid's arm. Ocelot escapes in RAY and frames Snake for the destruction of the tanker which allegedly floods New York's harbour with oil.
Two years later the off-shore decontamination rig named Big Shell is seized by the Sons of Liberty, led by Solidus Snake, who kidnaps the current US president and threatens the destruction of the rig.
On orders from a fake AI-generated Campbell, Raiden infiltrates the rig, fights unkillable super-soldier Vamp, and discovers Snake is also aboard Big Shell.
Raiden learns about the Patriots from President Johnson and that Big Shell is itself a colossal Metal Gear named Arsenal Gear. Raiden watches Emma Emmerich die at Vamp's hands but together Snake and Raiden use her plans to implant a virus in the Patriots' GW AI, housed within Arsenal Gear.
Snake is captured and Raiden fights an unending army of RAYs but is saved by Olga Gurlukovich who dies to save her daughter, Sunny, who had been abducted by the Patriots to force her to help Raiden. The entire mission is revealed as an attempt by Zero's Patriot AIs to turn Raiden into the Patriots' new legendary soldier.
Raiden passes out and awakens the following morning, in time to learn that he has been manipulated and for Liquid - in the body of Ocelot - to crash Big Shell into Manhattan island.
Raiden kills Solidus Snake outside New York's Federal Hall as Ocelot escapes in the last remaining RAY.
2010-2013 Metal Gear Solid: Rising
Following the Big Shell incident Raiden is contacted by Big Mama - an aged EVA - who trades the location of Olga's daughter Sunny for the whereabouts of Big Boss' body which Raiden stole from the GW AI.
With EVA's help Raiden extracts Sunny from Area 51 and entrusts the young girl to Otacon's care. A technical genius, she will eventually be responsible for half of the FOXALIVE virus used to kill the Patriot AI aboard Ocelot's Arsenal Gear.
Raiden's girlfriend Rose gives birth to a son but tells Raiden she miscarried to protect the baby from the Patriots who she knows aren't above abducting the boy to manipulate Raiden into becoming their next legendary soldier.
Despondent, Raiden leaves Rose, who then fakes a marriage with Roy Campbell for her own protection. Raiden wanders the Earth and trains in hunting and tracking before agreeing to assist EVA's own anti-Patriot organisation in liberating Big Boss' body.
The mission leads to Raiden's capture and the total loss of his humanity as the Patriots remove his head and spine, fusing them with a new cybernetic body.
Raiden escapes the Patriots with EVA's assistance and recovers Big Boss' comatose remains, but Raiden retreats from the life he once knew and goes off the grid until 2014.
2014 Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
With the world now running on OILIX the oil economy is replaced by a war economy and unending battles are fought by Private Military Companies across the globe.
The five biggest PMCs are run by Liquid Ocelot, and a suspicious Campbell asks a prematurely ageing Snake to assassinate him.
Snake extracts Naomi Hunter from Ocelot's South American base and is assisted by Raiden who fights Vamp in the city's streets. Raiden tells Snake to find Big Mama and recover the body of Big Boss, which is later revealed to be not Big Boss, but Solidus.
Genetically identical to Big Boss, Ocelot uses the genetic key to interface with the Patriot AIs and seize control of nano machines worldwide, disarming every army on Earth, bar his own. Ocelot massacres the defenceless US forces and EVA dies in Snake's arms as Ocelot escapes to Shadow Moses.
On Shadow Moses Naomi Hunter is killed by the nano machine-powered Vamp, who finally fights Raiden to the death atop the original Metal Gear REX. With Raiden riding on the Metal Gear's hull, Snake escapes Shadow Moses in REX but is intercepted by Ocelot in the stolen Metal Gear RAY.
The fight between the two machines leaves both men beaten but Ocelot is able to escape aboard his own flagship, named Outer Heaven. Ocelot had returned to Shadow Moses to recover REX's rail gun, which will be used to launch a nuke at chief Patriot AI JD and allow him take control of the Patriots network himself.
Snake boards Outer Heaven, fights his way to the stolen Patriot AI GW, and implants a virus created by Naomi Hunter and Sunny which propagates to all the lesser Patriot AIs. The Patriots are destroyed and Liquid's plan for control collapses. Snake kills Liquid Ocelot atop Outer Heaven.
Later, Raiden's body is restored and he is reunited with Rose, Meryl is reunited with Campbell, and Snake meets a very much alive Big Boss at Big Boss' own grave.
Freed from the nanomachines' influence, Big Boss awakened and sought out Zero, ending the Patriots forever by suffocating Zero and allowing himself to be killed by the FOXDIE virus still living in Snake's body.
Snake retires and lives out his final days in peace with Otacon and Sunny. Phew, eh?