Become a Metal Gear expert before The Phantom Pain comes out

Mgs3

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (1964)

My take: Naked Snake (tee-hee) goes on a mission during the Cold War to Russia to find a very scared scientist man and to figure out why his former mentor betrayed America. You shoot an old man in a wheelchair and spend three minutes climbing the same ladder. Someone sings about eating snakes. EVA steals a microfilm that has a buttload of money on it, I think. Another giant nuclear robot gets killed and then Naked Snake kills his mentor in a pretty meadow of white flowers. He quits the USA and becomes grumpy.

What really happens

Metal Gear Solid in 5 minutes | Big Boss... Part 1 - N_E_WAY - A (duh) five-minute explainer that runs through both MGS3 and Portable Ops. Two fellows succinctly break down the most important points of each game without getting bogged down in Kojima’s dangerous margins. If you only have ten minutes to spare, watch both N_E_WAY videos. They develop Big Boss and lead nicely into MGS5 without much mental strain.

Metal Gear Solid 3: The Movie (KefkaProduction) - You’re in it to win it. Good. Maybe. Does your family know where you are? Be sure to check in, yeah?

Very important research

The Manchurian Candidate - The classic novel is deals with brainwashing and sleeper agents during the Cold War era. *Flashes the Queen of Diamonds*

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold - Another classic Cold War novel that critiques Western espionage methods for being inconsistent with their cultural morality. It’s an especially appropriate reading given the ending of MGS3, where Snake is essentially forced by his government to kill his mentor, who was actually on his side the whole time. The moral quandary prompts the new Big Boss to leave his country behind.

mgsPO

Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops (1970)

My take: I played the multiplayer in an airport during a high school trip to Washington DC. The Grumpy Snake Man was there, I think.

What really happens

It’s a short, less important segment of Metal Gear time. Just read the timeline, wiki, or watch KefkaProduction’s movie version. That said, Kojima has made statements that question the canonical merit of MGS:PO. I'll leave the debate alone.

MGSpw

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker (1974)

My take: Grumpy Cold War Snake starts his own club with a mullet buddy and they do war for people if they get paid. So some guy says, Come do war for me! And they do, but they end up doing war against the CIA and a smiling man named Hot Coldman who wants to launch a nuke to test out nuclear countermeasures run by an AI robot based on Cold War Snake’s former mentor’s brain which will somehow make world peace a thing. The robot drowns itself. Grumpy Snake cries a little.

What really happens

Metal Gear Solid in 5 minutes | Big Boss… Part 2 - N_E_WAY - This time, the YouTubers wrap up Peace Walker and Ground Zeroes in short, neat fashion. Another necessity before The Phantom Pain.

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker - The Movie - Given Peace Walker’s less linear nature, I can’t recommend watching a whole playthrough. That said, you can play the game on PS3, Xbox 360, or PSP if you owned any of them and they’re not buried in dust.

The Borderless Army (Let's Play Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker HD w/ GaLm) - GaLm has fairly entertaining commentary, and doesn’t get too juvenile. That said, I haven’t watched the entire thing.

Very important research

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb - Kojima loves his Kubrick. If simply naming a character after the movie wasn’t enough, the goofy portrayal (Hot Coldman, seriously?) of nuclear tensions between America and the USSR is obviously a big tell. It’s a great movie anyway. Watch it.

Hit the next page to see our recommendations for Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes, The Phantom Pain, the original two Metal Gear games, and Metal Gear Solid.