Become a Metal Gear expert before The Phantom Pain comes out

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Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes (1975)

My take: Grumpy Snake sets out to rescue the child he recruited into his army who tried to save the person who betrayed you in Peace Walker, which, c’mon, man. You save them from an American base, but the woman you rescued has a bomb in her guts so you guys cut that shit out with reckless abandon. Then she gets up and jumps out because apparently a bomb was shoved up in her Zone too? Which is real messed up and unnecessary and, yeah, sadly unsurprising in a Metal Gear game. I mean, really? Metal Gear!

Basically, Grumpy Cold War Snake nearly gets blown to shit and sent into a coma.

What really happens

Watch everyone’s Let’s Plays - The most interesting aspect of Ground Zeroes is its sandbox design. No two playthroughs are exactly the same.

Just play it. It’s a short, fun lead into The Phantom Pain. We liked it quite a bit.

Very important research

The final Kojima edited Metal Gear trailer (and a round up of the rest for The Phantom Pain) - Speculate and cry with us.

mgsPP

Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain (1984)

My take: Not sure yet! All we know is that we’ll find out how Grumpy Snake (Big Boss) got even grumpier and became A Supposedly Bad Dude in future MGS games. We also know that it might be pretty great.

Very important research

Diamond Dogs by David Bowie - Big Boss reforms MSF (hopefully you’ve been doing research) under the name of Diamond Dogs in MGS5, which is also a David Bowie album. Give it a listen, vibe out, maybe the tone and themes will be reflected in The Phantom Pain somehow. Maybe the Metal Gear saga is just a Bowie origin story?

Full Metal Jacket - Given Kojima’s fascination with Kubrick, and given MGS5’s (from what we’ve seen) darker tone, I’d take a safe leap and guess Full Metal Jacket has a considerable amount of DNA in The Phantom Pain. Both involve humanizing The Other, though in a somewhat different fashion. In FMJ, it isn’t until the very end that the viewer sees the enemy, a vulnerable, scared young woman. In MGS5, which chronicles the fall of Big Boss, we begin with a humanized, familiar character, and get to observe how their morality shifts. That, and there appears to be a much more grounded militarized aesthetic than before, with plenty of era-appropriate music blaring from helicopters in both.

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Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2 (1995 - 1999)

My take: Uhh…

What really happens

The early games are best summed up in the timeline or by KefkaProduction’s movies, if you have an hour or so to give.

Very important research

Do watch Escape from New York, though. It served as the inspiration for Snake’s character to begin with. The resemblance is striking. Certain themes and imagery will crop up from time to time throughout the entire series.

Mgs1

Metal Gear Solid (2005)

My take: A Snake Man goes to Alaska and fights a ninja and talkative film school reject animal people and then kills a big nuclear robot and his irritating twin brother.

What really happens

Since it’s the introductory Metal Gear Solid, a peek at the wiki or timeline ought to suffice.

Metal Gear Solid: The Movie (KefkaProduction) - Again, the Kefka edits are a surprisingly entertaining way to visit (or revisit) the Metal Gear games.

Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes: The Movie (RandomBlackGamer) - Did you know, Metal Gear Solid was remade by Silicon Knights, the folks behind Eternal Darkness, for the Gamecube? It was actually my first exposure to the Metal Gear series. Somehow, they managed to crank up the Kojima in this one, taking a few divisive liberties. Basically, everything is overproduced, for better or worse. I remember it fondly.

Very important research

PC Gamer’s Metal Gear Solid review - Did you know MGS came out on PC? Tyler Wilde transcribed our old review of the port. It’s a fun read, as it focuses mostly on the port quality and assumes the reader is somewhat familiar with MGS already. The archaic terminology and old port cliches still ring true in some ways today.

2001: A Space Odyssey - The Metal Gear series is riddled with small nods to 2001, which is Kojima’s favorite movie. See if you can spot them while playing or watching.

Boss Fight Books: Metal Gear Solid by Ashly and Anthony Burch - I’ve only just started reading it, but it’s obvious that this isn’t some nostalgic bender through which MGS escapes all modern criticism just because it’s an article of the past. The Burch siblings tear Metal Gear Solid to pieces. That said, it’s evident they love the pieces yet. No doubt, plenty of people will find the content disagreeable, but media doesn’t grow or change without thorough criticism through every lens possible.

On the the final page, read about the most bizarre entries in the series with Metal Gear Solid 2, Metal Gear Solid 4, and the Platinum Games spin off, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance.