Become a Metal Gear expert before The Phantom Pain comes out


Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (2007)

My take: The Snake guy sinks on a ship with some Russians (?) and then a white-haired dude tries to kick a vampire’s ass several times before killing another robot and the octopus president. The Snake Man’s brother is still alive because some boss from the first game had your dead clone’s arm transplanted onto him which transferred his memories and nanomachines? Something about a legacy, which is just a bunch of money for an old Illuminati fanclub.

What really happens

A rad MGS2 summary video - I’d say it captures what MGS2 was all about, and in just a few minutes too. A must watch.

Metal Gear Solid 2: The Movie (KefkaProduction) - By now, you know the drill. Though these start to err on the long, long side. Be warned, it gets dense.

Metal Gear Scanlon 2 - If you watch any of the MG Scanlons, it should be the second, because it’s when MGS truly goes off the rails for the first time. Witnessing Drew’s exposure to naked Raiden, for instance, and Dan’s brimming boyish expectations is the perfect representation of Metal Gear’s power.

Very important research

Driving Off the Map: A Formal Analysis of Metal Gear Solid 2 by James Clinton Howell - This analysis takes a look at everything in MGS2, from level design to boss battle thematics and how they all inwardly reference the previous game in the series to produce a game that critiques old media tropes while embracing them. And that’s a simple way of putting it.

Critical Close-up: Metal Gear Solid 2 - In the Critical Close-up series, YouTuber Super Bunnyhop applies a critical eye to the MGS series. The most interesting of all is MGS2. Even now, it stands out in the series for subverting fan expectation on a massive scale and remains the most confusing and outright bonkers of all the MGS games. Super Bunnyhop gives a pretty thorough argument for why this is the case, and while the video isn’t required viewing, it’s certainly an enlightening post mortem. Kojima may seem like a creative loose cannon, but he’s likely much more precise with his direction than most people think.


Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (2014)

My take: There’s some guy with chronic indigestion who marries the person you spied on doing crunches in her underwear from the first game. And the white-haired dude is an angry robot now that loses his arms and holds a sword in his teeth. He kills the vampire that you also killed a few times. And then the Snake Man dies but doesn’t die actually, because the Old Grumpy Snake Man who you thought was the octopus president was actually not the octopus president but was in a third coma or something. Anyway, he shows up at his own grave and then rolls some really old guy from MGS3 in a wheelchair. The Old Snake Not Octopus President Who Was In a Coma pulls the plug on the old wheelchair man and watches him die. Then the Old Snake dies. And then the credits happen. There are eggs.

What really happens

Nanomachines? - Nanomachines.

Metal Gear Solid 4: The Movie (KefkaProduction) - Since MGS4 is mostly cutscenes anyway, it’s best viewed that way.

Very important research

Monstrous Births: A Formal Analysis of Metal Gear Solid 4 by James Clinton Howell - An interesting and detailed analysis of MGS4 that argues for the controversial ending, while explaining defragmentation themes and the series’ self-aware myth-building power. I’ll get to finishing it. Someday.

The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein - An examination of how man-made crises may be used as intentional windows for pushing through controversial policies. In MGS4, there’s plenty of talk about manipulation of the war economy for one Power’s purpose or another, which echoes the book’s sentiment. The MGS4 war economy is just a free market in which the biggest buyer can throw armies every which way as a method for blinding true intent. And if Metal Gear has anything, it has deceit.


Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (2018)

My take: Raiden kills a Colorado senator.

What really happens

If you play one Metal Gear (and you should play all of the main series) play Revengeance. This one also has questionable canonical merit, but I'm not here to split hairs. I bet you could with that sword though.

Very important research

The Kojima cut trailer - Just play the game. Platinum developed it. Kojima + Platinum. Yep.

James Davenport

James is stuck in an endless loop, playing the Dark Souls games on repeat until Elden Ring and Silksong set him free. He's a truffle pig for indie horror and weird FPS games too, seeking out games that actively hurt to play. Otherwise he's wandering Austin, identifying mushrooms and doodling grackles.