Konami’s lauded stealth-action franchise Metal Gear turns 25 today, having originally launched way back in 1987 on the MSX2 – back when mobile phones were the size of bricks and mullets were fashionable. Over the past two decades, the series has notched up over 30 million sales globally, as well as reinvented itself for a whole new generation after making the leap to 3D beginning with 1998’s PlayStation classic, Metal Gear Solid.
In that time, the franchise has delivered some of the most memorable, iconic moments in gaming. From jaw-dropping boss fights, emotionally-charged dialogue to some humorous attempts at breaking the fourth wall, Metal Gear undeniably put videogames on the map in regards to showing the medium could rival Hollywood movies in terms of sheer awe and production values. Yes, Hideo Kojima’s acclaimed opus isn’t for everyone; it’s esoteric, bewildering and at times ponderous, but we wouldn’t want it any other way.
In celebration of the 25th anniversary of Solid Snake’s sneaky antics, PSU.com decided to list our top 5 highlights of the series.
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5. Colonel Campbell is really GW (Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty)
After being guided by what ostensibly appears to be MGS1’s Colonel Campbell for his entire mission, floppy-haired hero Raiden discovers that something is not quite right with his Commander. Upon infiltrating Arsenal Gear, Campbell calls up and begins acting erratically, blabbing incoherently about past missions, accusing Rosemary of cheating on Raiden and generally acting bat-shit insane (“I need scissors! 61!!”) Cue super nerd Otacon, who investigates the call and comes to the shocking conclusion that Campbell is not Campbell at all; rather, he’s an AI constructed by Arsenal’s own sophisticated AI, GW, combined with Raiden’s own expectations of the Colonel. After seemingly being deleted, another AI Campbell then calls the player and lays bare the Patriots’ plans for the global control of information to a confused Raiden, all the while his codec image flickers from human-looking to a skeleton-like in appearance. Creepy.
4. The death of Grey Fox (Metal Gear Solid)
Snake’s battle buddy Grey Fox, aka the Cyborg Ninja, was a tragic chap, and definitely one of the most memorable characters to come out of the series. While he spent most of his time slicing the limbs off the Genome soldiers or smashing his head on the floor, Grey Fox finally came to his senses during the showdown with Metal Gear Rex. Here, he confirmed his identity to Snake, before going toe-to-toe with the hulking, mechanical behemoth. Despite a valiant effort, Fox gets his arm sliced off at the hands of Rex’s laser beam and his exoskeleton suffers severe damage. He does, however, stop Snake from being crushed by the monstrosity, and manages to pass on a message before being pinned against the wall by one of Rex’s massive arms. Near death, Fox delivers a poignant monologue before being crushed by Rex’s almighty boot as Snake looks on helplessly.
3. Big Boss visits The Boss’s grave (Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater)
The story of Big Boss and The Boss is an emotional, touching rollercoaster. Until the very end, we erroneously believe Naked Snake’s mentor, aka The Joy, betrayed her country after seemingly getting all chummy with baddie Volgin. However, it isn’t until Snake indulges in a spot of post-mission hanky-panky with Eva that he discovers the actual truth. The Boss’s defection was merely a ruse in order to ingratiate herself within Volgin’s ranks to acquire the location of The Philosopher’s Legacy, and ultimately, secure her death at the hands of Snake in order to prove the U.S.’s innocence in a nuclear attack. Naturally, this devastates Snake, who arrives back home a broken man. After adopting the rank of Big Boss, he visits Arlington National Cemetery, where, eyes welling up, he salutes his former mentor. It’s a touching moment that speaks volume, more so than any lengthy dialogue scene could ever hope to achieve.
2. Liquid reveals himself via Revolver Ocelot’s arm (Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty)
Liquid Snake was a tenacious bugger to say the least. After sustaining numerous gunshot wounds, being blown up with Rex, surviving a chopper crash and crashing his jeep, he still kept ticking. It took FoxDie to finally kill the terrorist mastermind in MGS1, as Snake and Meryl looked on in relief. However, this wouldn’t be the last we’d see of him. Nope, for Liquid returned to haunt Snake in MGS2, though not by conventional means. Instead, the ‘possessed arm’ of Liquid was used to replace Ocelot’s own sliced limb following the Shadow Moses incident, which manifested Liquid’s persona onto the gunslinger at various points throughout the game. This barmy plot would later be explained in MGS4, but back in 2001, seeing Liquid back (so to speak) and the apparent supernatural edge it brought with it was nothing short of mind-blowing.
1. Big Boss confronts Solid Snake in the graveyard (Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots)
Graveyards seem to be a favourite of Kojima-san’s for revealing key plot details in the Metal Gear series, as our final choice illustrates. Weary and exhausted following the events of his final mission (or is it?), Snake visits Arlington and decides to end it all, pulling a pistol to his mouth. A shot is heard, but after the credits we see he didn’t top himself. Just at that point, a voice calls out to our gruff hero, the camera pans, and we see who it is – Big Boss himself. Despite the fact we assumed him to be brown bread all these years, Snake’s surrogate father was instead kept alive via nanotechnology, and as well as a little helping hand from the body parts of Solidus Snake. Revelations aplenty follow, as Big Boss divulges the inner workings of the intricate MGS lore, covering Major Zero’s plans, the Patriots, The Boss’s will and more. It’s an iconic moment, not just for what Big Boss has to say, but the fact this legendary warrior and his ‘son’ come face to face after all that has transpired in the series. The way the scene ends is genuinely tear-jerking, with death being the underlying theme as Snake comes to terms with the fact he’s living on borrowed time, and Big Boss himself finally succumbs slumped against The Boss’s grave. “The world would be better off without Snakes.”
Celebrating your favorite moments from the Metal Gear series in the comments section below!