Where to Start: Metal Gear Solid series!

Where to Start Metal Gear Solid FI

Game sequels, they are as common as ever. But with so many iterations of our favourite video game series, where do we start. ‘Where to start..’ is exploring just that. This week, Metal Gear Solid. With a story as over-the-top and convoluted as ever, it’s especially difficult to find a start. But if you really want to get into the complex mind-spins of Kojima-san, it’s a journey well worth taking. Many gems shine in the Metal Gear Solid pool but.. Where to start!?

General overview:

The story of Metal Gear Solid is a complex one with many twists and turns. But if you look at each game individually, it is actually quite easy to follow. Sure, some references are difficult to place, but story-wise, they add very little. So as far as getting into the story of Metal Gear Solid, I would suggest taking it one game at a time and figuring out the overall and interconnected story later. As far as enjoying the games, the overarching is just extra flavouring. The meat of the individual game is tasty (and complex) enough!

Snake is not Snake!
When you start connecting the stories of the different games, there is a very important thing you must take note of; Snake is not Snake.. at least, not always. There is John, codenamed Naked Snake, in Metal Gear Solid 3, Snake Eater. Later known as Big Boss. Than there is David, codenamed Solid Snake. There is a connection, just be sure to remember they are not the same person.

Where to Start..!?

As the stories of the games can be enjoyed as individual pieces, the next deciding factor becomes more important. Gameplay. Saying people should start with Metal Gear Solid (or even Metal Gear on the MSX) simply because it’s the first game might be somewhat off. The aged graphics and game mechanics might scare of people who might possibly enjoy the series as a whole. Remember, Metal Gear Solid is a beautiful game, close to flawless, but the gameplay hasn’t aged as much as we all want it to be.
Another easy go-to start should be Metal Gear Solid V (either Ground Zeroes of Phantom Pain). The problem with this is, Metal Gear Solid V isn’t really a Metal Gear game in it’s rawest form. While the gameplay is close to flawless and the game itself is exactly what many fans needed, it doesn’t hook you to much on the Metal Gear vibe.

Metal Gear Solid 3

Therefore Metal Gear Solid 3 is the nice middle ground. The gameplay is a bit dated, but still very serviceable and highly enjoyable. Mechanically the game is a masterpiece (seriously, go watch Bunnyhop’s ‘No Tranq EE Challenge‘.). The graphics, especially on the widely available HD remake, are very nice and hold up great. On top of all that, the story of Metal Gear Solid 3 is where it all starts chronologically. It’s all about the young soldier Naked Snake and how he grows as a characters and it fully solidifies (pun intended) his motivations for the later games.

Metal Gear Solid 3 is one of the best games of the series and probably the best place to start if you want a taste of the Metal Gear Solid brilliance.

But.. then what?

Staying in the style of chronologically following the games, this should lead to Portable Ops. As this is not one of the better games, and offers very little to the overall narrative, this one is actually easily skipped. Probably your best bet is the original Metal Gear Solid on the PlayStation. If you enjoyed Metal Gear Solid 3, you are already hooked on the games and the aged mechanics shouldn’t be a problem at all.

After Metal Gear Solid, you should pick up Metal Gear Solid 2. It’s the game closest tied to another game and should not be played before the first one. (You would miss the essence that makes Metal gear Solid 2’s story good!).
After Metal Gear Solid 2, it’s a bit of a free wing. Of the big story games, we only have Metal Gear Solid 4 and Peace Walker left. Peace Walker offers the most gameplay by far and goes a lot deeper into the story of Big Boss.
Metal Gear Solid 4 offers the closing (somewhat really) of the whole saga but due to that, is extremely cutscene-heavy. Even for a Metal Gear game!
Go with Peace Walker first, then Metal Gear Solid 4.

Metal Gear Solid V, The Phantom Pain

This one is a bit of a complicated game in the group. The game is brilliant and we would recommend it to nearly everybody who enjoys video games. As a Metal gear Solid however, it is one of the weaker entries. The game forces very little story on you, and what happens to Snake isn’t nearly as interesting as in the other games. Chronologically it comes between Peace Walker and Metal Gear.
As for when to play this game? Whenever you want to. There is no prior knowledge needed to enjoy the story. The gameplay is better than any of the other Metal Gear Games and the mechanics amazing. Canonically however, it adds little to the mix.

Metal Gear Solid 5

What about Rising, Ghost Babel, Ac!d and the ‘MSX games’!?

If you played all of the above, you’ve played pretty much all the games the series is best known for. But this doesn’t mean there isn’t more to explore for the hardcore Metal Gear enthusiasts. These next few games however, do take some extra notion before playing them, thinking you’re going to play a Metal Gear game.

Let’s start with the MSX games. or really, the pre- Metal Gear Solid games. There is the original; Metal gear. The ‘real’ sequel; Metal Gear 2, Solid Snake and the ‘american’ sequel; Snake’s Revenge.
These games are possibly only interesting for those who absolutely want to enjoy everything the Metal Gear series has to offer, or for retro gamers. The pixelated top-down view and aged mechanics probably only makes these games mostly enjoyable for the connoisseurs.
Ghost Babel (Gameboy) looks similar but has some more modern mechanics.

Then there is Metal Gear Rising Revengeance and the Metal Gear Ac!d series. Both are not considered canonical and even more, don’t have gameplay that even comes close to the rest of the games. Metal Gear Rising is a ‘God of War -like’ high-octane action game. Metal Gear Ac!d is a card based, tactical game. See where I’m going? Though both of these games are considered to be pretty good, they can hardly be considered a ‘real’ Metal Gear game.

The Metal Gear Solid Series

Both as a whole and many of the individual games are well worth your time and considered by many to be among the best games ever made. If you never played a Metal Gear game, or just a few and want to get into more games in the series, now you know where to start.

In future instalments of ‘Where to start..’, we will be looking into many other series. We’ll be exploring Super Mario, Kingdom Hearts and many more. If you have a suggestion or are interested into getting into a specific series of games; please let us know. You can reach us via our Contact Page or by letting us know on Twitter!

Björn Jekel
Founder and Editor in Chief of PressQuit and the voice on our Twitter Feed. Interested in many things 'nerd' and above all madly in love with videogames of a wide variety. A year without Zelda and Final Fantasy is a sad year indeed and that is why it is my lifelong goal to yearly replay Ocarina of Time and Final Fantasy VII.