Solid Snake stands inside a snow covered military base in "Metal Gear Solid"
(Konami)

The 10 Best ‘Metal Gear’ Games, Ranked

Without the Metal Gear franchise, modern gaming as we know it simply wouldn’t exist.

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Created by auteur Hideo Kojima, the Metal Gear series is one of the most groundbreaking in video game history. The man’s contributions to the boss fight alone make him the stuff of legends, and his influence transformed what was seen as a casual digital pastime into an artistic experience. There are the ten best Metal Gear games, ranked.

10. Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes

Solid Snake hides in a laboratory in "Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes"
(Konami)

A reimagining of the original Metal Gear Solid 2, Twin Snakes is a Gamecube exclusive that adds additional cutscenes and gameplay changes to the original. The game added a first-person shooter perspective and sports fancy new graphics to retell an old story with what was then state-of-the-art visuals.

But while the game’s gameplay and graphics are indeed improved, the story suffers somewhat due to the ridiculously over-the-top bullet-time-ridden new cutscenes. Additionally, the game’s new camera works against itself and effectively ruins the challenges of certain boss fights (*ahem* Revolver Ocelot). It’s a noble remake effort, but the original remains superior.

9. Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops

Big Boss stands in front of a group of soldiers in promo art for "Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker"
(Konami)

Portable Ops shouldn’t be as good as it is. The game takes place after the events of Metal Gear Solid 3, showing Big Boss’s first of many forays into the wonderful world of mercenary work. Snake has to fight off his former FOX unit as they attempt to stage a revolt in a South American base. The game gives Boss his idea to establish Outer Heaven, a military nation made only for mercenaries, and is an important story beat. Portable Ops only suffers due to its wonky camera system and lack of gravitas when compared to other main Metal Gear titles. It feels more like an “extended universe” sort of story rather than an essential canon event. Still, it’s worth a playthrough.

8. Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes

Snake sits on top of a building in a military base in "Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes"
(Konami)

Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes was the flight test of the Fox Engine, which rendered the Metal Gear world in breathtaking high definition. The game was essentially a demo for Phantom Pain, and a damn good one. Ground Zeroes gameplay is Metal Gear at its peak – sneaking through an American black site on a rainy night to rescue old comrades. The story is jaw-dropping despite its brevity, featuring some of the most disturbing and world-shattering events in Metal Gear‘s history. I will never heal from the mental scars I suffered after watching what the villainous XOF did to Paz and Chico. Never in a million years.

7. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

Ninja cyborg Raiden stands against the blue sky in "Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance"
(Konami)

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is every bit as ridiculous as its nonsensical title suggests. The game trades tactical espionage action for a Devil May Cry x Bayonetta lovechild gameplay experience centered around cyborg ninja Raiden. Cut through waves of cybernetic ninjas and reduce them to a bloody pulp. Jump on cruise missiles while they’re flying through the air. Rip out your enemy’s spines in order to upgrade your powers. Stop a roided-out U.S. Senator-turned-ninja from plunging the world into yet another nuclear apocalypse. It’s beautifully inane.

6. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty

Snake and Raiden aim guns at a foe in "Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty"
(Konami)

Metal Gear Solid 2 was a shock to the system, specifically because of its fake-out first level. The game makes you believe that you will be taking up the sticks to return as Solid Snake, only to pull the rug out from under you and put you in control of femboy ninja Raiden. The mission? Save the U.S. President from terrorists holding him hostage on the tanker Big Shell. In classic MSG fashion, all is not as it seems.

While many think that the focus on Raiden was a jump-the-shark moment, the events of Meta Gear Solid 2 remain pivotal in the greater MSG universe. Pair that with the stealth espionage action gameplay you know and love and you’ve got a winner on your hands.

5. Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker

Big Boss hides from a soldier behind a truck in "Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker"
(Konami)

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker marks the point where the MSG gameplay controls really hit their stride. Trading the needlessly difficult control system from previous games to a familiar third-person shooter format, Peace Walker is a breeze to play. The game serves as a defining moment in the life of Big Boss’ and his Militaires Sans Frontières organization. Contracted to help a group of Costa Rican revolutionaries, Big Boss and his team thwart the machinations of a mysterious organization building “Peace Walkers” portable walking tanks capable of launching nukes.

4. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Venom Snake sits in a helicopter in "Metal Gear Solid: The Phantom Pain"
(Konami)

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is a flawed masterpiece. It is without a doubt the most beautiful-looking game in the series and features the best gameplay in franchise history. As for the story? It hits like lightning. After the tragic events of Ground Zeroes, Boss wakes up in a hospital that is quickly invaded by the XOF, who massacre everyone inside. The game’s first level is absolutely vicious, with a barely recovered Big Boss crawling through the besieged facilities in a nail-biting effort to escape. The game then blossoms into an expansive open-world adventure through the deserts of Afghanistan during the Russian occupation.

The biggest critique? The game isn’t finished. The team exhausted their budget before they could complete the epilogue’s last level. It’s one of the most impressive videogame gymnastics tricks in history, but The Phantom Pain couldn’t stick the landing.

3. Metal Gear Solid

Solid Snake stands inside a snow covered military base in "Metal Gear Solid"
(Konami)

Metal Gear Solid was a revolutionary moment in gaming. Before Solid, the original Metal Gear was essentially a glorified arcade game. Through the genius of Hideo Kojima, the Metal Gear franchise bloomed into a tactical espionage blockbuster spy movie thriller.

Secret Agent Solid Snake has to infiltrate an Arctic base from which a terrorist organization intends to launch nukes. The story unfolds in glorious melodrama, with femme fatales, double agents, and secret twin brothers appearing out the wazoo. And don’t even get me started on the boss fights that forced players to play the PlayStation’s hardware along with the software. Absolutely brilliant.

2. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots

Old Snake holds a rifle while smoking a cigarette in "Metal Gear Sold 4: Guns of the Patriots"
(Konami)

Metal Gear Solid 4 is a perfect five-act thriller. Due to his unique genetic makeup, Solid Snake has prematurely aged into an old man. The grizzled vet has to return to the field to do one last job – battle The Patriots. In a too-complicated-to-explain-here plot, The Patriots are plotting to use supercomputers to hijack the world’s guns, making them the most powerful military organization on the planet. How will Snake defeat them? By battling a quartet of cybernetic war orphan femme fatales, worming his way through combat zones, crawling through microwave tunnels, and fighting off an old nemesis in a giant robot battle. Guns of the Patriots must be played to be believed.

1. Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater

Naked Snake stands in a field of white flowers in "Metal Gear Solid 3"

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater is not only the greatest Metal Gear game, but one of the greatest video games ever made. The game serves as the origin story for the most influential character in the franchise: Big Boss. After being betrayed by his mentor, big boss must journey into the jungles of Russia to stop a cadre of revolutionaries from launching the world into another world war.

The game is just as much a survival simulator as it is an action game, with Snake having to quite literally eat snakes and other jungle fauna to survive. The game features some of the franchise’s best boss battles, from sniper duels to drag-out hand-to-hand combat fights. Metal Gear Solid 3 culminates in perhaps the most poignant moment in the series’ history and it is simply impossible to beat without shedding a tear or twenty at the finale. And the music? The game’s main theme “Snake Eater” is a video game bop to end all bops.

(featured image: Konami)


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Jack Doyle
Jack Doyle (they/them) is actually nine choirs of biblically accurate angels crammed into one pair of $10 overalls. They have been writing articles for nerds on the internet for less than a year now. They really like anime. Like... REALLY like it. Like you know those annoying little kids that will only eat hotdogs and chicken fingers? They're like that... but with anime. It's starting to get sad.