So let’s say you’re excited, interested, or even mildly curious about the pending release of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, but you never got around to playing some of the titles in the series.
Heck, let’s say you’ve never played any of the games, but all the raving reviews and 10/10 scores has you thinking it’s finally time to jump into the Metal Gear universe. Let’s also assume real life prevents you from running out and buying all previous games and playing them non-stop before The Phantom Pain comes out in 5 days.
Well, my friend, you have a problem. Of all the franchises that have attached a story to a video game, none have done so with more (and often maddening) intricacy than the Metal Gear games. What’s what and who’s who matter a lot in the world of Metal Gear, and while it’s possible to enjoy the stealth and combat without knowing anything about the characters or story.
Mr. Kojima really expects us to have been paying attention all these years, and Metal Gear Solid V will undoubtedly reward those who have (at least those who are able to make sense of it all).
It’s a confusing series, but an iconic one that I think is worth the time investment. So here’s a brief (well, about as brief as Metal Gear Solid gets) overview of everything that has happened to Big Boss since his first appearance. Hopefully it will help prepare you for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.
I would still highly recommend playing some games from the series, specially ones with the HD remasters available. These games will really change your perspective about what video games are truly capable of.
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
August 24, 1964: Thirty thousand feet above Pakistan, a man launches himself from a special ops Combat Talon aircraft emblazoned with the US flag. It is the first HALO (high altitude, low opening) jump in history and the beginning of the covert Virtuous Mission. The plot thickens in Operation Snake Eater, a desperate mission with the fate of FOX at stake. With the doomsday weapon Shagohod finally complete, Snake enlists the aid of EVA, a beautiful and mysterious female spy sent to penetrate the GRU, to stop the Shagohod.
Naked Snake is sent into the Soviet jungle to track down and kill his former mentor, The Boss, and disable a prototype nuclear tank, the Shagohod. Unbeknownst to him, the whole mission is secretly a ploy by the US government to get its hands on a $100 billion cash fund owned by a clandestine group called The Philosophers. Snake’s loyalty to his country wavers when he finally discovers the truth after being forced to kill The Boss.
Following Snake’s defeat of The Boss, he’s awarded a new title: Big Boss.
Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops
1970: It is the era of détente. The FOX unit takes over a Soviet army base on the San Hieronymo Peninsula in central Columbia and launches a rebellion. Big Boss, now retired from FOX, is abducted by his former comrades and imprisoned in a cell on the peninsula.Snake wakes up in a cell next to Roy Campbell.
His former unit, FOX, has gone rogue and stolen a Metal Gear from the US military. The leader of FOX is now a man named Gene, who wants to defeat The Philosophers by creating a nation of soldiers called Army’s Heaven. Meanwhile, Ocelot and Major Zero create a shadowy organisation of their own: The Patriots. He escapes, forms his own unit along with local Soviet troops and sets out to put an end to FOX’s rebellion.
Gene’s vision was to create a country for soldiers, known as Army’s Heaven, that would supplant The Philosophers and involve themselves in all of the world’s armed conflicts, creating a nation of superior soldiers that wouldn’t be used for any nation’s political or territorial interests. Snake disagrees with Gene’s vision, arguing that he’s no different from any other dictator.
And for a twist in the plot, Ocelot turns out to be the son of The Boss, Snake’s former mentor. Whom he kills. remember? You still with me, right?
Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker
1974: Snake leaves The Patriots after discovering that Major Zero attempted to clone him using his Les Enfants Terribles project, a scheme designed to produce clones of Big Boss. Snake then goes on to set up his own mercenary group,Militaires Sans Frontières in the Caribbean. He’s hired by Costa Rica to rid the country of an invading force, fights the nuclear-equipped AI machine Peace Walker, and inadvertently stumbles into a scheme–devised by Major Zero–involving the creation of a Metal Gear.
Snake’s deputy, Kazuhira Miller, is met by professor Ramon Galvez Mena and his student Paz Ortega Andrade, who offer MSF a forward base and a helicopter as payment for helping Costa Rica fend off an unknown armed force, suspected to involve the CIA in some way.
Snake and Miller suspect Galvez might have ties to the KGB (perhaps his giant red fist gave the game away), who reveals that he was ordered by the Soviets to hire MSF in a bid to rid the area of the CIA, as the Soviets wanted to establish a base in Central America. Snake reluctantly accepts when he is also played a tape recording of The Boss, and says he is taking on the mission because of an impassioned speech from Paz about desiring peace in the region.
Paz is also working with Major Zero and the Patriots, and told Big Boss that if he refused to rejoin Major Zero, then Metal Gear ZEKE would be used for a nuclear attack on the US.
Metal Gear ZEKE was a way of ensuring that MSF could defend against anyone opposed to its ideals of a mercenary nation. By equipping the machine with a nuclear missile, MSF would be a player in nuclear deterrence theory. This Metal Gear would be unmanned, and would be controlled by AI, but Paz secretly installed a cockpit and manual controls.
Snake, again, destroys the Metal Gear, and closes the game instructing the MSF that he will soon build a nation free of politics and nation: Outer Heaven.
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes
March, 1975: Set in March 1975, a few months after the events of Peace Walker, Snake is working with Militaires Sans Frontières to infiltrate an American black site on Cuban soil called Camp Omega. Once used as a refugee camp for people fleeing Cuba and Haiti, Camp Omega is home to an old prison that is being used for extraordinary rendition as it has no legal recognition under the United States Constitution.
Snake’s main objectives are the extraction of Paz Ortega Andrade, who has information regarding the whereabouts of the person or persons known as Cipher; and Ricardo “Chico” Valenciano Libre, a Sandinista and former child soldier who was captured by Skull Face, the commander of paramilitary force XOF, who are in control of Camp Omega. Snake’s mission is supported by Kazuhira “Kaz” Miller and Dr. “Huey” Emmerich from MSF’s Mother Base in the Caribbean Sea.
Snake infiltrates Camp Omega as a mysterious Special Forces unit known as XOF departs. He locates and extracts Chico, who claims Paz is dead. Using a recording that Chico gives him, Snake and Miller deduce that Paz is alive, and was moved deeper into the camp. He sneaks into Camp Omega and manages to rescue Paz as well.
However, on the way back to Mother Base, Chico discovers that Paz was surgically implanted with a bomb, prompting Snake and an MSF medic to remove it by hand. They then arrive to Mother Base to see it in flames as XOF forces attack. Morpho One (their helicopter) lands long enough for Snake to rescue Miller, who claims that the UN inspection was nothing but a ruse for the XOF ambush, which razes Mother Base.
As they attempt to escape XOF, Paz regains consciousness and warns everybody that there is a second bomb inside her body. Knowing that she is about to die, she jumps out, trying to throw herself clear of the helicopter. She succeeds, but the explosion causes Morpho to spiral out of control and collide with a pursuing XOF helicopter.
The epilogue reveals that the United States government downplayed MSF’s destruction and attempted to cover up their dealings with the organization, as do many of MSF’s clients. There are no known survivors of the assault, apart from Snake, Miller, and Huey.
In a post-credits scene, set prior to Snake’s arrival at Camp Omega, Paz is being interrogated by Skull Face, who demands the whereabouts of Cipher—also known as Zero—as Paz had met Zero in person. Paz eventually gives in and agrees to tell him Zero’s location before the scene ends.
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (The Premise)
In the aftermath of the events of Ground Zeroes and the destruction of Militaires Sans Frontières, Big Boss/Snake falls into a coma. Nine years later, he awakes and helps lead a new mercenary group, Diamond Dogs. Adopting the codenames “Punished Snake” and “Venom Snake”, he ventures into Afghanistan during the Soviet–Afghan War to track down the men responsible for MSF’s destruction.
Along the way, he becomes reacquainted with his former rival Ocelot and encounters a unit of warriors robbed of their past, present and future. While he and Benedict “Kazuhira” Miller are initially driven to exact revenge, Snake soon unearths a plot by the Cipher organization to develop a weapon with the potential to surpass even the Metal Gear system.
And that friends is where we start off in The Phantom Pain!
Check back at Gaming Central for the full review coming soon!