BLOG – Ranking Metal Gear

All Metal Gear Here in One Place – 

Spanning well over two decades, the Metal Gear franchise has been one of the most revered, talked about, welcomed and controversial video game series of all time.  There are many games in the timeline from direct sequels to unique off-shoot non-canon titles but there truly is not a “bad” Metal Gear game.  Some titles are definitely better than others but Metal Gear has always retained a high quality gaming experience throughout its multi-platform lifespan.  Known for its consistently impressive cinematic qualities and high presentation values, Metal Gear has snuck into the hearts of millions of gamers.

Personally, the Metal Gear franchise has been a favorite of mine since I was first introduced to the original NES version back in the late 80’s and I have played and completed almost every Metal Gear game since.  With Metal Gear Rising’s release impending, I thought I would rank all the different Metal Gear titles that I have played from worst to best.  Since there have been so many games in the series, new comers and fans might not have experienced everything the expansive Metal Gear timeline has to offer.

Below is a list of most US released Metal Gear titles ranked according to quality – these are all the games that involve Metal Gear in some way even if they are not canon.  In fact, some are not even technically “games” at all.  But this is one of the coolest aspects about Metal Gear as many titles branch out beyond the usual sneaking around in cardboard boxes. The non-games, which are more like apps, are listed at the end in their own section.

The few titles that I was not able to get my hands on are listed at the end along with a few extra random Metal Gear factoids.

Enjoy, and let’s look forward to the next 25 years of Metal Gear.




18) Metal Gear Solid Touch (2009) – iOS,


–          Touching Snake in a new way

Positives: it is an unexpected game, tries something new, reimaging of MGS4

Negatives: does not have the same amount of polish as other titles in the series

Designed specifically for iOS platforms, MGS Touch retells the general plotline of MGS4 from a simple rail base shooter.  Tapping the screen to shoot and pinching to zoom in are the main mechanics behind this title but the lacking depth and lower production values put this title at the bottom of the list.


17) Snake’s Revenge (1990) – NES,

Box Art

Box Art

–          Unofficial sequel to Metal Gear

Positives: Snake was so badass that he got his own unofficial sequel

Negatives: poor controls, inferior side scrolling segments, just overall ridiculous

Yup, that is Snake

Yup, that is Snake

First off, this game has nothing to do with the canon Metal Gear timeline.  Although similar to the NES port of the original Metal Gear, gameplay mostly takes place from an overhead view but introduced sidescrolling segments as well.  The real kicker, however, is the final boss is named Higharolla Kockamamie.  And um, hey Snake, if you want to sneak around it probably isn’t a good idea to do it in an orange jumpsuit.


16) Metal Gear (1988) – NES,

a famous typo

a famous typo

–          A poorman’s port

Positives: Metal Gear made enough of an impression in Japan so it was brought to the States

Negatives: terribly translated, brutal difficulty, no Metal Gear

To US gamers in the late 80’s, this was all the Metal Gear that we knew.  Little did we realize that this NES version is a poorly translated port of the far superior MSX version.  Kojima had nothing to do with this version and isn’t considered part of the official Metal Gear timeline.  Filled with typos, muddy graphics, and difficult gameplay, the NES version of Metal Gear is not a highlight for the series.  In fact, you don’t even fight the Metal Gear in this NES version!  Instead, you blow up a defenseless computer with some explosives…


15) Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops Plus (2007) – PSP,

Portable Ops Box

–          More like Portable Ops Minus

Positives: encourages players to steal WiFi connections

Negatives: multiplayer only

The title of this game is misleading.  The “Plus” aspect should indicate that this is the superior version over the original Portable Ops.  Unfortunately, it is not.  Although there is a designated single player mode, Portable Ops Plus puts its main focus on multiplayer.


14) Metal Gear Acid (2004) – PSP,

Nice use of an "!" in the title

Nice use of an “!” in the title

–          The card game no one saw coming

Positives: a completely new way to play Metal Gear

Negatives: it’s a card game

Metal Gear Acid is unlike any other Metal Gear game.  Instead of sneaking around from a third person perspective, the player controls some dude named Hans Davis, who is really Snake, via playing cards on a turn based grid.  Every action requires the use of a card but unbalanced gameplay makes each stage more challenging than it needs to be and the story is just plain ridiculous even for Metal Gear standards.  If you are looking for something different, this is definitely the Metal Gear title to play.


13) Metal Gear Solid: VR Missions (1999) – PSOne,

Play as the Ninja

Play as the Ninja

–          Snake’s Matrix-like training

Positives: finally get a chance to experience all the details put into MGS, play as Gray Fox

Negatives: no campaign – just training missions, takes determination to unlock everything

The original Metal Gear Solid on the original Playstation completely revived the long lost franchise.  But due to the narrative, players were not required to use all of the game’s items and weapons.  That is where the VR Missions come in.  With no main campaign, this single player title focused on honing Snake’s skills with all the in-game items that were available in Snake’s quest.  From weapon training to sneaking missions, players guided Snake in a futuristic computer circuit board environment, taking down geometric shapes and virtual enemies.  There was even a photography mode that allowed players to take pictures of Metal Gear characters, and the more missions they unlocked, the closer you can move to the subject matter.  Initially sold at a reduced price, the VR Missions were for the fans that could not get enough Metal Gear Solid.


12) Metal Gear Acid 2 (2005) – PSP,

the first 3D Metal Gear via Solid Eye attachment

the first 3D Metal Gear via Solid Eye attachment

–          A better card trick

Positives: much better than Acid 1, comes with Solid Eye PSP attachment for 3D

Negatives: it is still a card game

Apparently the original Metal Gear Acid sold well enough to justify a sequel.  Luckily, Acid 2 is a much better game than Acid 1.  This sequel features a better story, a co-op partner, more streamlined and polished gameplay and even included many extras like the Solid Eye attachment and voyeuristic videos of sexy Asian women (sure, why not?).


11) Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D (2012) – 3DS,

Metal Gear 3DS box

–          Inferior but in your face

Positives: one of the best games in the series has been redesigned for portable 3D hardware

Negatives: clunky controls and frame drops damper gameplay

Released alongside a lacking launch line up, Snake Eater 3D stole the limelight of having potential for being a high quality, stand out title during the 3DS’ new born life. Definitely not a bad game by any means, this is just an inferior way to play one of the best games in the series courtesy of a cumbersome control scheme and a smaller screen. The 3D effects are quiet nice but this isn’t the ideal way a grand adventure through Russian jungles should be experienced.


10) Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes (2004) – GC,

A GC exclusive

A GC exclusive

–          Silicon Knights reimages the original smash hit

Positives: Konami brings a mature title to Nintendo’s lunchbox

Negatives: Ridiculous over-the-top unbelievable action scenes

The makers of Eternal Darkness teamed up with Kojima Productions for a reimagining of the original MGS.  Unfortunately, Snake acted more like Neo from the Matrix with crazy wall kicks and he even jumps off a live missile at one point.  The ridiculous nature of these cutscenes were entertaining to watch but sucked out the human element to Snake.  The voice acting, which stole the show in the original game, did not contain the same passion as the original even though the original staff returned.


9) Metal Gear (1987) – MSX,

Also found on:
Metal Gear Solid 2: Subsistence (2002), PS2
Metal Gear Solid HD Collection (2011), PS3, 360, Vita

This version is much better than the NES version

This version is much better than the NES version

–          Starting it all

Positives: great overhead Zelda-like gameplay mechanics, introduces players to the Metal Gear world

Negatives: sometimes can be difficult to figure out where to go next

This is the game that not only introduced players to the Metal Gear world but it was also one of the very first stealth games.  In an era when most video games were based around action, Kojima decided to do the exact opposite due to hardware limitations and build a game around NOT confronting the enemy.  This bold move paid off.  But do yourself a favor and play through this MSX version instead of the weaker NES version.


8) Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake (1990) – MSX2,

The one game you probably never played

The one game you probably never played

Also found on:
Metal Gear Solid 2: Subsistence (2002), PS2
Metal Gear Solid HD Collection (2011), PS3, 360, Vita

–          Building a better game

Positives: fantastic overhead adventure style gameplay, introduces players to the radar, story and gameplay were ahead of its time

Negatives: like the original navigation and boss battles can occasionally require backtracking along with trial and error

Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake is the unsung sleeper hit of the Metal Gear series mostly due to its limited US release.  But with a plotline and gameplay that was way ahead of its time, this game is basically a 2D Metal Gear Solid (PSOne).  Kojima’s creative vision shines through with unique gameplay moments like trying to get a scientist to jump off your back, losing all your gear at the end of the game, and fighting the greatest soldier that ever lived with an aerosol can.  Solid Snake is a fantastic game and is most likely the best game you never played.


7) Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops (2006) – PSP,

Build an army

Build an army

–          recruiting an army from the internet

Positives: Continues story after MGS3, displays how Big Boss built his army one soldier at a time

Negatives: dragging soldiers back to the truck

There is some debate on whether or not Portable Ops is an official canon title in the Metal Gear timeline.  But even if this title is not canon, players are treated to a new way to play Metal Gear.  One of the main goals of the game is to recruit soldiers into your own army and there are a couple ways to do so.  First, tapping into unsuspecting WiFi connections would yield a new soldier ready for deployment; hunting for WiFi signals is an addicting way to make your army stronger.   Or secondly, players could knock out enemy soldiers and carry them back to a truck at the beginning of each stage.  Memorable boss battles, outstanding voice acting, and even an included multiplayer mode set the bar high for presentation values on the PSP.


6) Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots/Metal Gear Online (2008) – PS3,

Now with Trophies

Now with Trophies

–          Snake’s final mission

Positives: finally gave reason to purchase Sony’s expensive next gen hardware

Negatives: sneaking around in London is slow and tedious, same old absurd plotline

Sony’s PS3 hardware was out for a decent amount of time before MGS4 was released but gave fans a reason to take the plunge into the next gen foray.  Konami even teamed with Sony to release a limited edition MGS4 hardware bundle with a bigger hard drive.  Using a new control scheme, Drebin Points (a new way to upgrade Snake), unforgettable boss battles, and even an included online multiplayer mode, MGS4 retains the high level of quality that fans have come to expect.  Plus, there is a smoking monkey.  This fact alone increases its overall entertainment factor by like 2 points.  MGS4 was also recently patched with Trophy support too.


5) Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (2001) – PS2
Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance (2002) – PS2

Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance (2002) – Xbox

Next gen

Next gen

–          Metal Gear without Snake

Positives: Raiden

Negatives: Raiden

Sons of Liberty took first person combat to a new level, gave fans unforgettable characters and boss battles, introduced distinctive set pieces, and created more controversy than any other video game in years. The omission of Snake and the taking of control of a new whiney protagonist overshadowed the premium tactical espionage action that was MGS2.  Substance, the enhanced version over the original, allowed players to complete dozens of VR Missions and plays as Snake in alternative and goofy side missions.  But stay away from the original Xbox version as the frame rate chugs and entering first-person mode by clicking in the analog stick is a terrible way to play.


4) Metal Gear Solid (1998) – PSOne,

Mantis will scan your memory card

Mantis will scan your memory card

Also found on:
Metal Gear Solid: The Essential Collection (2008) – PS1/PS2,
Metal Gear Solid: Integral (2000) – Windows PC

Positives: a polygonal cinematic masterpiece

Negatives: graphics doesn’t hold up that well 15 years later

–          Introducing the masses

Snake might have been sneaking around for over a decade, but it wasn’t until MGS that he was caught with an exclamation mark over his head.  Kojima’s smash hit on Sony’s original Playstation started the Metal Gear revolution and was truly an experience unlike any other in the late 90s.  Years later, the game was reprinted on original black PSOne discs in the collectable Essential Collection and was also ported to the PC complete with all the VR Missions.


3) Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker (2010) – PSP,

Also found on:

Metal Gear Solid HD Collection (2011), PS3, 360, PSN

The Boss returns

The Boss returns

–          The PSP’s finest

Positives: addicting gameplay, great story

Negatives: boss battles, unbalanced gameplay for solo play

Peace Walker is one of the best games on the PSP.  Even though it only has one analog stick, gameplay is still solid and addicting as Outer Heaven constantly grows, new characters join, and new items are always in development.  Unfortunately, Peace Walker is designed for CO-OPS gameplay as the difficulty does not change depending on the number of players playing.  Luckily, the rebirth of this title on the PS3/360 HD Collection makes use of the second analog stick and introduces online play – the correct way to experience this game. Oh yeah, and you can Transfar.


2)  Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (2004) – PS2,

Also found on:   

Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence (2005) – PS2,

Metal Gear Solid HD Collection (2011) – 360/PS3/Vita

Hunt. Kill. Eat.

Hunt. Kill. Eat.

–          Welcome to the jungle

Positives: it’s awesome – plain and simple

Negatives: the monkeys don’t smoke

Snake Eater is nothing short of a master piece of a game.  From the cinematic quality, to the epic story, gripping survival gameplay, attention to detail, and the haunting boss battles, Naked Snake’s first adventure puts you in a CQC chokehold and doesn’t let go.  The original version of the game excluded VR Missions but instead introduced creative mini games like Snake Vs Monkey and even had downloadable camo uniforms from network connected PS2’s with extra available memory card space.


1)      Metal Gear Solid (2000) – GBC,

The forgotten handheld game

The forgotten handheld game

–          One of the best, if not THE best, GBC title

Positives: Gameplay, graphics, story, and even sound – all pretty much perfect

Negatives: that damn colored conveyer belt segment

I know what you are thinking… how can a Gameboy Color game be at the top of the Metal Gear list?  But Metal Gear Solid on the GBC is a very well done game.  In fact, it is one of the very few games I have given a perfect review score to.  As an alternative sequel to the original Metal Gear, this GBC version features a grand adventure with intriguing boss battles all available on Nintendo non-backlit two-buttoned handheld.  This title was also the first Metal Gear game to support a multiplayer mode and also had dozens of VR Missions as well as special time trial special objective missions.  Do not brush this game off because it was on the Gameboy Color.  This is a great game. Foreign versions of this game also included a well written easter egg codec radio drama.




The Document of Metal Gear Solid 2 (2002) – PS2,

You know how DVDs have extra features like alternative endings, developer commentary and deleted scenes?  Well, the Document of Metal Gear Solid 2 is basically a disc of bonus features and has become a bit of a collector’s item over the years.  Perhaps the best feature of this disc was the inclusive of a few VR Missions.  Not only did this tease players for the then upcoming Substance version of MGS2, it also unlocked all the content of the Substance VR Missions if a Document save file was found on the same memory card.


Metal Gear Solid: Digital Graphic Novel (2006) – PSP,

There were two series of Metal Gear comics, each re-telling the events of MGS1 and MGS2 respectively.  Published by IDW Publications, each series contained 12 issues and most of plot is ripped straight from the game.  The PSP Digital Graphic Novel strictly tells the story of MGS1 through the art of Ashley Wood.  Adding an interactive element to this “game,” the player could pan and zoom each page to find potentially hidden panels that unlock additional content.  This UMD was created for hardcore fans.


Metal Gear Solid 4 Database (2008) – PSN (encyclopedia),

This free download from the Playstation Network details pretty much everything about Metal Gear.  Definitions, summaries, and even bios on characters are all here in one place.  Download it.


Metal Gear Saga vol. 1 (2006) – DVD, pre-order bonus disc with MGS3 Subsistence


Metal Gear Saga vol. 2 (2008) – DVD, pre-order bonus with MGS4:

Those dedicated enough to plunk down enough money when pre-ordering MGS3: Subsistence and MGS4 received a very limited edition DVD that summarizes the events of previous Metal Gear titles.  If you want to absorb the Metal Gear mythos in one easy dose, this is the way to do it.



Metal Gear Arcade (2009 Japan) – Arcade, remake of MGO w/3D

I personally never played this but apparently it is just a fancier remake of Metal Gear Online complete with 3D support.


Metal Gear Solid Mobile (2008) – mobile phones, set between MGS1 and MGS2, not canon.

Metal Gear Solid Mobile was released to specific smart phones and even Nokia’s N-Gage but received a limited user base because of the platform it was released on.  Although this game is not canon, it takes place between MGS1 and MGS2 with Snake and Octacon trying to stop Ocelot from releasing Metal Gears on the black market.  With gameplay similar to MGS on PSOne, Metal Gear Solid Mobile looks like it has the same high quality gameplay despite being on systems no one ever owned.



Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (Feb 2013) – PS3/360

Players control a bad ass Raiden after the events of MGS4.  Unlike other MGS title, this game is more action based as the cut-and-take swordplay is what Platinum Games (the developer) is more known for.


Metal Gear Solid: Social Ops (2013?) – mobile/FB?

Some type of smart phone/Facebook game is in the works..?


Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes – PS3?

Not much is known at this time but it appears Big Boss is going to be able to traverse an open world environment.


Metal Gear Solid 5 – TBA

Perhaps more details at this year’s E3 will be revealed.


The Phantom Pain – ???

Is this game really the next Metal Gear?



Snake and other Metal Gear assets have infiltrated other games as well.  If you cannot get enough Metal Gear, but sure to keep your eye out while playing these other non-Metal Gear games:


Super Smash Bros. Brawl – Wii

Snake is a playable character along with Metal Gear environments.


Boktai 2 : Solar Boy Django – GBA

Snake makes a quick camo in this isometric undead base stealth action game.


Scribblenauts – DS

Getting creative with Metal Gear terms could yield interesting results.


Yu-Gi-Oh! 7 – GBA

Snake in other card game?


Evolution Skateboarding – PS2

Snake knows how to skate around the Big Shell.


Ape Escape 3 – PS2

Measle Gear Solid.


New International Track & Field – DS

Race alongside Pyramid Head too.


Little Big Planet – PS3

There was specific Metal Gear DLC for this DIY game.


Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – PS3/360

Gabriel can wear a certain banana and eye patch if conditions are met.


Also Try: ranking Castlevania or Final Fantasy

Holy Cow: I spent weeks of my life to Metal Gear

Wait For It: the Metal Gear Movie

By: Zachary Gasiorowski

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