Metal Gear (メタルギア) is a critically acclaimed series of stealth games created by Hideo Kojima and developed and published by Konami. In the series, the player takes control of a Special Forces Operative (Solid Snake in most games) repeatedly facing off against the latest incarnation of the eponymous superweapon "Metal Gear"; a bipedal walking tank with nuclear launching capabilities. The series is famous for pioneering the stealth game genre, for its lengthy cinematic cut scenes, intricate storylines and its exploration of the nature of politics, warfare, environmentalism, censorship, genetic engineering, artificial intelligence, loyalty, reality, subjective vs. universal truths and other philosophical themes. The series has accumulated great success, selling over 26.5 million copies.
The original Metal Gear, designed by Hideo Kojima, debuted in 1987 for the MSX2 computer platform in Japan and Europe. A heavily modified port produced by a different team was released shortly after for Nintendo's Family Computer in Japan and its counterpart, the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), in North America and Europe. Konami then decided to produce a sequel for the NES, titled Snake's Revenge, which was also done without Kojima's involvement and released in 1990 in North America and Europe. One of the designers who worked on Snake's Revenge became acquainted with Hideo Kojima and asked him to do a "real Metal Gear sequel". Kojima accepted his request and began development on his own sequel, titled Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, released in Japan for the MSX2 in 1990.
After Metal Gear 2, Hideo Kojima worked on other projects (notably Snatcher and Policenauts) before directing his third Metal Gear game, Metal Gear Solid, which was released for the PlayStation in 1998. The success of Metal Gear Solid inspired a series of sequels and a prequel. Metal Gear Solid was followed by Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater for PlayStation 2 and Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots for PlayStation 3.
Expanded versions and remakes of the games were produced as well such as Integral, Substance and Subsistence. Several spin-off games were also produced and set outside the series' main storyline with the exception of Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops for the PlayStation Portable.
On May 18, 2009, a teaser site for the following installment in the Metal Gear series was uploaded by Kojima Production. The site has so far consisted of a series of countdowns leading to several flashing letters and the images of two characters looking like a middle-aged Big Boss and a cyborg Raiden. An article published in the July 2009 issue of Famitsu PSP + PS3 covers the content of the site and features an interview with Hideo Kojima. The interview, revealing too many details, is heavily censored and was published that way as a request by Kojima, who is directing and designing the new game. Famitsu is to publish the full interview in its following issue. The new game was eventually revealed to be Metal Gear Solid: Rising, which was announced on June 1, 2009 at E3, during the Microsoft Press Conference. During the Sony Press Conference, Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker was announced and confirmed to be written and produced by Hideo Kojima; it will not be a spin-off game.
The nine games in the Metal Gear series continuity create a narrative that spans five decades. Of these nine titles, three are prequels set decades before the events of the original Metal Gear. The Metal Gear continuity is as follows:
|Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater||1964||Naked Snake (Big Boss)|
|Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops||1970|
|Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker||1974|
|Metal Gear||1995||Solid Snake|
|Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake||1999|
|Metal Gear Solid (also The Twin Snakes)||2005|
|Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty||Tanker Chapter||2007|
|Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots||2014||Solid Snake (Old Snake)|
|Metal Gear Solid: Rising||TBA||Raiden (presumed)|
Although the series has a war setting and is of the action genre, and thus contains large amounts of graphic violence, it has an underlying tone of pacifism. This is reflected throughout the series which has dealt with such themes as the futility of war, the absurdity of nuclear deterrence, the dangers of nuclear weapons in general, the psychological effects of warfare on children and adults, the concept that enemies are only enemies in relative terms, and motivations behind the different lifestyles individuals choose. This tone and some of these themes reflect the mindset of a large amount of the Japanese cinema made since the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Another recurring theme is the negative portrayal of centralized governments as seen in MGS2: Sons of Liberty.
The original Metal Gear, which was released in 1987 during the Cold War, dealt with the manipulation of soldiers by politicians of the East and West, countered by the concept of "Outer Heaven", a country without politics. Its sequel Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, which was released in 1990 at the end of the Cold War, expanded on this with themes regarding political intrigue, battlefield ethics, military history, and the negative effects of warfare.
The overarching theme of the Metal Gear Solid series is that of the "gene, meme, scene and sense" and how people are affected by these factors according to the game's producer Kojima — Metal Gear Solid deals with genetics and the moral implications of genetic engineering, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty deals with how identity can be affected by the philosophies of one's society (a 'meme') and the effects of censorship on society, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater deals with how the time and place one lives in (a 'scene') affects their identity and how politics change along with the times, and Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots deals with the 'sense' that people die, things move on and times change and that life shouldn't be lived fighting.
The longest running theme of the series is the continued manipulation of soldiers by politicians, against which the revolutionary "Outer Heaven" ideal serves as a countermeasure. The original main villain, Big Boss, attempted to establish a purely military nation run by mercenaries solely for mercenaries. The succeeding games' villains felt they shared this ideal, coming up with new ways to create this so-called country without politics. Recently, the series has shown Big Boss in prequel games as the protagonist: a mercenary that is continually manipulated and forced through subsequent tragedies.
"Outer Heaven" has been attempted in many forms. Big Boss attempted to build his ideal state in Southern Africa in Metal Gear and in Central Asia in Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake. Liquid Snake spoke of turning a remote Aleutian island into a sovereign mercenary state in Metal Gear Solid. Solidus attempted to free Manhattan from "the Patriots" in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. In Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, "Outer Heaven" is a parent company for private military companies that employs thousands of soldiers without a country.
While every attempt to secure an "Outer Heaven" immediately results in violence, the series balances the argument with politicians continually throwing mercenaries and soldiers to the wind in order to further their own agenda. In Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, several protagonists from Metal Gear return as antagonists after being betrayed by their respective governments. In Metal Gear Solid, the game's protagonist is purposely infected with a bio weapon because he was expected to fail as well as repeatedly lied to about the nature of his mission. In Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, the main protagonist was raised as a child soldier and inducted into a non-existent covert ops group complete with artificial intelligence stand-ins for commanding officers and loved ones. The prequel game Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater shows Big Boss and his mentor's dialogue over the subject of loyalty to a fickle and temporary government while carrying out missions that only benefit politicians at the cost of a soldier's mind, body, heart, and future. In Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, Solid Snake is shown as an aged war veteran who is dropped in to the middle of a battlefield which consists of numerous PMCs which fight only for profit and have no ideologies.
The main focus of the first two Metal Gear games for the MSX dealt with rivalry between protagonist Solid Snake, a rookie member of FOXHOUND, and antagonist Big Boss, who is initially introduced as the commanding officer of FOXHOUND in the original Metal Gear, but is later revealed to be the leader of the South African fortress of Outer Heaven. In the following game, Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, Big Boss is revealed to be the leader of the hostile nation of Zanzibar Land in Central Asia, confronting Snake for the second time. Supporting characters during this period include fellow FOXHOUND agent Gray Fox, the Metal Gear designer Dr. Pettrovich Madnar, and Outer Heaven resistance leader Kyle Schneider, all of whom were on Snake's side during the first game but became antagonists in the sequel.
Metal Gear Solid elaborates on the storyline of the early games, by revealing Solid Snake's heritage as a genetic clone of Big Boss, created from a secret government project. Here it's introduced a new antagonist in the form of Liquid Snake, Snake's long-lost twin brother and leader of FOXHOUND after Snake's retirement. A third Snake brother also exists in the form of Solidus Snake, who is first introduced as the US President in the end of MGS and serves as the main antagonist of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. During this time, the cast roster expands to include major recurring characters. Revolver Ocelot, a Russian spy, is introduced as an evil henchman to both Liquid and Solidus but is in truth manipulating them to further the agenda of a third party. Metal Gear Rex designer Hal "Otacon" Emmerich is Solid Snake's sidekick and co-founder of the anti-Metal Gear organization Philanthropy. Colonel Roy Campbell is Snake's former commander in FOXHOUND and former confidant to Big Boss. Raiden, the surprise protagonist of Metal Gear Solid 2, is a soldier trained to replicate Solid Snake's success (not unlike the player(s) themselves, in a way; a major facet of Raiden's character).
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, which is chronologically the first game in the series, introduces a younger version of Big Boss during the Cold War, who goes by the codename of Naked Snake. Naked Snake is a former Green Beret. Naked Snake is supported via radio by the FOX unit, which is led by an ex British SAS (Special Air Service) agent called Major Zero, Para-Medic (medical support), and Sigint (weapons/equipment support).The game focuses on the rise of Naked Snake from apprentice to legendary soldier, as well as the downfall of his mentor and matriarchal figure, The Boss. The origins of the Metal Gear mecha, The Patriots, The Philosophers, and FOX unit are all explored in MGS3. The game also features a younger version of Ocelot, where his origin as a triple agent for the KGB, GRU and CIA is explored. Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops, serves as a direct sequel to MGS3 and features some of the same supporting characters, as well as young versions of Roy Campbell and Gray Fox. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots features the return of several characters that were in the first, second, and even third Metal Gear Solid games.
A motif in the Metal Gear games is the presence of a specialized team of commandos with unique abilities that serve as the bosses in each game, starting with the Outer Heaven forces in the original Metal Gear, followed by the Zanzibar Land forces in Metal Gear 2, Solid Snake's former unit FOXHOUND in Metal Gear Solid, Dead Cell in Metal Gear Solid 2, the Cobra unit in Metal Gear Solid 3, and the "Beauty and the Beast" unit in Metal Gear Solid 4. Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops parallels Solid Snake's confrontation with FOXHOUND by having his genetic progenitor, Naked Snake, confront his own former unit FOX. A recurring theme amongst the bosses of Metal Gear Solid is that they adopt a name in the form of "The Sons of...". Liquid Snake referred to his army on Shadow Moses as the "Sons of Big Boss", due to everyone possessing genes from Big Boss's remains. Solidus Snake labeled Dead Cell and the Gurlukovich mercenaries under the unifying name the "Sons of Liberty", to fit his goal of liberating a city from the Patriots. Though it was not mentioned as much in MGS3, The Pain and Colonel Volgin use the name "sons of The Boss" in conversations with Big Boss, referring to those who were trained and have fought alongside the Boss. In MGS4, the term "Sons of the Patriots" is coined.
Another motif is the presence of a Ninja-like character, starting with Black Ninja (Black Color) in Metal Gear 2, who is revealed to be Kyle Schneider, leader of the Outer Heaven resistance and one of Snake's contacts in the original Metal Gear. The Cyborg Ninja is featured in Metal Gear Solid, and revealed to be none other than Gray Fox, Snake's former war buddy turned enemy. The identity is later adopted by another character (Olga Gurlukovich) in Metal Gear Solid 2. The tradition of Ninja-like is continued by Null (who is revealed to be a younger Gray Fox) in Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops and even Raiden himself (who now dons a Cyborg exoskeleton) in Metal Gear Solid 4.
A final motif is the presence of support staff who can only be contacted by radio. Snake is generally inserted into a location as a solo operative without on-site backup. However, he is supplied with a "Codec" radio, which puts him in constant contact with a support staff who have been gathered to provide him with assistance. This staff generally includes: his commanding officer, who is in overall charge of the operation; a character or several characters who teach him to use any weapons and/or items he may procure on-site (often with direct reference to the DualShock controller the player is holding; the Metal Gear games often do not have a fourth wall); any on-site undercover or double agents Snake may come into contact with, including an anonymous contact if one is in the game; and a "data analyst" who allows him to save his game. They can be contacted at any time for advice or moral support; Snake may also be given opportunities to inquire about their histories, making them full-fledged characters in their own right. Codec conversations are so emblematic of the series that a number of them were included in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, allowing Snake to call Col. Campbell, Otacon and Mei Ling for advice on defeating his opponents.
A novel based on the original Metal Gear was published in 1989 as a part of Scholastic's Worlds of Power line-up of novelizations created by FX Nine based on third-party NES games. It was written by Alexander Frost. The Metal Gear novelization is not based on the game's actual storyline (as Kojima was not involved in the production of the book), but rather on Konami of America's localization of the plot (as depicted on the game's manual). The book takes even further liberties by giving Solid Snake the name of Justin Halley (since refuted by Metal Gear Solid) and by changing the name of Snake's unit from FOXHOUND to the "Snake Men". Since the books were aimed at younger readers, Snake doesn't kill anyone and only uses his handgun once to destroy a lock. The cover artwork was airbrushed to remove Snake's gun.
In Japan, a Metal Gear gamebook was published on March 31, 1988, shortly after the release of the Famicom version as part of the Konami Gamebook Series, set two years after the events of the original Metal Gear.
A novelization based on Metal Gear Solid by Raymond Benson was published on May 27, 2008. A Japanese-language novelization of Guns of the Patriots by Project Itoh was published on June 12, 2008.
Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty contains three works of fan fiction based on the plot of the original Metal Gear Solid that can be accessed in the game's "specials" menu.
A radio drama based on the original Metal Gear Solid aired in Japan from 1998 to 1999 as part of Konami's syndicated clud DB program. Directed by Shuyo Murata and written by Motosada Mori, the serial lasted over 18 weekly installments spanning three story arcs. The series was later collected as a two-volume set.
The series serves as an alternate continuation to the events of Shadow Moses, with Solid Snake, Meryl Silverburgh, Mei Ling and Roy Campbell going on further missions as FOXHOUND operatives (Mei Ling and Meryl are depicted wearing a BDU and a sneaking suit respectively), although the stories are not considered part of the mainstream Metal Gear canon. The Japanese voice actors from the game (Akio Otsuka, Kyoko Terase, Takeshi Aono and Houko Kuwashima) reprised their roles for the series, while new characters are introduced as well.
A comic book adaptation of the original Metal Gear Solid was published by IDW Publishing in 2004. It was written by Kris Oprisko and with illustrations by Ashley Wood. The series has twelve issues and has been collected in two trade paperbacks as well as a single hardback collector's edition which is currently out-of-print. A comic book adaptation of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty has also been published by IDW, written by Alex Garner with illustrations by Ashley Wood.
The comics were released in digital formats in 2006 and 2007.
In 1999, McFarlane Toys, with the collaboration of Konami, launched a series of action figures depicting key characters from the original Metal Gear Solid video game. In 2001, following the success of the first series, and with the release of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, McFarlane Toys and Konami combined their efforts to produce a line of action figures depicting Sons of Liberty's main characters. Each character has a piece of Metal Gear RAY, so collecting the entire set is essential to build the robot.
Konami has also released 4" scale blind-box figures based on MGS2 released in Japan, Sons of Liberty in 2002 and Substance shortly after in 2003; the Substance series was eventually brought to the US and UK markets packaged on card rather than blind boxed. During the release of MGS3, Medicom released 12" figures of Snake as part of their Real Action Heroes line. Medicom continued to support the franchise with the release of Kubrick figures for Snake Eater and Guns of the Patriots, which also included seven- and 12-inch versions of the game's characters.
Several promotional DVDs have been released detailing the Metal Gear series. Metal Gear Saga vol. 1 was released in 2006 as a pre-order disc for MGS3: Subsistence. It is divided into five chapters, each dealing with one game of the then five-part Metal Gear series in chronological order (beginning with MGS3), and each include discussions by Hideo Kojima. Metal Gear Saga vol. 2 was first shown at the 20th Metal Gear Anniversary Party, and then released as a pre-order disc for MGS4. In this, the video is presented as a pseudo-documentary about Solid Snake and is divided into a prologue and four chapters: Naked Snake-the birth of Snake (chronicling the events of MGS3, MG1, and MG2), Liquid Snake-the second snake (MGS), Solidus Snake-the third Snake (MGS2) and Solid Snake-the first Snake (setting the stage for MGS4).
In May 2006, Metal Gear series creator Hideo Kojima announced that a film adaptation of Metal Gear Solid was in development. The film was purported to be in English, said to be released some time in 2011. Kojima also announced at the Electronic Entertainment Expo later that month that he had negotiated a contract with a party in Hollywood to adapt the video game into a film. Kojima also considered Alaska as the site of the film production, due to the game's setting in the state.
David Hayter, the English voice actor for Solid Snake, had submitted his take for the movie but executives have passed on his script. He has previously written the screenplay to X-Men and co-written X2, The Scorpion King and Watchmen. There has since been a petition web site started in the hope of getting David Hayter involved with the project.
Producer Michael DeLuca has expressed interest in having Equilibrium director Kurt Wimmer write the script for the movie. Later on Kurt Wimmer was opted to direct the movie adaptation. However, Wimmer will not take part in the directing for the film. He was only approached to pitch a take on adapting the Metal Gear Solid franchise. Konami's Aki Saito had commented that There Will Be Blood director Paul Thomas Anderson was interested, but DeLuca dismissed the claim. According to an interview in Nuts Magazine actor Christian Bale is interested in playing Solid Snake in the film, during an interview for Public Enemies, he stated that he has not been approached for the role.
However, on January 11, 2010, de Luca confirmed that work on a Metal Gear film adaptation has been postponed indefinitely. He said Konami expressed concern that the entire Metal Gear franchise could be seriously affected if a movie version performed poorly.