"Metal Gear Solid: The Engrossing History of Snake" Gets You Ready For The Phantom Pain

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Video game stories are rarely subtle, and the narrative driving the Metal Gear series is as complicated and convoluted as a game story gets, which is why fans love it so. Ultimately, the games tell the story of how one soldier's yearning for a perfect world gets twisted over the decades into a motive for never-ending war.

With the NVIDIA GeForce GTX Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain Bundle available in participating stores, now's a good time to try and hash out the larger Metal Gear storyline so PC-only gamers who missed out on previous Metal Gear games can work out what's what in the upcoming, highly anticipated title. To avoid spoilers, neither what we know about Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain or its prologue, Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeros, is included in this round-up. For reference, however, the events of both games take place between Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker and the first Metal Gear game for MSX.

Major thanks are due to AudioRejectz's summary of the games and The Complete History of Metal Gear from Xbox World 360 magazine and GamesRadar.

1964 – Events of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (PlayStation 2, 2005)

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater stars Big Boss, A.K.A. Naked Snake, a FOX agent whose genetic information was eventually used as part of the Les Enfants Terribles Government project that resulted in the birth of Solid Snake, Liquid Snake, and Solidus Snake. FOX is a covert group with ties to the CIA that's led by Major Zero.

Naked Snake's mission in Metal Gear Solid 3 is to sabotage the Soviets' Shagohod, a nuclear super weapon delivery system that's a precursor to the Metal Gear. He's stopped by his mentor, The Boss, who has defected to Russia and supplied the Soviets with a nuclear bomb. The bomb is subsequently detonated on a Russian research facility by Volgin, a power-hungry Russian Colonel who's also the lead bad guy for Metal Gear Solid 3.

The US is blamed for the bombing, and nuclear war is dangerously imminent. The US attempts to prove its innocence by sending Naked Snake to kill The Boss and destroy the stolen Shagohod. He's aided by EVA, an ex-NSA agent, fights a young Revolver Ocelot several times, and learns about the Philosophers and the Philosopher's Legacy — a $100 billion fund collected by the most powerful minds in the United States, China, and Russia that Volgin inherited illegally.

Naked Snake destroys Shagohod and kills The Boss. He then then learns The Boss had actually been working for the United States and was under orders to get the Legacy, then be killed by Naked Snake in order to prove the country's innocence in the nuclear bomb affair.

In commemoration of his "successful" mission (which sees half the Philosopher's Legacy returned), Naked Snake is named Big Boss by the United States. However, the events leave him broken and mistrustful.

1970 – Events of Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops (PSP, 2008)

FOX, now a renegade unit under the command of Gene (A.K.A. Viper, and one of the Philosopher's first attempts at creating a genetically perfect super-soldier), captures and tortures Big Boss. Big Boss escapes after meeting Green Beret Roy Campbell, and learns the United States is blaming him for turning FOX rogue.

In response, Big Boss and Campbell create a unit to take down FOX called FOXHOUND. Other members include EVA, Zero (previously and wrongfully arrested for treason) and Ocelot.

Big Boss defeats Viper and gains control of FOX's money, soldiers, and plans for a military nation-state called Army's Heaven. It then comes to light that Zero had manipulated Viper into going renegade in a plot to gain control of the Philosopher's Legacy. The Philosophers are re-organized and become The Patriots in a bid to make the "unified world" The Boss (Big Boss' old mentor) used to dream of. Big Boss becomes the figurehead of The Patriots.


After FOXHOUND is turned into an official unit of the US Army, Big Boss is seriously injured in battle. Worried about the fate of his best fighter and FOXHOUND, Zero clones Big Boss in an attempt to create a perfect soldier. Three children were born of the "Les Enfants Terribles" project: Liquid Snake, Solid Snake, and Solidus Snake. In order to keep the clones from potentially being stolen and used against FOXHOUND, they're each coded to age rapidly, potentially dying by their early '40s.

When Big Boss learns what happened, he's enraged and believes The Patriots' vision has been corrupted. He leaves the group.

1974 – Events of Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker (PSP, 2010)

Big Boss forms a new group, Militaires Sans Frontières, which is asked to save Costa Rica from a growing military presence. Big Boss learns said army is building a prototype Metal Gear code named "Peace Walker".

Peace Walker is meant to be the ultimate nuclear war deterrent: The threat of mutually assured destruction is what keeps the world's nuclear powers in check, but human error might compromise that security. Peace Walker, on the other hand, is powered by AI based on The Boss's psychology, and will fire on anything that fires at it.

CIA agent Coldman is revealed to have been responsible for the events of Operation: Snake Eater, and he's behind Costa Rica's mounting military presence as well. Coldman tries to feed Peace Walker false data to get it to fire on Militaires Sans Frontières. He's killed by the KGB before he can succeed, but he does manage to make the Peace Walker fire on Cuba and send fake data to NORAD to make it seem as if the United States is the target of a Soviet nuclear attack.

Big Boss is unable to convince the United States that the attack is fake. However, Peace Walker's The Boss AI sacrifices itself to kill the false signal and prevent a thermonuclear war.

Peace Walkers' designers become part of Militaires Sans Frontières, Big Boss begins building his own Metal Gear. One of Zero's agents steals it with the intent of launching a nuclear strike on the United States and framing Big Boss for the act. Big Boss decides to create his own independent military nation, "Outer Heaven".

1995 – Events of Metal Gear (MSX, NES, 1987)

When the US learns Outer Heaven is building its own Metal Gear, it sends FOXHOUND (which is under control by Big Boss so he can keep an eye on the US military from the inside) to destroy it. Frank Jaeger, A.K.A. Grey Fox, goes in first but is captured. Solid Snake goes in next to rescue Grey Fox and complete his mission.

Big Boss tries to stop Snake from destroying Metal Gear, reveals he's the leader of Outer Heaven, and admits he took control of FOXHOUND in order to delay the mission and give Outer Heaven enough time to complete Metal Gear.

Solid Snake defeats Big Boss and the Metal Gear. Outer Heaven self-destructs, and Big Boss retreats to the Middle East with his soldiers. Solid Snake becomes part of FOXHOUND.

1999 – Events of Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake (MSX, 1990)

FOXHOUND, now under the command of Colonel Campbell, sends Solid Snake to Zanzibar Land to rescue Dr. Kio Marv, a scientist who's made synthetic oil. The Zanzibar soldiers put Dr. Kio Marv under the guard of Metal Gears.

Solid Snake discovers Big Boss survived their last encounter. He also finds the body of Dr. Kio Marv, who died before he could be rescued. Solid Snake retrieves the formula for synthetic oil from the corpse.

Solid Snake fights and defeats Metal Gear D and its pilot, Grey Fox. Snake also encounters and defeats Big Boss, who reveals he's Snake's father.

Snake retreats to the Alaskan wilderness. The Patriots retrieve Big Boss's body and keep it cryogenically frozen to extract his genes and construct genetically-enhanced Genome Soldiers.

2005 – Events of Metal Gear Solid (PlayStation, 1998; PC, 2000)

Colonel Campbell leaves FOXHOUND in 2000. Liquid Snake becomes the group's leader and commands its Genome Soldiers. FOXHOUND begins an armed uprising on an island code-named Shadow Moses, located in Alaska's Fox Archipelago.

Liquid Snake threatens the United States' government with nuclear bombardment from Metal Gear REX unless FOXHOUND receives Big Boss's remains from The Patriots. Roy Campbell re-establishes contact with Solid Snake and sends him to Shadow Moses Island to retrieve hostages and confirm whether or not Metal Gear REX can launch nukes.

Snake infiltrates the island, where he fights Revolver Ocelot and a genetically-modified version of Grey Fox, initially believed to have been killed during the events of Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake. Snake also rescues Meryl Silverburgh (Roy Campbell's daughter) and Otacon, the creator of Metal Gear REX.

Solid Snake encounters Liquid Snake, who's piloting Metal Gear REX. Liquid Snake suddenly dies of an apparent heart attack, seemingly a side effect of the FOXDIE virus. Solid Snake learns he has the same virus implanted within him, and may likewise drop dead at any time.

Meanwhile, Revolver Ocelot grafts Liquid Snake's hand to himself, causing the essence of Liquid Snake to possess him.

2007 through 2009 – Events of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (PlayStation 2, 2001; PC, 2003)

Solid Snake learns about a tanker that's transporting an amphibious Metal Gear called Metal Gear RAY. Snake boards the tanker and tries to destroy the Metal Gear, but the machine is stolen by Revolver Ocelot (who is possessed by Liquid Snake). Solid Snake is accused of stealing RAY, and is forced to go into hiding.

FOXHOUND agent Raiden is ordered to rescue hostages being held captive by a terrorist group calling itself Sons of Liberty, which is supposedly being led by Solid Snake. He meets a man named Pliskin, who helps him free the hostages. They encounter and defeat Solid Snake, who reveals himself to be an impersonator: Solidus Snake. Solidus took on Solid Snake's identity to frame him for his crimes. In turn, Pliskin is revealed to be the real Solid Snake.

Raiden learns the Big Shell oil decontamination facility where the hostages were being held is actually one giant Metal Gear. He and Solid Snake successfully implant a virus in the facility's AI, but Snake is captured. Ocelot reveals that the Big Shell mission is a set-up by The Patriots to re-create the events of Shadow Moses Island, in hopes of making Raiden a soldier on-par with Solid Snake.

Raiden confronts Solidus Snake, who reveals he was Raiden's foster father. Raiden kills Solidus, Ocelot escapes in the last RAY, and Raiden swears revenge on The Patriots.

2010 through 2013 – Events of Metal Gear Rising (lore mentioned in previous MGS game. Released version was Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, listed below)

After the Big Shell incident, Raiden is contacted by an aging EVA (codenamed Big Mama) about the location of Big Boss's body, which Raiden stole from the GW AI (the AI that maintains The Patriots' control over the United States). Raiden agrees to trade his information in exchange for the location of Sunny Emmerich, daughter of a woman named Olga Gurlukovich who helped him defeat a seemingly-endless army of Metal Gear RAYs while aboard the Big Shell rig. With EVA's help, Raiden rescues Sunny.

Raiden then learns that his girlfriend, Rosemary, miscarried their son, though in actuality she was lying to protect him from being kidnapped by The Patriots and used to manipulate Raiden. Raiden leaves Rosemary, who fakes a marriage with Roy Campbell to protect herself and her son.

In time, Raiden agrees to assist EVA's anti-Patriot organization and help retrieve Big Boss's body. The Patriots capture Raiden and install his head and spine in a cybernetic body, erasing his humanity. He escapes with EVA's help and manages to retrieve Big Boss's body, but goes into hiding once his mission is done.

2014 – Events of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (PlayStation 3, 2008)

The world is seemingly engaged in a non-stop war between nanomachine-enhanced soldiers, and the biggest army is controlled by Revolver Ocelot, who has been completely overtaken by Liquid Snake's consciousness (and is therefore referred to as Liquid Ocelot).

Solid Snake is dispatched by the UN to assassinate Liquid Ocelot, though Snake's accelerated aging has left him prematurely grey and with about a year to live.

Dr. Naomi Hunter, the engineer of the FOXDIE virus, is being held captive by Liquid Ocelot. Snake rescues her, and learns that FOXDIE is mutating within him. He also learns that Liquid Ocelot wants Big Boss's frozen body in order to access the Master Patriot AI, which would give him control of every nanomachine in the world.

Though Solid Snake gains the assistance of Raiden (now a cyborg ninja), Liquid Ocelot manages to secure Big Boss's body. He uses the Master Patriot AI to shut down every army in the world, except for his own. Ocelot then goes back to Shadow Moses Island, retrieves Metal Gear REX, and prepares to launch a nuclear strike on The Patriots. However, he's stopped by Solid Snake and Raiden.

Using a virus created by Naomi Hunter, Snake and Raiden destroy The Patriot System, which destroys all the world's AI's and nanomachines. Solid Snake kills Liquid Ocelot in a climactic fight.

Raiden is reunited with Rose and learns about his son, John. Big Boss, freed from the nanomachines' influence, returns to life, kills Zero, and ends The Patriots. Solid Snake retires, intending to live the rest of his life in peace.

2018 - Events of Metal Gear Solid Rising: Revengeance (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, 2013; PC, 2014)

Peace doesn't come easy for Raiden, who joins up with a security force called Maverick that aims to promote peace and protect the innocent.

When N'Mani, the Prime Minister of an African nation, is taken hostage by a hostile group called Desperado, Raiden chases them down and loses an eye and an arm in a battle with another cyborg ninja nicknamed Jetstream Sam. The Prime Minister is killed.

Raiden is repaired and upgraded with a black-armored body. Shortly thereafter he travels to the disputed Republic of Abkhazia, where Desperado is leading a military coup. It's here that he meets a prototype robot canine, LQ-84i, who is sent to kill him. Raiden defeats LQ and rebuilds him into a friend: Bladewolf.

Raiden and Bladewolf are assigned to explore a research facility in Guadalajara, Mexico, where he meets an orphan named George. George reveals that he's at the facility to have his brain removed and shipped to the United States, along with a host of other orphans' brains. The gruesome procedure is seemingly a plot between Desperado and another private military group called World Marshal, of which United States senator Steven Armstrong is a benefactor. The groups' intention is to condition the children's brains for combat via VR, then implant them into cybernetic bodies to make perfect soldiers.

Raiden rescues the orphans, resigns from Maverick, and launches an attack on World Marshal's headquarters in Denver, Colorado. As he fights, he gradually becomes more vicious and bloodthirsty, much like he was when he was a child soldier.

Raiden infiltrates World Marshal's headquarters and kills Desperado's leader, Sundowner. He learns that Armstrong used Desperado to distract Raiden during "Operation Tecumseh," a plan designed to assassinate the President during peace negotiations with Pakistan in hopes of ensuring another War on Terror. En route to Pakistan to stop Armstrong, Raiden encounters and fights Jetstream Sam again. This time he's victorious. Raiden is then attacked by Armstrong, who's piloting a new Metal Gear called Metal Gear EXCELSUS. Armstrong reveals that he desires to instigate a war that inspires people to fight for a cause they believe in instead of fighting for companies, nations, or economies.

Raiden kills Armstrong, but there is unease in the senator's wake. World Marshal and private militaries are still active everywhere, and relations between the United States and Pakistan are still tense. However, Raiden decides against re-joining Maverick.

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To discover Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes' story, and to get yourself ready for The Phantom Pain, you can pick the game up on Steam this very second. For further info on the Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain GeForce GTX Bundle, and to discover which e-tailers and retailers are participating in the program, please visit the Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain GTX Bundle landing page.

If you are buying an eligible GeForce GTX GPU, system or notebook please ensure the seller is participating in the "Game Like A Boss" Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain bundle; NVIDIA cannot provide download codes and coupons for purchases made at non-participating retailers and e-tailers.