Ranking the main entries in the Metal Gear Solid franchise

Image Credits: playstation
Image Credits: playstation

The Metal Gear franchise (not you, Metal Gear Survive) has been hugely influential on the gaming industry, and birthed the entirely new Stealth genre.

Hideo Kojima, now considered one of the greatest game-makers in history, was tasked with making an action game for the MSX2 platform. Instead of going down the typical action-game route, Kojima decided — also because of hardware limitations — to make the game's objective 'to avoid enemy detection rather than facing them head-on'.

This resulted in the first Metal Gear game, and the creation of an entirely new genre called Stealth. Since then, the Metal Gear franchise has seen massive success and birthed several spin-off titles.

Here, we take a look at, and rank, the mainline entries in the Metal Gear Solid franchise (Exclusions: Metal Gear 1 and 2, Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, Metal Gear Survive).

Ranking the mainline entries of the Metal Gear Solid franchise

6) Metal Gear Solid


The first game in the series in 3D, this title came out to massively positive fan reception and critical acclaim. It would garner praise worldwide, and for a majority of the western audiences, was an introduction to the genius of Hideo Kojima.

The first game is memorable in many ways, and players often find themselves still appreciating all the finer details put into it. The title has surprisingly aged pretty well, and players can still enjoy the game in all its glory in the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection.

The game introduced several fan-favourites of the series, such as Gray Fox and the series' primary antagonist: Liquid Snake.

5) Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker


Initially developed for the PSP, Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker was dismissed as just a handheld port, and maybe a lesser game. However, once players got to play it, they realized what an absolute goldmine Peace Walker was.

Instead of just being a spin-off that is not cannon with the rest of the Metal Gear Solid series, Peace Walker is cannon. A lot of its story elements impact the overall series as well.

The gameplay initially felt a little wonky, especially on the PSP. But the HD Collection, which saw the game released on the PS3 and the Xbox 360, solved all the control issues players might have had with the PSP.

The game introduced the Mother Base (the base for Big Boss' mercenary unit Militaires Sans Frontières) management system. It was mainly a management sim for the gamer, as Big Boss, to control the base's various units and command his army.

4) Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty


The infamous bait-and-switch initially angered a lot of fans of the Metal Gear Solid franchise. But they have grown to hold the game in high regard today. Over the years, fan animosity towards this title has dissipated and made way for a devoted fanbase in the community.

Players got to play as Solid Snake once again, though only for one level. This was because they were then introduced to Raiden, the new protagonist of the game. The game received favourable reviews in gameplay and is one of the best Metal Gear Solid experiences.

The game develops on the foundations laid by the first installment, and is an improvement in every other way.

3) Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriot


The concluding chapter to Solid Snake's story in the Metal Gear Solid franchise, Metal Gear Solid 4 sees the ageing character return to action to put an end to Liquid Ocelot's plans.

This title is as cinematic as it gets in gaming, complete with last-minute bomb defusals and a climactic battle between the hero and villain one last time. The game is an absolute work of art and one that still divides public opinion.

However, the sheer brilliance of its conclusion, and the fact that it made Raiden one of the coolest characters in gaming, cannot be denied. Metal Gear Solid 4 is one of the best in the series and one that deserves more acclaim.

2) Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain


The final game in the series, unless Hideo Kojima shockingly returns to Konami, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, is undoubtedly the most ambitious in the franchise.

The scale of the game is enormous and trumps everything that came before. The first game in the series to take the Metal Gear experience to the open-world, this title delivers on its promise of unprecedented levels of freedom in gameplay.

The story of the development of The Phantom Pain is an incredibly tumultuous one. What with Kojima not being able to finish the game properly because of his falling out with Konami.

However, if an unfinished game can deliver as much as Metal Gear Solid V did, fans can only imagine what they would have been able to offer if had Kojima received the time he needed with the game.

1) Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater


Perhaps the most beloved entry in the Metal Gear Solid series, Snake Eater, is one of the most excellent titles in video gaming history. Complete with a James Bond-like theme song, the game opens with one of the most shocking and cinematic openings to a game, and only gets better with each level.

After the supposed defection of The Boss, Naked Snake is sent to take down his former mentor and discover the Patriots' secrets. Players finally get to learn the origins of Big Boss' namesake, and perhaps even learn of his descent into villainy.

However, the game makes clear, with the ending, its stance on whether heroes and villains exist. The gameplay is still one of the best that gaming audiences have ever seen, complete with little details that add a lot of depth.

It remains as one of the greatest games ever made and was instrumental in establishing Kojima as a true pioneer in the industry.