In the ever-evolving landscape of video games, few franchises have left as indelible a mark as Hideo Kojima’s iconic Metal Gear series. Since 1987, Metal Gear has been synonymous with groundbreaking narrative, innovative gameplay mechanics, and a penchant for pushing the boundaries of the medium. With each subsequent instalment, the series has woven a complex tapestry consisting of politics, philosophy, memorable characters and explosive action.
This is why ranking all of these games was harder than I anticipated. After all, the series got its start in the 80s on the NES. Not only that, but each of these games in the series can be very different from each other not only in terms of action, but the story and topics being covered. Even so, Here’s a list of Metal Gear games ranked from average to must-play.
Metal Gear games ranked from worst to best
13. Metal Gear: Survive (2018)
Metal Gear: Survive was Konami’s attempt at keeping the Metal Gear franchise going following the departure of Hideo Kojima. What they created was a mess that practically crippled the franchise. It is a zombie survival game that doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the Metal Gear series except for the setting. It was a lazy cash grab and nothing more.
|Some solid gameplay ideas||Generic story|
12. Metal Gear Acid 2 (2005)
The PSP-exclusive Metal Gear Acid 2 was an alright game, but nothing stood out too much. Sure, the card-based action was different and the cell-shaded graphics were an interesting touch. The sequel offers slightly better gameplay than Acid, but not by much.
|Interesting gameplay||Becomes too easy after a while|
|Good mission variety|
11. Metal Gear Acid (2004)
Metal Gear Acid was a pretty bold move by Konami. Released for the PSP, the game was the first to introduce card-based action for the series. It too offered interesting gameplay and mission variety. However, the learning curve was considered to be quite steep. It was something that the follow-up rectified but took things way too much in the other direction.
|Interesting gameplay||Steep learning curve|
|Good mission variety|
10. Metal Gear Rising: Revengence (2013)
Metal Gear Rising: Revengence was more of a spin-off rather than a full-blown Metal Gear game. Regardless, it was a great hack-and-slash game. The sword-based combat was fun and would appeal to fans of the Devil May Cry series. The character arc for the main protagonist, Raiden was also quite intriguing.
|Great hack-and-slash action||Average story|
9. Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake (1990)
The follow-up to the original, Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake was a great title. But the focus was more on action rather than the stealth-based action the original was known for. It was possibly limited by the technology available. The follow-up would add a third dimension into the mix and is considered the best game in the series (spoiler alert).
|Good story||Limited controls|
|Impressive graphics (for the time)|
8. Metal Gear (1987)
The first Metal Gear game didn’t just defy the stealth action genre, it pretty much created it. Unlike most NES games at the time that required quick reflexes and button-mashing prowess, Metal Gear asked players to be sneaky and use their wits to go about. This out-of-the-box thinking would be a hallmark of Hideo Kojima and would form the backbone of the series’ many memorable moments.
7. Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops (2006)
Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops was a great title for the PSP. It offered a great story that delved deeper into the history of Snake. It also came with a unique mode called Cyber-Survival that used the PSP’s Wi-Fi and GPS to let players battle each other. However, its controls could get complicated, making it difficult for newer players to play.
|Solid story||Complicated controls|
|Unique Cyber-Survival mode|
6. Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker (2010)
This was another great title for the PSP and is considered to be one of the best games released on Sony’s portable console. The game continued the story of Big Boss and served as a prequel to Metal Gear Solid V: Phantom Pain. As is usually the case, you get an excellent story coupled with some excellent boss battles. However, the checkpoint system isn’t that great, which can lead to lost progress.
|Great story||Poor checkpoint system|
|Good boss fights|
5. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (2001)
Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty had a lot of expectations riding on it. But it well and truly lived up to them. The game offered improved stealth mechanics as well as improved enemy AI that made every enemy encounter a tense experience. The big change was the change in the protagonist. Soon after the prologue, gamers were introduced to Raiden, a new protagonist. This resulted in some mixed reactions from fans.
|Improved stealth mechanics||Bait & switch protagonist|
|Better enemy AI|
4. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (2008)
By the time Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of Patriots was released, the story was getting quite convoluted. But Kojima had no plans of slowing down. The game was very story-heavy and included some very long cutscenes. In fact, at the time, the game held the Guinness World Record for the longest uninterrupted cutscene at 27 minutes.
|Great story||Long cutscenes|
|Good shooting mechanics|
3. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain/Ground Zero (2015/2014)
Ground Zero served as a prequel to the Phantom Pain and both games were pretty similar. So it makes sense to club both together. As always, the game offered a deep story and excellent gameplay mechanics. The aspects of Mother Base were a nice addition and a welcome addition to the game. However, this would also end up being the final game for Hideo Kojima. Some issues led to his departure from Konami leading many to note that the game and the series as a whole were unfinished.
2. Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (2004)
While pretty much all of the Metal Gear series are known for their completing story, 2004’s Snake Eater is considered to offer the best. Aside from that, it also offered open-ended gameplay which was still quite new at the time. It was topped off with some impressive graphics that made the most of the console hardware at the time. It is also getting a remake in the form of Metal Gear Solid Delta.
|Great story||Slow pace|
1. Metal Gear Solid (1998)
This game is by many to be one of the greatest games ever made and for good reason. At launch, the game was widely praised for stealth-based gameplay. It also set a new standard for cinematic storytelling. This was a pretty incredible feat because this was the series’ first foray into 3D following its launch on the NES. Even so, it managed to not lose its soul in the transition. A feat that not many franchises can boast.
|Memorable boss battles|