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I've watched the entirety of MGS and only played MGS2 to completion, it was a while ago, and I can't recall the story making much sense. I played the third and fourth games for a bit but never finished them.

I do wish to "get" into the series, but it seems there are many games and most of them take place in different time and star different protagonists.

So my questions are: Which games should I play to better understand the series? Should I play only the "Solid" titles? (i.e. skip the old MSX ones, Acid, Rising) Should I play them by the series' chronology or by their release dates? Are only the numbered games important to understand the story? (i.e. skip Peace Walker/Portable Ops)

Also: Given the option, should I play Metal Gear Solid (PSX version) or the remake, The Twin Snakes? (story/continuity wise, if applicable)

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One does not simply understand Metal Gear Solid. –  Ben Brocka Apr 10 '13 at 13:01
    
@BenBrocka I've finished or have watched to finish all metal gear solid games thus far, and I'm not sure if I even truly understand any of it...lol –  Nil May 2 '13 at 6:56

3 Answers 3

Metal Gear Solid is notorious for being tricky to follow.

Probably the easiest approach is to go in order, MGS1-4. Some events in MGS1 call back to the MSX games, but MGS1 can also be read as attempting to remake those games. MGS3 is somewhat disconnected from the rest of the narrative, so it's not necessary to play it after the previous two games. Whichever way you play it, be prepared to not follow all of it - there's frequent allusions to events that you're not likely to know anything about, and this is part of the territory.

There are no plot differences lore-wise between Twin Snakes and MGS, so whichever is easier to access. The two games have a different script (Twin Snakes is a bit sillier) but Twin Snakes doesn't add in new dialogue to tie it to the later games better or anything like that.

There's also a compendium available on the PS3 that explains the lore a bit more.

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The Metal Gear Solid series is a sequel to the old MSX/NES Metal Gear series (Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2:Solid Snake). In Metal Gear Solid (Metal Gear Solid:The Twin Snake), they give you a detailed, retconned synopsis of what happened in the original two games. Also, if you have the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection for Xbox 360 or PS3, they include the original 2 games as part of Metal Gear Solid 3. Also, I think some versions of the PS2 game Metal Gear Solid 3 come with them.

To understand the series, you have to play every single game or watch a walk through. The problem is that there is a plot twist like every scene. In fact, after the credits of each of the games, there is a plot twist. The worst of them is in Metal Gear Solid 4 where there is like over an hour's worth of extra scenes after you beat the game that just wraps up the whole series.

Now Metal Gear Solid 2 is a direct sequel to Metal Gear Solid. It is confusing as hell, and you have to figure out towards the end what is really happening and what isn't. Metal Gear Solid 3 is a prequel to the entire Metal Gear series. It introduces some new characters as well as setting up some old characters for the next game, Metal Gear Solid 4.

Metal Gear Solid 4 is divided up into 5 acts. I guarantee this will confuse the heck out of you. It features a lot of characters from the previous games and provides major closure (might make you cry here and there, very emotional, as was Metal Gear Solid 3). At the end of every act, everything you knew before is basically undone by plot twists. After you beat the game, you think you know everything that has happened, but no. There are more plot twists, credits appear to end but a uber long video sequence wraps things up and more credits roll. You can't skip over anything in this series if you hope to understand the plot. It's that complex.

Now, there are two other games to the Metal Gear Solid Series made for play station portable. It was Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops and Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker. They take place after Metal Gear Solid 3 and are meant to be prequels to Metal Gear Solid 4. I never played portable Ops, but Peace Walker includes A LOT of background to the characters of the series and really gives you a better understanding. I can only say so much without spoiling anything. After you beat the game you keep playing and there is even a better REAL ending (the first ending was a fake!) and even after that you can replay old bosses to uncover secret tapes from some of the characters that further reveals more information (this game can be uber sad at time).

Now, there is a sequel for Peace Walker is currently being developed. It's called Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes. The trailer for the game has been released, but no official release date has been set. If you want to catch up on the series, this is where you will end up.

There are plans for one more prequel, to be the sequel to Ground Zeroes, and plans for 2 more Metal Gear Solid games, Metal Gear Solid 5 and Metal Gear Solid 6. They pretty much gave you closure in Metal Gear Solid 4, so I don't know what they're planning for these two game. (EDIT: Metal Gear Solid 5: Phantom Pain takes place between Metal Gear Solid Ground Zeros and Metal Gear). And I haven't mentioned the Metal Gear Rising series. It's a new series that takes place further in the future, but is not needed to under stand the Metal Gear Solid Series.

EDIT: Hideo Kojima, the producer of the Metal Gear Solid series and head honcho of Konami, originally released a 10 minute teaser of Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes to show case his new FOX game engine. He also announced the production of Metal Gear Solid V: Phantom Pain using a fictional production studio (I am not making this up). In March 2013, he revealed that the two games are in fact one in the same and the official trailer was released for Metal Gear Solid V. See the following page for the epic moment: OMG. This is currently where you will end up if you want to catch up on the events of the Metal Gear and Metal Gear Solid series. There should still be a Metal Gear Solid 6 and another possible game after this.

TL;DR So to summarize, play the games in this order:

  • Metal Gear (Optional)
  • Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake (Optional)
  • Metal Gear Solid/Metal Gear Solid:The twin snakes (Read retconned Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2:Solid Snake synopsis first)
  • Metal Gear Solid 2:Sons of Libery
  • Metal Gear Solid 3:Snake Eater
  • Metal Gear Solid 4:Guns of the Patriots
  • Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops
  • Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker (needed if you want to play MGSV)
  • Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes/Metal Gear Solid 5: Phantom Pain (Not sure when it will be released)
  • Unnamed Metal Gear game (not to sure about this)
  • Metal Gear Solid 6 (this is suppose to be the end of the series...)
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I read rumours (as in I haven't confirmed it from an official source) that Ground Zeroes and Phantom Pain are actually the same game. The rumours go that Kojima created the concept of Ground Zeroes so that he could get unbiased feedback on the new FOX engine that he used to develop the game. Had people known that this was actually MGS5, it may have affected their response. There is some credence to these rumours in that the official trailer for Phantom Pain included a multitude of scenes from the 10 minute teaser for Ground Zeroes. –  Nil Aug 24 '13 at 3:37
    
Checked wikipedia and they cited another site which confirms that Hideo Kojima is in fact the master of plot twists and not M Knight Shamalon. Not only are there plot twists in his games, he goes and pulls one in real life. Son of a gun... –  Nil Aug 24 '13 at 4:12
    
I own the mgs hd collection and it only contains mgs2, mgs3 and peace walker. It does not contain the original two games –  Kevin Aug 24 '13 at 10:09
    
@Kevin Load mgs3, you should be able to load the original two games from there. They are part of mgs3. –  Nil Aug 24 '13 at 18:00

Start with MGS3 then 1,2 and 4.

Start with 3 cause...

It introduces Revolver Ocelot when he's young.

Peacewalker and Portable Ops are more extensions of the world in MGS3.

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Events of Peacewalker and the new Ground Zeroes are suppose to be a setup to Metal Gear Solid 5: Phantom Pain. That and Peacewalker was AWESOME!! Definitely need to play them to understand the whole series. If you played MGS4 then you know that when you think you know the plot you'll realize that you really didn't know because the next Act just changed everything that you thought you knew before but you really didn't know before 'cause when it comes to Metal Gear Solid, NOTHING is written in stone... –  Nil May 2 '13 at 16:37

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