Excellent, Snake. Age hasn’t slowed you down one bit.

Gabriel Silvas, Columnist

The year is 1995. The rogue state of Outer Heaven has been rumored to be developing and housing a weapon of mass destruction. The legendary soldier known as Big Boss, commander of the special operations unit called FOXHOUND, sends his best agent, Frank Jaeger (A.K.A Gray Fox), to infiltrate Outer Heaven and find out just what is going on. A few days later, all contact with Gray Fox is lost, but not before he sent one last transmission containing just two words: “Metal Gear.” Needing to extract Jaeger and find the meaning of his last transmission, Big Boss sends in rookie operative Solid Snake to infiltrate Outer Heaven alone.

The brainchild of lauded game developer Hideo Kojima and launched for the MSX2 in 1987, the Metal Gear series is one of, if not the most famous stealth-based game series in the industry, as well as the one that defined and began the stealth genre of video games. Following the missions of the individuals who have the codename of “Snake” (and Raiden), they sneak their way through enemy lines to reach their goal, which is usually to stop whatever Metal Gear the antagonists have this time. Along the way, a greater conspiracy is unfolded, one that has spanned nearly a century.

The title of “Snake” hasn’t always belonged to one person. The first one that players knew of was the series protagonist, Solid Snake. A stern and no-nonsense soldier that has a hidden heart of gold, Snake, real name David, was the one who not only exposed what Metal Gear was to the world during the infiltration of Outer Heaven, but also took down the mastermind of both Outer Heaven and Zanzibarland later on — Big Boss himself. After retiring and settling down in Alaska, Snake was brought back by Colonel Campbell in 2005 to sneak into Shadow Moses Island to stop the now rogue FOXHOUND from using Metal Gear to start a nuclear war. For the next nine years, Snake would continue to fight to finally bring about some sense of peace in the world.

However, David wasn’t the first person to hold the title of Snake. Back in 1964, during the Cold War, a young and spirited man named John, working in the FOX Unit, infiltrated the Soviet Union to extract a scientist named Sokolov, who wished to defect after his plans for a nuclear tank were being used by a sadistic and insane general named Volgin. Under the codename Naked Snake, John put an end to Volgin’s madness, but not before he had to kill The Boss, the greatest soldier of World War II and the closest thing he had to a mother growing up. This was the beginning of the fall of John, who would be then known by the title he was given and who would become a demon that only wanted revenge on a world that killed his men and took everything from him. Where Naked Snake died, Big Boss was born.

The rest of the cast of Metal Gear is filled with an array of quirky, unconventional characters that go through loads of character development. With David, he’s assisted by Otacon, a nerdy and kind-hearted engineer who only wanted to make robots like the ones he saw in anime; Meryl, a young FOXHOUND recruit who idolizes Snake; and Raiden, another young soldier who looked up to Snake before finding his own path. For John, his crew consisted of Major Zero, his British commander with a love for James Bond; Para-Medic, a movie buff; Sigint, the more relaxed of the FOX Unit crew; and EVA, a double agent that tries to seduce Snake despite the guy being pretty dense.

The villains are just as quirky and memorable as the rest of the cast, but fall more on the disturbing side of the spectrum. While most of them count as tragic characters, a number of them, namely Colonel Volgin, CIA director Hot Coldman, Desperado Enforcement leader Sundowner, and XOF commander Skull Face, have little to no redeeming qualities whatsoever. From Psycho Mantis, who will read your memory cards to find out what games you have played and will blackout the screen, to Revolver Ocelot, chessmaster extraordinaire who backstabs EVERYONE, the antagonists will always leave quite the impression.

Like I said earlier, the series began the stealth genre of video games that emphasized avoiding combat and sneaking past enemies to reach your objective. In most of the games, Snake has a limited arsenal, so trying to go guns blazing into any situation is only going to result in pain and a lot of enemy soldiers hunting you down. Subterfuge and clever thinking is needed to stay alive and avoid detection. A plethora of methods are available for the player to use to their advantage, from hiding in simple cardboard boxes to laying down certain, ahem, reading materials to distract foes.

While a few non-canon spinoffs have been released, most of the games are considered canon. Thankfully, most are available to play on current-gen consoles. Metal Gear Solid is available as a Playstation 1 classic on the PSN Store, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (which also comes with Metal Gear 1 and 2), and Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker are all part of the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots is available as both a physical and digital release, and an action game developed by Platinum Studios starring Raiden, titled Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, was released in 2013.

As of recently, it has been announced that Kojima and his studio will be splitting up with parent company Konami. While the details are still relatively unknown, Kojima still has one last game in him, resulting in the duology of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. First teased as a survival horror game by a “new” developer called Moby Dick Studios, it was revealed to be a smokescreen for the fifth main entry. The prologue, Ground Zeroes, acts as a demo of sorts for the mechanics of the main game, taking place a few months after Peace Walker and culminating in Big Boss falling into a coma, setting up the events of The Phantom Pain nine years later when he finally wakes up, obsessed with having his revenge against those who have wronged him and cementing his fall.

While Konami has said that they plan on having more games made from the series, it seems that as far as most fans are concerned (myself included), The Phantom Pain is truly the last game of the series. While I’m sad to see Kojima go, I’m also happy because not only is he able to finally work on other projects of his interest, he has also done his best to make sure that the game will still be polished and as fun as he can make it be. Here’s to you, Mister Kojima. You’re pretty good.

This is good, isn’t it?” – Big Boss: 1935 – 2014