Metal Gear Solid was an early pioneer of the now popular stealth genre, laying the foundation for later games like Splinter Cell, Thief, and Assassin’s Creed. The first game, Metal Gear, was released in 1987 for MSX and has since spawned numerous sequels, prequels, side stories, and spin-offs.

ESRB Ratings




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Sex, Drugs & Rock n’ Roll

Violence: Since this series more or less centers around weapons and warfare, there is of course a fair amount of blood; a few scenes feature lots of blood, though the violence generally doesn’t go as far as dismemberment or mutilation. The one major exception to this rule is Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, which allows players to slice and dice enemies into a completely unnecessary number of tiny pieces, though the over-the-topness of it all surpasses an uncannily realistic depiction of gore. Torture is also depicted.

However, most of the games in this series allow the player to successfully complete the game without a single kill. The ultimate goal of the stealth-based game is to infiltrate without leaving any trace of your presence, so it’s usually best to just sneak by enemies without being noticed. In situations where you are forced to incapacitate enemies, including bosses, you have the option to tranquilize them and slip by while they are unconscious.

Horror: One scene in MGS3, a sort of boss fight, consists of the protagonist slowly walking up a river while being haunted by the ghosts of every person the player killed up to that point. If players made it this far without killing anyone, they progress without hassle, but if they were sloppy about killing people, players must face their victims’ ghosts one by one as players slowly plod toward peace.

There is also more than one occasion where characters must endure physical torture.

Strong Language: Occasional crude language, but not excessive.

Substance Use: Solid Snake is a smoker and can be seen smoking in cutscenes. Cigarettes are also incorporated into the gameplay; Snake uses the smoke to detect infrared lasers in front of his face, though using this technique causes players’ health bars to slowly decrease. Players can avoid smoking by finding and using infrared goggles to detect otherwise invisible beams. There is some abuse of alcohol shown in the game.

Nudity and Costuming: There is controversy over the scantily-clad-ness of a character in the latest entry in the series (essentially a female sniper in thong-type bikini). There is some from-behind male nudity in MGS2. In MGS3, a female double agent is sent to Snake to seduce and steal data from him, and the player has the option to look at her cleavage rather than look her in the eyes.

Player Interaction: MGS4 and MGS5 have online player vs. player modes unrelated to the main story.


Players can call a specific character on their radio to save the game at any time, except for during a cutscene.

Story & Themes

The story of Metal Gear Solid centers around Solid Snake, an infiltration specialist cloned from Big Boss, the best soldier the world has ever known. Snake is expected to carry out missions from his superiors without question, but throughout the series he begins to contemplate his origins, his purpose, his role, and his fate. His missions typically involve stopping the production of a constantly evolving line of mobile nuclear weapons platforms known as Metal Gears, but along the way he finds that these missions are not nearly as straightforward as they seem.

The Metal Gear games intricately intertwine real history with the supernatural and wild conspiracies , mixing mythological archetypes with near-future military realism: Shadowy puppet-masters controlling world events? Check. Artificially intelligent supercomputers controlling the global flow of information and all the weaponry of the U.S. right under our noses? Yup. The games also are bizarrely fantastical, oftentimes breaking the fourth wall. One instance has you switching the port that your controller is plugged in to, in order to thwart a mind-reading enemy. Another has a character mention the packaging the game was physically sold in, where a code necessary to proceed can be found. Yet another has a character mention the storage capacity of the medium (Blu-Ray) that the game, and by extension himself, is contained on. Thinking outside the box is a common theme in this series.

The Creators

Kojima Production


The long-time voice of Snake, David Hayter, was apparently snubbed for the latest game in the series in favor of Kiefer Sutherland. This made a lot of fans of the series angry.

Conversation Starters

  • Do you find killing a genetic clone of a super-soldier easier than killing a unique individual? Why might this be?
  • Is the added challenge of accomplishing a mission without killing anyone worth the trouble?
  • Do you think it’s plausible that shadow elements such as the Patriots control world events in real life?

This article was written by

Justin Brooks has been playing video games since around the age of two, when he was just old enough to run into the same Goomba over and over again in Super Mario Bros. He enjoys RPGs, strategy/tactics, Metroidvanias, Bullet Hells, and, above all, point-and-click adventures. In college, he learned how to fix airplanes. He lives in Seattle with his sexy wife, whom he met thanks to an esoteric EarthBound reference, and two children, one of whom is almost old enough for the Goomba Lesson.