In 1987, a young video game auteur released his first-ever original game concept called Metal Gear for the MSX2 computer. It garnered positive reviews and led to a sequel in 1990 called Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, which also released for the MSX2 computer.
By 2015, Hideo Kojima’s Metal Gear series had become one of the most critically acclaimed video game franchises of all time, primarily for its story (which has been heralded as one of the most dense and innovative tales told in any medium) and its characters.
Unfortunately, due to disputes with Konami, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain was the final Metal Gear video game with Hideo Kojima’s name attached. He has since left the company, and the series continues on without him.
During his legendary 28-year run, Kojima’s numerous Metal Gear video games introduced us to a world of complex themes, engaging plots, and iconic characters.
We celebrate Hideo Kojima’s legacy and his works of art by revisiting the best Metal Gear Solid characters.
9. Dr. Hal “Otacon” Emmerich
Where would we be without Hal Emmerich? Or, as Solid Snake calls him, Otacon. He’s the guide. The “guy at the computer.” The voice of all potent information.
As the player controls Snake through the perils of Metal Gear Solid, Otacon is always there in his ear. He makes one feel less alone even on the darkest and most dangerous of missions, and he provides what you need to defeat the biggest of villains.
Hal is the son of Huey and Dr. Strangelove, and their family history is as dark as one could imagine. However, despite the atrocities his father and grandfather were part of, Otacon’s loyalty to Snake sees him destroy the Metal Gear weapons and save the world from nuclear war.
Few characters in the franchise have such fan devotion as Hal, who is only ever looking to do the right thing.
The surprise protagonist of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Raiden’s involvement in the game was kept under wraps until the game was actually released.
While some weren’t happy about the fact that they wouldn’t be slipping back into the shoes of Solid Snake, Raiden’s character ended up being welcomed by most, and his story gave us one of the best arcs in the entire Metal Gear Solid saga.
After Sons of Liberty, Raiden reappears as a cyborg Ninja in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots who helps Solid Snake as his war against Liquid and The Patriots comes to an end.
Raiden’s re-designed character in Guns of the Patriots and the continuation of his story from Sons of Liberty garnered much acclaim, capped by his heroic moment in protecting Snake.
Raiden later had his own game that tells the final chronological chapter in the Metal Gear Solid universe. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance saw him return as the Ninja and was met with good reviews.
The unfinished masterpiece of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain will forever be a thorn in the side of fans due to Konami’s treatment of Kojima during production. However, it’s still a work of mastery in the universe, including the character of Quiet.
Quiet was the silent sniper-assassin, the one who could appear and disappear at will using her parasite abilities. After Venom Snake defeats her, he decides to enlist Quiet to help him on his missions—which she does dutifully.
Later, we find out that she fell in love with Snake, and that if she ever spoke English on the base, she’d unleash a virus upon all of them. Her final actions rescue Venom Snake after being bitten by a snake, speaking English to guide a chopper in to save him.
Quiet was controversial because of her scantily-clad look, but as a character, she was complex and beholden to love—and that made her endearing to legions of fans.
6. Venom Snake
Technically, Venom Snake is a medic who was brainwashed into being Big Boss’ double. He has a mechanical arm and a metal horn embedded in his skull. He’s a far quieter character than Big Boss, even if he’s just as deadly in most respects.
Venom Snake is the one who hunts down Skullface and defeats Sahelanthropus in combat, thus gaining revenge for his fallen comrades who died in the Mother Base attack nine years prior.
His future after The Phantom Pain was to be fatally wounded by Solid Snake, although at the time only Big Boss, Zero, and Ocelot were aware that there were two of him.
It’s also indicated that Venom Snake was in love with Quiet, the sniper-assassin who gave her life for him during the war against XOF.
5. Liquid Snake
Solid Snake’s twin brother—and the superior clone of Big Boss—Liquid Snake is one of the series’ primary villains.
He was first captured by Venom Snake during the events of The Phantom Pain. At the time, he was just a child by the name of Eli.
Liquid Snake eventually stole the Sahelanthropus from Venom Snake, but then fell prey to vocal parasites that kill anything that speak English. Those parasites were removed by Psycho Mantis, and 21 years later, he orchestrated the Shadow Moses incident, bringing him into conflict with Solid Snake.
He was killed at the end of Metal Gear Solid by the FOXDIE virus, and his arm was grafted onto Revolver Ocelot. Through that process, his personality survived and lived on.
Liquid Snake is a phenomenal villain, and the final fight between him and Solid Snake in Guns of the Patriots is a video game masterpiece.
4. Revolver Ocelot
The son of The Boss and The Sorrow, Revolver Ocelot’s role in the Metal Gear universe is very complex. He started as a triple agent who was supposed to help Snake in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater—but that didn’t go according to plan.
He comes around as Liquid Snake’s number-two man during the incident on Shadow Moses, leading to him losing an arm. In Sons of Liberty, he has Liquid’s arm grafted onto him, and Liquid’s personality becomes part of his own. They do a Jekyll-and-Hyde thing.
Ocelot finally meets his end after fighting Solid Snake atop Outer Haven in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. Ocelot believed in the world Big Boss wanted to create, and died for that dream.
He was both friend and villain to the player, and one of the greatest characters in video game history.
3. The Boss
The Boss was the mentor, surrogate mother, and friend to a young boy named John—who later came to be known as Big Boss. She and John were the ones who developed the CQC system, and without her, there would be no Metal Gear Solid story.
In Snake Eater, Naked Snake (later Big Boss) is tasked with killing The Boss (due to her apparent defection to the Soviet Union) and killing Volgin to recover the portable nuclear warhead. His battle against The Boss was hard-fought and beautifully captured by Kojima’s team.
We learn that The Boss was mother to Ocelot, whom she had with The Sorrow, a member under her command of the fearsome Cobra Unit. Big Boss dies at her grave, now understanding her mission to preserve the world and not allowing it to be changed by those who would harm it.
The Boss is one of the great female characters in video game history. Her intellect and moral complexities would be passed on to Big Boss, even when he failed to understand her actions—thus being integral to the legacy of Metal Gear.
2. Big Boss
Here’s the man whose actions launched the game series in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. Big Boss is the biological father to Liquid, Solid, and Solidus, all because of his status as the best living soldier.
In Snake Eater, Big Boss (or Naked Snake as he was known then) is a young soldier who’s sent to Russia to stop an uprising and kill his mentor, The Boss, who has defected.
He succeeds in his mission, but learns of the truth about The Boss and the motivations of those in power behind his mission—after which he begins to lose faith and trust in his superiors.
Dying in the arms of his son, while at the grave of his mother figure, after having killed Zero. Big Boss is iconic within the video game world, and there have been few characters as legendary as he is.
1. Solid Snake
Is there a greater soldier in gaming history than Solid Snake? He’s the clone of Big Boss, one of the flawed twin brothers to Solidus, and the last Snake standing at the end.
Solid Snake is the first protagonist of Metal Gear. He’s a young soldier sent by Big Boss to infiltrate the rogue state Outer Heaven, only to discover that Big Boss is its leader. He confronts and kills Venom Snake, not knowing he’s a double of Big Boss.
In Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, Snake again finds himself against Big Boss, and again, defeats him.
Metal Gear Solid sees Snake brought out of retirement to stop Liquid Snake on Shadow Moses and avert nuclear war, which he does after finding out that he’s a clone of Big Boss.
The character is a gaming icon. Solid Snake is Metal Gear Solid’s foremost protagonist and most relentless warrior.
At the end of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, The Sorrow’s spirit appears before him and tells him “the spirit of the warrior shall always be with you”—a statement that epitomizes Snake and his life.