The Relative Unimportance of Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake (1990)
Out of all the games in the Metal Gear Solid timeline, Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake might be the most inconsequential. It arrives as a direct sequel to Metal Gear and a prequel to Metal Gear Solid and has Snake running around Zanzibar trying to rescue a scientist capable of creating synthetic oil. Metal Gear 2has been retconned more than any other game in the series, because over the course of the adventure Snake “kills” both Frank Jaeger and Big Boss… again. Both of these guys will still show up in future games, so don’t worry about it. The only really notable thing that happens in Metal Gear 2 is Big Boss’ dramatic revelation to Snake that he is his sorta-kinda genealogical father. That’s a big moment in the canon! But let’s move on to more significant waters.
Genome Soldiers, FOXDIE and Metal Gear Solid (1998)
Now we’re on to Metal Gear Solid, easily the most important entry in the series and one of the most iconic videogames of all time. This is the adventure that first kicked open the door to all the twists and turns of the Metal Gear lore, so we need to clear some things up right off the bat.
Remember a little while ago when I mentioned that Big Boss had a clone named Liquid Snake? He’s important now, and currently the commanding officer of FOXHOUND. Agent Zero and his Patriots are still in control of the U.S. government, but he’s lost faith in humanity and has entrusted all of their functions to five A.I. systems. That means the entirety of the United States government is being controlled by computers, which becomes unimaginably important, so please keep that in mind.
Liquid Snake and a group of his FOXHOUND soldiers go rogue during a training mission on the nuclear-equipped Shadow Moses Island. They blackmail the U.S. government with threats of a nuclear strike. The demands? Big Boss’s body.
Okay, things are going to be super weird for the next three sentences. Liquid Snake and his soldiers have all been enhanced with Big Boss’ DNA, which has made them better warriors. You could call them “genome soldiers,” but all this genetic philandering is causing their bodies to slowly deconstruct. They want Big Boss’ body because they think they can use more of his DNA to stop this process.
So Solid Snake is summoned from retirement to infiltrate Shadow Moses and put an end to this gigantic mess. When Solid Snake arrives on the island he runs into our main man Ocelot, who’s working with Liquid and some other people we’ll mention later. At this point Ocelot is super old, but he still loves his revolvers. Unfortunately for him a certain Cyborg Ninja (Frank Jaeger, the guy you supposedly killed back in Metal Gear 2) cuts off his arm right as he’s about to kill Snake. Now, I know that doesn’t seem like a big deal, but this severed arm ends up having huge implications further down the line. That sounds odd, but trust me.
So, Solid Snake infiltrates the island, rescues his new pals Meryl and Otacon, and discovers that Liquid Snake totally has a giant Metal Gear that can totally nuke the United States. Snake and Liquid have a big fist fight on top of said Metal Gear, Cyborg Ninja sacrifices himself for the greater good, and the day is saved. Liquid ends up dying of a heart attack at Solid Snake’s feet, because of the FOXDIE virus.
Oh god, we haven’t talked about the FOXDIE virus yet have we?
Alright, so the U.S. government developed a very special type of virus called FOXDIE. FOXDIE is designed to kill only specific people by activating only after identifying their DNA. Before Solid Snake was sent out to Shadow Moses to complete his mission, he was unknowingly injected with FOXDIE, which was encoded to infect Liquid. That’s why Liquid keels over when Snake comes in contact with him. However Snake still has the FOXDIE within him, which means he will succumb to the virus eventually. Some of the final moments of Metal Gear Solid are basically people telling Snake that they have no idea how long he’ll live, which is a very, very dark way to end the first 3D entry in the series.