The early Metal Gear games are played from an overhead view that is angled, also known as a “Three Quarters (¾) Perspective”, which allows them to navigate the avatar along the X and Y axis in a seemingly 3D world. That avatar is Snake, a bandana-wearing action hero with dark hair and dark clothes. The player can assign two items to Action keys, such as a weapon, a health item, a key card, or anything else. As the player navigates the world, they will encounter enemies that won’t immediately see Snake, so they are encouraged to navigate Snake around enemies in order to avoid confrontation. If Snake is “spotted” by an enemy, an alarm sounds, which floods the screen with more enemies until Snake successfully hides for a few minutes or dispatches all of the enemies.
Outside of combat, the player may activate a radio transmission that allows Snake to chat with other people. The radio has a three-digit frequency number (with a single decimal) that the player can dial.
Aside from a few key moments that play with this interaction, this describes the vast majority of the gameplay through Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. So, to recount, the narrative in Metal Gear is split between over-head action and radio transmissions.
Heaven & Algae (The Stories)
Metal Gear (aka Operations Intrude N312 & N313)
Big Boss is the militarily-dressed leader of FOXHOUND, a special forces unit with an unclear origin. In 1995, he sends agent Gray Fox to a mysterious and heavily fortified compound in South Africa called Outer Heaven. Why? To find out what they’re doing. Gray Fox never returns, so Big Boss sends Snake after him.
Snake enters Outer Heaven and learns that they have created a “bipedal walking tank” called “Metal Gear”. If you’ve seen RoboCop, imagine the ED-209 except bigger. You might also know it by the term “mech”, such as in MechAssault or MechWarrior. Snake also learns that the Metal Gear is carrying a nuclear bomb. During the mission, Snake rescues a few resistance leaders as well as Dr. Pettrovich, the creator of Metal Gear.
As Snake gets closer to finding Metal Gear, Big Boss tells him to abort. Snake notices that enemies seem aware of his location. Then Big Boss sends Snake into obvious traps. Snake fights the Metal Gear and then, while escaping, runs into Big Boss, who explains that he is the secret leader of Outer Heaven. He explains that the entire mission was supposed to be a counter-intelligence scheme, that whatever information gleaned by Gray Fox and Snake would be used to misinform the US and other Western governments. Big Boss then says that, if Outer Heaven is going down, then he’s taking out Snake, too, and activates a self-destruct sequence. A timer begins and Snake fights Big Boss and then escapes up an elevator before everything crumbles around him.
Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake (aka Operation Intrude F014)
In 1999, Dr. Kio Marv creates OILIX, a new species of algae that could solve the oil crisis. As he’s traveling to a conference in Prague, he is kidnapped by soldiers from Zanzibar Land, a country between the Soviet Union, China, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Snake is then sent by FOXHOUND’s new commander, Roy Campbell, to rescue Dr. Marv and save OILIX.
While in Zanzibar Land, Snake discovers that Big Boss survived Outer Heaven and is the secret leader of Zanzibar Land. Also, Big Boss had re-kidnapped Dr. Pettrovich and forced him to make smaller, non-nuclear Metal Gears, one of which is piloted by Gray Fox!
Dr. Marv dies, but Snake steals the OILIX data. He jumps into a Metal Gear and fights Gray Fox, a battle that destroys both machines. So Snake and Gray Fox engage in hand-to-hand combat in a minefield. Snake wins and then meets Big Boss. Since Snake lost his equipment, he creates a flamethrower from a lighter and an aerosol can, defeating Big Boss. Snake escapes with Holly, a CIA operative pretending to be a journalist that Snake rescued during the adventure.