The Metal Gear series, created by Hideo Kojima in 1987, is the Trope Maker and Trope Codifier of the Stealth-Based Game genre. The idea came when Kojima realized that the MSX2 couldn't show more than a few enemies at a time without flashing epileptically and generally breaking - so why not make a game where avoiding your enemies is the theme? This concept received a lot of criticism - one famous quote from Kojima's boss is, "Hiding from your enemies? That's not a game!". But then they started playing it. And it became quite a hit, spawning a great many sequels (with countless ports and editions):Main tiles:
Metal Gear Solid: Digital Graphic Novel (2006, PSP)
Metal Gear Solid 2: Bande Dessinee (2008, DVD) (Japan only sequel to the Digital Graphic Novel)
Metal Gear Online (2008, PS3). (Included with Metal Gear Solid 4, patched out as of 2012)
Metal Gear Solid Mobile (2008, Phone)
Metal Gear Solid Touch (2008-2009, iOS)
Metal Gear Solid: Social Ops (2012, smartphones)
Collection sets includes:
Metal Gear 20th Anniversary: Metal Gear Solid Collection (2007) - A box set released exclusively in Japan that includes MGS and MGS2 in their original Japanese editions, plus the Subsistence edition of MGS3 (first disc only), The Document of MGS2, a bonus PS2 disc featuring the MSX2 games (as they appeared in Subsistence), the PSP game MPO in a special UMD case and a Metal Gear Saga DVD Video, essentially including all the canonical Metal Gear games prior to MGS4.
Metal Gear Solid: The Essential Collection (2008, PS2) - The international equivalent of the previous set. It includes the original PS version of MGS in a PS2-style DVD case, as well as the Substance and Subsistence editions of MGS2 and MGS3 respectively. Unfortunately, it's missing the MSX2 games, despite the fact that they were included in the previous Japanese set.
Metal Gear Solid: HD Collection (2011, PS3/Xbox 360/PS Vita) - A collection featuring HD editions of MGS2, MGS3 and (except on Vita) PW. The MSX2 games are also included as part of MGS3. The Japanese version of the collection lacked PW, which had a separate physical release instead, but the PS3 release made up for it by including a product code to download the original MGS on the PlayStation Network.
Metal Gear Solid: The Legacy Collection (2013, PS3) - A collection of every canonical game directed by Kojima (leaving out MPO and MGR), which means every game previously included in the HD Collection, plus the original MGS and MGS4. As a bonus, this set also includes the VR Missions/Integral expansion and both Digital Graphic Novels for the first time in Blu-ray Video format.
The chronological order of the series is:
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater - 1964
Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops - 1970
Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker - 1974
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
Ground Zeroes - 1975
The Phantom Pain -1984
Metal Gear - 1995
Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake - 1999
Metal Gear Solid - 2005
Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty
Tanker chapter - 2007
Plant chapter - 2009
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots - 2014
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance - 2018
The plot is far too complicated (and occasionally batshit crazy) to write here in any detail. In general, the plot centers around the main character, Solid Snake, his family and the titular Metal Gears - walking battle tanks capable of launching nuclear strikes from anywhere in the globe. A major theme is the mental and spiritual cost of being a soldier, especially one expected to save the world on a regular basis. Simply put, being good sucks in the Metal Gear universe.The series loves breaking the fourth wall and has a distinct quirky sense of humor - running jokes involve the iconic use of a cardboard box to sneak around a base (wait until nobody is looking, run to a new location, and repeat). Kojima's irreverence is such that he's been trying to kill the series off since Metal Gear Solid 2 made its protagonist switch, so he can get on with more interesting things, but a rabidly devoted fanbase simply won't let him.One of the most engaging parts of the games is the huge focus on multiple uses for items; for example, whilst smoking cigarettes seem like a gag item that just drains your health and earns you a lecture from your contacts, they come with the hidden bonuses of showing laser beams with the smoke, and allowing for steadier aiming by calming your nerves. Metal Gear was also a pioneer of Non-Lethal gameplay. Discounting several monsters who must be eliminated, every title in the series after Metal Gear Solid allows the player to complete the game without killing enemy soldiers. There are pros and cons to each approach, and the player's willingness or refusal to kill becomes a plot point in several stories.Following the initial Metal Gear, each game has been a Deconstruction of action movies and video games, playing tropes so painfully straight they curve right back in on themselves. Very few tropes are invoked without logically following them through, especially those of spy movies - we see exactly what kind of mind and complete control of a situation would be needed to pull off the absurdly complex Gambit Roulettes that happen once per game, exactly what happens to a Tykebomb forced to take up a normal life, and there's a female on male sexual abuse subplot which is not at all okay, to name just a handful.Solid Snake began as a Deconstruction of the Badass trope, as his wartime experiences had not turned him into the ultimate action hero, but into a bitter, broken-down wreck of a soldier who just wanted to retire but could not escape the life of conflict that had entwined him for so long. After fans missed the point slightly, this theme was hammered home with Raiden, who was put through the same torments as Snake in explicit detail. Not even Big Boss is immune to this theme: as Naked Snake, he's not the suave, impeccable agent that would fit perfectly into the '70s spy film pastiche of Metal Gear Solid 3, but a likable, kinda-dorky (though admittedly brilliant at what he does) everyguy. Only after going through immense psychological and physical scarring does he begin to resemble the ultimate soldier known as Big Boss.The series is acclaimed for a lot of good reasons - stellar gameplay, very complex plots with pitch perfect deconstructions, excellent direction, intelligent character development and weird stylized dialogue. Just prepare for a lot of cutscenes. I mean, a lot of cutscenes. No, more than that. Honestly, you play the game for two-fifths of the time, watch a full-length movie the other three-fifths. If you like the plot, though, you'll probably love the cutscenes.Currently the latest game in the series is yet another spinoff: Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, featuring Raiden, a controversial bait and switch protagonist who has certainly been Rescued from the Scrappy Heap since his introduction in Metal Gear Solid 2. Although stealth will still be prevalent to some extent, it is mostly discarded and instead is largely an (very over the top) action game. In addition, a new site on Kojima Productions was uploaded that is recruiting new engineers for a new Metal Gear game that is strongly implied to involve Big Boss as well as a dog. In addition, a recent announcement from Kojima himself stated that Solid Snake will play some role in the upcoming Metal Gear Solid 5, potentially as (one of) the main protagonist(s).There is also The Last Days of Foxhound, a webcomic based off Metal Gear Solid which parodies certain aspects of the games as well as discussing some questions that were unanswered before Metal Gear Solid 4, as well as another webcomic titled The Cobra Days chronicling the World War II adventures of a similar Quirky Miniboss Squad from Metal Gear Solid 3, and hiimdaisy's Affectionate Parody comic series Let's Destroy the...Please do not dump tropes that only apply to specific games on this page; put them on the appropriate pages or on the character page. This page is for tropes that appear several times throughout the series.
Naomi Hunter in Metal Gear Solid 4, where she leaves her labcoat unbuttoned and is obviously wearing no bra.
Naomi's lack of a bra is even a point that gets brought up in gameplay in one level; after being "rescued" by PMC soldiers and Haven Troopers, you're forced to track Naomi. The Haven Troopers use a variety of tricks to try and catch you including a voice recording and a pink bra left on the trail. According to the Integral Podcast, the designers wanted to have leave various pieces of female clothing throughout the trails, and a naked, unconscious female soldier near the end of the level.
Solid Snake and Meryl Silverburgh in Metal Gear Solid. Also, Snake and Otacon in the final car chase if you let Meryl die.
Snake and Raiden in Metal Gear Solid 2.
Naked Snake and EVA in Metal Gear Solid 3.
Meryl and Johnny in Metal Gear Solid 4.
Action Girl: The Boss, Meryl, EVA, Olga Gurlukovich, Sniper Wolf, the Beauty and the Beast Unit, and the FROGS.
Air Vent Passageway: Handy to escape guards. At least half-invented this trope, at least in the world of video game publishing.
All Up To You: In most of the games, the radio contact who usually supplies info in regards to how to defeat various bosses is, for various reasons, unable to help Snake out in defeating the final boss. The only notable exceptions to this rule are Metal Gear Solid 3 where everyone in Snake's control team is cheering him on in beating The Boss, and Portable Ops, where Roy Campbell supplies some hints on how to beat Gene.
All There in the Manual: Many of the characters' backstories are only revealed in supplemental materials or in optional radio/Codec conversions within the games. The most notable is the true identity of The Boss and The Sorrow's son, who is only revealed if you trigger a radio call between Snake and EVA in Metal Gear Solid 3. It's Ocelot.
The Metal Gear Solid 4 Database, in addition to compiling every piece of Metal Gear lore up to Metal Gear Solid 4, features an extensive backstory for Raiden of what happened to him between Metal Gear Solid 2 and Metal Gear Solid 4 that is not even mentioned in the game itself.
Alternate Continuity: Ghost Babel is an alternate sequel to the original Metal Gear; the first Acid game follows a different story (though Snake is still a legendary soldier) and the second goes further.
Ghost Babel had some hidden foreshadowing to the plot of Metal Gear Solid 2.
Snake's Revenge was also relegated to an alternate continuity after Metal Gear 2 was made, although it was originally intended to be a true sequel.
Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance included "Snake Tales", a series of five missions that featured Snake going through stages from Sons of Liberty, but with different plot point (there's no mention of the Patriots, and Snake's backstory is subject to changes). "A Wrongdoing" features Snake trying to save the President from Fatman, which turns out to be a plot by a third party. "Big Shell Evil" features Snake saving Emma Emmerich from Russian drug traffickers, while another third party is planning another plot. "Confidential Legacy" features Snake facing off against Sergei Gurlukovich and Meryl aboard the Tanker, and serves as a direct sequel to the first game. "Dead Man's Whisper" features Iroquois Pliskin helping Commander Dolph apprehend Vamp, with another conspiracy transpiring in the background. "External Gazer", the fifth and final tale, involves an alternate-universe Solidus planning on wrecking the multiverse by having Solid Snake destroy a fifty foot tall guard with death ray eyes.
Alternate Universe: Cloning was perfected extremely early, and apparently, so were exoskeletons and mecha and gigantic Big Brother ships. Oh, and batshit AI.
The first game, made in 1987, takes place in 19XX (later established to be 1995). The second game, made in 1990, takes place in 1999 and has the Soviet Union survive past 1991. Metal Gear Solid, made in 1998, takes place in 2005 and contains the line "the nuclear age ended with the turn of the millennium." Metal Gear Solid 2, released in 2001, took place in 2007 and 2009. So it takes place in the future, which is now the past, but the next game takes place in the future anyway, which won't happen because the past didn't happen because it was just a theory about what the future would be, This makes for one of the most confusing timelines in the history of fiction. Only the addition of time travel could it make it more confusing.
Hilariously enough, that actually did happen with Raiden...in a non-canonical Secret Theatre clip from Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence.
And if you take the information in Snake Eater about the Philosopher's Legacy, fortune amassed by a conspiracy consisting of China, the US and the Soviet Union, the world of Metal Gear diverged from our own at least some time between the First and Second World Wars.
Ancient Conspiracy: Subverted in Portable Ops and further in Metal Gear Solid 4. The actual conspiracy, the Patriots, were formed fairly recently, in the 1970s, and only use the "ancient" conspiracy, the Philosophers which was itself founded in the early 1900s as a disguise to hide behind. The only link between the two is that the Patriots were founded with the money that the Philosophers left behind when they split.
Anti-Villain: Zero. Even though he is behind creating the Patriots, his ultimate goal was good and he is far more caring and humane than the typical Knight Templar.
Extremely debatable given his 'caring' solution led to a network of AI crashing the world into sterile, hopeless future dominated by proxy wars and iron-fisted information control.
Anyone Can Die: A good number of main characters do. At the end of Metal Gear Solid 4, more than 80% of all characters are dead.
Arc Words: You'll hear "It's not over yet!" in a lot of the games.
Also: "Neither enemy or friend", "I've still got a job to do", and "The world needs only one Boss/Snake/Big Boss".
Don't forget Snake's usual response to people telling him smoking is dangerous; "So's war and I've done that all my life" tends to show up, making for a heartwarming moment when Snake gives up at the end of 4, after he learns he doesn't have to fight anymore.
Both Snakes like to say 'Kept you waiting, huh?' whenever they make their first appearance.
Arrow Cam: Nikita Remote Controlled Missiles - First Person Mode.
Artistic License - Biology: Most infamously in the original Metal Gear Solid, where it is revealed that Solid Snake and Liquid Snake are both clones of Big Boss. Yet somehow they have different genetic make-up.
Finally revealed/retconned in Metal Gear Solid 4 as the two being genetically manipulated by the Patriots for different purposes. Solidus is the only 100% identical clone of Big Boss.
Not exactly retconned as in Metal Gear Solid, Liquid straight-up says that they were trying to isolate the genes that made Big Boss the ultimate soldier, and to do this they created two imperfect clones to see which had the greater natural ability. (They did this by genetic modification, Snake and Liquid were originally exactly identical, being from the same egg)
Back Tracking: One of the more egregious examples occurs in Metal Gear Solid. Upon encountering Sniper Wolf, Snake is told to go find a sniper rifle, which is in a room fairly close to where the player started the game. Snake even lampshades it.
The Twin Snakes alleviates this by placing a non-lethal one much closer to where the player actually needs it.
Metal Gear 2 forces backtracking for nearly the whole game.
Badass Grandpa: Several. There's Big Boss, Revolver Ocelot, and The End. Solid Snake becomes one in Metal Gear Solid 4, and EVA is a badass grandma in the same game as well.
Snake's case is arguably that of a deconstruction, as Snake fighting in spite of his condition isn't solely treated as being heroic or inspiring. Rather, it's occasionally treated as being foolish and suicidal by the other characters at the minimum, and said characters aren't above patronizing and treating him like a burden.
Badass Longcoat: Ocelot. Liquid would count except he only has the coat on for maybe two scenes maximum.
Badass Normal: Snake, at least when compared to the majority of his supernaturally-gifted or crazy-equipped foes. He does have enormous willpower and is Made of Iron, but he can't carry an M61 vulcan cannon and doesn't usually have kickass battle armor to help him.
Big Boss arguably even more so seeing as he isn't a cloned super soldier.
Oddly enough, Johnny qualifies for this trope. He's patently useless in the majority of appearances, but his actions at the end of Metal Gear Solid 4 cement his status (considering he was just a normal completely unmodified human soldier).
The Bad Guy Wins: Most of the Metal Gear Solid games (barring Metal Gear Solid 4) has the main characters actually unwittingly allowing the bad guys from behind the scenes to succeed in their overall evil plan, usually revealed in The Stinger. Metal Gear Solid 2 and, to a certain extent, Peace Walker are notable exceptions to the whole Stinger route, where it is made pretty clear that the behind the scenes villains won even before we get to The Stinger.
It helps that the bulk of the series is essentially one big Enemy Civil War, with the Patriots as an elusive Bigger Bad. The Big Bads of all of the main series games (BigBoss, Liquid Snake, Solidus Snake and Ocelot) all turn out to be rebelling against the Patriots for personal gain, so stopping them invariably just helps the Patriots maintain their stranglehold on the world.
Banana Republic: Outer Heaven and Zanzibar Land in the original MSX2 games. Oddly enough, the Metal Gear Solid games mostly avert this, with the exception of "Army's Heaven" in Portable Ops. The sidestory installments also have Gindra in Metal Gear: Ghost Babel and the Moloni Republic in Metal Gear Acid.
Beat Them at Their Own Game: Sniper Wolf and then Crying Wolf... the matching second names are not a coincidence, right down to a similar location for the boss fight, both in a snowfield and Communications Tower on Shadow Moses Island.
It's not impossible to take down Sniper Wolf with Nikita missiles at the final confrontation.
BFG: Lots and lots of them, especially in Metal Gear Solid 4. Remember the rail gun Snake takes from Crying Wolf?
In Metal Gear Solid, Vulcan Raven uses a M61-A1 Vulcan 20mm gatling gun that he ripped out of an F-16.
Crying Wolf uses the same rail gun as Fortune.
Because Im Good At It: The mentality which leads to the formation of the Patriots, and various incarnations of Outer Heaven. Regardless of their allegiances, they're all military. Their lives revolve around war, and nobody in Metal Gear goes unscathed.
Even in MGS3, Big Boss' support staff had that tiny bit of psychosis in them: Paramedic talks enthusiastically about genes and cloning, Signt's kinda obsessed with his projects, like the mask that could blink and the bioelectric battery; Zero loves his Bond movies, but seemed to have had a particular fascination not just with the gadgets, but also the warmongering Bond villains, like Blofield.
One of those little moments occurs in Peace Walker when Big Boss talks to Paz about the great stone spheres of Costa Rica. He instantly thinks of shooting them in a fire fight. Because, to Paz's horror, he just doesn't get or understand the value of anything that can't be used for war.
Bigger Bad: The Patriots are this for the overall series. They're the biggest threat, but Snake never comes into direct conflict with them until the Grand Finale. For the most part, they're vaguely defined and stay in the shadows. Ironically, most of the big bads that he faces in individual games are actually battling the Patriots themselves, though for differing reasons.
Bittersweet Ending: Every individual game, though the bitterness and sweetness varies with each one.
Metal Gear Solid 3.
The only Solid game that doesn't really count is probably the original Metal Gear Solid. Even then, the non-canon ending where Meryl dies is very bittersweet and wasn't revealed as non-canon until ten years later in Real Life, when Metal Gear Solid 4 was released.
But Not Too Foreign: Pretty mild for most characters but up the ying-yang for the Snake "family." Although Western in origin, and in spite of the fact that both Otacon (who's surname is Jewish-German) and Mei Ling look much more Asian than any of the Snakes, the characters are told again and again how Asian they are. Says Vulcan Raven in Metal Gear Solid: "The blood of the East runs in your veins" and he then goes on to describe (how he knows this we have no idea) that Snake's ancestors were from Japan and before that the Mongolian plains. As it turns out, Snake and his brother Liquid were cloned using a donor egg from a Japanese woman (so their mitochondrial DNA is East Asian).
Otacon himself is a pretty good example as, while (as far can be told) he's entirely European in origin, he is an emphatic Japanophile. Likewise, Raiden, while not a Japanophile, seems like he walked straight out of one of Otacon's Japanese animes.
Johnny, who gets knocked out a lot and keeps getting bad diarrhea problems, and is The Scrappy of Rat Patrol Team 01... up until he gets some badass points and steals Meryl from our lovable, crotchety old clone.
Raiden has it pretty rough as well. In Metal Gear Solid 2 he is nagged by his girlfriend, is urinated on, he gets beaten up and used as bait for certain people, it is revealed that his parents were murdered by Solidus, and that's just his first appearance. In Metal Gear Solid 3 he was parodied by Volgin's gay lover Raikov, a usable face mask that Major Zero and Sokolov both apparently dislike, and Metal Gear Raiden: Snake Eraser where he travels back in time to kill Big Boss so that he could become the main character of the series. To say he failed miserably there would be a understatement. In between Metal Gear Solid 2 and Metal Gear Solid 4, he is told by Rose that she suffered a miscarriage (don't worry she was lying) after which he is tortured by the Patriots and used as a guinea pig for their experiments, his head is severed from his body at the jaw and transplanted to an entirely synthetic body, which is later upgraded to the exoskeleton we see him wearing in Metal Gear Solid 4.
Camp: So, so much. This is a very tongue-in-cheek series.
Canon Discontinuity: Snake's Revenge, a sequel to the NES version of the first Metal Gear which Konami produced for the international market without Kojima's involvement. It was technically the first Metal Gear sequel, as it actually inspired Kojima to make Metal Gear 2 in the first place.
Johnny Sasaki was just a guard who had his clothes stolen and caught a cold in the original Solid, but still warranted a full name in the credits. Come Metal Gear Solid 4, and he was one of the major players who Took a Level in Badass.
Child Soldiers: Null/Gray Fox, Raiden, Drebin, Chico, and technically the Les Enfants Terribles clones.
Companion Cube: The cardboard box. Both Solid and Naked Snake apparently have some sort of sexual fetish with it, and Naked Snake believes that not only is his being in the box his destiny, but it is also the true key to happiness. The former finds it relaxing to sit in the box - or, y'know, barrel. Solid Snake doesn't just find the box relaxing, to him, it's the most important thing he has on him. He even lectures Raiden about it, giving the famous "Take care of your cardboard box, and it'll take care of you" comment.
"I'm not exaggerating when I say the success of your mission hinges on how you use that cardboard box."
Continuing Is Painful: Variation: You can continue as much as you want without any harm except your rank at the end suffer. On the other hand, with the exception of a few bosses that your support team gives you more specific advice for (and on two cases, both tell you the secret that makes the fight possible) on future attempts, there is no reason to not just select "exit" to go the main menu and then load instead as long as you remember to save at the start of each area (where "continue" will return you to).
Copy Protection: Both, the MSX2 version of Metal Gear 2 and the original MGS, had a certain character's contact number written on the back of the retail packaging. In the latter's case, this became problematic to players who bought the game secondhand without the original CD case or were merely renting it.
Cut Scene: Let's just say there are two types of people in the Metal Gear fandom: those who hate Metal Gear because of the cutscenes, and people who don't.
It is frequently said by fans that Metal Gear's an interactive story, rather than a game, not that it's a bad thing.
Cyber Cyclops: The Ninja in MGS1 and Metal Gear Ray are both cyclopes.
Only the mass production models of Metal Gear RAY are Cyclopes. The prototype has two optical sensors.
Also, although Gray Fox's mask affects the appearance of a cyclops, if you look closely the eye holes are actually two slits immediately next to the giant red scanner. However, the aesthetic remains similar.
However, and this is more noticeable in Twin Snakes but still present in the original, if you look at Gray Fox's face when he's unmasked you'll note that he only has one eye left, as the result of his near-death experience.
Dark-Skinned Blond: Fortune, Drebin and Scott Dolph. Also, technically Liquid, but his dark skin and blond hair were the result of bleaching during his time in the Iraqi prison camp, and he's not black in any percentage, like the other three examples.
Death Seeker: Metal Gear Solid had Gray Fox, who was looking for one last battle with Solid Snake. MGS2 introduced us to Fortune, whose father died in the tanker incident, followed by her husband's death and a miscarriage as a result of all the stress. She cannot be hit by bullets due to a top secret electromagnetic weapon that she unknowingly carries. Vamp doesn't really start playing this role until MGS4, and injects himself with nanomachine suppressants in order to cancel out his healing factor and finish himself once and for all. Snake himself arguably counts in MGS4, since his reasons for living are rapidly disappearing. He decides to see the world with Otacon during his last few months, however.
And lest we forget that there were two full games before the Solid Series, Snake obviously does not end up with Holly White (MG2), even ditching her at the end of the game to retire to Alaska.
Die Hard on an X: On a nuclear missile disposal site, cargo tanker, oil decontamination facility, Russian jungle and the battlefields of 2014 respectively.
Divorced Installment: Snakes Revenge. Although it lacks the Metal Gear name, it still follows the plot of the first game and has some of the same characters (Snake, Big Boss, and Jennifer).
Do Not Do This Cool Thing: Awesome, world-renowned badasses who smoke heavily and advise the player not to smoke. In this franchise, it's kind of a motif. In MGS1, Natasha actually says this with a cigarette dangling from her mouth. ("Zey are bad for you.")
Dysfunction Junction: The games go to lengths to point out just how incredibly screwed up almost every single character is, and the tragic consequences of such.
Eagleland: Mostly Type 1 through the MGS series. America's got a few skeletons in the closet, and some of the people in power are in it just for the perks, but all the heroes and even many of the sympathetic villains (most notably Solidus and The Boss) believe American ideals are worth fighting for.
Played straight with FOXHOUND, Dead Cell, the Cobras and the B&B Corp. In each case, they are specifically described as some of the most dangerous people on planet Earth.
Elite Mooks: The Hi-Tech Soldiers, Arsenal Tengu in MGS2, the Rocket-men and FROG units in MGS4.
Enemy Chatter: Only during Alert, Evasion, and Caution phases. However, there is some chatter to be found in most games, if you look hard enough.
Enemy Detecting Radar: Present in all of the main MGS games, in one form or another. The first two had the "Soliton Radar" which showed you the position and facing of enemies on a nearby radar minimap. Some people complained—justifiably—that the radar actually made things a little too easy. For MGS3, the prequel, they had a number of lower-tech solutions that all ran off of battery power: A motion sensor that would not detect stationary enemies, a "sound ping" radar that could give away your position to someone nearby, and an "AP sensor" that made the controller vibrate when enemies were near. MGS4 gave players the "Threat Ring" which showed the relative locations of enemies surrounding Snake, but only when he held still and knelt on the ground, and also a sound-detecting radar in the form of the Solid Eye—loud explosions, gunfire and other turmoil would make it not work as well, but it provided a nice balance between the previous incarnations of Enemy Detecting Radar.
Equal-Opportunity Evil: The ranks of the various Quirky Miniboss Squads tend to be quite diverse. And then there're The Patriots.
Escort Mission: Raiden and Emma; Big Boss and EVA; Old Snake and Drebin's Stryker; Old Snake and the Van.
Everything Fades: Averted - except for the first MGS, dead bodies don't go and need to be hidden.
However, enemies killed in alert mode or action sequences will disappear (flicker out more like it), and occasionally in normal status if one waits long enough.
As a possible reference to this, Liquid Ocelot's elite FROG units immolate themselves once they're dead, and if Snake touches the bodies, they crumble to dust.
Played straight in MGR: Revengeance, since bodies cut down by Raiden exploded right after, of if cut down for to much time in Blade Mode or the HF Wooden Sword, simply faded (this happens due to the possible crash that lots of scattered enemies pieces would cause to the game).
Evil Brit: Two of the most influential villains in the entire series are British: Zero, founder of the Patriots, and Liquid Snake, one of the only men in the world who can face Solid Snake in equal combat. Ironically enough, in the Japanese version they're voiced by the same actor, Banjo Ginga.
Subverted with Strangelove, who is more like an anti-heroic albino, Emma (who was the daughter of a British woman), and possibly Otacon, as the in-game novel In The Darkness Of Shadow Moses: The Unofficial Truth implies that Otacon has some British ancestry. Peace Walker ends with Strangelove and Huey coming to an 'understanding'. It's entirely possible but not confirmed for certain that Strangelove might be Otacon's mother. For what it's worth, 'Emmerich' is a German name.
Averted in Peace Walker, where not only is the codec in that game not only not freezing time, but it also actively encouraged that you don't attempt to call when near enemies.
Subverted in Revengence. There are standard codec calls as well ones that occur in real time, preventing you from doing anything else other than walking.
Expy: Snake shares many characteristics with Snake Plissken from Escape From New York, while Colonel Campbell is Colonel Trautman from Rambo. Given that Kojima is an avowed movie fan, this is no surprise.
Raiden is an Expy of Solid Snake, and probably Jack from Titanic.
Eyepatch of Power: Subverted slightly in that Big Boss' eyepatch really is an eyepatch, while Old Snake's Solid Eye simply provides optical enhancements... as well as 'radar,' of sorts. Well, then there's also Solidus.
Raiden Custom Body's eyepatch acts as a cybernetic eye, since Doktor couldn't get a replacement after he lost his eye to Sam (In fact, the eyepatch he uses has all the benefits of an fully operational artificial compound eye, and all the coolness of an eyepatch).
Fakeout Escape: One of the ways Snake can escape jail cells he ends up in (in Metal Gear Solid) is by simply hiding under the bed while the guard is gone.
Fallen Hero: Big Boss, along with Major Zero, Para-Medic, and Sigint.
Flawed Prototype: The eponymous Metal Gears, nuclear-armed walking tanks that never actually get into the production stage. RAY and the GEKKO are exceptions, but as the games are quick to remind us, they aren't actually Metal Gears.
The games themselves are riddled with foreshadowing. Starting from the first Metal Gear Solid we have references to Snake not aging well and the mention of a few characters from Metal Gear Solid 2. MGS2 gave us the revelation that the Metal Gear technology was originally Russian. MPO brought in hints of who the Patriots really were.
Generation Xerox: All of Big Boss' children are as good fighters as him. Otacon is as much as genius at robotics as his dad and his (maybe) mom Dr. Stangelove.
Get On With It Already: Many cutscenes and conversations throughout the series. But none compare to all of MGS4. (Fortunately, almost all of the MGS4 cutscenes are skippable. Unfortunately, the exceptions include Big Boss' death, the awfully long credits, and the post-credits ending.)
Gone Horribly Right: The Patriots started the Les Enfantes Terrible project because they wanted perfect soldiers like Big Boss. They succeeded, and ended up with three guys who do not enjoy getting dicked around at all.
Gratuitous French: The name of the project that spawned the Snake clones; Les Enfants Terribles.
Mistral's polearm L'Etranger.
Graying Morality: Most of the games feature a de-facto villain while playing with moral ambiguity as a thematic device That is until MGS 4 which is a full on Grey and Gray Morality story which also retcons the entire series conflict into one as well.
Groin Attack: In MGS2 and MGS3, shooting an enemy in the family jewels was a one hit kill. In MGS4, you can knock out a male enemy by crushing their balls. Performing it on a FROG-Trooper, however, turns it into a grope and a very angry FROG trooper.
Hand Cannon: Meryl's long-barrel Desert Eagle in MGS, which she claims to have used since she was a child. There's also the Patriot in MGS3, essentially a sawn-off version of an M16 prototype that only The Boss can effectively fire one-handed. And Gray Fox has a plasma cannon which replaces his left hand when he needs it.
Heal Thyself: Resting in hidden areas in MGS3 and MGS4 restores health, not to mention the fast-regenerating camouflage given to you by one of the bosses in MGS3. (In MGS4 there are at least two iPod songs that specifically increase Old Snake's recovery rate.)
In MGS2, when bleeding, Raiden can stop the bleeding if he stays still because of the fast acting nanomachines.
Hot Scientist: Naomi Hunter. Otacon also becomes significantly more attractive with each game, ironic as Snake becomes older and uglier with each game.
Human Weapon: the franchise has this as the main theme. The plots usually revolve around the protagonist and their direct opposition being manipulated by politicians, conspiracies, and other forces, and being treated as expendable tools with no goal or aspirations of their own.
Hyperspace Arsenal: Unabashedly. You can carry about fifty weapons in MGS4, but only five at a time that you can wield in your menu. You can also carry an oil drum.
I Cannot Self-Terminate: Gray Fox has absolutely nothing to live for except one last battle with Solid Snake. Vamp's nano-machine enhanced Healing Factor prevents him from committing suicide. Fortune cannot be hit with bullets, and any grenades thrown in her vicinity end up being duds due to the top secret electromagnetic weapon developed by the Patriots that she is unknowingly carrying, but she lost everything after the tanker incident so this is actually a curse. All three are looking for a Worthy Opponent to finish them off. The Boss was a special case, as The Philosophers ordered her to die at Naked Snake's hands for the sake of a cover-up. She couldn't commit suicide, and she couldn't tell Snake what was going on. The fact that nuclear war would likely result if she stayed alive was also a factor. Even Snake fits this during MGS4, as he cannot die until he completes his mission.
Identical Grandson: Big Boss and the three Snake brothers are meant to resemble each other (notably in the fact that Solid Snake is a dead-ringer to Naked Snake, the young Big Boss, while Solidus Snake resembles the elder Big Boss).
Ignorance Is Bliss: The Emmerich family are never told that they are working on a machine that is going to be used to destroy the world because they would not help. Thankfully they are incredibly gullible.
Seriously, though...piloting REX in MGS4 proves why Otacon's design was the most badass weapon ever developed in a semi-realistic setting.
Instant Sedation: Subverted and played straight. Shooting a guard (with no vest or helmet) in the chest, butt, or head does this; but it'll take anywhere from thirty seconds to five minutes, depending on the difficulty level, to knock out a guard in any other zone.
Large Ham: Liquid Snake and his wacky arm gestures, Revolver Ocelot, and Death Seeker Fortune are guilty of this. And when Liquid's arm possesses Ocelot, the hamminess can barely be described.
Ocelot even calls Fortune out on this at the end of 2, before killing her "You were hamming it up as the tragic heroine, thanks to the script the Patriot's wrote for you."
Justified in MGS with Liquid as the graphics in the 90's didn't exactly allow for subtlety of movement. Not to mention it's supposed to be a deconstruction/homage of classic 60's spy and horror movies, a fact which Paramedic effectively spells out in 3.
Laser Sight: Useful. Since you don't use iron sights in MGS2, it's the only way to aim; and in MGS4, you'll need it if you use third person a lot.
Latex Perfection: Somewhat subverted; the mask's lips don't move, Snake's facial structure is roughly recognizable beneath the mask, and the FaceCamo used by Laughing Octopus and Snake is MUCH more advanced than current technology.
Three characters has taken the mantle of the Cyborg Ninja throughout the series: Frank "Gray Fox" Jaeger in the original Metal Gear Solid, Olga Gurlukovich in Sons of Liberty, and Raiden in Guns of the Patriots and Revengeance. Prior to that there was Kyle Schneider (aka Black Color/Black Ninja) in Metal Gear 2, but he wasn't actually a cyborg.
Big Boss was the original Snake and Solid Snake inherited the codename from him. While Liquid and Solidus both have "Snake" in their full codenames as well, only Solid is referred as "Snake" by other characters.
The first one represented conversations on the radio by showing a picture of each person in the conversation, with Mouth Flaps when they spoke. The most expressive they got were the occasional change in expression, Mei Link sticking her tongue out at you, and Otacon jamming his face up against the camera to warn you about stealthed assassins.
MGS2 upped it with full models of the characters - however, the Mouth Flaps were really off, and the characters frequently used CODEC when they were standing right in front of each other. (In-universe CODEC calls are inaudible to those who try to listen in)
MGS3 dealt with the first problem by representing the characters with still pictures, as it took place in the 1960s, when two-way video-phone devices would be nonexistent.
MGS4 avoided it entirely by showing full videos of the character Snake was speaking to, although Snake only has two main contacts in that game (Otacon and Rosemary).
Lost in Translation: "La Li Lu Le Lo" are "missing" vowel sounds in Japanese; the point of the name is that it's not technically possible to write or say it in Hiragana (because there's no distinction between "L" and "R" and the string is usually "Ra Ri Ru Re Ro"), so the Patriots censor their name to something that can't be written down or spoken. This is never really gone into in the dub (since English doesn't do that), so it just seems to be meaningless babble.
Some could say that it worked out fine, while in english you can say "La Li Lu Le Lo", anyone who says that in the middle of a conversation for no reason seems silly and out of place. This makes it difficult to take their opinion seriously, thus getting the characters (and the viewer) to wonder about the legitimacy of their claims as well as the declaration of the existence of the patriots
McNinja: The various incarnations of the Cyborg Ninja, none of them Japanese. Revengence even opens with Raiden quoting from the code of Samurai, whom he obviously esteems.
In Sons of Liberty, the Russian soldiers eventually trade in their camo for futuristic "Tengu" uniforms, complete with naruto sandals and blades.
Made of Iron: All the Snakes qualify to some extent, but Liquid takes the cake. He is survives a helicopter crash, a large explosion, a high fall and several gunshot wounds before finally succumbing to the FOXDIE. Even then, he is able to possess Ocelot through his arm except he isn't possessing Ocelot, it's a trick.
Magic from Technology: Even though some abilities of characters seem downright magical, mostly they are given a scientific explanation. For example, Vamp's regeneration and Screaming Mantis' mind control both take advantage of nanotechnology. There are a few notable aversions in the series as well - the source of Psycho Mantis' or The Sorrows powers are never explored and they appear to be genuinely paranormal.
However, the series is infamous for it's love of complexity. Don't expect any single explanation to cover a character. In the case of Vamp, while he used nanomachine regeneration, his other abilities are never given solid explanation, and at least one character turned out to have genuine powers separate from the technology that was assumed to provide them. Basically, don't assume that the wizard has been done in until you see the body. And even then...
The Man Behind the Man: Like you wouldn't believe, though the Patriots could be more accurately described as the computer behind the man.
Manly Tears: In Snake Eater, after Naked Snake is promoted to the rank of Big Boss, having killed his mentor, The Boss, he visits her grave, and salutes her one last time as a single tear roll down his cheek.
Fifty years later, Big Boss visits her grave one final time, and attempts to salute her before collapsing from exhaustion...as as he enjoys one final smoke with his son, one more tear rolls down his cheek, and he dies with a faint smile on his face.
Mr. Exposition: Happens at the start of every game with the Colonel, Otacon, Major Zero, et cetera.
Mysterious Informant: Used in Metal Gear 2, Metal Gear Solid, and MGS2. The reason it was repeated in the original MGS was because Metal Gear 2 was only released in Japan, and MGS1 followed more or less the same plot in a different setting. The second time this happened was for another reason.
Mythology Gag: The series has a few recurring jokes and themes, most notably the cardboard box (which appears in every main game in the series).
Nanomachines: Everything supernatural that happens? It's caused by these buggers in one way or another (with the possible exceptions of The Sorrow, Psycho Mantis, and Vulcan Raven).
New Game Plus: You start out with goodies in games before MGS4. MGS4, you get all your weapons and earned gear, plus goodies.
Nintendo Hard: "Extreme" and "European Extreme" mode. The difficulty varies depending on the title, with Snake Eater on the low end, and Sons of Liberty on the "Holy-Shit-Twenty-Metal-Gears-Are-You-Serious" end.
No Celebrities Were Harmed: The cover artwork of the original Metal Gear is blatantly traced from a well-known publicity still of Michael Biehn in Terminator, while the character designs in the MSX2 version of Metal Gear 2 are clearly modified photographs of actual celebrities such as Sean Connery, Mel Gibson, Tom Berenger, Richard Crenna, and Albert Einstein. In subsequent ports of Metal Gear 2, the character designs were revamped to resemble Shinkawa's designs from the later MGS games.
No Fourth Wall: One of the trademarks of the series. Characters explicitly describe the game's controls with a straight face; the Copy Protection involves a character asking you to look at the back of the game package; one of your Voices With An Internet Connection provides constant real-world advice on how to play your video game properly and healthily; a Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique scene involves the resident Magnificent Bastard warning you not to try to use autofire to beat the Mini-Game; and everything involving Psycho Mantis, who used your save game content to "read your mind," the rumble feature on your controller to move it with "telekinesis," had a special move that caused your screen to turn black, and could only be defeated by unplugging your controller and plugging it into the second port (or by already having a second controller in the second port, and picking it up). And that's only what the first game does; the second, which explicitly aims to break the fourth wall, was worse.
It got to the point of Lampshade Hanging: during Act 4 of MGS4, Otacon calls Snake and tells him to put in disc 2. Then he remembers that, because the game is on a dual-layer Blu-ray disc, there is no disc 2. (Snake tells Otacon to stop fooling around, while players freak out due to the exact location of this conversation.) Then, when Psycho Mantis shows up again, he tries to pull the same tricks. However, he can't read your memory since the PS3 doesn't have a memory card, and he can only make the controller vibrate if the player is using the Dualshock 3. And again in the previous boss fight, where the Colonel recommends using the same tricks against a different psychic boss, only to have them all shot down. Oh, and in Metal Gear AC!D2, when General Wiseman explains bits of the COST and CARD system to Snake, "Agent" Dalton hears all of this and confusedly says, "That just went right over my head."
No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Volgin to Naked Snake in Snake Eater, and even worse, Ocelot to Solid Snake in Guns of the Patriots.
Non-Linear Sequel: Has one of the most messy chronologies known to man - Metal Gear Solid Mobile is a good example. It seems to clearly fit in to the main timeline between MGS and MGS2, but the game's ending apparently makes it Canon Discontinuity..)
No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: Averted. Almost every Metal Gear built is based on the plans of the previous Metal Gear. Then the plans to make one got on the black market and everyone had a Metal Gear.
Not So Different: Despite professing complete difference from the enemies they fight, Big Boss and Solid Snake are often pointed out to be exactly like the soldiers on the other side. This also extends to each other, while Solid Snake absolutely denies that he's anything like his father the two are very similar, to the point that they even profess similar ideals about being a soldier.
If you save during the fight with The End, and wait a week (or just advance your Playstation's internal clock by a week), he dies of old age.
Old Shame: Proudly averted. Not only are the earlier games in the series referenced in the Solid storyline, they become large parts of the story, and the original graphics are even used in flashbacks—no re-renders here. True, "Bloody Brad" and "Running Man" aren't given quite as large a remembrance as Gray Fox or Big Boss, but even so, remarkably little of the original games was retconned by later installments.
Portable Ops seems to play the trope completely straight however. While elements are referenced in Peace Walker and it is in official canon, Kojima more or less denies its existence, and the game was left off of a recent history of MGS poster. This is understandable given that, like Snake's Revenge, Kojima didn't direct or write it, and by many accounts the game is an inferior entry in the Metal Gear Solid franchise.
MGS3 actually kind of inverts it. When fighting The End, Para-Medic says that she has a bad feeling about saving. If you save and reload the game, The End sneaks up behind you and tranqs you in the head.
But if you save and wait a week before playing again, The End will have died of old age.
One Steve Limit: Strongly averted. The series has six characters whose names are variants of John - two Johns (one also called Jack), another Jack, two Johnnys and an Ivan, plus two more of the similarly-sounding Jonathan. Five of them appear in Metal Gear Solid 4, and each game in the series has at least one. The same series also includes two Davids, Jim and James, Natasha and Nastasha, two President Johnsons (the real-life Lyndon Johnson and the fictional James Johnson), and no less than five characters who have at some point gone by the codename Snake.
One-Winged Angel: This trope usually doesn't come into effect in the series, since it deals more or less with more realism compared to most games. That being said, there are a few points where it comes pretty close canonically. For instance, Volgin merging with the Shagohod's wiring during the final battle, or Peace Walker turning from bipedal into a quadruped. The only game to play it completely straight is the non-canon sequel to Metal Gear, Snakes Revenge, with Big Boss.
Optional Stealth: Metal Gearis a stealth-based game series— Rather, it's thestealth-based game series. The games have varying difficulty levels. If one chooses the easiest difficulty, then it's a valid option to plow through the game without really needing to use its stealth elements. However, selecting anything above "Normal" makes using stealth absolutely necessary, as guards will be vigilant and difficult to take down, and using stealth is far easier than trying to macho one's way through. The most extreme gameplay modes in the Metal Gear series actually force the player to restart from the beginning if they are so much as noticed by one guard.
The Other Darrin: The English voice acting agency got a bit lazy when it came to rehiring the original voice actors in spin-off works. Most notably, Solid Snake is voiced by Peter Lurie (ironically the voice actor of Vulcan Raven) when he guest-starred in the third Ape Escape game.
They're also not great at continuing the Actor Allusions onto the English localised versions. In the Japanese MGS2 Olga and Solidus were played by Kyoko Terase (Meryl) and Akio Otsuka (Snake) respectively. In the English language versions Olga and Solidus are played by different actors than Meryl and Snake, so the idea that both sound alike is lost. This also happened with the Bonus Boss fight against Meryl in the Substance re-release - Meryl uses the same sound clips as Olga does in her boss fight from the main game, since they shared the same seiyuu, which results in Meryl gaining an inexplicable Russian accent for the fight in the English version.
As of MGS 5 the role of Big Boss is now played by Kiefer Sutherland.
Pacifist Run: You receive a lower score at the end if you kill everything. Also, in MGS3 and MGS4, you get good bonus items from the bosses if you tranquilize them into submission instead of kill them. In MGS3, The Sorrow, a sub-boss that can't be killed, tries to kill you with guilt, sending the ghosts of your fallen (but not tranquilized) enemies stumbling towards you. The other bosses show up regardless of their ultimate demise, since even if you sedate them, they still use bombs to self-destruct. In MGS4beating the Beast forms of the Beauty & the Beast Corps allows the player to acquire their statue (collect them and the FROG statue for the Solar Gun), and beating the Beauty forms allows the player to collect their FaceCamo. As before, some of the Emblems (ranks) require a certain amount of kills (less than or more than) to acquire; the Pigeon and Big Boss Emblems for example require no kills.
Paper-Thin Disguise: In MGS1, Liquid disguises himself as an ally on Snake's codec by putting on sunglasses and changing his accent. Note that he still has the same voice, one distinctive enough that many players became suspicious the moment he opened his mouth. On the other hand, its subverted when the rereleases of Metal Gear 2 as well as his appearance in Peace Walker show that he actually does look like a disguised Liquid, and in the case of the latter game, even sounds like Liquid in disguise.
And, of course, you can hide inside cardboard boxes, which are literally a paper-thin disguise. Soldiers aren't totally fooled by these, though, especially in later games, and especially if the box is out in the open and in their way.
There's also Solid Snake disguising as Iriquois Pliskin in MGS2, by changing his uniform and nothing else.
And EVA as Tatyana in MGS3, which had her wearing glasses and her hair differently.
Parrot Exposition: David Hayter has joked in interviews that most of the dialogue he has to record consists of repeating the last couple words the other person said, and adding a question mark to it.
Ironically in MGS4, used by Old Snake to restore Psyche until his body builds up a tolerance (in both gameplay and a cutscene near the end of the playable part of the game), as well as to make Vamp mortal and to free himself and Meryl from Screaming Mantis' nanomachine control.
Post End Game Content: You'll always get something the first time you complete the game, and some more rewards if you also fulfill certain objectives during it. New Game Plus gives you access to it.
Powered Armor: The Cyborg Ninja in the first MGS was a partial case, being a cyborg and all. The ninja and Solidus in MGS2 on the other hand are textbook cases.
Potty Failure: A running (ew) theme in the Metal Gear Solid games is toilet humour; generally, at least one case of someone wetting themselves occurs per game. 4 upped the ante with a scene of a man soiling himself in public. Um...Thanks, Kojima.
Prison Episode: The first game and Portable Ops involves a relatively easy prison escape; Solid 1 and 3 and Peace Walker have relatively challenging ones.
For every game in the series, as soon as you can find a silencer for the pistol, it instantaneously becomes your best weapon. This is especially true when the series introduces first-person view, because you can line up headshots so easily. Combine this with the fact that every gun is wildly accurate, and you can easilly have situations where you line up a headshot from across the loaded map to where you can barely see the enemy textures, and it will work.
Metal Gear Solid 3 not only skips the step of making you find the Silencers which make the pistol so effective (though you can run out and need to restock them), but when you get it, Naked Snake goes on an extended monologue about how awesome the pistol is, and if you call Sigint later, he'll go even more in depth.
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots almost seems to lampshade this when they give you the Operator at the beginning of the game, which is already a good gun, (according to the in-game stats) but then you can acquire the similar except better Mk 23 (the SOCOM from the original) and the M1911A1 that Naked Snake used in the third game, each gun being better than the last.
Redshirt Army: The SEALs sent in to deliver the Nuclear Football in MGS2 (to be fair, they're up against a vampire and an unkillable woman with a railgun), the US Army/Marine Corps task force in MGS4 (though they later fend off a horde of FROG units).
The series' use of it is inverted near the end of Guns of the Patriots when the Scarabs start piling on Snake: "OOOTACOOOOOOON!" Inverted both for Snake being the one to use it, and it being a genuinely tense and dramatic moment instead of meme-fuel.
Snake screamed Otacon's name again earlier in Guns of the Patriots when he got half of his face burned very badly.
This almost qualifies as a CMOA during the final duel when after Snake takes an absolutely brutal beating at the hands of Liquid Ocelot he turns the fight around by breaking his enemy's fingers. As Snake rises he screams his rival's name with a cry of rage and frustration, to be answered in kind as the camera spins. And they they really start beating the hell out of each other.
Save Token: You can save by using your codec/radio/etc to call a "data analyst" and have them save your game for you.
Metal Gear Solid 3 Snake Eater allows you take off all your clothes (except your pants, to Naked Snake's disappointment and Signit's anger/bemusement).
Metal Gear Solid 4 had Liquid Ocelot take his shirt off before his climactic duel with Snake.
Shout Out: Vietnam War-era jungle setting of the game aside, Snake of Metal Gear Solid 3 is a shout-out to James Bond AND John Rambo. The former is paid tribute to in the music of the alert phases, whereas the latter happens when Snake roars Sylvester Stallone's trademark battle-cry when firing an M63 machine gun. Solid 'Old' Snake also roars like this when firing the M60E4 in Guns of the Patriots, signifying how much he has become like his father.
Of course, Hideo Kojima has shoutouts to his own work as well, with Policenauts posters and Snake can actually use the Gun De Sol from Boktai as a bonus weapon, the Solar Gun, by acquiring the FROG statue and the B&B Corps statues, by defeating them (for the B&B Corps their Beast forms) all nonlethally.
Metal Gear Mk. 2 originally appeared in Kojima's Snatcher. Except that one was a reference to the original Metal Gear. A reference is even made to the "Metal Gear Menace" of the late 20th century.
The freight Elevator in MGS is a near exact duplicate of the one in Akira,and even leads down to a sub-zero area.
Solid Snake's name is a shoutout to Snake Plissken from Escape From New York. The film is one of Kojima's favourites, and was a large influence on the series (particularly notable is the theme of an uncaring government sacrificing heroes for minor or personal gain).
The MGS4 "Chair Race" trailer featured a battle between Snake and Raiden over a chair labeled "main character". Snake's gear and method of movement in the trailer is reminiscent of Sam Fisher.
Skippable Boss: MGS3's The End - using two methods! Either set the clock ahead so that he dies of old age, or snipe him when he appears in his wheelchair — albeit the latter will lead to the boss fight areas being instead patrolled by 20 enemy soldiers. In MGS4 there are no truly skippable bosses, but any damage to her Life or Psyche that Raging Raven takes during the motorcycle chase sequence will carry over to the 'true' boss fight, so go fire on her with whichever bar of hers you wish to damage later.
Also, if you blow up the HIND at the ammo dump, you won't have to face it later when you're climbing the mountain. If you blow up the rest of the ammo dump along with it, the soldiers you face later will run out of bullets quickly.
Spotting The Thread: The fact that the DARPA Chief refers to the terrorist act as a revolution is a major hint that he might not be who he claims to be. Yet no one picks up on this, despite the fact that they know for a fact a master of disguise is among the Fox Hound renegades.
And in MGS3, there are several blatantly obvious hints that EVA might not be who she says she is, in her very first scene. She fails to answer the code phrase, instead gunning down several mooks... with a Mauser C96, which was only used by one nation during the Cold War: China. She even uses the "Bandit Shooting" technique that was invented specifically to take advantage of that gun's tremendous recoil. She ends up being a Chinese triple agent tasked with tracking down the Philosopher's Legacy. Of course, Snake doesn't pick up on any of this, due to EVA's Absolute Cleavage. Neither do most players.
Spy Catsuit: Inverted - only the men get them. And look damn Fan Servicey in them, too. EVA comes close in her form-fitting motorcycle outfit with Absolute Cleavage, and the FROGs wear a combat version of this.
The Beauties get some very form fitting suits. When facing off against Raging Raven, after she sheds her suit and turns away, still quite insane, Snake stares at her butt. Please note that originally, it was intended to be averted.
Start of Darkness: Metal Gear Solid 3, Portable Ops, and Peace Walker detail the events behind Big Boss' transformation from a young, patriotic soldier into a war hero disillusioned with the modern world's treatment of soldiers.
Metal Gear Solid (1998) introduced the peek-around-the-corner cover mechanic, where Snake can crouch behind and press against low walls and peak around corners.
Metal Gear Solid 2 (2001) expanded on it, introducing a shoot-around-the-corner cover system, where Snake or Raiden can crouch behind or press against low walls and aim from behind them, to shoot from around the corner of a wall. This shoot-around-the-corner cover system has also been employed in later Stealth Games like the Splinter Cell series and Tactical Shooter games like Rainbow Six Vegas (2006).
Title Drop: Solidus Snake's terrorist group in MGS2 are the Sons of Liberty, Snake's mission in MGS3 is codenamed Operation Snake Eater, and Ocelot calls his master plan in MGS4 the Guns of the Patriots. Metal Gear is first introduced this way in the first game.
Transplant: Very few people knew that Meryl Silverberg was originally from the Japan-only Policenauts, and a version of Metal Gear Mk. II from Snatcher appears in MGS4. However, they are very different verisons of those characters. Versions of Jonathan and Ed appear in MGS4 as well, and in Japanese are played by the same Policenauts actors, just like Meryl. Incidentally their actors happen to be Otacon and Psycho Mantis as well.
Twenty Minutes into the Future: Barring the Big Boss sections (which obviously take place in the past), the series tends to take place 4-8 years after the game's release and with appropriately advanced technology.
Escaping from South America in Metal Gear Solid 4 mixes Zombie Apocalypse and turret gunplay, there's more on-rails shooter stuff with Big Mama again in Eastern Europe (albeit you're limited to one-handed firearms), and mecha combat in Shadow Moses - REX versus RAY.
And as if that wasn't enough, the final battle with Ocelot is an arcade-style fighting game.
Unusable Enemy Equipment: Though MGS2 managed to partially subvert this by having one CODEC conversation that explained that the weapons had an ID system that recognized a specific person, it's odd though how they didn't explain this more directly.
Finally averted in MGS4 by Snake getting a "hack" into the system... as a result, weapon pickups are a notable part of gameplay, and in Screaming Mantis's case it's necessary to pick up her Mantis Doll to defeat her.
Video Game Caring Potential: It's entirely possible (And encouraged) to beat Twin Snakes, 2 and 4 without killing a single enemy. 3 also falls into this, as you are only required to kill a single enemy: The Boss. In fact, the fewer enemies you kill in 3, the easier time you will have with one of the miniboss fights.
Vodka Drunkenski: Several of the San Hieronymo Soviet personnel, Colonel Skowronski, and Granin were shown drinking vodka a lot, and they are also all Russian (obviously). Unlike most examples of the trope however, their reasons were completely justifed, due to certain incidents that were depressing or angering enough for them to require getting themselves drunk.
Voice with an Internet Connection: The Codec. Probably a fourth wall breach, although it is also implied a few instances that the Codec does have people observing what is going on.
Warp Whistle: In a few of the games, the cardboard boxes can be used to be transported to different areas.
The War Sequence: Raiden fights up to twenty mass-produced Metal Gears in MGS2, and several Gekkos in MGS4.
Warrior Heaven: Big Boss and Liquid Snake try to make this ideal on Earth by making the world into "Outer Heaven," a world where warriors will always be needed, honored and respected, although in MGS4, it appears that Big Boss' motive may have been to create a world free from the Patriots... that was certainly why Liquid Ocelot claimed to have had Outer Haven, at least.
Where The Hell Is Springfield: With the exception of Metal Gear, its largely averted in the canonical installments, where they not only cite specifically where the location setting(s) is/are, they even show a map or other evidences to hint where it is located.
In a neat twist on previous games' weapons progression, the first weapon pickup in MGS4 is the AK-102 assault rifle found right next to Old Snake after one of the first cutscenes, and it's the Mk.II suppressed tranquilizer pistol and suppressable lethal Operator pistol which are received next, instead of the other way around as in the past. It's markedly inferior though to the M4 Custom which you pick up not long after the pistols.
What Could Have Been: One of the plans for Metal Gear Solid 5 involved playing a game that featured The Boss storming Normandy. It was put on hold due to the inexperience of the new blood at Kojima Productions, which also resulted in Rising/Revengeance.
Wild Mass Guessing: Worth mentioning because some of the WMG theories are less crazy than what's canon.
War Is Hell: Largely no one is really proud of what they are doing, and only the real baddies don't suffer a lot because of it or have any real joy in what they do.
When It All Began: Although it's not really apparent until the end of the series, everything that happens in the Metal Gear universe has its roots in August 1964, the Virtuous Mission which sparked Operation Snake Eater and led to the creation of the Patriots.
Those are only the deepest roots of the main conflict. Some pieces of the puzzle go back to the turn of the 20th century, when the Philosophers were founded.