Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops (officially abbreviatedMPO) is a Metal Gear game released for the PlayStation Portable in 2006. Following the release of a few Metal Gear spinoffs for the PSP (both Metal Gear Ac!d games and Metal Gear Solid: Digital Graphic Novel), Kojima Productions decided to develop a legitimate Metal Gear Solid game for the handheld system that remained true to the stealth action game design of its console counterparts, with a story that followed the events of Metal Gear Solid 3.Set in 1970 (six years after Operation Snake Eater), Naked Snake (a.k.a. Big Boss) finds himself abducted by members of his former unit, FOX, and imprisoned in a base somewhere in the San Hieronymo Peninsula in Columbia. After escaping from prison, Snake finds out that the U.S. Government has accused of him leading the FOX unit's revolt, who are now threatening both, the U.S. and the Soviet Union, after joining forces with members of the Red Army and taking over a secret Soviet missile base. Unable to take down the FOX unit by himself, Snake join forces with a Green Beret soldier named Roy Campbell as they try to convince members of the revolt to join their cause and take down the FOX unit.Built on a modified version of the Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence engine, Portable Ops introduces a "comrade system" which emphasizes a squad-based approach to the Metal Gear Solid formula in lieu of the traditional solo infiltration style. Featuring a stage-based structure, the player can deploy a team of up to four members to infiltrate various enemy facilities and fulfill mission objectives, as well as scout other territories and gather information. Snake can recruit numerous type of soldiers to his unit, as well as medics, engineers and even main characters from both, Metal Gear Solid 3 and Portable Ops. In addition to the single-player story mode, there is also various multiplayer modes based on Subsistence's online component (Metal Gear Online) where two players pit their teams against others', including a Cyber-Survival mode where the winning team gets to recruit a member of the losing team.Portable Ops was followed by a stand-alone expansion titled Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops Plus in 2007. It drops the story mode from the original game with an "Infinity Mission" mode, while introducing new multiplayer modes, maps, units and unique characters based on Metal Gear Solid, Metal Gear Solid 2 and even Metal Gear Solid 4, rather than being based strictly on Metal Gear Solid 3.While initially advertised as the missing link between Metal Gear Solid 3 and the original Metal Gear, Portable Ops is considered more of a sidestory, as it was developed without Hideo Kojima's own direction. Kojima would take directorial helm of the next PSP game in the series, Peace Walker, building upon the game design of Portable Ops and chronicling the further exploits of Big Boss. Regardless, Kojima himself confirmed in a podcast that Portable Ops is indeed canonical.
Cunningham laments Snake's decision to disobey the Department of Defense's mission when defeated. In addition, Cunningham is later pitied by Gene upon learning of his attempted betrayal and death.
Python, if the player chooses to let him die.
And I Must Scream: In the mission where Snake has to do reconnaissance at the Soviet Patrol Base and recover a launch schedule for a stolen American weapon, eavesdropping on the Soviet officer will have him state his fear and desire to flee, but finding himself unable to before questioning what is the power Gene possessed, implying that Gene's Compelling Voice also leaves the soldiers fully aware of emotions such as fear, but completely incapable to reacting to said emotions via methods like fleeing from the peninsula.
Animal Theme Naming: Snake himself and the generic members of his team. Subverted by the members of FOX: Gene and Cunningham are also known as Viper and Boa respectively, but they're never really addressed by those codenames; Null didn't use the codename "Gray Fox" until years after the events of this game; and Ursula's name (which coincidentally means "little bear") barely counts as a codename since it's a common given name. Only Python uses an animal-themed codename.
Art Shift: The cutscenes are drawn in an animated graphic novel style in lieu of using in-game graphics. Worked so well, in fact, that the next PSP game in the series, Peace Walker, used a similar style for most of its cutscenes as well.
Badass: A lot of the gameplay revolves around this, and in-universe, Snake's reputation for this allows him to found his own army against Gene.
Brick Joke: In an optional radio conversation with EVA in Metal Gear Solid 3, she will state that Raikov possessed a weak stomach despite being a big eater, which acted as the reason why he often goes to the bathroom. When recruiting him, the location you find him at is right in front of a urinal in his cell.
Broad Strokes: How the events are interpreted in succeeding installments. Basic details, such as Big Boss forming FOXHOUND to take down renegade FOX members and Zero gaining the missing half of the Philosophers' Legacy, are still considered canon. However, the entire side-mission to recruit EVA contradicts how Big Boss and EVA were actually reunited according to Metal Gear Solid 4 and the Metal Gear ZEKE from Peace Walker is now considered to be the first Metal Gear tank ever built (in-universe) instead of the ICBMG.
Clear My Name: The reason why Snake had to participate in the events of the game in the first place. To put it simply, the U.S. Government thought that Snake was involved in the FOX rebellion because the person who caused it had similar abilities to Snake. The direct instigator was Gene.
Completely Missing the Point: In one of Snake's radio calls to Para-Medic, after she explained to him about the lost city of Gold, El Dorado, and similar locations in South America, including golden knives, Snake expressed interest in the golden knife part as he would use it to distract the enemy with CQC. This causes Para-Medic to exhasperatedly state that she didn't mean that. Also was somewhat in-character with Snake, or rather Big Boss's ending speech in Metal Gear 2, where he made it clear that he doesn't even care for wealth.
Continuity Nod: An optional radio call with Campbell has Snake explaining to Campbell when he is asked about The Boss that she was a true patriot who died for her country, referring to EVA's debriefing tape.
Similarly, EVA herself and her MIA fate is referenced (although not by name) by Campbell and Snake in an optional radio call.
EVA's call sign when contacted by Snake is "Tatyana", which is the same alias as the one she used when she infiltrated Groznyj Grad as Sokolov's lover.
Snake stripping Raikov of his clothes was referenced by Para-Medic, as is her brief witnessing of Snake in the infirmary.
Sigint and his UMA Club is referenced by Snake and Sigint
Para-Medic's dream of creating a group of parachuting medics was referenced in an optional radio call.
Covers Always Lie: The European cover depicts Snake surrounded by palm trees, even though there is not a single jungle area in the game.
Cut-and-Paste Environments: Most of the characters and areas in the original Portable Ops were recycled from Metal Gear Solid 3, right down to using the same textures. This especially noticeable with all the returning characters from Metal Gear Solid 3 (aside for Snake himself, Para-Medic and Sigint) who look and dress exactly like they did during Operation Snake Eater six years ago. Ocelot, Raikov and Sokolov in particular were playable characters in the original incarnation of Metal Gear Online included with Metal Gear Solid 3, so their abilities were carried over from that game intact.
Teliko and Venus also use the same character models from their respective Acid games.
Cut Song: When allegations of plagiarism for the "Metal Gear Solid Main Theme" began to surface during the game's production, the game's theme song, "Show Time," which originally included the "Metal Gear Solid Main Theme", was re-edited so that it didn't. Sadly, this was not a temporary change, and the song has never surfaced again, even in the 20th anniversary soundtrack collection (also, this is the only game with Metal Gear Solid in the title that doesn't have Metal Gear Solid's game over music at all, including Ghost Babel, but this is generally viewed as less significant by fans).
Defector from Decadence: It's heavily implied that this was the reason why Snake left the FOX Unit after gaining the title of Big Boss.
Disney Death: Elisa is presumed dead after Snake destroys Metal Gear RAXA, only for her to show up alive to save Snake from Gene. Subverted when she gets stabbed by Gene afterward.
Disney Villain Death: Colonel Skowronski, after Ursula awakens and takes direct psychic control over RAXA, ends up falling "out" of RAXA, and is implied to have been killed as a result.
Possibly Cunningham as well, assuming that he wasn't killed by the explosion of his flying platform.
Drunk with Power: Skowronski, who is also earlier drunk for other reasons, ended up hijacking Metal Gear RAXA, and although he missed his intended target, Gene, he starts to become drunk with RAXA's power, claiming that with it, "no one will make an exile of [Skowronski]!" Although it is short lived thanks to it shutting down.
Enemy Mine: Raikov's recruitment into FOXHOUND. He sets aside his hatred of Snake for killing his former lover Volgin in order to stop Gene.
Fake Defector: Subverted with the FOX Unit. The CIA intended to have the FOX Unit fake defection to the Soviet Union so they could supply the ICBMG to the Soviets and thus have the CIA maintain all the power it gained during the Cold War. However, this plot was undone by the Pentagon (of whom Cunningham was a plant to), where FOX was to launch the ICBMG at Soviet Russia in order to tarnish the CIA's reputation. It's even further subverted when Gene intended to nuke America with the ICBMG. See Gambit Pileup below.
Fan Disservice: Snake does wind up naked at one point, but the circumstances and art style drain all the possible fanservice out of the moment.
Flash Step: Gene is so fast that he can dodge machine gun fire while appearing to stand still.
In-game, if the player decides to unlock Elisa and/or Ursula prior to fighting RAXA either by busting hard on recruiting medics or simply by code, you'll notice that you can't recruit them both simultaneously. This foreshadows the fact that Elisa and Ursula aren't physical twins, but two different personalities of a single girl.
Gaiden Game: Notable in that knowledge of this game is not required to enjoy the series, although the ending does foreshadow plot details from Metal Gear Solid 4.
And Ocelot is using all the above, Snake included, to fulfill his own plan.
And Zero is in turn using him to take out the Philosophers and found the Patriots in The Boss' memory.
Gameplay and Story Segregation: The way Snake can build his army is not entirely consistent with what happens in the actual story. Specifically Snake can add defeated FOX members and certain side characters to his unit, even when there's no possibility for them to be on Snake's side in the story. For example, Snake can recruit Ocelot into his unit and even use him during the final few missions, despite the fact that Ocelot is supposed to be at the States going after the DCI.
Groin Attack: Cunningham places his artificial leg directly on Snake's groin when attempting to extract info from Snake as to where he took the other half of the Philosophers' Legacy.
Also, if Snake or another soldier gets into a confrontation with female Soviet officers (and in the case of Portable Ops Plus, female Soviet soldiers) and is in close quarters, they'll subdue Snake/the soldier by kneeing them in the crotch.
Guest Fighter: Every surviving character from Metal Gear Solid 3 can be added to Snake's squad, including a few that don't exactly make sense in the context of the game's story (namely Zero and Ocelot).
Teliko and Venus, the heroines from the Metal Gear Acid games, can also be recruited by having save data from their respective games.
In Portable Ops Plus, Old Snake and Raiden (in addition to Campbell) can both be recruited as well.
Guide Dang It: Although for the most part well done, some of the special recruiting missions have proven to be tedious, with Raikov and Sokolov being the only ones who are given any hints at how to recruit them in the actual strategy guide, and even then, only the first part with Sokolov's recruiting missions.
Harsher in Hindsight: In-universe, Gene's speech that resulted in most of his men going through mass riot suicide, as it turns out, the part about how after the Cold War ends the flames of hatred are fanned even more as well as nuclear stockpiles being stolen from the various superpowers was actually quite correct.
Heel-Face Turn: Elisa definitely qualifies. Heck, she does it both times (although one time was completely against her will, as Gene was starting to forcibly awaken her other personality half.), and later does it with her other half/twin sister. Raikov also technically counts, namely in regards to allying with Snake (in the last game he appeared in, he was an enemy. Of course, considering what Snake did in Metal Gear Solid 3, he probably does still view him as his enemy, and probably would fight against him had it not been for the fact that they had a common enemy), though also due to the fact that he wished to redeem himself in the Soviet Army's eyes (they exiled him to the San Hieronymo Peninsula due to the fact that he abused Soviet soldiers, as well as Volgin's death).
Big Boss is still uncomfortable with the title at the beginning and still insists on being called Snake, but by the end of the game, it becomes something of a term of endearment by his men.
Konami themselves prefer to use MPO as the official acronym for the game instead of "MGSPO". This is due to the fact that MPO was largely based on Subsistence's free-to-play online component, Metal Gear Online or MGO. MGO and MPO are play on NGO (non-government organization) and NPO (not-for-profit organization) respectively.
Laser-Guided Karma: Snake aided the Soviet soldiers in their time of need, especially when it became apparent that Gene was seemingly going to launch a nuke at Russia. The Soviet soldiers repaid Snake handsomely by helping him destroy the ICBMG before it could be launched into America.
Laughing Mad: Cunningham laughs rather insanely when trying to use his Davy Crockett on the base in a failed attempt to bring Big Boss down with him.
Also, Skowronski really begins to lose it after Snake met him, causing Snake to shoot the lock out of his cage to spare him of his desperate rantings and manic laughter. In this case, however, his manic laughter is implied to be a result of his being exceptionally drunk.
Lightning Bruiser: The ICBMG combines the best of the Cruise (pinpoint accuracy in hitting the targets) and ballistic variants (virtually impossible to intercept once launched) of nuclear missiles, and has none of the worst aspects.
When you get the rescue Raikov mission, if you wait too long, you'll fail the mission before you even attempt it.
Konami's online servers for both, Portable Ops and Portable Ops Plus, were shut down in 2012, removing the game's online functionality. However, players can still experience the game's multiplayer modes with other PSP users via ad-hoc.
The Man Behind the Man: Cunningham establishes that he was this before the boss battle with him, but just before the battle with Gene, he explains that he knew the truth all along and used the circumstances to his advantage.
Mega Manning: Variation: Defeating the boss characters under certain circumstances (and especially via draining their stamina for most of them) results in the bosses being recruited to your side, which also means that you can use their weapons (take note, however, that their weapons are usable only by them). Python just needs stamina depletion to join. Null requires beating him twice and doing a new save file (and unlike most boss characters, it doesn't require stamina-kills), Cunningham requires both stamina depletion and battling him before January 1, 1971, and Gene requires that you stamina deplete him and have recruited 200 soldiers under your belt. In order, their exclusive weapons that can be used only by them are LN (Liquid Nitrogen) grenade, Machete, Laser (from his flying platform), and Bowie Infinity knives.
Mid Development Genre Shift: Portable Ops originally began development as a competitive multiplayer shooter similar to the online multiplayer mode in Subsistence before it was made into a story-based Metal Gear Solid game.
Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: Cunningham's reasons for defecting from the CIA to the Pentagon, and thus trying to have FOX and Gene launch a nuke against Russia, as well as presumably wipe out both FOX and the Russians on the peninsula with a Soviet Davy Crockett, stemmed from the fact that the CIA pretty much forced him into a desk job after he ended up having his leg amputated, and it is also implied that their role in The Boss's defection also had him similarly sore with the government group he worked for.
Also the real reason why the Soviet soldiers are serving Gene and FOX after they usurped the command chain even though they obviously don't completely trust either him or his unit (not brainwashing): The Soviet personnel, despite working in harsh conditions and losing many of their men either to malaria or during their allied battles with FARC against the Colombian government, and having little food and laboring under intense weather all so they could accomplish their mission directives for the Soviet government, and weren't even allowed to tell their families due to its top secret nature, ended up being cast aside (in Jonathan's words, "stabbin [the personnel] in the back!") after a regime change and the SALT talks between Brezhnev and Nixon, with all communications and supply transports either being cut or diverted, and they were forced to remain on the peninsula instead of returning back to Russia so that in the event the missile base was discovered, the Soviets would come up with the "convenient" coverstory of it being done by Renegade Russians.
Noodle Incident: Not much is revealed about Snake and Python's last mission together other than it took place in Vietnam (presumably North Vietnam), it occurred around 1960/1961, and Python apparently ended up with a serious enough injury that Snake was led to believe that Python had died.
Given the history and what was going on around that time period (as well as Cunningham's reference to the CIA operations in North Vietnam), it can be assumed that it was in reference to the Civilian Irregular Defense Groups project.
No Smoking: Despite Snake having a thing for cigars, Snake does not smoke even once in this game. He does, however, briefly mention wanting a cigar to Ocelot during the recruitment mission for him late in the game.
Oh Crap: Cunningham's reaction when he realizes, while threatening Snake and his men to make Snake reveal where he knew where he hid the other half of the Philosophers' Legacy (something Snake genuinely doesn't even know, as he never had it), that he implied that he was actually working for the Pentagon and that they were involved in the mission as well.
Cunningham: You're lying! You know where you're hiding it! The Pentagon told me...
(Cunningham gapes at the realization of what he said)
Old Save Bonus: Players can add three secret characters to their squad (namely Teliko, Venus, and Zero) for a second playthrough by having save files from Metal Gear Acid, Metal Gear Acid 2 and Metal Gear Solid: Digital Graphic Novel respectively. They're also available via passwords.
The Other Darrin: The CIA Director was "voiced" by Paul Collins in Metal Gear Solid 3 and voiced by Jesse Corti here. Somewhat justified, though, as while Collins might have voiced the CIA Director, he didn't actually have any lines, as he only had a minor grunt of disgust from Snake not shaking his hand.
Pet the Dog: Apparently, Gene generated mind shielding to prevent even Ursula from reading in what his true plans were, and only let it down when it seemed as though she died, presumably to avoid the risk of her revolting. The fact that he would do this to prevent her from revolting despite his demonstrating that he is more than capable of defeating her anyways due to his speed if they did end up fighting implies that he may not have wished to kill her.
Plot Twist: Although it has several twists left and right, arguably the biggest one to deserve a mention on here is Volgin launching a nuke towards the Sokolov Research Facility being revealed to have been intended all along by a single deviously cunning strategist. In Peace Walker, it is revealed that Hot Coldman was the one responsible.
Recycled Premise: A retired war hero is called back into action in order to stop his former unit, who are now rogue. This is the same exact plot as the original Metal Gear Solid, only with Solid Snake and FOXHOUND replaced by Naked Snake and the original FOX unit.
Renegade Russian: Subverted with the Soviet soldiers on the San Hieronymo Peninsula: They were doing exactly what the Soviet government told them to do on the San Hieronymo Peninsula (build a missile base), and carried on with the top-secret mission while suffering all the while specifically because they thought doing the mission under the Soviet government would greatly benefit Russia. However, when Detente came, and the Soviet Union experienced a policy shift, the Soviet government screwed them over, cancelling all shipments and cutting all communications with them, not even allowing them to come home specifically because they wanted to make it seem as though the Soviet soldiers were of this trope in case the missile base was ever discovered.
Reassignment Backfire: If the player recruits him, he'll also have a chance to redeem himself in the eyes of the Soviets, although it is not revealed whether the Soviets did accept him back, or if they decided to keep him exiled anyways.
Retcon: Sokolov didn't die in Metal Gear Solid 3, and the first meeting between Big Boss and Gray Fox is completely different to the latter's account of said event in Metal Gear 2.
Shirtless Scene: Snake twice. First time at the beginning, then totally naked, albeit briefly, later on.
And again at the very end.
Shout-Out: Raikov's carrying an Ithaca M37 shotgun upon being recruited may have been a reference to General Blue, who similar to the former character, is also strongly implied to be homosexual.
Snub by Omission: Meta-example: Konami's treatment of this game following the release of Peace Walker. It's been omitted in most of the recent Metal Gear Solid-related literature and merchandising, particularly in Kojima Productions' latest timeline (where there's only a passing mention of Portable Ops in the Peace Walker page). Portable Ops didn't even have the privilege of getting an HD console release. It also wasn't included in The Legacy Collection (a collection that contains all the other canonical Metal Gear games).
Start of Darkness: Here's where Snake's disillusionment with the shabby and disgusting treatment of soldiers by their ungrateful governments really starts to solidify.
Taking the Bullet: Jonathan does this with Snake when the latter is fired at during a mass-hysteria riot incited by Gene, resulting in both a chest and a head wound, making his death inevitable.
Taking You with Me: Cunningham attempts to do this to Snake after the latter defeated him and refused his offer to get on the chopper to go home to allow the Pentagon to continue their conspiracy... by attempting to launch a Soviet-made Davy Crockett at Snake, the weapon originally intended to be launched after Gene launched the ICBMG at Russia. However, he wasn't able to go through with it thanks to his hovercraft exploding seconds before he could push the trigger, and it lands with Snake.
True Companions: Snake's own recruited troops repay his loyalty as their commander by rescuing him from captivity around the midpoint of the game, and it's quite clear he feels the same.
Vodka Drunkenski: Skowronski's mannerisms when he first appears imply that he was heavily drinking. If Para-Medic's altitude-amplified hangover radio call is anything to go by, then possibly all of the Soviet personnel on the Soviet Missile Base in Colombia (FOX too, although they technically aren't Russian by birth or by nationality) are as well. It's kinda hard to blame them when they had been betrayed by their own country.
Wearing a Flag on Your Head: The European version of Portable Ops, as well as all regional versions of Portable Ops Plus, have soldiers who wear uniforms that are designed to resemble the flag of each respective country: the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Norway, Denmark, Portugal, Sweden, Greece, Finland, and the Netherlands.
Where the Hell Is Springfield?: Subverted. The San Hieronymo Pennisula exists in the real world, and a map is in-game to show you where. It's the Magdalena River basin in Colombia, for those interested.
You Have Failed Me: Averted. At one point, scaffolding fell down, with Gene and Ursula having predicted that it would collapse and promptly warning Cunningham to stay still. The soldier apologizes for the blunder. Gene's response is to tell him to stand still, as well as demand that medics arrive to retrieve him due to the soldier's wounded status, and then promptly apologize (in his hypnotic voice) for working the soldiers too hard.