Whether you’re new to the world of Metal Gear Solid or if you’re a series veteran, I think we can all agree that the story here is one hell of a clusterfuck. With the release of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain looming over us like a colossal shadow, I’m sure newcomers and fans alike will be scrambling to catch up with the story before diving into the next chapter of Big Boss’s life.
Before jumping straight into The Phantom Pain, you’ll need to at least be familiar with the events of Snake Eater, Portable Ops, Peace Walker, and Ground Zeroes – all the entries that have focused on Naked Snake and his transformation into the legendary soldier, Big Boss. Considering the convoluted nature of the story in Metal Gear Solid, I’m well aware that there may be little details that I might miss in this lengthy story summary, or plot points that I may flub. If you spot any inaccuracies, do let me know in the comments and I’ll fix them post-haste.
Alright. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s start talking Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops.
FOX Goes Rogue
Portable Ops takes place six years after the events of Operation Snake Eater. Remember that? Snake killed The Boss, thinking she was a traitor, but she actually wasn’t, and she was actually a patriot instead? Yeah, that one. Well, our story picks up again when we find out the FOX unit has gone rogue and broken off with the CIA. After being drugged and dragged to a prison in the San Hieronymo Peninsula, Snake finds himself tortured by Lieutenant Cunningham, an interrogation specialist from the now-rogue FOX unit. Cunningham explains that he’s looking for the missing half of the Philosophers’ Legacy and Snake is under suspicion for having run off with it.
Snake manages to escape the prison with the help of a fellow prisoner, Roy Campbell, who was part of the American Green Berets. After escaping, Snake makes contact with his old friends from the FOX unit, Para-Medic and Sigint, and discovers that both Major Zero and himself were being accused of having caused the FOX revolt. They were also accused of stealing a prototype weapon from the US military. In order to clear their names, they would have to capture the leader of the FOX rebellion, Gene. And before you ask, no, turning himself in and explaining things to the CIA isn’t an option. That’s not how Snake rolls.
Zero was currently imprisoned by the military, and Sigint suggests that Snake try to recruit soldiers to help complete his mission. As per Campbell’s suggestion, Snake infiltrates a Soviet patrol base where he learns that FOX was planning to use their stolen prototype weapon against the Soviet Union.
However, things take a turn for the worse when Campbell contracts malaria. One of Snake’s recruited soldiers informs him of the location of a hospital, which had recently received a large shipment of the medicine they needed. Snake was unable to find any medicine, but he did meet a woman named Elisa, the twin sister of Ursula, a member of the rogue FOX unit who had previously attacked Snake. He also finds a soldier being stored in a tank, whom Elisa introduces as Null, the Perfect Soldier incapable of feeling or emotion. Elisa hands Snake the malaria cure, and tells him to shoot Ursula the next time he sees her.
Later on, Snake is contacted by a man who calls himself Ghost. Ghost thanks Snake for disposing of Volgin back at Groznyj Grad, and also makes mention of the Shagohod. Snake then learns that Gene’s weapon is much smaller than the Shagohod, and described it as a walking tank that was capable of launching multiple nuclear warheads. Hmm. I wonder if this could be that Metal Gear thing Granin was talking about back in Snake Eater…
Snake soon discovers the location of a missile silo but when he goes to infiltrate it, an alarm sounds, and the Perfect Soldier Null shows up to confront him. Their duel ends in a stalemate and Null questions why he is unable to defeat Snake. Before Cunningham and the other members of the FOX unit show up to capture Snake once again, he realizes that Null is none other than Frank Jaeger, a soldier who was just a boy when Snake had first encountered him.
During his torture session, Snake finds out from Gene that the entire Metal Gear hijacking was yet another ruse devised by the CIA. According to Gene, the US was starting to gain superiority in the area of nuclear and military prowess, and that if this continued, the CIA would start to become irrelevant as there would be no more need for spies and espionage. So the CIA planned to give Metal Gear over to the Soviet Union, and secretly ordered FOX to steal the weapon and pretend to defect.
Gene also reveals that he was a product of the Successor Project, a secret project with the aim of creating the perfect battlefield commander. And, surprise surprise, the soldier they used as a model leader for the Successor Project was none other than The Boss herself. Gene then comments that he and Snake were like brothers, as they were both sons of The Boss.
When Cunningham returns to interrogate Snake once again about the whereabouts of the missing half of the Philosophers’ Legacy, Elisa arrives in a truck and crashes into Cunningham. Snake then escapes with her, bringing his captured comrades along with him.
Elisa explains that she betrayed Gene because she believed that no one should be in possession of such devastating nuclear power. She and Ursula had lost their parents in the Kyshtym Incident, a radiological contamination, and both sisters received their ESP powers as a result of that disaster. Oh did I forget to mention that they’re psychic? Um yeah, they’re psychic.
Snake and Campbell are finally reunited, and Campbell tells him that they’ve discovered the location of Metal Gear RAXA. Unsurprisingly, Snake blows RAXA to hell, but Gene laughs and reveals that RAXA was simply a test model, and that it wasn’t the ballistic launch Metal Gear. Not that it makes a difference. Snake ends up destroying the real Metal Gear later on. Ghost contacts Snake and confirms what Gene has told him, and then reveals himself to be Sokolov, who had faked his own death back in Groznyj Grad. Plot twist!
Before Snake proceeds to destroy the real Metal Gear, he has one final conversation with Gene. Gene states his intentions to destroy the Pentagon and CIA headquarters to dissolve the Philosophers forever. His mission is to create a world uninfluenced by politics and rivalries, and his aim was to form an ‘Army’s Heaven’, an organization of a superior breed of soldier. Snake refutes this by saying that Gene is nothing more than a dictator. Oh, and Gene also mentions that Volgin launching the nuke at Sokolov’s research facility during the Virtuous Mission wasn’t an act of his own free will; that had actually been the work of a cunning strategist from America. Yes. More plot twists.
FOXHOUND, Ocelot, and The Patriots
At the end of Portable Ops, Snake and Campbell officially form FOXHOUND, named thusly because of their original purpose of hunting down the rogue FOX unit. FOXHOUND was to be an organization that focused on covert ops and infiltration missions, similar to FOX itself.
Ocelot is also shown shooting the shit out of the Director of Central Intelligence and his men back at Langley while stating his intentions to end the Philosophers, and carry on “the spirit of the true patriot.” Before killing the DCI, Ocelot mentions that he’s retrieved the other half of the Legacy. He then proceeds to shoot him, and run off with the money.
He is later contacted by Major Zero, who asks if Ocelot would be interested in becoming part of the Patriots. Ocelot agrees, but only under the condition that Snake joins them as well. Zero also mentions that he managed to acquire Null’s body, and his genes would later be used to create the genome soldiers we see in MGS1. But that’s a story for another time.