10) Gray Fox
Donning a cyberpunk ninja suit, wielding a razor sharp katana, and croaking in a voice eerier than Bane’s, Gray Fox is Metal Gear Solid’s anti-hero. He’s also an absolute bad ass. Fox (AKA Frank Jaegar) was once fighting the good fight alongside Snake, but at Shadow Moses, he’s turned to the dark side. Having brutally decapitated a squad of genome soldiers and scaring the bejeebers out of Hal Emmerich, an iconic boss fight ensues. Who could ever forget exposing Fox’s chronic allergy to chaff and then roundhouse kicking him as the ninja groaned in approval?
However, it wasn’t just his ultra slick aesthetic and unsettling manner of speaking that made him such a compelling character. Gray Fox is one emotionally charged guy, and both of his scenes in MGS are an intense roller coaster ride as the ninja toils with the ghosts of his past. It all culminates in one heroic last hoorah, sacrificing his life to help Snake by trying to melee against an enormous bipedal nuclear armed robot.
Gray Fox saw the inception of the cyborg ninja as a recurring theme throughout the entirety of the Metal Gear Solid franchise, helping to earn him a place among this elite top 10.
Similar to Gray Fox’s office scene in the first Metal Gear Solid, Vamp’s debut fight sequence has to go down as one of the best in the second title, Sons of Liberty. Vamp’s gracefully choreographed fighting skills packed a serious bite, and his transylvanian accent oozed charming class. The immortal’s sinister plans for Otacon’s sister and his run-ins with Raiden also stood out as some of MGS2’s other most memorable scenes.
Of course, Vamp would go on to haunt Raiden, becoming his arch nemesis — the equivalent Liquid/Solid rivalry that climaxed in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots across two epic showdowns. But it would take Snake to finally Van Helsing his ass, injecting a special concoction to suppress the genomes that gifted his regenerative healing abilities and allow Raiden to execute the fatal blow.
Somehow, Hideo Kojima slotted a Dracula-esque bad guy into MGS and made it feel totally appropriate, and we absolutely love every scene graced by the Flamenco dancing, knife wielding, Romanian vampire. For his unprecedented level of coolness, downright evil, and stunning fight scenes across two epic titles, Vamp is a cut above the rest.
8) Pyscho Mantis
Mantis brings a whole new meaning to the term psychological warfare, staring deep into the soul of your, er… memory card, digging up dirt on your gaming history and making a mockery of your ability. This instance of breaking the fourth wall has gone down as one of the first and most recognized in gaming. As a result, few people would deny the encounter with Psycho Mantis as one of the greatest boss fights not just in MGS, but in gaming history.
Of course, beyond the utter masterstroke of having to swap controller ports to land a clean hit, as a character, Mantis was fascinating. One longed to understand the origins of his mysterious powers and the motives of his pure evil. As it turns out, he’s a rather sad a depraved man, longing for release from the pain of the many voices that haunt his troubled mind.
Mantis’s origins were revealed in MGSV: The Phantom Pain, where his telekinesis abilities gave rise to Volgin’s second coming as the man on fire, but his greatest impression remains that iconic boss battle from MGS. His creepy mind games and evil-knows no bounds manipulation of Meryl make him the most iconic of henchman.
Every hero needs a sidekick, a partner in crime, a friend who has their back — Hal Emmerich, Otacon by codename, is Snake’s ever present man behind the scenes. From their first trouser soaked meeting in the presence of Gray Fox to the emotional scenes at the conclusion of MGS4, Otacon and Snake have built a unique, unbreakable bond.
Yet Otacon is far more than just Snake’s Mr dependable, he’s every bit a hero in his own right. Emmerich is anything but the quintessential tough guy, but what he lacks in brawn he makes up for with a big heart. Nerdy, easily frightened, and emotionally scarred from virtually all the woman in his life being killed, Otacon’s bravery to keep on keepin’ on serves as an important theme throughout the MGS saga.
For his bravery and valor in the face of hardship, and his helpful pointers whenever we got stuck, Otacon’s inspirational character and technical know-how trumps the preceding trio of ultra cool bad guys.
When things seem too good to be true, they usually are. EVA, the super sexy, motorcycle riding agent-from-our-dreams with more than just a bit of a crush on Snake does eventually show her true colors. After supplying both crucial intel throughout the mission, saving Snake’s butt with one impeccably timed motorcycle rescue, and then treating us to a series-first raunchy sex scene, Eva does the dirty and double crosses.
Annoying, certainly, but you’ve got to admire her undercover skills, deceiving everyone involved on both sides from her true identity as a Chinese spy. Hers was a successful mission, delivering the microfilm of the Philosopher’s Legacy and Missile data for the Shagohod. Although, that isn’t quite the whole story — the Microfilm turned out to be a fake, which would cost Eva her job with the PLA.
Ultimately, this brings EVA to her most important contribution in the Metal Gear saga: volunteering as the surrogate mother for Les Enfant Terribles, after joining Zero’s Patriots. After Zero implemented GW, EVA sought to destroy the Patriots and reunited with Solid Snake in MGS4. Dieing in Solid’s arms after her efforts to protect the corpse of “Big Boss”, EVA’s tearful goodbye marked her going full circle, straddling different sides in her own personal mission to work toward what she felt was right and just.
Although not introduced until MGS3, EVA is one of the most important pieces of the complex puzzle that is MGS lore. Her intricate value as a keystone to the events that unfold throughout bump her up.
5) Revolver Ocelot
The gun-totting not-so-Texan cowboy, Ocelot, is arguably MGS’s most notorious bad but sometimes good guy. The master interrogator and gunman, otherwise known as Adamska Shalashaska was a FOXHOUND agent and later member of the Patriots. Ocelot is a mainstay of the MGS series, acquainted with all 5 Snake’s across a 60 year timeline, appearing as both a confidant and enemy to the various iterations of Big Boss.
Although he serves as an advisor and ally in the most recent MGS title, he is best known for his role as Solid Snake’s arch nemesis. The notorious button mashing torture scene of MGS, the brutal execution of Gurlukovich in MGS2 and subsequent thievery of Metal Gear Ray, and then ultimately evolving into Liquid Ocelot in MGS4: Ocelot is a constant thorn in the side of Solid Snake, always one step ahead and returning to haunt him time and again.
Ocelot is, in fact, one step ahead of virtually everyone throughout, with ulterior motives that even ring leaders Liquid and Solidus fail to see coming. Such notoriety sees Revolver “You’re pretty good” Ocelot eclipse the other wannabe-evil’s.
It’s hard to think of a video game that had as much hype surrounding it as MGS2: Sons of Liberty. The game was literally the reason to own a PlayStation 2, with fans desperate to once again take control of Solid Snake. As we would later become accustomed to, Hideo Kojima loves himself a good troll and one of the best kept secrets in gaming saw Raiden, an all new character take center stage.
Transition to Raiden wasn’t easy. Snake’s gruff, dark, muscle bound heroics were replaced with Raiden’s baby-faced, blonde hair, and rather female-looking physique. A somewhat shrill tone to his voice didn’t help, either. But adjust fans (eventually) did and Raiden would go on to forge his own eminence of cool.
Raiden didn’t stay green for long – the child-soldier turned FOXHOUND agent found his feet under the guidance of Solid Snake. The GW scene in which they both fight together, Raiden wielding a katana for the first time is certainly a memorable one. The sword would, of course, become Raiden’s weapon of choice as he graduated from grasshopper to one of the biggest badasses ever in cyborg Raiden.
Raiden’s evolution from wimp to hero had fans largely convinced even before he appeared as a cyborg shinobi in MGS4, but his ninja skills elevated him to all-new levels of cool. Taking down swathes of enormous robots with consummate ease and engaging Vamp in a series of scintillating super-hero style showdowns cements his place in MGS legend.
3) Big Boss
The world’s greatest soldier and the genetic father of Les Enfant Terribles – Solid, Liquid, and Solidus Snake, Big Boss is one of MGS’s most iconic characters. The evolution of Big Boss throughout the entirety of the MGS series is especially compelling. Once painted as an evil antagonist, later revered by terrorists such as Liquid Snake, and then explained in a detailed origin story spanning 5 MGS titles. Big Boss is a deep character comprised of many layers. Not strictly a bad guy, whether he is a true villain is open to interpretation.
The entire MGS saga actually revolves more around Big Boss than the arguably better known Solid Snake. From MGS3 onward, players are exposed to the circumstances that made the boss into the renegade that made him appear the evil antagonist. Big Boss’s motivations are fuelled by his hatred of governments using soldiers as pawns and his later goal to overthrow Zero’s AI controlled Patriots.
Big Boss’s status as a mythical and admired soldier, a champion of the people, and his blurred persona as hero/villain make for one powerful character.
2) The Boss
If Big Boss is legendary in MGS lore, The Boss is near demi-God status, acknowledged as the mother of CQC and founder of the Cobra unit that lead the US to victory in WW2. Sharing a unique relationship with Naked Snake throughout her life, The Boss preached “loyalty to the end”, sacrificing her life for the country she loved, even though she was effectively being hung out to dry.
Longing for a world united together with respect and void of needless conflict, her principles and the US government’s treatment of her would become the basis for Big Boss’s inception of MSF, and later, the Patriots.
By battling Naked Snake in the closing chapter of MGS3: Snake Eater and allowing him to kill her as penance for the conflict she felt as though she had brought the world, The Boss gave rise to Big Boss. A legend died, but a new one was brought to life.
1) Solid Snake
As the protagonist of the first 4 Metal Gear games, two of which are arguably the series’ most iconic, Solid Snake OG status holds a special place in our hearts. Additionally, quite apart from the fact he proves himself one seriously competent soldier – defeating Venom Snake, Big Boss, and single handedly taking out Metal Gear Rex – Solid is also the most morally centered good guy in the series.
Sadly, he ends up getting it pretty rough, discovering that he’s a clone and then having his body go into irreversible accelerated aging. Not willing to waste anytime sulking, though, Solid dedicates his life to fighting the good fight. Having chased Liquid Ocelot and the phantom of the Patriot’s around the world, braving his worsening condition and then doggedly crawling through a convection oven to finish his archnemesis, he then almost pulls the trigger to end a life without meaning. In a heart warming moment, however, he meets his father, Big Boss, in the final sequences of MGS4 and the last ever scene featuring Solid Snake. Inspired to pursue a new reason to live, his father dies in his arms infected by a strain of the FoxDie virus carried by Solid – a real tear jerker!
A bastion of good, a legend on the battlefield, and earning the adoration of accomplices like Otacon and Meryl, Solid Snake sits atop our ranking of the best characters in the Metal Gear universe.