Metal Gear is one of the biggest names in the gaming world. Few franchises can boast such a long history, or a more fanatical fan base. We delved into the history of series in our month of coverage connected to Metal Gear Solid V, but Game Informer tried not to play favorites. That doesn't mean I can't, though. This list is my personal ranking of the Metal Gear games, starting with my least favorite.  

Hey, what about...
Fans of the series will notice a few titles missing from the list. For ease of comparison, I've only included the nine main entries in the series, meaning that non-canon diversions (like Metal Gear Solid on Game Boy Color) and titles in a completely different genre (like Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance and Metal Gear Acid) aren't figured into the rankings.

9. Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes

While it is the most visually impressive game on this list, Ground Zeroes is also the most sparse in terms of compelling content. The story feels unimportant, and the gameplay hardly gets a chance to ramp up before the mission is over. The new mechanics offer the potential for a cool game in the future, but it isn’t there yet. Eventually, gamers may consider Metal Gear Solid V to be a single game – Ground Zeroes coupled with the upcoming The Phantom Pain – and it might be better received in the Metal Gear lineup.

8. Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops

I’m in the minority here, but I am a fan Portable Ops. Not a big enough fan to give it a higher place on this list, but I appreciate the way it translates Metal Gear to a handheld experience. Even though the controls are impressive for the PSP, they still don’t measure up to their console counterparts. Also, missions designed for smaller blocks of time, the story never gets a chance to hit its stride. Dragging “recruits” back to Campbell’s van gets old fast, but I loved the sense of slowly building an army. This title was the first to really distinguish between Solid Snake and Big Boss; the former is an obedient soldier, while the latter is a charismatic leader. Even so, the story has been rendered obsolete by the events of Peace Walker, leaving many fans to question whether Portable Ops is even considered canon.

7. Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake

This isn’t a bad game, but just about every standout moment in Metal Gear 2 was later refined and executed better in Metal Gear Solid. A shape-changing keycard? An elevator ambush? Shooting your way up some stairs? Those all happened here first, but they were also held back by baffling moments like hatching owl and snake eggs in your backpack. In the context of the whole series, this entry feels more like a Metal Gear Solid prototype to me.

6. Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker

Peace Walker takes the Portable Ops formula and fixes the big issues. It still focuses on short missions, but recruiting enemy soldiers via the Fulton recovery system gets you back to base sooner. Building up Mother Base is a great way to illustrate Big Boss’ growing power, making you eager to hunt down as many recruits as possible. The addition of co-op play provides a fun way for friends to team up, but I was always more interested in Metal Gear as a solo experience. I was also a bit disappointed in the lack of great boss fights. I remember the strange tune Chrysalis emits, but otherwise, a parade of tanks, APCs, and helicopters don’t make for satisfying or noteworthy victories.

Up next: The top five Metal Gear games.