Who’s the Boss?: Ranking the ladies of ‘Metal Gear Solid’

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With Girl Power in Gaming, we’re exploring the role of females in our favorite hobby for the month of September. The series will attempt to explore gender dynamics, pre-assigned roles and both positive and negative examples of female characterization in the digital world. 

There’s been a lot of controversy over the appearance of the new character, Quiet, in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Despite claims series creator Hideo Kojima that there’s a good reason narratively for the sniper’s hooker-like attire, many gamers remain skeptical. Having not reached her in the game yet, I can’t comment, but I can remark on the other ladies in the series.

The Metal Gear Solid series is known, above all things, for its fantastic characterization and endlessly engrossing (if sometimes confusing) narrative. It is also home to some of gamings most original and memorable female characters, from Sniper Wolf to Olga Gurlukovich to the Boss herself. So, with that in mind, I’ve decided to rank the ladies of Metal Gear Solid, counting down from worst to best, in honor of the biggest game of the year: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.

Just a quick note, though, on who won’t be included on this list. I’ve decided to leave out one-off support characters like Nastasha Romanenko and Para-Medic, as they are under-developed and what you do learn of them is all optional information that only codec hounds will really get anything out of. Also getting the ax is the Beauty and the Beast Corp. because, let’s be real, they were only developed after the fact by a secondary character telling you their sad stories in extended monologues. Finally, Portable Ops and  Ac!d  don’t count due to a serious lack of Kojima. Other than that, everyone is fair game, so without any further ado, let’s dance!

12) Rose-Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of LibertyMetal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots

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Few Metal Gear Solid fans will be surprised to see Rose at the bottom of the list, as for the most part she only exists as a prop girlfriend for Raiden in Metal Gear Solid 2. Constantly interrupting firefights and stealth kills to ask Raiden if he remembers their first date or if he wants to discuss his feelings does not a good character make and the “revelation” that she’s actually working for the Patriots as a spy does not fit her character at all, nor does her silly deception with Colonel Campbell in Metal Gear Solid 4. Rose is just a poorly written character through and through, and she’s not only the worst female character in the series, she’s the worst character in general that Metal Gear Solid has ever offered. That’s right, she’s even worse than a fat guy on roller skates.

11) Paz-Metal Gear Solid: Peace WalkerMetal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes

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Another character who is highlighted by her deceptions, Paz first approaches Big Boss as a client in Peace Walker. Her name literally means Peace so, of course, she must be the mastermind of the entire villainous plot! Yawn. Paz is an incredibly weak character, a lame attempt at re-doing the EVA twist from Snake Eater, and, no, shaving her head, stuffing two bombs in her, and blowing her up at the end of Ground Zeroes does not somehow redeem her character, even if it does make for a fantastic finale. I mean, talk about going out with a bang. Also, that Chico sex scene? Ewwwwww. Actually, let’s just leave that one alone.

10) Mei Ling-Metal Gear SolidMetal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots

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Now, with the outright bad characters out of the way, let’s move on to the good ones. First up is Mei Ling. Serving as Solid Snake’s data analyst in Metal Gear Solid, Mei Ling offered quotes from Western literature and Chinese proverbs every time you contacted her to save the game. The juxtaposition between her well-rounded knowledge, dually reflective of her Chinese ancestry and her American upbringing, and her schoolgirl crush on Solid Snake, make for a fun and memorable character, and, in terms of usefulness, it doesn’t hurt that she was weaponizing Philanthropy from her high-up military position all the way through to Metal Gear Solid 4.

9) Emma Emerich-Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty

Emma Emmerich
Even if she does spend much of her time in Metal Gear Solid 2 as a damsel in distress, needing Raiden to take care of her and keep her alive (a task he does pretty well at…for a while), Emma remains an intricate and well-realized piece of Otacon’s past and the plot in general. Unsurprisingly, she was also being used for her intellect and passion for science by people who knew her better than she knew herself. This weakness, though, is fitting to her character, as a mirror for Otacon, and is a small trade-off for her relatable traits, typical of a bookish young girl, like flirting with Raiden or just wanting her older brother to finally see her as an adult. The fact that her brutal and unexpected demise serves as the emotional crux of MGS2 only further cements her spot on the list.

8) Sunny Emmerich-Gurlukovich-Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the PatriotsMetal Gear Rising: Revengeance

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Sunny Emmerich, or Sunny Gurlokovich as she was earlier known is the daughter of Metal Gear Solid 2‘s Olga Gurlukovich, and later, the adopted daughter of Hal “Otacon” Emmerich in Metal Gear Solid 4. This is the form of Sunny we get to know best. A hyper intelligent and precocious child as the result of The Patriots experimentation, Sunny flips back and forth between roles of an advanced scientist who can crack equations that even Otacon can’t hack, like the Guns of the Patriots system, to a protective and loving little girl who wants to impress her surrogate fathers by making eggs or convincing Snake to quit smoking. Though her characterization can sometimes be a little thin, Sunny is a fun addition to the MGS cast, and has a matured role in the spin-off title Revengeance which further develops her into a talented young woman working for a tech company.

7) Fortune-Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty

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Deadcell’s resident femme fatale goes by the moniker of Fortune. The daughter of Scott Dolph, who was killed by Revolver Ocelot during the opening mission of Metal Gear Solid 2, Fortune has also lost her husband to the battlefield. As such, she has become despondent and malcontent, craving only the same sort of glorious and bloody death that her father and husband have received, and an end to her misery. Despite the fact that she is primarily defined by her relationship to male characters, she remains a strong and well-developed character, and certainly the most realized character in the Deadcell gang. She’s also the only one present at the games finale, and it certainly doesn’t hurt that she carries a giant electric railgun and has a vampire boyfriend who calls her Queen. Fortune is one badass gal.

6) Olga Gurlukovich-Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty

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Filling in the role of Gray Fox for Metal Gear Solid 2, Olga has almost as thankless of a job as Raiden, who is taking over for Solid Snake. The first boss introduced in MGS2, Olga taught players how to use and master a whole host of new gameplay mechanics, and the straight forward nature of the fight, which simply takes place on an isolated section of a military brig, is incredibly refreshing, as is Olga herself. Sporting a cropped military cut, pit hair that she doesn’t need to cut for anyone and spending the majority of the game fighting in incredibly intense fashion to save her daughter from The Patriots, Olga Gurlukovich is perhaps Kojima’s most independent and feminist of characters.

5) Meryl Silverburgh-Metal Gear SolidMetal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots

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Probably Metal Gear Solid‘s most memorable woman, even with standouts like Sniper Wolf and Naomi Hunter in the cast, Meryl leaves a serious mark on any gamer she comes in contact with. As Solid Snake’s only real love interest in the series, and a partner in the battle, Meryl both learns how to fight and how to love from the world’s greatest soldier, even if she cannot truly do either with such a damaged soul. Returning in Metal Gear Solid 4, she actually leads her own platoon, called Rat Patrol, and finds love on the battle field once again, albeit with a character who has spent the majority of the series shitting himself on a regular basis. But hey, you can’t choose who you love.

4) Sniper Wolf-Metal Gear Solid

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Cold and calculating to a sub-zero degree, Sniper Wolf may be the most brutal character in Metal Gear Solid. A psycho-sexually challenging and ridiculously talented markswoman, Sniper Wolf has the distinction of being the only boss to really get Snake where it hurts, by hurting him through his comrades. The scene where she guns down Meryl a mere few feet from where Snake is hiding is perhaps the series’ most hardcore scene of violence and emotion, and that it is inflicted by a woman who knows exactly what she is doing makes it all the more devious. Even with this much fuel against her though, the player is never really able to hate Sniper Wolf, instead they simply pity her by the end, when her sad tale is revealed. A character with a strong connection to three of Metal Gear Solid‘s leading men, Solid Snake, Otacon, and Big Boss, Sniper Wolf is a defining member of the cast and has one of the best deaths in the series.

3) EVA-Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake EaterMetal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots

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A master manipulator of men, EVA is a very cunning woman, and someone who has no qualms about using her sexuality to get ahead and achieve her goals. Pulling the strings of men like Volgin and Naked Snake is no mean feat, and her role as the Boss’s trusted confidant can not be under-stated. A Bond-like femme fatale, EVA gets away with the man, the money and the means at the end of Metal Gear Solid 3, before single-handedly dropping the two biggest bombshells in the game (no, I’m not talking about those bombshells). An intelligent and talented triple agent, EVA reappears in Metal Gear Solid 4  as a Boss surrogate to Solid Snake himself in Eastern Europe, showing a motherly tender, but still tough, side as she goes out in a blaze of glory. The carrier of Les Enfants Terrible, EVA is one of the key figures in the Metal Gear Solid saga.

2) Naomi Hunter-Metal Gear SolidMetal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots

Naomi Hunter

Naomi Hunter first appeared as one of Snake’s many codec supports in Metal Gear Solid. A brilliant geneticist and medical professional, Naomi advised Snake on a variety of subjects over the course of his journey between the occasional pointed question or two about the ethics of his occupation and past actions. As a series of mysterious deaths occurred during the course of the Shadow Moses incident, though, and Naomi’s back story became increasingly unbelievable, it was later revealed that she was actually a sleeper agent for the Pentagon, who were intent on seizing Metal Gear Rex for themselves. She was also the adopted sister of Frank Jaeger, a man Snake had killed in a minefield during the events of Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake. Her intense hatred for Snake caused her to develop the FOXDIE virus, essentially making Snake a walking bio-weapon who would infect everyone he came into contact with before eventually succumbing to the disease himself. Regretting her actions in the aftermath, she advised Snake to make the best of the time he had left. Later in Metal Gear Solid 4, she aided Snake and Otacon in the fight against the Patriots before committing suicide at Shadow Moses after learning that Sunny had completed FOXALIVE. Naomi is a tragic and multi-faceted character, and were it not for one legendary soldier, she would certainly be at the top of the list.

1) The Boss-Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater

The Boss
Who’s the boss? Well, The Boss of course! The key to the entire mythology and the progenitor of much of the series’ events, The Boss is maybe the most important character in the entire Metal Gear universe. A legendary warrior, The Boss fell in love with a member of her Cobra unit, The Sorrow before being forced to gun him down by the Patriots after World War II. Their child, Adam/Revolver Ocelot would go on to become a devious double dealer for the majority of the series. The mentor of Naked Snake/Big Boss, and the reason for his receipt of that moniker, The Boss was the ultimate loyalist and a true patriot in every sense of the word. Taking responsibility after a mission she was sent on spun wildly out of control, she set Big Boss up to kill her and went down in history as a terrorist and war criminal in order to avoid an international incident during the Cold War. The revelation of this truth is what set Big Boss down his path to start Outer Heaven, his soldier’s haven, and eventually come into conflict with Solid Snake. The Boss is a brave, selfless, and highly skilled Valkyrie huntress, and her complex relationship with Big Boss, in which she fulfilled surrogate roles of mother, lover, sister, and friend, is one loaded with gravitas. Is there any moment more powerful in the series than their final battle in a field of flowers? Any moment more brimming with pain than Big Boss’ final salute at her grave? The Boss is easily the most effective female character ever created by Kojima, and she stands firmly in the upper echelon of the greatest characters in gaming history.

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