Unlike a lot of games on this countdown, Metal Gear Solid was always going to get covered on this blog, as will all the other entries in the series (eventually). While I had played quite a bit of Metal Gear on the NES (not that I got too far back then…), MGS on the PS1 was my first real exposure to the series, as I’m sure it was for many. Blending story with varied gameplay, let’s see if Metal Gear Solid still holds up…
I like how pineapples isn’t in quote marks, like they’re legitimately carrying pineapples.
Metal Gear Solid was first released in Japan on September 3rd 1998, with a US and European release the following month, which was odd for the time given the game had lots of text and voice acting…
It’s a sequel to Metal Gear and its sequel Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, though with a few minor exceptions, it isn’t necessary to be familiar with those two games before playing this one (which is good as they were only released on the MSX…), if anything several scenes and scenarios are near carbon copies of things from those games anyway…
This menu looks confusing, but it’s easy once you get the hang of it.
The core of MGS is stealth, although you can get by on medium or lower difficulties even if you get seen a few times. Each enemy has a “cone of vision”, where if you cross it they’ll spot you, otherwise you can sneak, run, crawl and take cover up against walls and crates (and so on) to hide. As you move on through the mission you get various weapons and items that can help, from handguns to remote control missiles, from cigarettes (which damage your health if you smoke them) to infra-red goggles, or you can always sneak up behind guards and choke them unconscious (or snap their necks) and then hide the body somewhere. It actually allows for a good deal of freedom, which was refreshing for the time.
There are several boss fights and scripted segments that drop stealth entirely, so it’s not all sneaking. The aiming is good for the guns, if/when it comes to it, plus some weapons like the remote control missiles are a bit more involved.
The boss fights are generally really fun, from a shoot-out with the bullet-bending Revolver Ocelot or the now-legendary fight with Psycho Mantis, where you have to disconnect your Player 1 controller and put it in the Player 2 slot in order to counteract his ability to read you movements.
Graphics and Sound:
It’s not that bad to play now, Snake. Have a bit more self-confidence!
While it’s easy to point out how dated the graphics look now (and boy do they ever! That’s the problem with early 3D games…) they were fine for the time, and I still enjoy the partially-animated “Codec calls”, which make up a good majority of the story exposition. The level textures are similarly “muddy” but again, fine for the time, and they’re not exactly an affront to the eyes now… much.
The sound is great though. The background music is atmospheric, or tense if you’ve been spotted, especially in conjunction with a now-classic sound when a soldier spots you and gets an exclamation mark above its head. The song that plays during the end credits of the game, titled “The Best is Yet to Come”, is still beautiful to listen too. The voice acting is also really good, especially given it was around the same time as efforts like the Resident Evil series… David Hayter’s now legendary gruff Solid Snake going up against Cam Clarke’s arrogant British Liquid Snake will always make me smile.
Liquid Snake, the man who has never even heard of a shirt.
FOXHOUND, the unit that formerly had Solid Snake among its ranks, has gone rogue and taken the nuclear weapons disposal facility on Shadow Moses Island over, threatening to use a new Metal Gear unit codenamed Rex in order to launch a nuclear strike on America unless they receive the remains of Big Boss and $1,000,000,000 in cash. Col. Roy Campbell goes in search for the one man who can pull off a sneaking mission against these odds: Solid Snake himself, who has been quietly retired for several years now.
That’s the set up, as you control Snake as he takes down the members of FOXHOUND and eventually destroys Metal Gear Rex. Over the course of the story he meets and sort-of falls for Meryl Silverburgh, Col. Campbell’s niece, and befriends the nerdy scientist who refers to himself as Octacon. Snake also finds out that rather than literally being the son of Big Boss, the former head of FOXHOUND who went rogue himself, (leading to Snake seemingly killing him, but I don’t have time to go into that now…), and instead he was a clone of Big Boss, along with the leader of these FOXHOUND rebels: Liquid Snake. The brothers were created in a project named “Les Enfants Terrible”, and the similar gene splicing technology was used to create the army that Liquid was commanding as well.
Then we get to the mysterious “Cyborg Ninja” who turns out to be Grey Fox, another former FOXHOUND member who had previously gone rogue that Snake had also seemingly killed. He eventually gains his reasoning back and actually helps Solid Snake defeat Rex at the cost of his life, for real this time. By the end of the mission, Snake and an injured Meryl leave Shadow Moses Island, with Otacon being rescued later (as opposed to a bad ending you can get where Meryl dies and it’s just Snake and Otacon…)
Despite the more… crazy side of the script, it is full of often really well written dialogue and even speeches on the futility of war and the mistakes of man. It really took me by surprise at the time, though I now of course familiar with Mr. Kojima’s brand of crazy and serious, like the post credits cliffhanger of the President of the US being a third Big Boss clone…
You have to throw in a screenshot of Psycho Mantis somewhere in a Metal Gear Solid review…
Loved it. Not only was it a game I could actually compete (and quite quickly) but it was one I immediately wanted to complete again. Really good story helps as well, with good cutscenes and voice acting. A lot of fond memories of this one.
I need to assign the screenshot button to my controller really, then I wouldn’t have to worry about taking my hand off the buttons to press the keyboard and get some better shots…
While the graphics are pretty bad, it’s still fun. The stealth mostly works and the voice acting and story are still good. There have been plenty of leaps forward in the gameplay through the sequels, so obviously it’s lost some of it’s fun, but it’s also quite short, so it doesn’t really have time to get too annoying. Still fun, in other words.