August is Metal Gear Solid month here on Ramblings! Hideo Kojima’s last Metal Gear game, MGS5: The Phantom Pain releases the first of September, so in celebration of what should be the last game in the series, I’m going to look back at the Metal Gear Solid series. Or at least the numbered console games. This will not cover the original Metal Gear MSX games or any handheld spin-offs, as I haven’t played them. Sorry guys. First up is the original Metal Gear Solid for the PlayStation.
Metal Gear Solid was considered to be a breakthrough game of its time. The first game to really mix Hollywood cinema with in-engine cut-scenes (with a splash of real-life FMV clips here and there), it focused so much more on story than action games up to that point really had. Up until that point, RPGs were the place to go for stories, and most action games kept the story to a minimum. Though to call Metal Gear Solid an “action” game is a bit misleading. The game focuses primarily on stealth than all-out warfare.
The graphics were really good for the era. Though they haven’t aged well. Very few 3D games from that era have. I mean, when Metal Gear Solid 2 was first shown and it had fully modeled faces with mouths that move, I was blown away. All MGS1 had was mostly-featureless, triangular faces. And we loved it at the time.
The environments were well made and varied, and they all looked really nice. I think the choice of a military base made sense, as it allowed the rooms to be boxy and still make sense for the setting. But boxy rooms weren’t the only places. There were snowfields, since it’s Alaska, and even what looks like a cave full of wolves.
As far as gameplay goes, it’s excellent. The stealth is great, and made possible mainly due to the Soliton Radar that is in the corner of the screen. It shows your location as well as the location of enemies and their cones of vision. There are some rooms where it’s jammed, so you can’t rely on it completely. If you want a challenge, a couple higher difficulty levels remove the radar entirely.
Stealth is the name of the game in Metal Gear Solid. There isn’t enough ammo strewn about to make a gunfight viable. Kill if you must, but be prepared to run and hide. The exception are the boss fights, where you must fight. Those are all varied and extremely well done. The Psycho Mantis fight in particular is the most well known in the game for the mind tricks the game plays on you. From scanning your memory card to reading your controller inputs, it’s an amazing fight.
Now comes the story. People give the series a lot of crap for its convoluted story, which I don’t personally mind. But that doesn’t really start until the second game. The story of MGS1 is pretty straight forward. Solid Snake is sent to Shadow Moses Island in Alaska to take care of a terrorist uprising. A group called Fox Hound has turned against the US and is threatening to launch a nuke. From there starts an epic tale of conspiracy and intrigue. I don’t like to spoil things in reviews, so I’ll leave the story summary at that.
Oh, I almost forgot about the sound. Voice acting in this game is superb. David Hayter as Snake is an example of perfect casting, and it’s an absolute crime that he was replaced in Metal Gear Solid V. The other characters are well cast, as well, and their actors do wonderful jobs. No one phoned it in, which is extremely rare for that era of games. If you weren’t around or didn’t play games back then, let me tell you, there were so many games where the actors sound bored out of their minds. Metal Gear Solid was one of the few games to get such great performances.
The music is epic, as well. As are the sound effects. It’s just such a pleasure to listen to. It really is. The sound is just incredible.
Overall, I think Metal Gear Solid could be one of the best PlayStation games. There are only a couple that I would rank higher than that, but it’s all personal taste after all. It’s certainly one of the most well received games on the platform. And when you play it, you can usually tell why. From the epic voice acting to the amazing (at the time) graphics and incredible gameplay, Metal Gear Solid is truly an epic classic that’s a must-play.
As usual, if you have any comments about this or any past Ramblings columns, suggestions, or just the odd question for me, send them to email@example.com. I’ll see you all next week with Metal Gear Solid 2.