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Metal Gear Solid, the most famous stealth franchise of all time. Gamers far and wide know of the legendary exploits of Solid Snake, the hero of Shadow Moses and arguably one of the best written video game characters of all time. While he had two previous exploits on the MSX, his claim to fame is the Metal Gear Solid, which will be the focus of my blogs this month.
Now, I never played Metal Gear Solid back in the day, and I played the entire franchise in December and January. So coming in to Metal Gear Solid without any Nostalgia, I was wondering if this game would hold up against the test of time.
The short answer: Yes. The long answer: Kind of.
Metal Gear Solid’s gameplay has become common by now, but it’s still worth describing. You control Solid Snake, staying out of enemy’s vision cones and using your wits to overcome obstacles. Metal Gear Solid’s gameplay stands out with an increased level of interactivity which is still rarely seen in even modern games.
The best way to cover the tech is to look at the game’s most iconic level, the Heliport. The most obvious obstacle are the security cameras, which are stationary yet more carefully placed than the guards. However, the most unique obstacle of the Heliport is the snow itself. Naturally, when you walk in the snow it will leave footprints. If the guards happen to see your footprints, they will follow them back to you. It’s tiny touches like that which makes Metal Gear Solid a unique stealth franchise, and this attention to detail really stands out in 2nd and 3rd entries of the game.
Outside of sneaking around the unique environments, the other main part of the gameplay are the unique boss fights. Outside of the battle against the tank in the minefield, every single boss fight is memorable and unique. After every boss fight you get an upgrade to your health bar, beefing you up for harder hitting bosses and obstacles.
However, the Gameplay is also the game’s biggest problems. The Solatron Radar is useful to tell enemy line of sight, but it because so useful that you don’t even need to watch the screen during gameplay. While it may sound like I’m saying this game’s stealth system is easy, I’m really not. This game has some tough stealth segments, but it’s rarely fair.
When you go to choke out an opponent, it seems random if you will end up just throwing them to the ground and letting them get up or actually dealing with them. Nine times out of ten, whenever I would get a successful chokehold, it would alert the guard. This would be fine if alerted guards didn’t instantly call in backup, breaking the immersion. While this was fixed in the later Metal Gear Solid games, it’s still a glaring flaw in this game.
When most people talk about Metal Gear Solid, they will always bring up the story. Thankfully, Metal Gear Solid 1’s story is pretty self contained and easy to understand. You are Solid Snake, a war hero called out of retirement to sneak into a facility in Shadow Moses Island and rescue the hostages locked inside, as well as deal with the nuclear threat. Of course, the story takes a lot of twists and turns, but to say any more would be to spoil this excellent tale.
Metal Gear Solid’s biggest storytelling technique is the cutscenes and codec calls, which are thankfully not as heavy as they would be later in MGS 2 and 4. The voice acting is superb for most characters, with the small exception of Liquid Snake and his insane british accent. Each of the characters are charming and memorable in their own unique way, and will likely go down as my favorite cast of characters in a game for a long time.
Shadow Moses Island really feels alive, and the previously mentioned little touches add to that. Having your footprints stay in the snow, snowfields actually having snow fall down, and a rat eat small items really adds to the atmosphere of the island.
Speaking of a rat eating small items, the end game fetch quest is one of the worst parts of the entire Metal Gear Solid franchise. You can tell it was added in just for padding, and does nothing but make you backtrack through rooms you’ve already been through three times in a row. While details like a rat swallowing the desired item in question is interesting, the fetch quest does nothing but waste time.
Metal Gear Solid was a revolutionary game for the time, and it still plays great today. I enjoyed most of my time spent on Shadow Moses Island, and the game is still worth a play for new fans. While the combat system can be clunky, the game was never meant for combat, and honestly if you’re killing every guard in sight you’re playing it wrong. Metal Gear Solid will go down as one of my favorite games of all time, and the sequels only improve upon this base gameplay to create a legendary franchise
+Phenomenal characters, story, and voice acting
+Great touches (Gas room, snow footprints, etc)
+Fun boss fights
-Annoying Stealth System
-Tedious Endgame Fetch Quest
-Relies too much on radar
Objective Score: 8.75/10
Subjective Score: 9.25/10