As the date for Metal Gear Solid 5 approaches, I thought I would take us all back to an earlier time, a time when a certain video game came out on the PS1 that game changed the world as we know it (well, my world at least), that time dear reader, was 1998, that game was Metal Gear Solid, a beautifully crafted action adventure stealth game for the PS1. Back in the year of our lord 1998, I was a pimply 14 year old geek obsessed with the newest addition to my household, The PS1. Along with my beloved console, my parents had also bought me Resident Evil 2, Formula 1, Ridge Racer and my very own copy of Metal Gear Solid with the Silent Hill demo disc . I will be honest here folks, my jaw is still on the ground 16 years later after my first encounter with this. I would ritually play Metal Gear every day after school, looking for hidden secrets within, trying to take a picture of the secret ghost’s in the game, testing different methods to beat the bosses, this became a staple of my gaming diet for years to come.
Plot: You play as the protagonist Solid Snake, a legendary solider forced out of retirement at the request of Colonel Roy Campbell to investigate and thwart a genetically enhanced special forces group called Foxhound, as well as rescuing two hostages, the DARPA Chief and the president of a major arms manufacturer. Foxhound, lead by the charismatic Liquid Snake, perform an armed uprising on a nuclear weapons disposal facility on remote Shadow Moses Island in Alaska. Liquid seizes control of the facility and acquires the nuclear capable machine, Metal Gear Rex. With Rex, Liquid threatens the U.S Government with a nuclear attack if they don’t recover the remains of the legendary mercenary Big Boss within 24 hours.
Characters: As well as the two hostages, you come across a few others on the island that help you with your mission as well as your contacts via codec.
Meryl: The niece of Colonel Roy Campbell. She is a rookie soldier with an itchy trigger finger that was stationed on the island, she was also briefly held prisoner but soon escapes and fights by your side every now and then.
Hal Emmerich aka Otacon: The lead developer of Metal Gear Rex and typical nerd boy.
Ninja / Grey Fox: A cybernetic enhanced agent in a full exoskeleton suit who is neither on your side or on Foxhound’s.
Deep Throat: A whistle-blower who contacts you via codec.
Colonel Roy Campbell: Snake’s former CO who has more than a few secrets in his pocket.
Naomi Hunter: Medical adviser to you and serious anti smoking lady.
Natasha Romanenko: She provides weapon and item tips.
Master Miller: Former drill instructor and survival coach.
Mei Ling: In charge of mission data, saves and she invented the radar system you use. (Also has a very annoying voice)
Bosses: Foxhound’s finest and most lethal subjects you encounter. Some more than once.
Liquid Snake: Leader of the terrorist splinter cell and genetic counterpart to Snake.
Revolver Ocelot: Western style gunslinger and expert interrogator.
Sniper Wolf: A preternatural sniper and love interest of Otacon.
Vulcan Raven: A humongous Alaskan shaman with a gatling gun.
Psycho Mantis: Psychic profiler and pyschokinesis expert.
Decoy Octopus: Master of disguise, and the one boss you don’t actually fight.
Gameplay: As Solid Snake, you must use stealth throughout the game, if you move into the enemies line of sight, which you can see on your radar, you trigger an alert mode which draws all enemies in the area to your location and the radar is temporarily disabled. During this time, you can hide and wait until the radar shows evasion mode, once that reaches zero, the game returns to normal. Since this is a stealth game, you can hide in a lot of places, in vents, under tanks, in cardboard boxes. You can also hide around walls, and making noise to distract enemies. If you don’t feel like hiding, you can take your chances and go on the attack. One of the things I loved most was the ability to snap the necks of the enemy. It takes some practice but quite satisfying once you master it. Or you can always punch on and knock out the enemy temporarily. To replenish your health, you rely on rations, thankfully these are pretty plentiful.
Weapons: If you feel like being lethal, you have a majority of weapons at your disposal, once you collect them through progress of course. The first weapon you find is the Socom. A nifty little handgun, but loud as hell and will draw a crowd, that is until you get a suppressor. Chaff grenades are your friend, trust me on this, throw one and it will temporarily knock out any surveillance cameras allowing you to move freely. Through the game, you collect a majority of weapons to help you, like stun grenades, regular grenades, claymores, assault rifles, sniper rifles, stinger missle launcher, Nikita launchers and C4.
Sound: This has what I thought, typical espionage background music, during alert phases there is a soldier giving orders to the others like, “There he is!” “Return to your position” if you die, Snake let’s out this death groan and Mei Ling or Roy Campbell starts yelling out your name as the continue button comes up to the screen. Since this is a Japanese made game, there is a fair chunk of light Japanese music, some of it is quite uplifting, especially during the credits.
Controls: In this game, there is no jump button, it’s not really a big deal though, hitting circle makes Snake do unarmed combat. Basically he throws a left, a right and a kick. Pressing triangle lets you look around in first person, pressing X makes you crouch, hitting X again makes you lay down, which comes in handy for sniping or collecting claymores. There’s no walking or sneaking, just lightly jogging around. Locking on to targets with most of your weapons is the main thing here with Snake, so it’s very impossible to miss.
Graphics: Back in 1998, I thought this was some of the best graphics I’d ever seen, of course it’s aged now, the cinematic cut scenes are still terrific, even after 16 years.
Best Bits: There are a number of features and quirks that stick out to me, When battling Psycho Mantis, if you plug the controller into port 2, he can no longer read your mind, if you don’t do that, he can see where you are moving and can also read what’s on your memory card. Lighting up a Lucky Strike cigarette then calling Naomi will get you a full on lecture from her about the dangers of smoking. VR Training is available from the main menu, this is almost as fun as the game itself. When you are captured by Revolver Ocelot and Sniper Wolf, they torture you by electrocuting you, if you resist the torture until the end, you end up rescuing Meryl and Otacon dies, which will earn you a bandana which gives you unlimited ammo that you can use on the next play through. If you surrender during torture, you end up rescuing Otacon and Meryl dies, you then earn invisibility camo.
I still play this game on a regular basis, about every 6 months or so, I still love it as much as the first time I played it. If you haven’t played it yet, do so. It’s only $15 on the PSN store.
I give it 10/10
Play if you like: Espionage, PS1 games, stealth, infiltration games.