A few weeks ago Hideo Kojima released footage from the new Metal Gear game entitled Ground Zeroes. After watching the lengthy trailer and the extended demo I made a decision. I was going to finally play Metal Gear Solid. Yes, up to that point I had never experienced a Metal Gear game. I hate stealth games and I'm not a fan of lengthy cutscenes either so the series just always seemed like something I wouldn't enjoy. But I told myself that I needed to play these games if for no other reason than because they are major pieces of gaming history. I began my journey by downloading the original game from PSN. I was ready to dive into a deep abyss filled with super spies, government conspiricies, nuclear weapons, ridiculous boss battles, plot twists upon plot twists, and of course the titular weapons of mass destruction, Metal Gear.
Game One: Metal Gear Solid
I came into the original Metal Gear Solid a bit apprehensive. PS1 games have a lot of trouble standing the test of time, especially when you have no nostalgia for the game in question. Metal Gear Solid is one ugly mess but the lack of detail only slightly hurts an otherwise pretty good game. Obviously story is a major aspect of Metal Gear Solid. Snake's battle against his brother at Shadow Moses is one full of twists and turns. It is incredibly overwritten on one hand, and very interesting on the other. I think I liked the concept of the story more than the execution. Kojima tends to use two paragraphs to say something that I could say in one sentence. Maybe for some people that is part of the charm but for me it just seems silly. Still, the characters were compelling and well acted, and the twists were creative and unexpected. Revolver Ocelot quickly became my favorite character in the series which made the ending phone call all the more interesting for me.
I have to put in an aside here about how offensive I find female characters in every Metal Gear Solid game I've played thus far. If you want a great example of a game that treats women in an absolutely atrocious manner look no further than Metal Gear Solid. The infamous male gaze is so prominent here that it would be humorous if it wasn't played so straight. Snake ends up sounding like a sexist pig throwing out pickup lines that would turn off a playboy bunny. I usually don't like commenting on this type of thing but the purely awful portrayel of Meryl in this game is just kind of disgusting. And that isn't even mentioning that she spends most of the game getting rescued by Snake who falls in love with her almost solely based on her body. The two seem to be in love at the end of the game but they've spoken no more than a couple paragraphs to each other ever. It's just a piss poor relationship and it is something that is continued throughout every game in the series I've played thus far.
As far as the gameplay was concerned, I didn't mind the overhead camera as much as I do in most games simply due to the radar. In fact I think I spent more time looking at that radar than I did looking at the main screen. That is obviously not a great thing, and it also made the game ridiculously easy, but it solved a difficult problem. I also didn't enjoy having to backtrack through the facility multiple times after I got better keycards. The game never made it clear when you needed to backtrack and I often wandered around for quite a while before calling everyone on my codec multiple times to figure out what to do. Other than that I think the gameplay holds up rather well. The boss battles were still quite enjoyable and were the highlight of the game (and eventually the whole series) and the sneaking, while a bit frustrating worked well enough. I decided to play the game on easy as I was more interested in experiencing all the game had to offer than challenging myself with the stealth mechanics. I also hate stealth games so I appreciated being able to shoot my way out of a bind.
Overall I think Metal Gear Solid was an enjoyable experience and a great start to a series that turned out much better than I was expecting. The cutscenes were overlly long and the overhead camera was a bit of a pain to work around, but for a game nearly 15 years old, MGS stands the test of time and remains one of the more enjoyable games I've played this year.
End of Part 1
In part two I'll talk about Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3 and how I felt that the series improved in some ways, yet got worse in others.