By TJUK 2 Comments
I really meant for this Metal Gear Solid blog series to be a more frequent update of my journey through the Metal Gear series than this. Instead I find myself writing this second post as a round up of my thoughts on that first MGS game from the Playstation era.
To recap I decided that I would go all out for the authentic experience and picked up a Playstation 1 and an original disk copy of the game. I know I could have gone the digital route but doing a little bit of extra work definitely made the whole experience that much sweeter. When I first powered up the console (a proper SCPH-1002 by the way, not the curvy but later PS One) I was impressed at how modern it felt. Load times are good on this thing and it is virtually silent bar the occasional satisfying whir from the CD drive. The 'save anywhere' feature of MGS certainly helps too.
Starting the game for the first time I was ready for the graphics to make me cringe. The game is more than 15 years old at this point; the graphics have to be pretty rudimentary, right? Wrong. It's pretty amazing what Kojima and his team managed to squeeze out of the pioneering polygon pushing Playstation 1. OK, there isn't enough detail to even make out the characters facial features in the cut-scenes for the most part but the ghostly filters, dithering and other effects in use really raise the visuals above the wobbly textures often associated with games of the PS1 era. Kojima's eye for cinematic camera work doesn't go unnoticed either.
Beyond the visuals the game-play still shines also. The controls (mostly) feel tight, the shoulder buttons used to select items and weapons soon become second nature all over again. I was playing on an original pre-dualshock controller. A few hours in the d-pad was beginning to make the surface of my thumb sore in a strangely reassuring way. It really brought back memories of those late nights during my late teens, perched at the end of my bed leaning into the TV screen whilst everyone else in the house slept. "This is more than just a audio-visual nostalgia trip, I can even feel it!"
I tried very hard to keep track of the story, knowing that these MGS games can take some pretty wild twists and turns. I sat through all of the radio dialogue and cut-scenes where I know on my first play through back in the day I began to skip stuff. I suppose I have more patience now; more of a respect for games and more of a desire to comprehend all that they are trying to say to the player. Thanks in part to the indepth coverage of websites like this one. The story is pure fantastical boy-pulp. Even the threads through real nuclear weapon history do not raise it from pure comic book stuff. That's OK, it is what it is. Snake's attitude towards women is laughably chauvinistic; the way women respond to him the stuff of schoolboy dreams. There's some cheesy love interest stuff, but at least Kojima is trying. That at least certainly shows.
The stealth aspects of the gameplay are certainly the highlight here. As soon as Snake engages in combat the game begins to show its age. The guns are frustrating to aim with no modern analogue stick support and I must give a special mention to jeep chase scene at the end of the game. This section frustrated me more than anything else. Had it not been for the reward of the final cut scenes spurring me on I might have given up completely.
I never finished MGS1 back in the day, so it was all the more satisfying to do so all these years later. Kojima really accomplished something with this game. Some hammy story elements aside it is an extremely well executed, adult (in the best sense of the word) and engaging experience.
I'll be picking up MGS HD Collection for the xbox 360 soon (those achievements y'know?) so look out for my next MGS blog update soon.