Sit down, grab a cup of T.E.A. and find out what it is about MGS that MekeMekeB loves so much.
Imagine, if you will, it’s the 80s. Movies are rife with action heroes, with cool names like Dutch, Rambo and Indiana.
Rewind to before those characters were on screen to 1981 where one such movie, Escape from New York, starring Kurt Russell and directed by John Carpenter comes along.
It’s protagonist has one helluvah 80s action hero name, Snake Plissken, sporting an eye patch, a gravelly voice, he’s been injected with microscopic explosives that will really mess up his day if he doesn’t save the President and get a cassette tape with important nuclear stuff on it within 24 hours. Oh did I mention that Manhattan has been turned into a prison island, inhabited by gangs and some very interesting characters? Well, yeah……
Sound familiar? It should, Escape from New York’s influence can be seen within the Metal Gear series; “Snake”, the eye patch, a former special forces soldier brought in for ‘one more mission’, being injected with something to force his compliance.
Metal Gear was released in 1987 for the MSX and sees Solid Snake attempting to discover what happened to a former FOXHOUND teammate, Gray Fox. Snake’s commander Big Boss sends a very green Solid Snake to Outer Heaven to find him. When you get there Snake learns about a walking nuclear-equipped tank called….you guessed it ‘Metal Gear’, Big Boss shows his true colours and at one point even tells the player to turn off the console!!
Needless to say and fight ensues and Outer Heaven is destroyed along with Big Boss (just kidding, after the credits he threatens Snake that they’ll meet again)
A NES version was released but had levels changed significantly and other changes including no Metal Gear fight, this version was created without Kojima and team and was rushed to be finished in 3 months.
In 1990 things get a little more complicated, just like the plot for MGS 2: Sons of Liberty, with the release of “Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake” which Hideo Kojima and team created in reaction to “Snake’s Revenge” which was a sequel produced without them again and released in the US and Europe only.
In Kojima’s version players control Snake to infiltrate Zanzibar Land sent by your new CO Roy Campbell, rescue and scientist and destroy a new Metal Gear, pretty standard Snake stuff if you ask me.
You have to defeat your former friend and teammate Gray Fox and ultimately defeat Big Boss…again.
In the non-Kojima version some of the plot is similar but there’s no Gray Fox but there’s still a fight with Big Boss.
Metal Gear Solid took a lot of people by surprise when it hit the PlayStation, some people had played at least one version of the previous games (I was lucky enough to play the PAL version but as mentioned it’s not as Kojima intended) but a lot had never heard the name Solid Snake before so had no idea what to expect. Back in the 90’s a lot of us relied heavily on print magazines or word of mouth to let us know what games were worth our time.
The plot of the game picks up 6 years after the events of Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, Kojima and team in a wise way include a cut scene that has Snake and Colonel Campbell or other characters catch up and discuss what happened in the previous games.
A place called ‘Shadow Moses’ has been taken over by your former team FOXHOUND and have access to nukes and a new Metal Gear and want Big Boss’s body within 24hrs (hmmm a ticking timer sounds familiar). As with the other games Snake must gather equipment on site.
The story is given a maturity of a well sculpted movie, the voice acting is on point and some of the features in the game truly feel very cool.
A couple of characters break the fourth wall with you the player, in one instance a frequency you need to call is on the back of the game box. Another knows if you’ve played other Konami games and assess your playstyle.
Things like staying outside for too long giving you a cold and then Snake sneezing making you more discoverable to enemies were things I didn’t think I’d see in a game (at least in 1998).
The game using the in-game engine for cutscenes rather than some render FMV was another thing that hadn’t been used a lot and the great thing about that it is that it maintains the immersion. These are just some of the features that elevate this game above anything else that was out at the time.
It’s been argued that nothing else utilised the PlayStation’s capabilities quite like Metal Gear Solid did and I’d strongly agree. I own the game twice on PlayStation, once on PC, have the GameCube port and have a *ahem* emulated version too, needless to say I like the game a lot.