Widely considered to be one of the best and most influential games of all-time, Metal Gear Solid is a game I’ve been actively dodging for most of my life. Part of that stems from an anti-Sony bias that formed in the 90s that I’ve since shedded. Part of it came from being a stealth game. I hate stealth games with a passion (with one beautiful exception). Even when I bought a copy of the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection for under $10, I ended up selling it later on without ever playing it.
At long last, during a random PlayStation Classic stream, I did the thing. By the end of it, I wasn’t quite sure of what to do with this newfound knowledge.
Should do at least a bit of setup for the two other people who aren’t familiar with the franchise. Metal Gear Solid takes place at some point after the Metal Gear games on the NES. You play as Solid Snake, a soldier on a mission to save someone important from a terrorist base. Oh, and possibly shut down their nuclear weapons operation if they happen to be working on anything fishy.
That is my best explanation of the initial premise in the most basic of terms. In reality, the game absolutely drowns the player in exposition. Do you need to know the particular’s of Solid Snake’s suit being difficult to move in but specially-designed to keep him cold in Alaska? Or how he smuggled cigarettes through a strip search by hiding them in his stomach? Did we really need a detailed explanation of how technology allows him to communicate with his peers back at the base through a specially-designed technology that vibrates his eardrums without the need for an earpiece? It’s so…extra.
At every turn, the game is telling you how crazy it is. Oftentimes, literally telling you, through codecs and through conversations with others. During the 45 minutes or so I played about…10 minutes of that seemed to be actual gameplay. I’ve been warned many times about how much watching you do in a Metal Gear Solid game, but I still wasn’t ready.
Even so, there are aspects to this game that are undeniably cool. For an era when video game narratives were just starting to dig deeper, the first hour of Metal Gear Solid goes all the way down the rabbit hole. I can understand how players of that era in particular gravitated so strongly towards it because the story it tries to tell has so many layers to it. Maybe it could have been presented better, but the amount of exposition it throws at you right away is astounding.
Though I only got to scratch the surface of how it plays, I can also see how its presentation won so many players over. Though the game’s visual fidelity is showing its age, the camera work and presentational flair shines through. Overall, there is a cool-factor to Metal Gear Solid that it has in spades.
Maybe at some point, I’ll check back in with more concrete thoughts on how it plays. For now, I’m still scratching my head over what I played, though I think I can see what made this game so special for its time. At the very least, the bit I played hasn’t completely turned me off from diving deeper.
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