If you tell someone you have never played Metal Gear Solid, there is a good chance they will look at you like you have never seen Star Wars. This is the look I have been getting for a while now. I did try Metal Gear Solid (MGS) near release, but it didn’t click with me. The concept of stealth at the time was way above my head. I figured it was a series I would never jump into, since I consistently heard it’s best to start with the first. As time went on I started considering it more and after a recent Game Scoop I decided to go ahead download it from the PlayStation Store.
The first thing that grabbed my attention was the graphics. It has been said many times that the early 3D generation did not age well and I usually agree. This took nothing away from the experience for me with MGS though and I actually found it nostalgic. The early 3D models and textures brought me back in time. Another thing that traditionally has not aged well from that era is controls. While the controls weren’t up to date and I haven’t relied on the d-pad in years, they handled surprisingly well. Perhaps nostalgia was enhancing the experience for me again, but I felt like the top down view worked great with the controls. Instead of diving into 3D all the way, it was reserved for certain situations. The first person view was used well for particular weapons and scanning the area. The inventory system was simple and worked well too. I enjoyed the unique situations each item was used for and switching between multiple items was pretty efficient. I did run into moments where modern day games would have been much simpler, but that is to be expected with a game from 1998. Still, I can’t help but wonder if younger generations that don’t remember the PS1 era would enjoy them as much.
The gameplay was still epic and extremely well balanced. I enjoyed starting a game with a minimal amount of tutorials. Some details like the codec were explained, but other than that, it let me start playing. There were hints through conversations if I needed them, but MGS is a game that encourages trial and error. I found the stealth mechanics to be enjoyable and loved crawling around enemies. AI is very important with stealth games and I found it to be very fair. MGS was not all stealth though. One minute I was crawling in a vent, and in the next, I was shooting missiles at a helicopter. Boss fights were well paced throughout the game, and were some of the best I’ve experienced in any game. MGS presented a very nice balance that prevented gameplay from becoming stale.
The Metal Gear Solid story telling was top notch too. Every time I thought I had the story figured out, there turned out to be more to it with twists and turns that kept me guessing. The voice acting was as good as any game too. There was also a good sense of humor throughout the game and intriguing interactions between characters. While the narratives told a good story, the cut scenes got to be too lengthy for me. This is what aged the worst for me. I enjoy a good cut scene but only in small doses. Too often it would take me out of the game and leave me just wanting to play again.
It’s commonly asked if Metal Gear Solid is still playable. If you enjoyed it at release then you will still enjoy it for sure. If you never played it, I still recommend giving it a shot. Metal Gear Solid has held up very well.
Ryan Latuso is a new writer for MONG. Follow him on IGN.