Metal Gear Solid Review: Snake’s Infiltration and the Fight Against FOXHOUND

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Just finished playing through Metal Gear Solid today, and wow.  I can certainly see why it has the following it does and it was a very entertaining game to play.  It may not be a perfect game but it did some great things for its time and was a good deal of fun throughout in spite of my total lack of experience in the genre.

Metal Gear Solid follows Solid Snake and his mission on Shadow Moses Island.  A group of terrorists from the unit FOXHOUND, led by Liquid Snake, have taken over Shadow Moses Island and have made demands to receive the remains of Big Boss from the American government or unleash nuclear destruction via the Metal Gear Rex mecha.  As a result, Solid Snake is sent on a top-secret mission, aiming to rescue hostages taken by the terrorists and eventually working to stop their efforts altogether.

The MGS story itself isn’t particularly complex, as the base of it is essentially Snake just going through his mission and fighting off the terrorists to prevent massive destruction.  However, to simply leave the story at that would be a major disservice to its finer points.  The story reveals a good deal about a number of characters, even from characters who were important in games past (though I know little about this as MGS was my first Metal Gear game).  Character stories become very relevant to the events taking place as past events come back to haunt Snake as well as other characters.  An interesting thing about MGS is that even the villains have their own stories, and annoyed as I was struggling to defeat many of the bosses, I couldn’t help but feel sympathy in the end for the cruel fates of these characters.  The story itself even has its fair share of interesting plot twists that add to its overall value as well as a tidbit following the credits that hints at conspiracies leading into the next game.

Of course, the gameplay is why I’m discussing MGS in the first place.  After all, this is the first non-visual novel game I’m writing about on this blog.  In any case, as I said before, I have utterly no experience with stealth games, and as such I played with……interesting results.  There was much to be learned about this type of gameplay and I can say for sure that I did not excel early on.  However, the controls and item usage are actually fairly simple and once you get the hang of it, it really isn’t too hard to play through this game.  Many of the boss fights were challenging in their own ways (with me probably losing all of them at least a few times) but they’re never difficult to the point where the challenge is unbearable (well, on normal difficulty anyway) and the game has its ways of offering you help if you find that you’re struggling to defeat such bosses.

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Speaking of “ways of offering you help,” I think I’ll take the chance to elaborate more on this.  The Metal Gear series is very well known for its codec system.  For those who aren’t aware, the codec system is a radio connection that allows Snake to communicate with a number of individuals throughout the game.  The codec system is used many times throughout the game, as it is necessary in order to save, can be used to find out where you need to go or how to defeat a boss, and is also used for a great deal of conversations connected to story developments as the game goes on.  Even with this number of uses for the codec system though, that’s not at all.  Admittedly I did not use the codec as frequently as I could have, but there are an extensive number of possible conversations on the codec, which adds a great element of variety.  I’ve heard people say that they have played the game through multiple times and have still encountered codec conversations they had never seen before, so it really goes to show just how much effort the creators put into this system.

Of course, the codec system doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface on what makes this game interesting.  MGS is filled with variety and this shows in the good deal of items and weapons that one can obtain throughout the game.  One thing I really love about this game is that you won’t get “useless” items.  Though some will be used less frequently than others, every item has a purpose and I’m fairly certain I used every weapon at some point in the game.  This is a good thing because it’s no good if you have a massive amount of weapons yet only happen to use a single overpowered one for the entire duration of a game, and luckily this is not a problem with MGS.  Furthermore, the battles themselves come along with a good deal of variety.  As many MGS fans already know, one example of this is Psycho Mantis.  Along with being a pretty interesting character, Psycho Mantis’s breaking of the fourth wall and even the elements to battling him in the boss fight are definitely unique and unlike any I’ve ever seen before.  The boss fights in general are filled with variety and rarely the same.  From a battle with a tank to a sniper shootout to even straight-up fistfights, there are all sorts of boss fights in MGS and you will never encounter a boss that requires the exact same strategy to win as a previous one.

Metal Gear Solid has been a new but very worthwhile experience for me.  Reportedly there is another ending and there are other features and difficulties in the game for me to accomplish, but I won’t get to those for some time.  That said, having beaten the game once, I’d say it was still great even without getting every little thing (as of the moment anyway) and this definitely makes me interested in playing the rest of the Metal Gear series, which I have heard fantastic things about.  MGS may be a bit weak on the technical side in comparison to the wonders of production and video game design today but that does not at all keep it from being an engaging game.  MGS is simple enough for a player to pick up and yet by no means so easy that the experience is a snooze, with just enough challenge to keep the player struggling and yet not frustrated enough to just entirely drop the game.  All in all I do feel that Metal Gear Solid is deserving of a 9/10 because of how it combines its different components.  I’ve heard that there is even more glory from the rest of the Metal Gear series and only time will tell just how much I shall enjoy the games to come.

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    • Kai
    • September 14th, 2013

    I wasn’t one of those who played Metal Gear Solid during it’s respective era, but I can say that it’s definitely ahead of it’s time, and is definitely one of the best games in PS1. Deep, philosophical and great gameplay – the latter for MGS, even for a PS1 game is exceedingly smooth.

    Have you played the rest of the games in the MGS franchise? I had played MGS 1, 2, 3 and 4 and I can say that all of them are of incredible quality. Still looking for Metal Gear Rising myself, it’s a side story I admit, but the chances in gameplay looks interesting.

    • I agree, it was fantastic in so many ways. An interesting array of characters (with sympathetic villains at that) and the gameplay was fantastic. Never felt old even though the controls are relatively simple and the bosses require all sorts of different strategies to beat. It was a great deal of fun to play.

      Unfortunately this is the only one in the series I’ve played, but I do plan on getting to the rest in the near future. In particular, I’m looking forward to 3 and 4. Which one is your favorite?

        • Kai
        • September 15th, 2013

        3 is definitely my top favorite, followed by 4. In 3, the story is great, while 4 beats 3 with it’s improved gameplay.

        I’m ITCHING to play Metal Gear – the prequel to the whole MGS franchise, even before MGS 1. But I dunno.. not sure if I could finish such retro games, lol. I could only pray that they would had some sort of remade in the future.

      • Gotcha, I’ll be looking forward to both of those even more then. I’ve heard so much about how amazing 3 and 4 are and I have no doubt I’ll love them both, so hopefully I can get around to them pretty soon.

        I want to play the original Metal Gear games as well just for the experience. I get what you mean though, it’s probably a lot harder to adjust to older games like that after playing through the rest of the series. Probably won’t be quite as amazing but I do hope I enjoy those as well once I get to play them.

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