Throughout 1998 gaming magazines were in frenzy over a new Japanese game titled Metal Gear Solid. They mentioned the game would have an onus on remaining undetected and would feature a highly cinematic feel. It sounded like the game I had been waiting to play all my life.
Article by David Brownless. Follow David here: @DavidBrownless
However, despite the hype nothing could have prepared me for how blown away I was going to be when it would finally be released in Europe. The opening ten minutes of the game were enough to let you know that this was going to be something special.
A great looking cut scene showing Snake being propelled in his one man sub whilst Colonel Campbell fills you in on your mission brief. You gain control and are introduced to some ground breaking mechanics. Stepping in a puddle will make a sound and will alert nearby guards. Knocking your fist on a wall will also draw a guard from his patrol route to investigate. Running through snow will leave footprints, which will yet again attract the attention of the enemy.
As you play the credits pop up on the screen like the opening of a movie. I could not remember this ever happening in a videogame before and yet nowadays this is a common feature. It was the little touches like this that really set Metal Gear apart from the competition. You could hide in cardboard boxes. Take a key into different areas to adjust its temperature. Swap the controller port to prevent Psycho Mantis from reading your mind. This showed a level of care and detail which still puts many modern releases to shame.
As much as I love the story, it would not work nearly as well if not for the amazing main characters which populate the game. Not only are they well designed but they all have a backstory to justify their place in the narrative.
These were not just generic end of level bosses. You could understand why they were there and could even be sympathetic to their causes. Liquid had not kidnapped a princess or your girlfriend. He had stolen a walking tank capable of firing a nuclear device. Not to take over the world but to threaten governments so he could make Outer Heaven a reality. In the decade of Gulf War Syndrome, it made sense that a unit like Foxhound did not belong in civilised society. Their place was in battle. The only place they felt alive.
Even now after over fifteen years and three console generations later, the game still holds up remarkably well. Although I believe it was surpassed by MGS3, I will always look back on the original as being the game which really showed the industry what could be accomplished through the medium. I will also never forget the valuable life lessons the game taught me.
That cloning soldiers is never a great idea. That love is unlikely to blossom on the battlefield. And that Snakes don’t belong in Alaska.
You can follow me on Twitter for some occasional rambling about videogames and stuff here: @DavidBrownless
Article by David Brownless.