Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, welcome back to the Videogame Shoebox! Since this segment started I’ve received a bunch of requests for games to be featured here and trust me, I’ll get to them. The most interesting suggestion I’ve had so far though was actually from viewer and fan Jason Kinkead. He suggested I cover an older game that I’ve spent the most time with, for better or for worse. The result was a no-brainer to me…
I’m gonna be real with you folks for a second. Metal Gear Solid is my favourite series of games of all time. I recognise that each of the titles have their flaws but goddammit if it isn’t one of the best and balls-out mental stories in the history of games.
Metal Gear Solid was released on the PSone in 1998 and was my introduction to the series, as it was for a lot of people at the time. This was not the first time gamers had a chance to play as series star Solid Snake, though. Going back way further to 1987 we saw the release of Metal Gear for the MSX2 computer. There was also a heavily modified version for the NES. This game would serve as everyone’s introduction to the world of Metal Gear. It has oodles of bombast, tales of love and betrayal, revenge and of course the threat of total nuclear annihilation.
I should take a second to unpack this. Metal Gear is the code for a series of nuclear armed, bipedal battle-tank things of numerous size and design. All with the same capability to really fuck up your day. The main plot of the series centres around Solid Snake and his mission to rid the world from such a threat. And boy does that mission go some crazy places, narratively.
The series has a self-appointed description under each title, Tactical Espionage Action. Which is actually a very good way to sum up the gameplay experience you will have with the series. The premise narratively is that this is a stealth mission. So sneaking around and NOT being seen by soldiers is totally the way to go. There are plenty of weapons and actions to deal with a situation should you be sloppy. However the game is at its best when you play with a slightly more methodical approach.
People may give credit to Ubisoft’s Splinter Cell and its hero, Sam Fisher for popularising stealth gameplay. With more intricate systems such as using the darkness of shadows to hide and the sound of thunder to mask your gunfire. Lets be honest, though, that series started a whole 15 years after Konami put out Metal Gear. It just goes to show how good Solid Snake is, he was here all along, we just didn’t realise it.
Metal Gear Solid on the original Playstation was such a revolution at the time for numerous reasons. Incredible music, giving the slow sections a methodical pace and the action sequences even more tension than the story has provided. Stellar voice-acting and lots of it, with David Hayter bringing Snake to life and also starring other amazing talent such as Jennifer Hale. There’s brilliant artistic and cinematic direction courtesy of your boy and mine, Hideo Kojima. A fleshed-out story with a superb cast of characters but the thing that got me the most upon first playing it in 1998 was the fact that it all felt quite adult.
Maybe because I was 12 and playing a 15 rated game but whatever, I turned out fine, I guess.
Despite how silly it can be at times, the narrative goes places that gripped me from start to finish. A story that still entertains me to this day. Closing it’s story in brilliant dramatic fashion whilst leaving just enough story threads dangling to keep you on edge and waiting impatiently for the sequels.
A lot of people shit on the series for being more story than game. Whether the math is accurate on that or not I don’t know but whenever I hear a comment along those lines I know that this is a person that doesn’t care about experiencing a good story. All he/she wants is the next shooty-bang-bang experience like a Destiny or a Call of Duty or something similar.
If you’re in the camp that just loves a good story and enjoys the tension of stealth and the bombast of action and the intrigue of a brilliant mystery novel, Metal Gear Solid might just be an older game for you to sink into. Give it a go, you won’t be disappointed.
I could literally talk for hours about how much I love this game and this series but as this segment is almost at a close, you’re just going to have to trust me on this one. Who knows, maybe another title from the series will find its way onto here in the future.
That is, unfortunately it from me and this edition of the Videogame Shoebox, be sure to let me know on Twitter or in the comments below any games you’d like to see get a Shoebox session!
I’ve been Mike Notridge and I will see you, next time.
What’s in your Videogame Shoebox?