Published on May 27th, 2013 | by Michaela Buckley0
The Innovation of Metal Gear Solid
Back in 1999 in an Official Playstation magazine, was a demo disc with Metal Gear Solid on it.
I bought that mag and played the demo, yet was never able to get past the elevator right at the beginning of the game without dying a number, let alone getting past the helipad section which succeeds it.
In the years following I went at it a few times, when Metal Gear Solid 2 came out on the PS2 and when I got hold of the remake of the first game, known as Metal Gear Solid: Twin Snakes on the Gamecube, I had a good crack at it then, alas, it would still be a few years more til I was finally able to complete the original game on the Playstation 1 and even then I did it in two large chunks, many months apart.
Metal Gear Solid is a stealth game featuring various kinds of gameplay throughout thanks to Hideo Kojima, the famed creator of the Metal Gear franchise’s dynamic approach to storytelling and game design. It has since become known for its unusual plot, cheesy character dialogue and in-game references and Easter eggs.
Solid Snake is a specialist soldier who has been sent to a facility in Alaska called “Shadow Moses” where he must stop a special forces unit that have gone a bit “Heart of Darkness” and are threatening to nuke America.
This game appears on most lists of the best games of all time and so there isn’t much to say that’s not been said and much better than by me already, I’ve seen this game played through about 5/6 times, it just took me 14 years to complete it myself.
So I’ll give a short review.
It plays rather clunky but this appears to be the aim, the story is well told albeit through extensive cut-scenes which have become the series’ main vice as quoted by most gamers, this particular installment lacks most of the functions of its latter parts and gameplay certainly improves with each addition, however the first game is still considered the best by most opinions as the huge story gets a bit “Star Warsed” (see how “arsed” is in there) and soon nano-machines begin to play an eerily similar role as the midochlorians from the new Star Wars trilogy, that of a general scapegoat whenever a plot point becomes too silly to explain in any meaningful way.
Overall the characters are much better written and don’t over act and the story rounds itself off well without getting too convoluted and self-worshipping.
Now to get on with the real point in this review, which is to explore what it is that I really like about Metal Gear Solid, which is “attention to detail”.
From the start of the game it becomes pretty obvious that this wasn’t meant to be experienced like any other, there are credits.
This isn’t so unusual in films and that’s the point. As soon as you start the game up, Kojima is already letting you know that this game is heavily inspired by movies and he wants you to experience it a bit like one. Hell, you can guess this even before the game if you look around the menu and find the prologue videos, which show Snake being debriefed and short explanations of the NES and MSX games that nobody in the west played.
The innovation that Hideo Kojima brought us has never been seen before or since.
Bosses can be beaten with all kinds of different tactics and you can avoid attacks in some odd ways like the infamous controller switch during the Psycho Mantis fight. Both Sniper Wolf and Vulcan’s second fights you can beat them without direct confrontation, by using bombs and the Stinger missile launcher.
Kojima likes to add in small 4th wall breaking dialogue, one thing I remember seeing for the first time in a game and being properly stumped by, was Meryl’s codec key which you are told to “look on the CD” for. Which is exactly what it meant, look on the back of the game’s box.
In the skits between characters via Snake’s in-ear piece, everytime you save, Mei Ling the save-game operator cheers you on or offers you advice in the form of Chinese proverbs.
Most of which are useless, but that’s what makes them so incredible, why add in useless dialogue? To flesh out the game and characters!
There’s not always a gameplay element or driving reason why there are these kinds of additions to Kojima’s games, letting you know that how much effort has gone into them and also it means you keep on your toes, looking out for more aspects of the game, it really makes you pay attention and in turn appreciate the game more.
Kojima tries to get players’ sense of touch involved in his game by having parts where you have to repeatedly press the button for quite a long time, which can really hurt your arm, then Naomi calls and tells you to put the controller on your arm and sets the rumble feature off, that one’s a little bit creepy though.
But this isn’t the first time he’s tried to implement a mechanic which involves more than the usual amount of senses.
I also mentioned here that Kojima once looked into trying to get the players sense of smell involved in the game by making a chemical that would give off a blood-like odour when heated for his game Snatcher which was made before Metal Gear Solid. Why isn’t he working in Virtual Reality research?!
Overall the inventiveness of the game is what I miss most in other games, it’s strange that despite the success of the Metal Gear series, nobody attempts to replicate any of the features that make it stand out.
I really enjoyed Metal Gear Solid and thankfully the detail and effort that goes into the first game is carried on throughout the series, even if the final product isn’t quite what you hoped.