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Retro Recap: Metal Gear Solid

Solid Snake is at the centerpiece of this week's Retro Recap by on February 4, 2014  

It really is about time I covered a classic such as this one. Truth be told, I was saving this one for a special occasion, but I just could not resist writing about one of my all-time favorite games and one of the best franchises to ever grace the gaming industry. Metal Gear Solid!

Spanning much further back than Solid, Metal Gear has been around the gaming scene since the days of arcade machines, but with the introduction of a Metal Gear game that you could pick up in the comfort of your own home was a dream come true for many fans. The first real stealth based action game was a revolution for genres alike, and one that a title has not even come close since, Metal Gear Solid was not only at the pinnacle of its genre, but of all titles, even to date. MGS still remains one of gamer’s top 10 titles of all time, let alone for the PlayStation 1.

One of the most well received series to date

One of my favourite moments from Metal Gear Solid, in fact, it’s probably one of my favourite moments in gaming history is the boss fight with Psycho Mantis. Even, now, knowing what happens, it still amazes me that the console and controllers are used in such a manner, something which I’ve never seen repeated in another game to date. For those of you who have never played this game, first of all, why not? But for those of you who remember Mantis remember the first time fighting this boss, you were introduced to him during a scene where he reads your memory card. If you had happened to have played a previous Konami title (such as Castlevania) Mantis will comment on this. This amazed me so much during that scene, but still not as much as the boss fight itself. He even makes your controller move for you! During the fight, you could shoot a hailstorm of bullets towards him, but he could evade every one. You received a number of codec calls stating that Mantis could read your controller and he knows what you are going to do next. The resolution? Plugging the controller into port number 2. It seems so simple, yet it’s so innovative, using the console in such a way that no-one else does. Even after this, the fight isn’t easy, he show you hallucinations and uses trickery to confuse you. Definitely one of my favourite boss fights I’ve encountered in a video game.

Metal Gear Rex made his return in MGS4

Still, besides the uniqueness of the boss battles (not just Psycho Mantis), the overall storyline is very gripping. You dislike the characters you’re supposed to dislike (which means you like them of course – it’s one of those villain like-hate paradoxes) and you like the characters you’re supposed to like. Even after the obvious betrayal, you still like Master, but hate Liquid at the same time. Hideo Kojima is one clever storyteller. And how could I forget the trademark breaking-the-fourth-wall scenes that we’ve come to know and love from Metal Gear games. I swear I almost turned off my console when Campbell told me to for the first time.

Some delightful little facts for you (that you probably already knew because, you know, Metal Gear Solid):

  • If you played Metal Gear Solid with a Mono-Sound TV (I know, what even are they?) and you called Campbell on the Codec during the Hind battle, the supporting characters will mock you for having such an inferior TV
  • If you look around Otacon’s office, you’ll find a Policenauts poster. This is a homage to Kojima’s other title at the time.
  • Oddly enough, Policenauts also contained the character Meryl Silverburgh
  • If you saved less than 3 times before fighting Psycho Mantis, he’ll comment on how reckless you are. Conversely, if you saved often, he’ll mention that you are very wise for saving so often

Anybody else get a very strange sense of satisfaction by silently taking down guards wearing a tuxedo? Is it worth completing the game twice to get it? Very much so, even more if you get the invisibility suit, run up to guards, deactivate the suit, and then quickly re-equip it. Makes for great amusement, at the expense of the very confused AI.

Meryl was a major supporting character in Policenauts as well

Who else doesn’t love Metal Gear Solid? It’s one of the most well written, immersive gaming genres out there. Unrivalled by many in various aspects and still, to this day, Metal Gear Solid 1 is one of the most fun – and replayable titles that have ever existed. I would find it difficult to find anyone who didn’t enjoy playing MGS.

What are your thoughts on this game and the series? Is it in your 10 list, or better yet, does it top it? And are you looking forward for Metal Gear Solid V? I know I am! Let us know your opinions in the comments section below!

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