#381 Metal Gear Solid

Posted: 17th March 2011 by Mulholland in Games
Tags: , , ,

39th game played so far

Genre: Stealth
Platform: PS1
Year of Release: 1998
Developer: Konami
Publisher: Konami

Once upon a time, in a distant gaming past, there was a fairly well-known platformer called Metal Gear. It did well, but the series was only truely revived when it was brought to the PlayStation as as a proper 3D stealth game, a franchise that’s still alive now due to this game. You’re supposed to sneak around bases trying to prevent a nuclear war from starting, while interacting with your weirdly named allies and enemies, and use your weapon as little as possible.

Our Thoughts

And now for a game which incensed Jeroen utterly. You really did not like using cigarettes to uncover infra-red beams did you? Not when it feels almost impossible to figure out when you can step forward. But no, my bigger issue was that these guys have randomly placed trapdoors in corridors that call you from falling down then. There’s one for the health & safety crowd.

When you consider that these people are working for a company that are trying to make something which make nuclear arms look as dangerous as sherbet dabs I don’t think they care too much about the opinion of the health and safety officer. Also I think every guard is probably provided a cheat sheet upon their job orientation. One we never get to see…

As a character you sneak in with cigarettes concealed in your wazoo… Yeah, that is a bit weird. It’s a pretty ingenious way to aid gameplay though. The fact that it also detracts from your HP is also rather cool. It’s a clever trick, yeah. But it takes some time to get used to it. I took to it a lot quicker.

The game isn’t bad, it’s just not my sort of thing entirely, which makes it more complicated. Yeah, but you started off playing, I jumped in halfway through. To be fair, the actual stealth parts were rather easy so far. You need to figure out what to do, but it wasn’t that horrible when I played it.

I like that during the stealth mode you can take the route of snapping all the guardsโ€™ necks or just sneaking past them. It’s sad but it was fun to watch them fade away as they lie dead on the floor. It takes a different set of nerves from waiting and running past when you get the chance. It was the waiting that always ended up with you shot in the head after falling down a trapdoor, otherwise they were pretty easy to dodge. No, it got me everywhere. Being greedy and unclear on where to go caused me to fall down. Which, to be fair, wasn’t a criticism of the game – we just don’t pay enough attention. Who’s we? I think I needed to help you figure out where to go a few times as well.

The copy protection is not helping much more. That is something that was very impressive though. To get further in the game you need a transmitter frequency to speak to Meryl and this is concealed in a screenshot on the back of the CD case. For the sake of maintaining copy protection we will not be including this code in the blog… but it’s available in every FAQ and walkthrough made about this game.

To be fair… it’s something other games did, although often not integrated as well. It was common early on in the PC world, until the true advent of CD. However, this is far better integrated than most – rather than being dropped into a separate screen where you need to enter a code, you need to use the game itself. Of course, you do need to realise you need to look there – this is a free tip for you on that. I remember a few games where the code was on the CD itself… which really disrupts gameplay. That’s called “Not thinking about it” It’s also called buying a knock-off copy of Dogz 4 out of the trunk of someone’s car at a secondary school computer fair. Yeah, that’s a bit dodgy anyway and not something either of us condone.

An interesting thing about this game is that it really was the one that popularised the stealth genre. As the game begins you find yourself in a factory in Alaska with only a scope and an infinite pack of cigarettes. The weapons mechanics themselves are shockingly bad so you really do need to heavily rely on sneaking around… even if it means startling the mice in the ventilation ducts.

Since this was such a critical revelation it helped to carve out a new niche in gaming that later went on to inspire stealth gameplay in almost every action game made today. It also led to a shedload of sequels and prequels as well as the very successful Splinter Cell games. Yeah, when it comes to stealth, this game does it well – and mostly, it doesn’t require you to solve their one stealth puzzle, but also allows for multiple options; sometimes including weapons, but often not.

Life is always better with explosions. Those were fun. It’s also better with enemies with ridiculous names like Revolver Ocelot… I mean what the hell is that meant to be. Yes, and a Raven, and you’re of course a solid snake… whatever that means.

One interesting feature is the communications feature. This goes two ways (rather than the common someone poking you at random intervals) and provides hints when you need them. The characters get their own personality and while it is sometimes silly, it helps establish the atmosphere. The many different nationalities help as well. It was really like a giant Benetton ad… but as a stealth game. And I guess it works. In a weird way, it certainly makes it feel a bit more international… even if occasionally stereotypical.

Final Thoughts

It’s a good game – why else would it be in the list? Stealth games don’t really go my way, but this game does work. It’s not too complicated, and you get a lot of tools at your disposal to make it past the stealth areas to make it an easy enough thing. Still, despite that the difficulty is there, at a manageable level.

The graphics are good – with the usual for its time, but because the game does relatively little with zooming in and out or weird perspective changes, you don’t notice it as much. There is a repitition in textures, sure, but the desiners make it work well. All in all, it looks good, plays well, sounds good… but Revolver Ocelot remains ridiculous.

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