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Metal Gear Solid (PlayStation) artwork

Metal Gear Solid (PlayStation) review


"MGS has a storyline that will have you laughing at the ridiculousness of some parts (terrorist demand #3: One billion dollars!) yet shocked and amazed at the brilliance of others (comrade Masterís true identity). Its controls will have you frustrated yet overjoyed. The multitude of ways to apply stealth and defeat enemies will leave you hungering for more, impatient to get through that next cut scene."



I played Metal Gear Solid for the first time two weeks ago, thanks to a generous donation from a close friend. I didnít care that it was popular over a decade ago; such things as age mean nothing to me. I just wanted to see what all the fuss was about. To that end, Iíll admit that I was quite taken aback by the story and cinematic effects. I was impressed with the intense boss fights as well as the significance of stealth and the difficulty therein. But that doesnít mean thereís nothing wrong with the game, and Iím not going to give it the perfect 10/10 so many people prefer.

Several lengthy opening sequences and an extensive Codec (a kind of ear-implanted radio) conversation later, you learn that one-man-army Solid Snake has been coerced into coming out of an early retirement. The military has sent him to a nuclear storage facility located on Shadow Moses Island in Alaska that has been occupied by a terrorist organization consisting of members of Special Forces group FOX-HOUND. There he must rescue two hostages taken by these terrorists as well as investigate their nuclear capabilities. Should he fail, this elite group will launch a nuclear strike against the world using a new, highly developed weapon.

Itís your typical hero story: one man must save the world. And heíll do so by single-handedly taking on five elite members of FOX-HOUND, sneaking past innumerable genetically enhanced super-soldiers, and disabling or destroying the very weapon he was sent to investigate.

Donít mind that, though. Thanks to excellent storytelling filled with enough plot twists to keep you thinking, youíll soon forget youíre playing a video game. And if you really get into it, youíll think youíre at the movies. Without the surround sound or refreshments.

But who needs those traditional movie perks when you can play it instead? If you ignore the fact that MGS rivals Final Fantasy in the length and number of cut scenes; if you enjoy (or skip) those unplayable parts, youíll find yourself enthralled with the variety and intensity involved in both stealth and combat.

Youíve managed to kill most of the guards in the Nuclear Warheads Disposal Facility, but thereís one left. He spots you. Alarms blare, alerting all to your presence. Soldiers appear out of nowhere Ė youíve killed most, remember? Ė charging your position, firing automatic rifles along the way. You shoot back, but it is futile, for more keep coming. Your only option now is to run. Hide. Get them off your back. And hopefully do so before the noxious gas filling the room asphyxiates you.

If youíre any good, this scenario wonít ever hit you. With a variety of sneaking skills at his disposal, Snake can get around fairly easily without any trouble. Crawling prevents guards from hearing your footsteps or spotting your footprints. Tapping on walls attracts guards to the source of the noise, allowing you to dash around the corner unsuspected. Equipped with chaff grenades, he can disable all electronics, enabling him to run past those pesky security cameras unhindered.

But not everything available to him is successful all the time. Cardboard boxes are great for hiding when you canít get out of a soldierís line of sight in time. But only if youíre stationary. And if youíre unfortunate to be blocking his patrol route (even just a little), youíll earn yourself a pleasant ďGet out of my way!Ē accompanied with a friendly kick knocking the box off your hunched form. Time to flee. Again.

Yet, this most fundamental part of the game is flawed. Thanks to a fixed aerial camera that scarcely turns with your characterís movements, you canít effectively see around yourself. If thereís an enemy just around the corner, you sure as hell wonít see him, but heíll definitely see you. And that normally handy radar wonít help you in an area with electronic jamming. First person viewing mode is too slow and unwieldy, often resulting in a spotting before you even know whoís there. You can cling to walls to peer around corners, but this has its limitations, and Snake is notorious for sticking to them at the worst possible times. Like when youíre being shot at. Or when youíre about to be caught. Or when youíre trying to flee. Or when youíre under a time limitÖ

At least fighting isnít much of a problemÖ.

ÖOh. Wait.

Aiming is a farce. Solid turns with the speed of a depressed tortoise, so if you have enemies on all sides, you wonít hit them all without being shot to death. Not to mention itís almost impossible to see what youíre shooting at. Only your pistol has laser sighting, but that only seems to work half the time, and your assault rifle chews through ammo so rapidly that youíll be reloading every five seconds. Donít even bother running with them, either. Itíll just get you in trouble.

Donít mind that, either. Most of your fighting consists of bosses Ė those five members of FOX-HOUND Ė each with his (or her) own strengths and weaknesses. Hell, of the ones you fight more than once, most come back different each time. The first time battling Vulcan Raven, a native Inuit and shaman, he sits safely within the confines of an overpowered M1 tank. Face him again, however, and heíll be all man, no machine to hide behind except his equally overpowered vulcan cannon. Itís a huge machinegun-like weapon that he can somehow support and fire on his back, and it will shred you if you cross his path.

But if you donít think Raven is crazy and unrealistic enough, fighting terrorist leader and British badass Liquid Snake will have you scratching your head at his apparent invulnerability. The man survives everything that should have killed him. Solid blows him out of a helicopter, knocks him out of a bipedal walking battle tank, sends him over the tankís fifty-foot ledge after intense hand-to-hand combat, and watches him crash his jeep as they all try to escape at the very end. None of this kills him. Though it should have.

Iíll guarantee youíll have a great time doing all of this, though. Itís always satisfying to hear your enemies groan in pain as you throttle them with automatic gunfire. Or sneak up behind a guard unseen and snap his neck. The crack will have your sadistic side roaring in ecstasy; the knowledge that you werenít caught will make you want to do it again.

And despite the flaws in the plot, it does have its moments. I remember the sense of wonderment and awe as I learned about various betrayals and revelations. I recall thinking, ďOh, I know what will happen here,Ē then being completely stunned as one or more twists turned my thinking 180 degrees in the opposite direction.

MGS has a storyline that will have you laughing at the ridiculousness of some parts (terrorist demand #3: One billion dollars!) yet shocked and amazed at the brilliance of others (comrade Masterís true identity). Its controls will have you frustrated yet overjoyed. The multitude of ways to apply stealth and defeat enemies will leave you hungering for more, impatient to get through that next cut scene. And the goodies you receive for each of two endings will have you playing through it again once or twice just to feel invincible.

Metal Gear Solid certainly has its highlights, both good and bad. But ignore the bad ones and youíll have an awesome time. I sure did.

Rating: 8/10

wolfqueen001's avatar
Community review by wolfqueen001 (June 19, 2008)

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dagoss posted June 21, 2008:

You really hit the nail on the head with the gameplay. Shooting is such a pain, and I often get caught or die fumbling with the controls. I'm just playing through it myself for the first time too. I have yet to figure out if the story is brilliant and full of symbolism or just cheesy.
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Suskie posted June 21, 2008:

I was thinking about reviewing MGS, but this review mirrors my thoughts on the game so perfectly, I feel discouraged now. THANKS A LOT, WOLFQUEEN.
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Felix_Arabia posted June 21, 2008:

Finally being able to comment on this finished product, I'll say that I definitely liked how you refined your review. As I was reading through it, I thought that your points were well-conveyed. Rephrasing what Suskie said, your experience with the game was pretty similar to mine. The review was nice and easy to read and believable. You definitely made the finished version of this review the best one. Nice work!
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wolfqueen001 posted June 21, 2008:

Thanks, guys! =D I wasn't too sure how this turned out... I know I felt better about it than most of my stuff, but I still wasn't sure.

Dagoss: Haha. Yeah. Fighting's really annoying sometimes. I'm just glad it's mostly bosses, or at least seems to be. For some reason, fighting them is usually easier. Probably because they don't swarm you when seen. And I'd call the plot both shocking and cheesy. It's just that ambiguous.

Suskie: Well, as glad as I am when my reviews turn out effective, I'd much rather they inspire people to write them... not discourage. Sorry for that. Heheh.

Felix: I'm glad you like the new changes! Without your help, this surely wouldn't have been nearly as good or effective. So thanks a lot.
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bluberry posted June 21, 2008:

decoy octopus lol
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Halon posted June 21, 2008:

I disagree completely but liked the review!
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psychopenguin posted June 25, 2008:

I can't believe this game is almost 10 years old now.

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