(Photo by Ben Gabbe/Vittorio Zunino Celotto for Getty Images)
On October 21st 1998 the world got to experience one of the classic great games: Metal Gear Solid.
It’s hard to believe it’s been 25 years since Hideo Kojima’s masterpiece was let loose on the world. It’s almost shocking how well this game holds up over time. Sure, the combat is clunky, the graphics are distinctly Playstation 1 era and you can’t fire and run in first person, but “this is a stealth mission” so what are you doing fighting anyway?
What remains spectacular about this game was what drew me in to Kojima’s world so completely the first time I played it: the story!
The story of one man, Solid Snake, sent by shady Government forces to take on his former unit, FOXHOUND, which has taken over a military base, stolen a secret weapon and are threatening the Government. It’s the backdrop of any great spy thriller.
Soon, you learn that FOXHOUND is demanding the remains of Big Boss, Solid Snake’s former superior officer and the man he killed on his first mission – which is also the plot of 1987’s Metal Gear game for the NES and MSX. That you’re not the only infiltrator – a cyborg ninja with a vendetta against Solid Snake is also lurking around the military base. Oh, and all of the soldiers that are with FOXHOUND have been enhanced using gene therapy and that the leaders are a group of weird and unique villains who could have each been their own Bond villain.
But one of those bosses in particular sticks out – Psycho Mantis. Not only did this 1998 classic tell a nearly perfect story, but it also broke the 4th wall, maybe for the first time, in video gaming.
Psycho Mantis “reads your mind” by reading your memory card data to see if you’ve played any other Konami games, but just in case you haven’t he also “moves your controller” by engaging the rumble feature. Going one step further – during his boss fight you’ll need to plug your controller into port 2 so he cant “read your thoughts” and periodically the screen will go blank and make you think your TV switched inputs (as long as you dont look too close and notice the screen says “Hideo” not “Video”). It’s probably one of the most unique boss fights in gaming history.
You’ll also have your sniping skills tested in your battle with Sniper Wolf and take down the massive Vulcan Raven, who is armed with the minigun of a jet fighter, in a one-on-one battle to the death. Each boss is unique and epic in its own way.
From beginning to end Metal Gear Solid is a near perfect game. It tells a complex, layered story that isn’t padded out with a lot of modern gaming fluff. It’s straight to the point. Metal Gear Solid contains some of the most epic set pieces in a game of that era and gave you a variety of gadgets and weapons to play around with, despite being able to complete the game just simply using stealth (except for the bosses). It also sets up one of the craziest sequels in video game history!
If you want to play Metal Gear Solid, well – it’s not exactly easy. There is a digital version for Playstation 3 that came with the Metal Gear Solid: Legacy Edition. You used to be able to buy it for PS Vita, but I’m not totally sure that’s a viable option anymore. Or, if you really want probably the best way to play Metal Gear Solid – dig out your old Gamecube and track down a copy of Metal Gear Solid: Twin Snakes. It’s basically Metal Gear Solid remade with Metal Gear Solid 2’s engine and fight sequences directed by Ryuhei Kitamura who made the films Versus in 2000 and Alive in 2002. Otherwise, drag out your old Playstation 1 or 2 and and find the discs.
Happy 25th anniversary Metal Gear Solid!