Metal Gear. I love it. You love it right? Of course you do, why else would you be here? From the simple 8-bit begins to the overblown 90 minute cut-scene monolith that is Metal Gear Solid 4, I love every moment. I Even accept Portable Ops with its flawed PSP controls (one analogue stick, Sony…ONE? Madness…) I love them more than any man should an inanimate, uncaring object. So, like any sensible person with this amount of passion for something would, I’m taking a task to play ’em all again and write a series of increasingly complex blogs about them.
In the immortal shared words of Jonathan Davies and Pink, let’s get this party started.
Metal Gear (1987) and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake (1990).
Both of these games went unplayed by myself until they were included as an extra in Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence, mostly down to never owning a console they came out on (MSX2 & NES), but also because they looked a little…basic, a little simple next to the ‘Solid’ series. And if you’ve never played them yourself, you’re not missing a huge amount but what is there is still very enjoyable and holds up to its 3D brothers very well.
Viewed from a top down perspective, it features all the sneaking, avoiding cameras, guards and waiting out the alert phases that you’d expect from any Metal Gear game and of course, a showdown with a Bi-Pedal Tank. Most surprisingly though is the story which is just as complex and twist ridden as the modern games, crazy considering when this came out most plots consisted of ‘This is a bad guy…shoot him‘ or ‘Those thugs just punched your girlfriend in the stomach for no real reason, go kick fuck out of ’em‘. Kojima’s film influence clearly shines through with multiple characters, a John Carpenter-worthy Midi score and of course, a hefty script with a few classic 4th Wall breaking moments.
Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake throws in the familiar 45 degree vision cone for the guards and the ability to crouch and crawl for Snake. Looking back onto it like I did, it feels like someone’s made an 8-bit demake of Metal Gear Solid. The gameplay is strikingly familiar with many moments being called back to in Metal Gear Solid. Snake at one point has to sneak into the female toilets in order to talk to an undercover contact, just like chasing Meryl in MGS. It’s also the first sighting of Kojima’s philosophical musings on the role a soldier plays in war, Big Boss himself has a big ‘ol speech lined up for you before your final battle:
Start a war, fan its flames, create victims… Then save them, train them… And feed them back onto the battlefield. It’s a perfectly logical system. In this world of ours, conflict never ends. And neither does our purpose… our raison d’etre.
So there’s plenty of job opportunities… Is that what you’re trying to say?
WITTY COMEBACK, SNAKE.
If you can deal with the old-school gameplay and slightly ropey nature of them (there’s a LOT of back tracking), Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2 are fun intros to the series. It’s great seeing the inception of these characters that went on to fill the epic stories of future titles. A favourite moment being the monumental fist fight between Snake and Grey Fox in the middle of mine field, something that is alluded to in MGS so it was very cool seeing this pivotal moment that set some key Metal Gear plots into motion. Playing them has also set me up for even more anticipation for The Phantom Pain too, just how and why does Big Boss fall so far as to become the bad guy? Will Kojima even try to tie it all up so these games make canonical sense? And when does Big Boss get his surgery to look like Sean Connery?
Both games are fairly short with Metal Gear taking 2-3 hours and MG2 being a bit longer at 5-6, so if you’ve got it lying around on the HD Collection, they’re worth your time to knock around in.
NEXT UP: METAL GEAR SOLID. Soon. Maybe.