Metal Gear Solid series part 1

three words,  Metal. Gear. Solid. those three simple words gave me so much joy in my teenage years, I really can’t describe how much the first three Metal Gear Solid games blew me away, it was pretty much the gaming equivalent of Star Wars for me (and many others), some generations had “A Long Time Ago In A Galaxy Far Far Away” I had “Snake? Snake!? SNAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAKE!!!”” (dun dun dundundun dun dun DUN! *gunshot sound*)

I will literally for as long as I live never forget my experience playing them all for the first time, I’ll never forget seeing the E3 trailer for Metal Gear Solid 3 for the first time on the X-Play E3 special, I don’t mean to get too graphic, but seeing Snake in the JUNGLE!? wearing CAMO? kicking ass Rambo style? it was enough to almost literally give me a sexual climax of some sort,  excited doesn’t even begin to describe it, if you haven’t seen it in years I suggest you try to look up that first E3 trailer (I know it used to be on youtube, but I’m not sure sure if it is anymore) and watch it again and see just how amazingly edited and staged it was for a video game trailer, it’s by far the best video game trailer ever made…

so yeah, I guess you could call me a big fan, but as with any fan of any major franchise, frustration always eventually follows, but we’ll get to that later, I wanted to experience the series in it’s heyday so last November I bought that “HD collection” and played the whole shebang from the start (don’t ask me why I’m only now writing the reviews)

METAL GEAR,  METAL GEAR 2: SOLID SNAKE:  so before I get to the Solid games I’d like to briefly mention  the origins of the series, I played these on the (of course) bonus disc included years with the special edition release of Metal Gear Solid 3 (and also the HD collection), I played Metal Gear only once and almost 4 years ago and I didn’t have a desire to play it again, to be honest I flat out don’t like it, at all, it’s curious that the first game in the series would be so disappointing but what can I say? it’s an exceedingly difficult and tedious game where you’re constantly wondering what the fuck you’re supposed to be doing and where to go,  I actually printed out a Gamefaqs guide to help me beat it just so I could say that I did, but I didn’t get much out of it, the plot is very basic and recounted numerous times in the other games, pretty much the only cool moment in the game comes right at the very end, with a part where Big Boss calls you on the radio and tells you to turn the game off (sound familiar?)

so forget Metal Gear, but if you’re a fan of the series you owe it to yourself to play Metal Gear 2 Solid Snake, it’s probably one of the most pleasant surprises I’ve ever had in gaming, it absolutely rocks and is SHOCKINGLY similar to Metal Gear Solid, the biggest difference is that it’s just in 2D, it’s crazy how ahead of the time and cutting edge this game is for it’s time (1990), this is pretty the much the real origin of Metal Gear as we know it, plus it just has such an overall cool old school style and atmosphere and the music is totally bitching

there are a few downsides though, the game’s not too hard (especially for a 1990 game), but there are some really painfully tedious moments in the game, if you thought some of the other games had a lot of backtracking it’s nothing compared to the constant backtracking in this one, so it lacks the replayability of the later games in the series, but it’s still a blast to play every so often

METAL GEAR SOLID –  honestly now, what can I say about this one? chances are if you’re a gamer you’ve played it yourself (and if not, what in the flying fuck is wrong with you?),  it’s a stone cold classic, one of the best games ever made period and certainly one of my personal favorite games

replaying it though was an interesting experience (and I’m talking about the PS1 original, fuck that Twin Snakes noise),  it had been a couple of years since I played it and going in I almost expected to be a bit bored because of not only how many times I played it in the past but how dated I thought it must be, but boy was I wrong, playing Metal Gear Solid again is like spending time with an old friend or watching one of your favorite movies, yeah it’s technically dated, but complaining about that is like complaining that the shark in Jaws is not CGI, the game is an absolute masterwork for it’s time and because of that the game still impresses on even a technical level because it’s insane what they somehow managed to get the PS1 to do

so yeah, Metal Gear Solid is a great game, but you knew that didn’t you?

METAL GEAR SOLID 2: SONS OF LIBERTY – uh oh, this is where things start to get a little controversial,  Metal Gear Solid 2 is without a doubt one of the most controversial games among gamers in history, it’s truly a love it or hate it affair and most gamers tragically seem to hate it

it’s weird when you think about it, the game got absolutely glowing reviews by the gaming press at the time of it’s release and now it’s reputation is largely that it’s a piece of shit,  how’d that happen?

well it’s simple, all of the complaints boil down pretty much to issues people had with the story, for the uninitiated the storyline in this takes some shocking twists and turns (dare I say the most shocking plot twists in video game history?) that just flat out pissed people off, but see, that was exactly the point, if something in the story pissed you off, well it was meant to

I’m not gonna write a huge plot analysis, but basically Hideo Kojima (the series creator) decided to take his new-found wealth and success and instead of giving what people wanted and expected decided to create the world’s first post modern video game, what he was trying to do was make a statement on video games as an artform, on the digital culture we live in, it’s some seriously thought provoking and intelligent stuff,  it’s pretty much the gaming equivalent of an arthouse movie, you aint gonna get that shit in your Goddamned Call of Duty games

but alas, it was not what people wanted and the game got hit with endless hate,  even from the gaming magazines themselves that once praised it, this has always perplexed me because it’s like someone complaining about a David Lynch movie or Terrence Malick movie or something, if movies as an artform can be allowed to be bizarre, shocking and not what the audience expects, why not video games? that’s all I’m saying, I know I’m coming off as pretentious, but people didn’t lose their shit over the similar plot twist in Bioshock, it was hailed as brilliant even though another game had already did it (and better, as much as I love Bioshock ) 6 years before

well for me I just flat out love Metal Gear Solid 2, I love pretty much everything about it, the graphics, the music, the voice acting, the plot, the characters,  everything, if there’s any complaints at all it’s that I wish there were more boss fights (and in fact there were originally going to be two more that got cut), but regardless it’s one of my top favorite games of all time and my personal favorite of the Metal Gear Solid series

and what I don’t think people give it enough credit for is the gameplay,  it took Metal Gear Solid 1’s stealth gameplay and perfected it, but people were too busy raging over the cutscenes to notice, even though you could just skip them…

METAL GEAR SOLID 3: SNAKE EATER – ok so now we’re back to a game that the fans actually liked, the last one that was largely loved as a matter of fact,  some even say it’s the best of the series, but I disagree and here’s why

first off, make no mistake, this is a great game, a classic, the idea of making a prequel Metal Gear Solid set in the cold war era 1960’s, staring Big Boss and putting it largely in the jungle instead of the typical Military Base is flat out genius, one of the best and most out of left field premises for a video game sequel ever

and the Boss fights, good Lord the boss fights, not all of them are really anything special but the few that do stick out stick out for a reason, especially the sniper duel with The End, this is such a brilliant moment, without a doubt not only one of the best moments of the entire series but one of the best Boss fights in history

so I love Metal Gear Solid 3, make no mistake, but replaying the entire series I just realized that it’s not the be all end all of the series

the main problem is thus, the whole camouflage aspect, the idea is that you’re sneaking through the jungle and need to hide from the soldiers right? it works well in theory but the problem is that it’s just too easy to hide and shoot the enemies one by one as they walk by

now I’m not normally one to complain about a game being too easy,  I played it on hard and certainly found it more of a challenge than I remember in the past, but not challenging enough, maybe I should try it on extreme, but in this case the first two games had such perfect balance in difficulty that it’s kind of jarring, the game is simply not as tightly designed as it’s predecessors, you have a lot of options, but most of the time there’s no real need to use them

but it’s certainly not enough to ruin the game or anything, but it’s just not the best in the series, that’s all…

so that’s the end of part 1, part 2 will come soon where I’ll cover Metal Gear Solid 4 and Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker, plus my thoughts on the upcoming Metal Gear Rising


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