Review by El Greco

"Simply incredible..."

Introduction

Metal Gear Solid is the third installment of the ‘Metal Gear’ series created by Hideo Kojima. The game has gained massive popularity and respect all over the gaming community for its incredible quality in every aspect of what makes a game good. Since its release in 1999 there has been one sequel and a few spin-off games that have included VR Missions and non-series linear stories, the series has since expanded to the Playstation 2, Xbox, GameCube, PC, and Game Boy attracting a rather large crowd of fans. After it's release on the PSX Konami brought it to the PC for those who did not have a PlayStation, they cleaned up the graphics a little bit and added a few new features to it like more VR missions.

The main reason why I picked this game up is because of how much I liked MGS2, and also it was cheap, only about $20. I must say that I am truly impressed at how well Kojima and his team created this game and how well it all plays out. I almost didn’t buy this game because I was worried that the graphics would suck and it would just be pretty bad in general since most of the PSX games that I have played have all been sub-par (Metal Gear Solid was originally a PSX game before Konam brought it to PC gamers). I was dead wrong about that. This game has been my favorite game ever since I first placed it inot my PC's disk tray.

I was somewhat worried that I wouldn’t understand the story of the game since I had not played the previous two Metal Gear games (Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2 on the NES) but to my surprise and relief there was a section in the main menu of the game called “Previous Story” that explained the entire two previous games.

This review is almost all praise for the game mainly because there are very few negative points to make about it. This game is almost undeserving of a score lower than a 10. Just because I gave it a 10/10 that doesn’t mean by any means that this game is perfect, this game is so close to it that I gave it one. The score has been rounded off from a decimal score.

Story

Solid Snake has been pulled out of retirement by his former FOXHOUND commander Roy Campbell. Apparently, a group of FOXHOUND members, with the aid of Next-Generation Special Forces, have violently taken control of a small nuclear weapons disposal facility on Shadow Moses Island, in the Fox Archipelago of Alaska. They are demanding that the government turn over the remains of the 20th centuries greatest soldier Big Boss, which are being held in a government storage facility. They also demand that the government pay them the sum of $1 billion. If the government does not accede to their demands they will launch a nuclear weapon. Snake reluctantly agrees to carry out this mission. He is taken near the disposal facility by sub, where he then is launched in an SDV (Swimmer Delivery Vehicle) to get in undetected through the base's radar system from there on he has to swim through the frigid Alaskan waters to the underground dock in the facility. The gameplay starts once Snake has successfully infiltrated the sea dock in the disposal facility.

This game is in no way close to how MGS2’s came out, there are occasional plot twists that leave you open-mouthed, a great deal of tension, and many emotional parts that MGS2 failed to succeed in creating. If Kojima-san had followed what made this story great then he could have made that game appeal to many more people than it did.

The best thing about the story is that it is intense at almost every part of the game, you are never left bored or unsatisfied by the events in the game. This game has actually brought me very close to tears (although I don’t really want to admit it) at some points in the game, which has never happened in any other game before, and only a few times during movies. The game actually compares quite favorably to the stories of my favorite books, surprisingly enough.

The story is a bit long-winded at times, some characters drone on about their past and make long deathbed confessionals to Snake after he defeats them, but I find that it only improves the story. The long talks expand the story so that you can understand their motives and actions.

To my surprise the game has two endings, this is a big difference from most action-type games that I know of. This feature will definitely have you coming through the game at least for one more play through so that you can see what happens in the other ending. So durability is definitely increased with the two endings.

One of my favorite features of this game is the “Demo Theatre”, this allows you to watch all of the cut-scenes and codec calls all the way through the game without gameplay. This feature is a bit tough to work with though; if you want to watch a cut-scene near the end of the game then you have to skip over quite a few scenes before that until you get to it. The cut-scenes are split into two parts, “Roll A” contains the first half of the scenes and “Roll B” contains the other half, so you are saved a little bit of time there.

Sound

The first thing the player will notice about the game is the quality of the sound, from the moment the game’s opening sequence begins, where the slow, solemn music plays, the player will immediately begin to feel that this game is not your average game, I certainly did. Then you hear the first voices in the game, of Roy Campbell (voiced by Paul Eiding) and Solid Snake (David Hayter). They begin discussing their plans for the infiltration of Shadow Moses and the specific objectives for the mission. This part of the game serves as a briefing for the player on the crisis, characters, and location.

The voice acting is one factor that makes this game incredible, all of the characters have voices that fit them great. The best part about the voices is that it sounds real, not acted out and reading from scripts type acting. Snake has a gruff and badass voice that makes his role seem even more incredible.

I must say that the music in this game fits it almost perfectly, the music that plays during the boss battles is upbeat and it almost kelps you to get past that part in the game. The rest of the music is rather morose and depressing, especially the end theme of the game “The Best is yet to Come”. That song is now one of my favorites and shall always be. The only music in this game that I do not like is the piano music that plays when something tragic happens in this game or a character is pouring out their emotions on an event, it just seems to unpolished and it doesn’t fit very well with me. Certainly, it fits the parts in which it plays but it is not very good.

Some of the sounds are quite amusing, for example when Snake is spotted by an enemy a big exclamation point will form over the enemy’s head and a loud ‘discovered’ sound will play. There is a somewhat similar thing when a guard becomes suspicious of something, a big question mark will form and a typical ‘huh?’ noise will play.

Graphics

One of the first questions you may have is, “Why is it called Metal Gear Solid?” Most people believe that the ‘Solid’ is for Solid Snake. That is not true, the Solid is a reference to the graphics. Hideo Kojima wanted to make a statement about this game as to how revolutionary the game was going to be so he included that little reference in the title of the game. The graphics are quite ‘solid’, and ever since yhe game was upgraded from the PSX to the PC they are even more so. There is a fair amount of detail such as breath freezing, wet footsteps, splashing in puddles, boot prints in snow, falling snow flakes, blood coming out when either Snake or another character is shot, and explosion marks on walls and floors. The graphical detail in this game is wonderful. Character movement is fluid and realistic, there is no choppiness to the graphics at all. In the beginning of the game the graphics are a bit splotchy but it is only for a few seconds, then the game’s graphics stay excellent for the entire game.

The character models in this game are simply amazing; I was quite impressed by them, considering that they were on a PSX game that came out 5 years ago, and then ported to PC. Most of them really are quite nice, some of the characters do only appear in cut-scenes, or mostly in cut-scenes so that makes them even better than they would in the normal gameplay. The enemy designs are good, they are somewhat unvaried and typical but they look good, which is best.

From the PSX version of the game the graphics have been cleaned up a lot. The graphics have improved significantly and makes the game much more enjoyable. If you own both versions of the game then you will see a definite difference.

Gameplay

For those of you who don’t know yet, Metal Gear Solid is a stealth game. This means that you must avoid your enemies instead of the typical Rambo action style games. You must use your head and when necessary your weapons to make your way through the enemy base and accomplish your mission. If you happen to be found the enemy will surround and attack you and if you have hidden yourself they will search for you. Stealth is your best option since the odds are greatly stacked up against you if you are found or choose to disregard the necessity of stealth.

The gameplay is the best thing in the game, aside from the story. Even though the original game was somewhat limited by the power of the PSX, it still was incredible for its day and age. And since it was upgraded from PSX to PC the game has made dramatic improvements, overall. Everything seems much smoother and fluid than it did before. This game packs a great deal of fun.

The boss battles in this game are the best in any game that I have ever played; they each have their own unique feel and strategy to them and will require you to combine your wits and your skills to beat them.

The game does rely a lot on backtracking through the base to pick up certain pieces of equipment and supplies so it does get kind of tedious going back and forth, but luckily they had anticipated the boredom and placed in a few new obstacles each time we go through, to keep us on our toes.

For those of you worried about the difficulty of the game don’t worry, the game does come equipped with several difficulty levels to accommodate the skill level of almost all players. On Easy the game is… well… easy, so people that have not played stealth or action-type games can play on this level and complete the game without getting completely discouraged. The next level is Normal, it is for people that have played the previous games or feel that they can tackle a good, challenging action-adventure game. Extreme is the hardest difficulty, it really is the most realistic difficulty of the game, you take the normal amount of damage that a normal human can take, you can only carry so much ammo and supplies, and the game is just all around more difficult, this is where experienced players can take on the challenge of getting the Big Boss rank (highest ranking possible) when they complete the game, getting this will surely plug you into your game for many play throughs until you finally get it.

Before you start the game though you can hone your infiltration skills through a series of VR missions included in the game. You can practice your survival, sneaking, and shooting skills (along with a bit of puzzle solving) so that once you start the game you aren’t continually getting the “Game Over” screen. Once you clear all of them you get to see the computer’s best time with the missions, which makes you a little bit jealous, but you get to see better strategies on the missions which you had trouble with.

The PC version of the game got SO (tons) many more missions than its predecessor. These do provide even more fun and action for you to enjoy. These will certainly keep you occupied for at least as long as the game did when you first played it.

There are four types of missions: Sneaking, Special, Weapon, and Advanced. The Sneaking missions will have you sneaking around guards, cameras, and anything else Konami feels like throwing at you. Not very fun for most people but they do present quite a challenge.

The Weapon missions will have you equipped with one of the weapons in the game (SOCOM, Stinger, Nikita...) and throw dozens of targets at you to destroy. Not as much fun as shooting the hapless guards in the game but still fun nonetheless.

Special will have you faced with a certain unique task to accomplish. This can be anything from shooting down UFOs to destroying a giant 20 story tall guard. This is probably the most fun filled set of missions in the game. These alone I would pay the price of $20 for.

Lastly, the Advanced missions will pit you against VR generated guards, they act the same way as the guards in the normal game except they do not actually exist. They will require to be killed in unique and varied ways that you would not normally think of when playing the game, hence improving your skills in tactical espionage action.

Pros
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-excellent graphics
-great music
-wonderful story
-fun to play
-controls are well worked out
-demo theatre

Cons
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-story may be too long-winded for impatient people
-some music is a bit off
-the story may make ‘tough guys’ cry
-somewhat short

Story: 9.8
Sound: 9.6
Music: 9.5
Graphics: 9.7
Gameplay: 9.4

Final Score: 9.6

Overall

This game is one hell of a ride, if you haven’t already picked it up then do so you will not regret it. Since its very cheap nowadays it is not going to take a huge financial commitment from you. I can tell you, 1 year after I bought this game that it was well worth the money that I spent, if I had known the game was going to be this good I would have paid a price similar to that of a new PS2 game ($50). This game is one of the closest examples of a game being perfect, now get off your ass, go to the store and pick up what is perhaps one of the greatest games ever made.


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 10/13/03, Updated 10/15/03


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