Metal Gear Solid for the original Playstation is a bittersweet experience. On one hand, it’s an incredible game. On the other hand, Hideo Kojima destroyed the franchise so badly with his rampant fan service later on in the series that much of the story feels absolutely meaningless.
I’m going to recommend something right off the bat: If you’re a slave to what the creator of a series calls canon, then avoid everything Metal Gear. In fact, avoid everyone in your life who knows about the series, sell everything you own, and start wearing a tin-foil hat so that no one can telepathically interest you in this series. It’ll suck you in only to hurt you badly in the end, and you’re better off never even bothering.
If, however, you can accept that sometimes people get lucky, treat individual games as though they have no bearing on one another, and don’t mind the creator of a series waving around the deus ex machina wand in later entries like a drunk wizard, then welcome to MGS. This game is wonderful and will very likely become one of your most valued games.
In most games, coming in with a “kill everything in sight” mindset is a valid way of approaching the game. It doesn’t really matter which game one is referring to, they all kind of revolve around the idea of beating an enemy, then progressing past that enemy to an even stronger enemy. This game is different in that you’re better served avoiding your foes. After all, they’re heavily armed and you’re just one person against incredible odds. Stealth is your only friend, so taking a risk by killing someone you could just as easily slip past is no longer an option. I mean, it technically is, but it’s stupid nonetheless. Anyone who says otherwise is either a madman or a ninja.
The pacing in Metal Gear Solid is absolutely fantastic. There are enough interesting characters and twists that you’ll never be bored while playing, and even what little backtracking is necessary rarely feels like filler. It’s possible to sit down, start the game, and become so enraptured by its magic that you don’t stop playing until you’ve finished the game. I’ve seen it happen.
The voice acting is good, for the most part. Some lines occasionally feel forced, but there’s nothing so bad that it distracts you from the realism of the game. This is a game about a giant bipedal tank and I’m talking about it feeling realistic. That takes some serious writing skills, and I don’t go easy on writing in games. One of the game’s negatives, however, is that the story is often explained in lengthy cutscenes. It works within the confines of the game and isn’t that bad, but some people will be turned off by it (and with good reason—cutscenes are a lazy storytelling method). Another, much better way the story unfolds is through conversations with other characters over codec, which is basically a glorified radio that stimulates the bones in your ears so that no one can hear it but you. Ear magic, basically. Long story short, a lot of very different people with very different personalities will be giving you advice, and the story will slowly begin to be come together thanks in large part to this dialogue.
It’s hard to say if this is a good thing or a bad thing, but the game is incredibly dark (light-wise) at times. While this adds to the atmosphere, it also makes certain portions of the game frustrating to complete during the daytime. Maybe it’s just me, but I hate the sun. This game would be 10/10 if not for that stupid ball of light hovering in the sky like a giant fusion-y stalker. Good news for you non-sparkly vampires who avoid the sun, though: Your enjoyment of this game won’t be hampered in any way. The rest of us may be required to play in a room that isn’t too bright, or wait until nighttime to finish certain sections. Fortunately, these sections are very brief.
This game is just so good, but falling in love with it comes at the very depressing price of having to accept future games ruining everything good about the characters. If you can handle that price, however, then this game deserves your immediate attention.
Here’s what you should do: