Impressions
Episode

It's worth revisiting the ground breaking weirdness of iconic METAL GEAR SOLID MASTER COLLECTION VOL 1.

Each of the games included pushed what was possible with games on their original platforms and it's fantastic that you won't need to go second hand stores to experience them again.

October 23, 2023 6:00 PM

It's hard to really convey how it felt to play the METAL GEAR SOLID games back on their original platforms.

Almost every review of this new collection will mention that digital wizardry of the Psycho Mantis battle which got you to change controller plugs to win (which you can't do in this version), and reading the contents of your memory card, but this series is packed with moments that made you question and consider how you played.

In Metal Gear Solid 2 I actually turned off my PS2 the first time the Colonel told me to! That's what it had trained me to do.

These games were an experience and importantly I was probably a little bit young to be playing them at the time, but I was blown away by the level of interactivity, if you figured something might be possible lots of the time it was.

If you've never played any of the early games or maybe jumped in with MGS V, playing these originals might not feel that ground breaking, but they set the course of everything to come and this new collection is a great way to revisit a series that was pretty tricky to play on modern devices.

Everyone has a favourite game within this series and their story with how they started to play. I remember reading glossy Hyper Magazine copies which would rave about how these tactical games played.

I started with Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty a game that while basically standalone, relied a lot of understanding the context of the original game. Who was this Iroquois Plisken guy? Whoops.

When I eventually got a copy of the PS1 original and it was a real treat to understand all the payoffs the sequel delivered.

I just remember shooting out lights above soldiers to make them freak out, being a stealthy pest as you work through the Big Shell, moving from cover to cover, chucking chaff grenades at orbiting drones.

The game was weird and cool in the best way. I had the codec ringtone as my SMS message sound as soon as my phone supported it.

For many years it was basically impossible or really expensive to play this series and this package opens up the vault to players old and new.

Yeah I didn't really understand who that guy on the right was when I first played Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty

These games are both pinnacles of the era, but firmly products of their time It's made pretty clear at the beginning when you fire up each of the games that there are some outdated ideas embedded within.

I think most reasonable people would agree that this series has a pretty problematic portrayal of women, it feels a lot like a teenage fantasy world in many aspects, one that we rightly wouldn't accept today.

From a pure gameplay perspective, one of the biggest hurdles I faced while playing was actually adapting to the controls. While the interface design is still top notch, the way we play games has shifted a lot, and that muscle memory got me in trouble more than once as I pressed the wrong button, or pulled the wrong trigger. You press triangle to go into first person mode on the MGS1 rather than L2. It uses the default Japanese accept button of Circle rather than X, even in the main menus before launching the game proper. The other games within this package switch to the more common X to confirm Circle to cancel.

In MGS3 SNAKE EATER I stood up bolt in front of guards more than once when I hit the wrong button.

It's also from an era where you aren't easily guided through encounters and rooms, I kept thinking if someone didn't have the same familiarity with this game series that I did, I wondered how they'd fare. Time to load up a GameFAQ if you can't find the codec frequency on the disc case.

What I really appreciated that there is actually a lot to explore outside of the games themselves, with written screenplays, videos, graphic novels and a soundtrack. You can pick which language pack or version of the many re-releases you'd like to play, in the era before downloadable content if you didn't rebuy the whole repackaged MGS2: SUBSTANCE for example you missed out on the skateboarding. Yeah.

The METAL GEAR SOLID series isn't afraid of a remaster, it's been shifted to new platforms throughout the years, but until now there has been a weird gap where playing them legitimately was trickier than it needed to be.

There are still games that can't really be played outside of their original hardware, you'll have to wait until the MASTER COLLECTION Vol 2. before you can play Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, but with that being the only exception now every other main game in the series is now playable again.

If you have a fondness for the over the top Tactical Espionage Action, or you just want to see what all the fuss is about, it's worth joining Snake (Solid, Liquid, Naked and the rest) for another adventure.

A copy of METAL GEAR SOLID: MASTER COLLECTION VOL 1 on PlayStation 5 was provided to SIFTER for the purpose of this review.

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METAL GEAR SOLID: MASTER COLLECTION Vol. 1

PC
PlayStation 5
XBOX SERIES X|S
SWITCH
Developer:
Konami
Publisher:
Konami
Release Date:
October 24, 2023
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