Metal Gear Solid and its sequels are seminal titles in the history of video games, pioneering the 3D stealth-action genre in conjunction with an ambitious approach to cinematic storytelling. Replaying them again after more than 15 years put me in a state of constant surprise as I was reminded how much each game is still ingrained in the recesses of my brain. From finishing lines of dialogue I hadn’t heard since the PlayStation 2 was brand-new to being able to navigate the winding corridors, air vents, and layered depths of Shadow Moses and Big Shell like the back of my hand–it’s clear how much of an impact the series had on my youth, and I know I’m not the only one. Because of this, the Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol. 1 feels important, both as a means of historical preservation and as a nostalgia-fueled time machine for one of the most influential series of all time.
Konami has certainly assembled an impressive assortment of games for this bundle, beginning where it all started for creator Hideo Kojima. The original 8-bit Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake–as well as the standalone NES version of Metal Gear and the non-canonical sequel, Snake’s Revenge–are all included in the Master Collection. Having been released in 1987 and 1990 for the MSX2 computer platform, Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2 are showing their age–though surprisingly not to the point where their archaic design renders them unplayable. Played from an overhead 2D perspective, ranged combat is inherently clunky due to your restrictive four-way movement, and any missteps are at the mercy of an unforgiving checkpoint system. Despite these flaws, however, there aren’t many aspects of either game that feel so antiquated that you can’t get something positive out of playing them. It helps that the controls have been updated and unified for this collection, with both triggers letting you access either the items or weapons in your inventory, much like they do in the Metal Gear Solid games. Other than this, Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2 are unchanged from the originals.
More than anything, revisiting the series’ humble beginnings essentially functions as a virtual museum, providing you with a fascinating look at how familiar elements began and then evolved as Metal Gear made the monumental shift to 3D. Both games–particularly Metal Gear 2–feel like blueprints for what was to come, establishing the foundations for Metal Gear Solid and stealth-action video games as a whole. Codec conversations, alert statuses, enemy-identifying radar, and gameplay concepts such as crawling through vents and using sound to draw the enemy’s attention were all part of the series’ roots over 33 years ago. Even if you have no interest in seeing either game through to completion, it’s worth at least giving them a try to see where Metal Gear got its start.
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