I always knew I’d enjoy the Metal Gear Solid franchise. As a Yakuza/Like a Dragon fan, the soapiness, over-the-top spectacle, thick political intrigue, patriotism and bromances that are borderline homoerotic are prevalent in both. So, I waited, having the series on the ‘one day’ gaming bucket list to get through. With the recent release of the Metal Gear Solid Master Collection Vol.1, that time is now. Checking out the original Metal Gear Solid through to 3 on the Switch, I’m an official convert and hankering for more.
The first three Metal Gear Solid games are as iconic as they come. Finally, I’ve experienced the trademark scenes. Fighting the Sorrow and learning the only way Snake can defeat the ghostly entity is by dying himself. The slow gradual climb up a ladder as the song Snake Eater kicks in. Even the boss fight against Psychomantis holds up well, even when the best they can do to emulate swapping controllers is a menu prompt. Trust me when I say I treated each of these moments with the utmost reverence, beholden to their cheesy, over-the-top but oh-so-good majesty.
Outside of these known and beloved moments, it’s still just as easy to fall in love with the Metal Gear Solid series today. Playing through the first entry, it sunk in how one of the most adored PlayStation 1 games was this weird little meta isometric action game. That’s a cool thing to be reminded of to this day, as you begin to peel away the mysteries that await in the snow-drenched nuke facility. This sensation continues. Only now it’s in more of a cinematic spectacle, including the Big Shell rig where all there is around you is miles and miles of water, or the dense Soviet Jungles found in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater.
For every iffy interaction with a female character that had my eyes rolling (I’m more acquainted with this now since my first title from Kojima was Death Stranding), there are equally as many charming interactions between the cast and bits of the world to dig into. Meryl is a character that is not particularly treated well, designed to be ogled and an object to Snake, but I can’t help but feel protective of and in awe of her capabilities band hidden depths. Raiden is a cold and distant figure who finds a love for killing. Even Mei Ling, the friendly face you call up to save your game in the first title, is someone who’s always happy to see you with plenty to say. It’s incredibly endearing.
Bonus features for the games, including script books for each, are a simple but welcome addition to emphasise the operatic and explosive nature of the titles. The side VR and Special Missions found in the first Metal Gear Solid flesh out this package even further, remaining hard to sneeze at if you’re desperate for something more. Even little flourishes like being able to change the borders surrounding the games to different picturesque artworks and the ability to create mock save data for other Konami games for Psycho Mantis to read out mid-battle. You’d be lying if you said Konami didn’t try with the Master Collection Vol. 1 at least a little bit.
However, I’m not blind to the ways in which this all could’ve been something more grandiose. Each individual game is its own file with its own launcher on the Switch, clogging up your home screen, something that should’ve just been all in one for the video-game library neat freaks like me. The games also being locked with a lower framerate and under 4k is another weak link. Including as an addition to or even replacing the original Metal Gear Solid with the GameCube remake Twin Snakes also could’ve further emphasised the spectacle and quality of the package. Alas, just the original here.
When you consider this and the high price point, it’s a hard sell for loyal fans of the series. However, I’m entirely new to the Metal Gear Solid franchise and this just worked for me. Outside of the staple, banner Nintendo releases, the Switch at this point for me is often a machine used to play classic games on a handheld in the comfort of my bed. I can simply do that here today. With a modern device!
So, I come to the conclusion that whether phoned-in or going all-out, more Metal Gear Solid is never a bad thing in my book. I can’t fault the anger directed at the series’ handling in more recent years. Although I also won’t refrain from being incredibly stoked that this precious little gem of a franchise is alive today. Sometimes, that’s enough. Bring on Volume 2.
Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol. 1 is available now for PC, PlayStation 4 and 5, Xbox Series X|S and Nintendo Switch. Check it out.