It was the fall of 1998. School had just started and as I usually liked to do back then, I went to go visit my friend Manny after classes were over. Manny had just gotten a new game called Metal Gear Solid for the original Playstation and he was completely losing his mind over it. I was a Sega Saturn dude so I didn’t really pay attention to the hype that MGS had no doubt gotten during the summer. I was such a die-hard Sega fan that I refused to even touch the PS1 controller to play MGS myself. Instead Manny played as I watched.
The intro starts and I was introduced to a man named Solid Snake. Snake is sent to Alaska to stop terrorists from launching a nuclear strike on America. This was about three minutes in and already MGS was the most cinematic game I had ever seen. Then we got to the part that would be forever seared into my mind. The game begins…and the credits continue to roll. I turned to Manny and said “Dude, are you PLAYING during the credits?” and he goes “Yup, I’m playing during the credits”. He then began to spin Snake around in a circle to prove this was actually all in game. That right there was the most mind blowing experience I’ve had with a game up to that point. And this was just the first ten minutes of the game!
Like I said before, I didn’t own a Playstation and since I was a Sega loyalist, didn’t plan to buy one. Instead, I kept visiting Manny throughout that week and watched him play the whole game. Yeah I know, I pulled a Jagon and watched an entire game be played instead of playing it myself. However after watching that intro and seeing the first two hours of the game, I HAD to see the rest.
The high quality of the voice acting was something that I’d never heard before. Remember that back then, Resident Evil reigned supreme. The level of voice acting in that game was pretty much the standard at the time. Not in Metal Gear Solid though. This was a game that had voice acting on par with anything produced in Hollywood. The story wasn’t as deep as those of RPGs but considering that I wasn’t a fan of that genre back then, the plot to MGS was easily the best I’d experienced in a game. The graphics were completely unreal and it was hard to believe that all of it ran in real time. No CG at all. As far as presentation went, MGS couldn’t be touched.
My favorite part of Metal Gear Solid, and I’m sure this goes for most people who’ve played it, was the boss battles. Each boss had a distinctive personality and a unique way that you had to defeat them. Of course everyone who’s ever played a video game knows about the infamous Psycho Mantis boss battle. This fight was totally insane because you had to use the second controller to defeat him since he could read what you would do on the first. The part where he reads your memory card was hilarious and started what would be a history of Metal Gear Solid games breaking the fourth wall.
I loved all the boss battles. Revolver Ocelot, Cyborg Ninja, Sniper Wolf, Vulcan Raven and the aforementioned Psycho Mantis, were all standouts in their own way. For me however, the best boss battles involved Solid Snake’s brother: Liquid Snake. You fought Liquid several times but my favorites were the two battles that involved Metal Gear Rex.
Rex was a giant Mech that Liquid piloted and before you could go one on one with him, you had to take down Rex. The scale of this battle was crazy because it was Snake versus this massive mechanical monstrosity. The end of the battle had a huge twist as your former enemy, Cyborg Ninja, sacrifices himself so that you could finally defeat Rex. The fight that you have against Liquid on top of Rex was a total nod to 1980s action movies. It was two shirtless dudes punching the shit out of each other. I loved when Snake would punch Liquid off the edge of Rex and then punched him again as he got back up. The final chase scene that took place in a narrow tunnel was better than any chase sequence I had ever seen in a movie.
When the Dreamcast died I had no choice but to get onto the Playstation bandwagon. When I bought a Playstation 2, Metal Gear Solid was the first game I got. I could finally play it on my own. Seeing the game being played was awesome but actually PLAYING it took that experience to a whole other level. I kept playing it over and over again to discover every single little fun thing that Kojima and company had hidden throughout the game.
A few weeks before the release of Metal Gear Solid 4, I went and replayed MGS and while some things hadn’t aged well, it was still a blast to play. Metal Gear Solid is without a doubt a true classic. For me it was the first real glimpse at the future of interactive entertainment and is something that has had a huge impact on me as a gamer. Metal Gear Solid is one of the most important games ever released and one of my all-time favorites.
Illustration by E-Mann