Tim Tan Huynh

Metal Gear Solid

3 Sep 2018 — This video game made sneaking around and snapping necks cool.
Metal Gear Solid
The minimalism of the original NTSC cover for Metal Gear Solid was ahead of its time.

This 20th anniversary almost sneaked by me like Solid Snake has sneaked by so many unsuspecting guards. I knew that Metal Gear Solid was released 20 years ago, but I didn’t know the release date until I saw this YouTube video in my subscription feed.

I remember having the issue of GamePro with Solid Snake on the cover and telling people at school about the game. I was interested in Metal Gear Solid even though I didn’t have a PlayStation at the time. A few of my friends rented it, and the consensus was that it was good, but it was short. I remember one critic defending the relative lack of content by arguing that video games should be evaluated like movies: the quality is most important.

I rented the game a year or two later and got as far as the fight against the cyborg ninja. I finally got a PlayStation in 2001 after I had sold my Nintendo 64 and various games. The first PS game that I bought was MGS and I got both endings about a month before the release of Metal Gear Solid 2. I believe that the widespread popularity of MGS had led to its sequel being the most-anticipated and the best-selling game of the series.

The technology is dated and—even for the late 90s—the story is corny, but the real-world setting and cinematic presentation had been ground-breaking. The sneak-and-peak approach and tense atmosphere complete the template that has defined the MGS games. I was amazed by the gameplay variety within this template, and I actually dreaded facing each member of Foxhound because I knew that every “boss fight” was going to be tough.

I enjoyed the game and being immersed in its universe. Immediately after I beat the game for a second time, to see the ending that I didn’t get the first time, I was motivated to do something that involved the game. I didn’t want to play it again, so I wrote a basic web page about it. Over the next several years, I taught myself how to code HTML and CSS as well as how to use Photoshop while I made a fan site about the series.

I’m no longer obsessed with the Metal Gear games like I’d been 10-20 years ago. I planned to play through and write about Metal Gear Solid 4 to honor the 10th anniversary of its release, but that window has closed. At least I can write about its predecessor, the game that has inspired my imagination and my improvement for the better part of 20 years. Sadly, the Metal Gear series has seen far better days.

The bitter separation of its creator Hideo Kojima and its publisher Konami, three years ago, has ended the saga of Solid Snake. I think that, starting 10 years ago, the rise of the Call of Duty series has irreversibly made the industry favor competitive-multiplayer shooters. Truth be told, I’d rather play remasters of the Modern Warfare games these days, but I always make my custom classes based on the MGS games.