'Metal Gear Solid' offers interactive military adventure
January 20, 1999
By CNN Interactive Associate Editor John Robinson
(CNN) -- As one of the most anticipated PlayStation games of the past year, "Metal Gear Solid" certainly had a lot to live up to when it released. Much to the delight of gamers everywhere, it was every bit as good as expected taking video games to a new level with an immersive storyline and beautifully rendered graphics. The end result is that we move one step closer to being able to watch a great movie and play a great video game at the same time.
In "Metal Gear Solid", you play agent Solid Snake who must infiltrate an Alaskan base that has been taken over by terrorists. These terrorists are members of a group known as Fox Hound, which happens to be Snake's old unit. The members of Fox Hound have threatened to launch a nuclear weapon unless the remains of their dead leader, Big Boss, are returned to them. The terrorists also have access to a new top secret weapon known as Metal Gear, a mechanical walker said to be capable of launching a nuclear missile.
Snake's mission is to determine whether or not the terrorists have the ability to launch a nuke and, if they do, to stop it. The only weapons (if you can call them that) available at the beginning of the game are a scope, a pack of smokes and a Codec (in-ear radio transmitter). All of the other weapons and items Snake will need to complete the mission will be available via OSP (on-site procurement).
The heart of "Metal Gear Solid" is a really great story told via information gleaned from other characters on the Codec and by watching the game's numerous FMV (full-motion-video) segments. As the plot thickens, you will find yourself spending nearly as much time watching the game as you do playing it. It is the deep storyline and abundance of dialogue that truly makes you feel as if you are the star of the game and that the fate of the world is in your hands.
As with most action-adventure video games, playing "Metal Gear Solid" can be a bit frustrating because it is sometimes necessary to repeat a section of the game dozens of times before you move on to the next section. In other words, you die a lot. Even so, the rewards are definitely sweet when you do finally master a hard section of the game.
Unlike most action-adventure games, stealth is key to staying alive in this game. Even though Snake picks up many powerful weapons along the way, they are only used when absolutely necessary. A radar screen helps you locate enemies as well as the doors and elevators you will need to use and a successful mission almost always depends on your ability to remain unseen. Enemy guards are alerted to your presence mainly by sight, but if a guard hears you or sees your footprints, they will usually investigate. If you do happen to get spotted, your game is pretty much over because several guards will show up almost immediately with guns blazing.
After an hour or so of practice, you'll appreciate the intuitive and well-designed control scheme and using a Dual Shock controller is an absolute must. The controller vibrates in time to what is happening on the screen during the game and video segments adding a lot of realism to the overall experience. Things like the slightly bumpy feel of riding an elevator or the sharp buzz of getting shot in the back by a guard take on a whole new meaning with the Dual Shock controller.
To say that "Metal Gear Solid" is a beautiful game to look at and listen to would hardly do it justice. Everything from the icy blue color of the Alaskan landscape to the ominous orchestra music that plays in the background prove that attention was given to even the smallest of details. For example, when Snake is outside he leaves footprints in the snow and the vapor from his breath is visible. That attention to detail goes a long way in helping to keep you interested in playing a game that doesn't rely on an abundance of action.
The only real drawback to "Metal Gear Solid" is that the game doesn't have a whole lot of longevity. It is basically a long story told with various battles and puzzles thrown in to keep it the player involved. Once you finish the game, much like reading a great book, you will probably find yourself looking for a nice shelf to keep it on. That is not to say that you won't go back and play it again later because there are multiple endings to the "Metal Gear Solid" saga. It just isn't the type of game you play over and over again. Keeping that in mind, "Metal Gear Solid" is definitely a game that will captivate you from start to finish and is a great title to have in your PlayStation library.
"Metal Gear Solid" from Konami contains violence and adult themes and has received a Mature (17 years old and up) rating from the ESRB. For more information on game ratings, click on the ESRB link below.
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