Blast from the Past
The stealth action defining Metal Gear Solid and its love of the absurd
Not only was Hideo Kojima’s Metal Gear Solid from 1998 an all-new genre being defined before our very eyes, but it also shamelessly tore down the fourth wall to bring us closer to the madness of this game’s world.
Solid Snake is one of the most iconic video game characters because of the insane rich tapestry of conspiracy that Kojima Productions put together for Metal Gear Solid. It has so many moving parts that just playing it through once would never be enough because you’ll miss things — subtle little hints, nods and winks you’ll only get at its conclusion.
‘Stealth action’ didn’t really exist but then along came Metal Gear Solid for the original PlayStation back in late 1998. Suddenly we were hiding behind corners, ducking behind crates and crawling through vents. All the while armed guards patrol corridors and rooms while radar shows their position and, more importantly, their cone of vision. A new era had begun and it’s something that has carried through the series and been adopted by other games and genres since.
“What’s with these guys? It’s just like one of my Japanese animes!”
It was the gruff voice of Solid Snake, played by David Hayter in the English version, and the slow introduction to an ever expanding cast of allies, enemies and allies-turned-enemies that drip fed information to grow the world around you. Many would have played MGS when they were just kids so most of the technical lingo would go right over our heads, but it was all just so ‘cool’ at the time.
Enemies didn’t have to be killed because this wasn’t just some run-and-gun corridor shooter. You could make the choice to just knock them out, maybe to conserve ammunition, or just because you wanted the challenge. Alarms being raised would flood an area with reinforcements as you fight them or hide and wait it out. You’d procure weapons on site, just like an infiltrating badass would, and increase your arsenal. There were security measures to watch out for too.
Aside from the story evolving over the span of the game into quite a conspiracy nut’s dream, Metal Gear Solid was full of little absurdities and inside jokes or pop culture references. Kojima would even smash down the fourth wall whenever he felt like it. The game infamously ‘hides’ one of the game’s radio frequencies you need to use in order to progress in the story on the back of the actual disc jewel case — the thing physically housing the game discs.
“Not yet, Snake! IT’S NOT OVER YET!”
Boss fights were also major events in Metal Gear and rarely disappointed with some iconic moments. Who could forget their showdown with a snowy sniper who loves wolves? What about the guy capable of psychokinesis that flings objects around and even goads you by reading the PlayStation memory card to remark on how much you’ve been saving your game? To defeat him in the original PlayStation version you’d have to physically unplug your controller and insert it into the player two slot, as otherwise he’d ‘read’ what moves you’re going to make. It was a genius and risky move in the game’s design.
Metal Gear Solid to this day remains one of the greatest video games in the history of the industry for the sum of all its parts; how it defined an all-new stealth action genre that didn’t really exist before, and giving us a huge story that didn’t treat you like an idiot but would just assume you’d pick it up along the way. Codec calls, huge exclamation points of alert, hiding in cardboard boxes, mashing ‘O’ to resist torture… it all just worked. Mention the name ‘Shadow Moses’ and see the nostalgic bomb go off in a fan’s eyes.
Where to get Metal Gear Solid today?
You could try to find a physical copy of the game for PlayStation or PC, but it will be difficult. You can get a digital copy through the PlayStation Network but that only supports the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable. There are no digital copies for PC sadly, and it’s a borderline crime there’s been no remaster.
You could turn to My Abandonware which includes fixes put together by the community for it to work on modern systems, but there’s no guarantee it will work.
Getting Started Guide
Red Dead Redemption 2
The ultimate cowboy simulator is finally out on PC – and Google Stadia too, let’s not forget that – after a year of waiting, so for anyone taking the plunge into Rockstar’s latest epic, you’ll quickly find there’s an intimidating amount to do. So intimidating you’ll need a guide, in fact, so let’s get started in Red Dead Redemption 2!
Take your time with the first chapter
The first chapter of Red Dead Redemption 2 gets a lot of flack from players. It’s a long section of character and story-building set in the snowy mountains to the north, which isn’t open-world or free to explore at all – contrary to the game’s design. However, that doesn’t mean it’s without worth, as it’s an extended tutorial for every key part of the game – including Dutch’s gang, which is at the heart of RDR2. Soak it all in before you’re granted your freedom.
Get used to the controls, fast
Going hand in hand with what we said above, chapter 1 is a great place to get used to Red Dead Redemption 2’s controls, which are – to be charitable – utterly bat-guano crazy, like all Rockstar games. Nine times out of ten you’ll ride a horse into town, accidentally speed up, plough down a pedestrian, get a bounty for murder, and have the entire town shooting at you. If you didn’t get the hang of them during the world’s second longest tutorial (after Final Fantasy XIII), you’ll have to practise during the freedom of chapter 2. It absolutely will save your life.
Don’t be tempted by all that freedom… yet
Once you hit chapter 2, after the pure agony of chapter 1, you’re going to want to go buck-wild. Chapter 2 gives you access to the entire open-world of Red Dead Redemption 2, and while a few bits (such as Blackwater) will be trickier than others, you generally can go where you want. This would be a mistake. By all means, do a bit of exploring, but we suggest resisting the desire to go all over the map until at least chapter 3. Why? You’ll learn more, get access to more weapons and better horses, can fast travel easier, have more money, and certain events won’t trigger if you’re too early in the game. Hold off, for now. If you can.
Side-stories are everywhere
Good, you’ve held off and stuck to generally the story of Red Dead Redemption 2 – now you’ve probably discovered that the game is probably the most mission-packed of any Rockstar title. No matter where you go, you’ll be able to find something to do. You can pick up bounties, talk to people marked on your map for special missions, investigate interesting ‘?’ points on the map, or literally just ride around and wait for something exciting to happen. Go on, it’ll happen!
Hard up for cash? Go on a treasure hunt
One of two things will happen during your time with Red Dead Redemption 2 – you’ll either get more money than you’ll know what to do with, or you’ll be hard up for cash and not be able to afford the decent guns, upgrades, or outfits you want. You will eventually have plenty of money, but the quickest, simplest way to avoid the latter scenario forever is to go on a treasure hunt mission. These may take you all over the map and will probably require a walkthrough (thanks internet!) but get gold bars off one and you’ll be set for the entire game. If only Dutch thought about that.
Feel free to focus on the storyline
Sooner or later, the freedom of Red Dead Redemption 2’s world will get to you – probably in terms of free time, now that you don’t have any. Out of every open-world game we’ve ever played, RDR2 is probably the most vicious – even more than Skyrim, which at least has easy fast travel and not something new happening every four seconds. In other words, don’t panic if you just want to dial it in and play the story missions – we did, and we felt much better for it. We finished Red Dead Redemption 2! That feels so good to say, despite missing half of it…