Metal Gear Solid: Still the King
What was, without a doubt, the greatest game ever made in the 32-bit era? One would be hard-pressed to find a gamer willing to argue that it was not Metal Gear Solid.
Whether it was obtained in its initial run with the 90s equivalent of Origin promo codes and cash or found in a bargain bin amidst trash, anyone that has experienced it will know there is solid backing to the claims of its greatness. It combined stealth, action, narrative, characterization, and gameplay into something that was more than the sum of its parts, into a finished product that didn’t just rival the best action movies – it surpassed them. The sequels added new features, expanded upon elements of the plot, and created a narrative that people could write entire treatises on and still not fully analyze, but it seems as if only the “first” entry in the series – there were titles that came out before MGS – has proven it can stand on its own.
The gameplay is among the reasons why this title has lasted so long and is so well-liked. Never before have stealth, shooting, and reflexes come together to create such an epic experience. Even without the additional hand-to-hand combat options made apparent in the remake, The Twin Snakes, MGS boasts some of the most riveting combat ever put into game form. From the twitch-timing of tossing grenades into an open hatch in a tank to a prolonged sniper battle against an opponent with a better rifle, more experience, and the high ground, the action elements were perfectly in place. The use of real-world guns like the SOCOM and FAMAS rifle just added a touch of “this could really happen” to the engrossing plot and setting.
Of course, one can’t talk about MGS without mentioning stealth. This is one of the games where it truly is more beneficial to play the stealth game, because a player that runs in guns blazing will find some problems. For starters, guns and ammo are rare in this game. Another is that the enemy is always better-armed until very late in the plot, though even by that point, stealth is still the superior approach. This means hiding in all sorts of crevices, in the shadows, just outside the line of sight of the troops. Or, in appropriate cases, in cardboard boxes – the game provides three of them with different locations labeled on them that can, for clever players, serve as quick transport between three major areas of the military facility the game is set in.