I feel sorry for The Witcher 3.
If it was released any other year, then it would have easily been the game of the year. Unfortunately Geralt of Rivia’s sword has to cut through Big Boss’ prosthetic arm first. I’m always surprised by the lack of people I’ve encountered that have played a Metal Gear Solid game. Hopefully that will now change with the release of the marvel that is The Phantom Pain. Newcomers can thank Kojima that they won’t need to know as much of the confusing MGS story to enjoy this instalment, however hardcore fans do still get rewarded with little quirks from time to time. You’ll find the review for the game on our website but perhaps you’d like to know what makes Metal Gear great first.
The original Metal Gear Solid (1998) popularized the stealth genre and served as the benchmark for stealth/action games to follow, e.g. Splinter Cell, Hitman. It was so much more than just a stealth game though. We’re talking about a game that incorporates a crazy cyborg ninja going toe to toe with a huge bipedal tank mech. It was THE game that made me realise: “Holy shit, videogames are actually the most beautiful art form ever to have existed!” It radiated unmeasurable amounts of charisma. Thankfully, Hideo Kojima stayed faithful to the formula and directed six more games with the same charm as the original.
Pick up any MGS game and you’ll be pretty confused straight off the mark though. Are you playing a video game or watching a film? The cutscenes are exceptionally long. So long in fact that Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (2008) holds two world records: the longest cutscene ever in a videogame at 27 minutes and the longest sequence of cutscenes ever in a videogame at 71 minutes. Over 9 hours of the game is comprised of just cutscenes! You either love this or you hate it: Marmite Gear Solid? They are essential in explaining the extremely convoluted plot, which to this day, I still don’t comprehend fully. Albeit, it’s the only franchise that has actually made me verbally exclaim WTF?! And I’m gonna ‘fess up and say that I may have shed a tear or two during the epilogues of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (2004) and MGS4. So, yes, the story is pretty good (especially, considering I’ve been compared to the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz in the past).
Accompanying the stupendous plot is the breathtaking musical score (notice how I am running out of adjectives). The orchestral pieces enhance the emotional cutscenes, whilst the electronic techno music gets adrenaline pumping through your veins when you get spotted by the enemy. It would be a sin to accredit the soundtracks to any one person; hundreds of talented people have been involved in creating them over the course of 28 years. The main theme of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (2001) in particular is so catchy that it sometimes takes over the music that usually plays in my head, which is the Game of Thrones main theme. How many other games give you an in-game iPod/Walkman with a majority of all the franchise’s best songs on? As the end credits of MGS1 roll, you hear “The Best Is Yet to Come” – a beautiful song laced with the powers of clairvoyance. Everyone has a different favourite MGS game but there’s no denying how much each game has improved on its predecessor. Is The Phantom Pain the best? Only Kojima knows.
There is one thing that MGS arguably does better than everything else though. Boss fights. The word epic was invented just so it could describe these battles. They start fairly easy and get more tense as you go through the game. You experience such a wide array of characters, from a 100+ year old sniper to a vampire-like knife wielding creepy guy called Vamp, to a massive shaman carrying a minigun and even an actual astronaut. And of course the huge bipedal tank mech I mentioned earlier, the monstrosities that the franchise is named after, Metal Gear. My personal favourite has to be Psycho Mantis from MGS1, a psychic with telekinetic powers who demonstrates his abilities by reading your memory card and commenting on the amount of times you’ve saved. He also asks the player to put their controller down and makes it vibrate to show off his psychokinesis! Breaking the fourth wall always makes me cringe but I found this so cool and funny; it just sums up the whole Metal Gear Solid franchise: a perfect juxtaposition of humour and seriousness.