When discussing his inspiration for the 1987 original metal gear game, series creator Hideo Kojima has often referred to the limitations of the MSX2 system for which it was designed. With strict limits on the number of sprites the machine could display on screen and limited support for scrolling graphics, the designer decided to make a game that eschewed all-out combat in favor of the stealth gameplay that would define the game. metal gear franchise.
I thought a lot about this design philosophy while working on the Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol. 1An extensive collection of games metal gear Series spanning almost two decades. I played the collection on the PS5, but it’s also available for Xbox Series X and S, PC, Nintendo Switch, and PS4.
Obviously, the hardware that most of these games were created for was not as limited as that of the original MSX2. But throughout his career, Kojima has often designed his games with specific hardware in mind, whether it’s the PS1’s wired controllers or the PS3’s Blu-ray drive. These features make porting a game like the original. Solid metal gear to other consoles is more complicated than the average re-release.
But let’s back up a second. The $59.99 Master Collection Vol. 1 not only includes the original Solid metal gear. It brings together anywhere from a half dozen to about a dozen different releases in the series, depending on how you count them, covering most (but not all) of the games between the 1987 original and metal gear and 2004 Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. So you get the two originals. metal gears from the MSX2, Solid metal gear of PlayStation and its two sequels: Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater — from the PlayStation 2.
Then there are additional curiosities like the NES version of the original metal gear and its unofficial sequel The Serpent’s Revengegraphic novel adaptations of MGS1 and 2and three extras Solid metal gear releases that contain additional content like virtual reality missions (VR in the sense that the characters are in virtual reality training simulations, I should note, not that they are played with a virtual reality headset).
It’s a pretty exhaustive collection. Yes, if you want to split hairs, it would have been great to get the GameCube remake of the original. Solid metal gear, twin snakesor the Game Boy Color game known as Phantom Babel. But even I’m resigned to the fact that Konami had to draw the line. in some place, and I suppose there is always the implicit second volume of the Master Collection yearn.
Twenty years later, I think the core Solid metal gear The trilogy titles remain three of the best action-adventure games ever created. Not only did they push the boundaries of the kind of cinematic storytelling that games are capable of, but upon reviewing them I was also surprised by how well their core gameplay, that compelling loop of hiding, sneaking, and boss fighting, holds up. There are even many things that I like about it. relatively unloved middle child in the trilogy, sons of libertyeven if my wireless controller occasionally fell asleep during its particularly long scenes.
It’s difficult to talk about the specific changes Konami has made to these three games as part of this Master Collection Let go because unless you’re really paying attention, it’s easy to miss them.
Sometimes that’s a good thing because of how well integrated the limited changes are. There are button prompts that have been updated to fit modern controllers while maintaining the style of the original game. As an example, look at how period-appropriate and low-res the PS5’s replacement is for the “Home” button prompt in the main menu for Solid metal gear is.
But, as I mentioned in my introduction, there are limits to how far you can take this narrow approach. solid metal gear, a game firmly designed with the original PlayStation in mind. Characters will verbally tell you to press buttons that don’t exist on your controller and use controller ports that don’t exist on your console. And, naturally, there’s the infamous puzzle that asks you to look at the back of the game’s original PS1 CD case to find the solution.
Konami has done enough to ensure that none of Metal Gear Solid The fourth wall breaking features of the game are also not revolutionary in the Master Collection. You can toggle a menu overlay to change the virtual controller port your gamepad is connected to if necessary, and there are even virtual versions of the games’ retail boxes so you can look at their backs.
(Also, as a quick aside, I want to mention what might be the most interesting inclusion in the entire Master Collectionwhich is that it is possible to create dummy save data for a variety of Konami PS1 games such as Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and Vandal hearts to sit on your virtual memory card while you play Solid metal gear. The option is a little hidden in the “Manage Save Data” menu, but it’s worth doing before starting the game.)
From a technical perspective, Solid metal gear It feels like an original PlayStation game. Konami may have listed its frame rate at 30fps, but in practice it often feels much slower and its original resolution is so low that running it on a modern 4K TV gives its graphics a wavy, moody quality. .
There’s something to be said for prioritizing an authentic recreation of the original game rather than trying to update and improve it. Just look at the messy Grand Theft Auto remasters for an example of how this approach can go wrong. I think it’s a very good thing that Solid metal gear is now playable in its (mostly) original form on modern hardware.
But it is interesting to compare this approach with the versions of Solid metal gear 2 and 3 which have also been included in this collection, which are a great example of how you can remaster and update classic games while staying true to their original vision. These two games are based on Bluepoint’s HD remasters released in 2011 for PS3 and Xbox 360. Although Konami hasn’t updated them to support newer features like 4K, I felt their HD presentation held up well on a modern TV. .
Obviously, there’s a bigger chasm to cover if you were to try to modernize the original PlayStation-era graphics of MGS1 similarly, and that’s before getting into all of its explicit references to the original hardware it was designed for. But it seems a shame not to even see technical improvements like widescreen support, even if only as an optional extra.
Beyond the games themselves, there are a number of additional things metal gear content. There are scripts to flip through, a digital soundtrack, and a series of virtual “Master Books” to explore that offer plot summaries, background information on the game’s characters, and even guides to the many Easter eggs they contain.
But the strange thing about these Master Books is how they overlook Hideo Kojima’s role in a franchise that he led prominently for almost three decades until his scathing split from the company in 2015. In one of the Master Books, we are told that “in the late 1980s, action games were designed around eliminating enemies” and that “Metal gear turned this concept on its head,” but there is no mention of the director and crew who actually made this happen.
This highlights my main complaint with the Master collection, And in the absence of the creative forces that guided the franchise for almost three decades, Konami has chosen to play as safely as possible. Instead of making creative decisions about how to modify and modernize these games, the company essentially opted out and pursued authenticity at all costs.
I’m not going to say I’m disappointed with the results. I think it’s fantastic that such a large swath of metal gear The story is now available and can be easily played on modern systems. But there’s also a part of me that thinks Konami missed the opportunity to give Solid metal gear in particular, a new coat of paint and updating it for a modern audience.
My hope, now that Konami has preserved the games exactly as they were before Kojima left the company, is that this will allow the publisher to take more risks with the future of the franchise. With a new complete version of snake eater called Metal Gear Solid Δ waiting in the wings, maybe we’ll see some bolder changes sooner rather than later.