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Metal Gear Solid

PlayStation's most anticipated game is finally here. Does it live up to the hype?
by Randy Nelson

October 21, 1998 - Metal Gear Solid ? those three words combined arguably equal the most hotly anticipated PlayStation game in the console's three-year existence. Created by veteran designer Hideo Kojima, it marks the continuation of a series that began its life on the MSX home computer, and, later, appeared on NES, the version with which most of us are familiar.

More than two years in the making, Metal Gear Solid retains, at its core, the same gameplay principle made familiar by its predecessors released all those years ago. Emphasis is placed on covert actions, rather than all-out machismo. The importance of this is clearly seen in the game's premise.

Players assume the role of Solid Snake, returning hero from the previous Metal Gear episodes. A special forces operative, he is called back to duty for the purpose of infiltrating the heavily-guarded Alaskan stronghold of his ex-comrades, alone and unarmed.

That's how the game begins. Snake is without weapon, outfitted only with binoculars and a contraband pack of cigarettes. Survival and progress early on in the game is entirely dependent on stealthily killing the base's guards, bare-handed. Snake will come upon plenty of weapons later in his mission, however, but the emphasis on keeping his presence within the immense compound secret (or as secret as possible, to keep things realistically playable) remains of utmost importance.

Gameplay is controlled from an elevated third-person perspective within realtime polygonal environments. Various camera angles are just now and again to provide close-ups on the action, or simply infuse the situation with some cinematic flair. Unlike many games, all of Metal Gear Solid's cut-scenes are generated via its 3D engine.

Progress in the game is kept on a linear path, much like a role-playing game. Plot points crop up often along the way, providing subtle (and sometimes glaring) hints at what you must do next. Snake also remains in contact with his operations center via a satellite up-link. Just as in the previous games, this device operates on various frequencies which, when selected, offer several types of mission-critical data from Snake's support crew "back home."

As for Snake's enemies, they aren't merely limited to standard guards. Snake must contend with the six main members of the terrorist group at various points during his mission. Each of them has his or her own specialty (sniping, sharp-shooting, sheer strength). Some take Snake on within the base confines while at least one prefers to attack via helicopter. We'll keep the rest secret.

Long considered the most ambitious PlayStation title ever envisioned, Metal Gear Solid is here at last. Is it everything we expected? Let's hear it straight from the review crew...

Closing Comments
I'm in awe. An admittedly ambitious project from the very beginning, Metal Gear Solid has managed to deliver dutifully on all of its promises. From beginning to end, it comes closer to perfection than any other game in PlayStation's action genre. Beautiful, engrossing, and innovative, it excels in every conceivable category.

I must warn, however, that first time players absolutely must go through the training stages before heading into the game itself; failure to do so will put you at an extreme disadvantage, as this definitely isn't merely a "run around, guns blazing" action game. Once the concept and control settles in, you're in for the single greatest gameplay experience possible on PlayStation.

What can I say? Hideo Kojima has come through and produced the finest PlayStation game ever. My hat is off to him, and Konami, for delivering a game that proves, once and for all, that exceptional gameplay doesn't have to take a backseat to technical majesty.

This is one game that every PlayStation owner should experience first-hand. Cliché as it may sound, "go get a copy. Now!" You won't be disappointed.
Another Take from Doug Perry
Hmmm.... Metal Gear Solid. What is all the fuss about? At this point, I won't disturb you all with hype because I'm certain that you've heard it all before.

Konami's espionage game is a fantastic game, straight and simple. Not hype, but fact ? any hardware maker (Nintendo, Sega, etc.) would love to have this game on its system. It's the kind of game the PlayStation is made for, and combines solid player skills with an intriguing storyline, funny, relatively deep characters, and a smooth transition between action and adventure.

Fact -- the game enables players to immediate immerse themselves into a movie-like game that stirs a fantastic cocktail of high-quality, informative cut-scenes in an unobtrusive fashion in amongst smart stealth-based gameplay. What's nice about the level of stealth (Metal Gear's nerve-center), is that it's crucial to the game, but it's not unforgiving, a characteristic of which Tenchu may be more guilty. This is no knock on Tenchu ? a great game ? but Metal Gear Solid is slightly more forgiving.

Fact ? for most gamers, this isn't an eight-hour game. It's a 16- to 28-hour game, which is an excellent amount of time for any game, especially one of such high quality, and that's not an RPG. In fact, certain employees at Imagine Media love the game so much that they already have played it as many as five times already. (Names have been withheld to protect the innocent...or er, guilty...)

Fact ? Few games that appear on any console or PC are made with such finely tuned gameplay elements and mechanics. Guards notice your footsteps in snow. Within a minute or so the footsteps will disappear, after newly fallen snow covers them. Stepping in water makes sound audible enough to alert guards to your presence. Camera perspectives change frequently, but are well thought out. Waves of sound effects and moody music are well crafted and beautifully produced ? and change depending on the situation ? to create a feeling of tension, fear, and surprise. Heck, I can go on and on, but I won't.

All-out subjective OPINION (Warning! This is the biased, opinionated part)? If you have a PlayStation, you must own Metal Gear Solid. It's fun, smart, and crucial. Period.

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