The Metal Gear Solid series by Hideo Kojima is one of the most well respected game franchises in the world. From its debut on PS1 all the way to it’s somewhat lack luster ending on PS4, it has continued to push the bar and consistently be excellent. The Metal Gear Solid Legacy Collection is a remastered collection of the core games in this franchise,: Metal Gear Solid, it’s sequel Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, a prequel to both of those Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, a sequel to Snake Eater, Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, and finally a sequel to Sons of Liberty, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. Across this collection, which spans three generations of consoles, the series shows tremendous growth and tells one hell of a story.
The first game was pretty rough all around, not just in graphics as you would expect from a PS1 game, but also in terms of mechanics. The stealth features work pretty well, and seeing as they’re at the core of the game that makes the game quite good in its own right. The combat and especially armed combat was quite finicky and didn’t feel all that refined however, which made boss battles especially annoying. The area to explore was also only decent, though the back tracking was somewhat annoying. In terms of story, it features Snake breaking into Shadow Moses to prevent terrorists from stealing a special type of nuclear launcher, Metal Gear REX. It was pretty solid with a number of interesting twists, but overall a pretty standard plot all things considered. There were a lot of great characters though in terms of design and personality, though the story wasn’t very character oriented.
The second felt like a much more polished version of the mechanics from the first for the most part. It played largely the same and was also set for the most part in a singular complex. The weapons combat was considerably improved due to using first person when shooting, which vastly improved the boss battles, and hand to hand combat also felt less finicky. The exception to that is that the game also features sword combat, which played terribly. The stealth largely felt similar to the first game but less rough with more variety. There was back tracking in this as well, but it felt less annoying, in part because the area being played in looked nicer, as well as the areas playing differently from prior traversals. In terms of story, it features Snake now being part of an NGO dedicated to stopping the spread of Nuclear Weapons, but it then switches over to playing as Raiden, another agent, who has to infiltrate Big Shell to prevent terrorists who have taken over it from causing a major ecological disaster, though things get a lot more complicated. The story was tremendously different from the first one, pulling crazy twists in terms of characters, having completely ridiculous twists in terms of plot, having way larger than life characters, and pushing forth messages about society and information that were all kinds of insane, but in the end it was undoubtedly incredibly awesome. I think in terms of story, this may well be when Kojima was at his peak.
The third is a prequel that takes place long before the first, featuring Snake’s father, so to speak, as he gets involved with a conflict centered around the Cold War. In terms of game play, its pretty different from the first two, featuring a number of features such as stamina and silencers as well as much more verticality and a different camera system. All of this makes the game feel very different, so it felt somewhat awkward at first, but ultimately I would have to say it resulted in a solid improvement to the game play in all aspects: stealth, combat, etc. The story was a lot more focused than Sons of Liberty in that it was a standard Cold War espionage flick, about US spies secretly working to sabotage the USSR and deal with betrayals, however it was a tremendously good one featuring a number of tremendously amazing characters, and a story that hit stronger emotional notes than any of the previous ones. It did somewhat lack Kojima’s unique charm though. The theme music was also great, and using it during the final battle added to it tremendously.
Peace Walker came out after MGS4, but was a PSP game and is a sequel to MGS3, while MGS4 is a PS3 game and sequel to MGS2, so it makes more sense to play it directly after MGS3. However, this results in a game that is tremendously different from MGS3. It features completely redesigned combat featuring third person shooting and very different level design. The stealth I think worked tremendously better, and felt much more precise, though I feel the boss battle game play felt very different from what makes MGS, MGS and I wasn’t much of a fan of it. It also features a game play loop with doing missions, main and side, to contribute to base and personnel management and using those to grow and evolve for later missions. It was a very satisfying to see your organization grow, though the loop eventually gets repetitive. It was also annoying how sometimes it would present roadblocks with having to wait for things to happen related to said growth in order to progress with the story. In terms of story, it features the Snake from MGS3, now Big Boss, as he creates a mercenary group that helps Colombia deal with the CIA having projects within their borders, but ultimately results in a larger conspiracy involving the birth of Metal Gear and larger organizations.
Metal Gear Solid 4 is a sequel to MGS2. It plays like an evolution of MGS3 but with some aspects like armed combat being more like MGS: PW, which makes sense as it was released between the two. It features solid stealth game play and great combat, especially the boss fights, ultimately resulting in it feeling the most polished of all the games. Furthermore, it also features the widest variety of locations that are in general a lot bigger than in any previous MGS game, and the graphics are of course also the best in this collection. The new characters and character designs are also great, and it’s quite evident that the improvement in graphics capabilities was used well. In terms of story, it wraps up the story being develop in all of the previous games with the various conspiracies and multiple conflicting factions. It was just as convoluted and messy as the second, arguably more so, but in the end it manages to wrap things up tremendously well, though the complete last story event felt quite a bit forced. The throwbacks to the previous games were also handled tremendously well, especially the return to Shadow Moses, the Psycho Mantis fight, and the final fight. The soundtrack was also excellent. Ultimately a Solid ending to an incredibly series.
A fantastic series with great stealth game play that evolves quite a bit, and a tremendously convoluted story that still manages to be amazing.
A Hideo Kojima Game