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Metal Gear Solid

Score: 95%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Microsoft
Developer: Konami
Media: CD/2
Players: 1
Genre: Action/ Stealth/ Adventure


Graphics & Sound:

The graphics in Metal Gear Solid are, most of the time, absolutely fantastic. However, there are some serious weak points. It must be noted that this is a port of a PlayStation game. The resolution is now choose-able, and it's wonderful to play MGS in 800x600. The lines are crisp and clear, and the game runs without a hitch most of the time. But there are still some artifacts left over from the PlayStation version. The textures, while sharp, are not terribly detailed -- for example, people don't really have faces. And while much of the game's fontwork has been replaced with a Windows-style font that's easy on the eyes, the font for the credits and the one on the items are both eyesores. They look terribly dithered at pretty much any resolution. But the sharpness of vision when you zoom in with your binocs and watch a guard walk around the other side of an area more than makes up for it.

As for sound -- I've said it once, and I'll say it again. Metal Gear Solid has the best voicework of any game ever made. Period. Solid Snake is Solid Snake; each character has a voice that fits them perfectly, and the lines are read with neither the overexuberance of Brave Fencer Musashi, nor the terrible underacting of Resident Evil. It fits the tone of the game perfect, adding to the already cinematic experience. The sound effects are superb, with bullet shots and explosions and the crunching of snow under your shoes; and the music (such that it is) is right on the money. The opening operatic score is just fantastic, reminding me of nothing so much as the opening to The Seventh Guest. Fortunately, MGS is a much better game.


Gameplay:

Mmm. For those of you who've been off on another planet for the past few years, Metal Gear Solid came out on the PlayStation a few years ago to exceeding critical acclaim. It tops, well, pretty much everyone's Top PlayStation lists, and for good reason -- it's probably one of the best games ever made. Metal Gear Solid is the only game to ever pull off a 'cinematic experience' and make it eminently enjoyable, instead of a choose-your-own-adventure graphical adventure. And the PC port, while a little late, is nonetheless superb.

You play the part of Solid Snake, a top-secret operative infiltrating a base in Alaska where terrorists are doing Naughty Things. As the game progresses, the plot twists and turns with the best of them, keeping you on your toes for the entire experience. You'll never know what's going to come up next, and that sort of 'plausible unpredictability' is found in a scant few games.

The game itself plays much like a top-view Thief, with a fair bit of fighting thrown in. The way to play is by stealth, hiding behind walls and staying out of the sight of the guards. You have a radar in the top-right corner which shows you where all the guards are and their fields of vision. It is essential to beating the game that you master the use of the radar, timing your runs and watching the guard's patterns. You can always make sounds to draw guards away from where you want to go, but there are times when you'll just have to duke it out. And there are plenty of dukable options, from sniper rifles to rocket launchers and everything in between.

As if the story-laden, action-filled standard game wasn't enough, the computer version of Metal Gear Solid is actually Metal Gear Solid Integral. It contains the VR Missions disc that was sold separately for the PlayStation, and you get it for free. Filled with roughly a bazillion virtual reality missions, it adds another load of hours to the possible gametime of MGS. As an added 'incentive' for impatient computer gamers, all of the secret modes start out unlocked. No need to beat various percentages of the puzzles to open up the Mystery mode and other little fun things; you can do everything from the start.

And while Metal Gear Solid itself may be a relatively short game -- an experienced player can beat it in a single sitting -- the first time through is much, much longer, as you explore the entire game and learn what you can do and how you can do it. And it's a game that you can play over and over, trying to beat it in different ways. For example, not using lethal force on guards unless absolutely necessary adds another challenge to the game, not to mention increasing your score at the end. And like a good movie, you'll want to see it two or three times for the full experience anyway.


Difficulty:

Metal Gear Solid has a rather steep learning curve, as you learn how to dodge your opponents and kill silently. The included Training missions are handy; the VR Missions disc even more so, in prepping you on how to play. Even so, the first play-through of the game may take you in the low teens of hours. There's so much to do, it's worth spending time taking it slow. And if the challenge isn't enough, you can change the difficulty levels, which increase the guards' damage and awareness, not to mention turning off your radar. Erk! Even seasoned veterans regularly get sound spankings with the highest difficulties.

Game Mechanics:

Since Metal Gear Solid was made for a console, the game translates easily to a gamepad. If your gamepad doesn't have enough buttons, or you're just a precision freak, keyboard controls are just as tight. Just make sure you configure them the way you like them -- you'll have to switch weapons rapidly at times, and switch from crawling to running in a flash, so you'll want to make sure that they're all accessible.

Despite the somewhat aged graphics, Metal Gear Solid is an example of a Game Done Right. As you play it, you may come across a (very few) things that you think could have been improved, but never do you feel that the game could have truly been 'better.' Sure, it's a little short, but it's supposed to be like a movie. And with the superb voice-acting, action-packed gameplay, and much-improved graphics, it's really, really hard to go wrong with Metal Gear Solid. Although those who own the two PlayStation titles may not feel the need for a new purchase, those with only one of them (or none of them, for that matter) need to get this game.


-Sunfall to-Ennien, GameVortex Communications
AKA Phil Bordelon

Minimum System Requirements:



Multimedia PC with a PII 233 MHz or higher processor with MMX support, Win95/Win98/WinME/Win2000, 32 MB of RAM, 300 MB of available hard disk space for a minimum installation; additional 100 MB of available hard disk space for the swap file, 4x or faster CD-ROM drive, mouse or compatible pointing device, Gamepad or joystick game controller, DirectX 7.0a or later API (included on CD-ROM), DirectX 7.0a or later compatible sound card, Video adapter with 4 MB of video memory required for 3D hardware acceleration, Speakers or headphones required for audio, Super VGA, 16-bit color monitor
 

Test System:



AMD K6-III 450 running Windows 98, 256MB RAM, Creative Sound Blaster Live! Sound Card, Creative TNT2 Ultra w/ 32MB RAM, 6x24 DVD-ROM

Windows Thief II: The Metal Age Sony PSOne Disney's The Little Mermaid II

 
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