Metal Gear Review

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Metal Gear Review

by Nikki Wolf » Thu Apr 17, 2014 12:40 am


Release Date - July 7th, 1987 (MSX)
Platforms - MSX (played/reviewed), NES, Commodore 64, PS2 (as part of MGS3: Subsidence), PS3/Xbox 360/PS Vita (as part of MGS HD Collection)
Costs - Varies by platform/seller, so go see for yourself Emulating's free
Availiability - eBay, Amazon, Playstation Network, Xbox Live, Gamestop, some ROM site

COLONEL! HOW DO I METAL GEAR?! ...Wait, he's not in this game. GAH! DX

So...yeah. The game that started it all. Over twenty-five years old, does this game still hold up, or has the phantasmic pain of time blown away its cloaking device on its age? PSST! It has.


You play at Solid Snake, a rookie soldier for a military group called FOXHOUND, whose commander-in-chief is the infamous Big Boss. Your mission is to infiltrate the South African military base called Outer Heaven, where the titular Metal Gear TX-55 is being stored 25km underneath the surface of the Earth, and destroy Metal Gear before it can be completed. Because of how powerful this all-terrain bipedal tank is and how dangerous it can be, you can assume that Outer Heaven is heavily guarded, and rightfully so. Anyone who dared to infiltrate in the past has been securely locked up in various holding cells across the first two buildings.

Here comes the part where I shamelessly spoil the rest of the story (not much, though), but cover it up with BBCode so that it'll be on you for spoiling the story for yourself. Enjoy~
SPOILERS wrote:Throughout your time in the game, rescuing the aforementioned prisoners will grant you intel on what you may need to do next, in terms of game progression. But some also will give you intel on the game's story, like with rescuing Grey Fox (not the Crit Sandvich admin of the same name) mentioning that Outer Heaven wants Metal Gear constructed in order to rise up to the top as the world's superpower, and that the leader of Outer Heaven holding Dr. Pettrovich Madnar hostage within the base, for him to build Metal Gear. You later on are able to rescue the Doctor, mostly to uncover a way to destroy Metal Gear. Getting closer to fulfilling your mission, you notice your own commander sending out bizarre codex messages...especially one that's suppose to lead to your own demise. Losing trust within your own ally, it actually turns out that Big Boss was the one behind everything on Outer Heaven, and that he wanted you, as a clueless rookie, to report back with misleading information. You're not going to accept that or death, are you? I think you get the idea what happens next: Big Boss blows up, island blows up, the media blows up (all over the radio), and you go home a hero. YAY!

The story, if compared to later installments, seems rather simple. Though for its time, it was pretty captivating. Having this whole edgy war story that wasn't all "blow shit up because MURRICA!" made it stand out amongst the crowd...even if you did see the antagonist's revelation coming. The story around the end was pretty predictable if you ask me, though I still thought it was alright for the time.

Graphics and Sound

For MSX, the visuals look rather nice. I don't have much positive or negative to say here, so...bear with me? Just remember that this is a game for an 8-bit computer from the late 80s. Anyways, the design of the Metal Gear TX-55 looks really great, despite only being able to see it at the very end. It's a shame that I couldn't see it in action, though. That thing would probably be a bit of a pain to animate. The designs of the soldiers look decent enough. It's hard to critique something like that, as you can't really do much to differentiate all the soldiers from one another, aside from the ones with jetpacks on. Speaking of which, the jetpack soldiers look pretty cool, as well. The designs for the bosses are also nice. I know there's not much you can do with a human boss, but they at least look like what would fit them.

The music is alright, though hearing the Theme of Tara for the thousandth time really does get boring after a while. The only time the roaming theme is different is when you're on the basement floor of each building. Other than that, you're always going to be hearing Theme of Tara until you get into combat. I would have liked some sort of variety with each building, if possible. The Mercenary theme (boss theme) is pretty much my least favorite of the original soundtrack. It seems like it wants to go for something more upbeat, but I feel like it doesn't hit that mark. Everything else is fine. The sound effects fit the appropriate action...or at least what the MSX is capable of. Like with graphics, this is an area that can be hard to critique properly.


The gameplay is a mix of action and stealth, coupled with a bit of adventure. I like to think of this as a stealthy Metroidvania of sorts, which may have played in favor of me liking the game. Each item in the game has a purpose, though some less than others. Cards, you're always going to be using. Duh. Binoculars, you'll maybe use a few times to plan ahead. Bomb Blast Suit? You'll never use that thing after breaking the wind barrier. But anyways, I say that this game is like a Metroidvania because of the fact that you can't access certain areas unless you get certain items. But when you acquire more items, it can also open up newer areas for you to explore, provided that you can even remember to go back to some of these areas. This game doesn't have a map system, so I hope you're prepared to become photographically intelligent or have plenty of paper around.

Approaching a situation with enemies in the room have always has two solutions: Sneak or Rambo. Considering that each bullet takes out a good chunk of your health, of course you want to sneak through enemy lines most of the time. Though sometimes, you have no choice but to take the enemy head-on. You do have plenty of weapons (mostly explosives) at your disposal (how do you sneak around with all that junk, anyways?), so how you go John Rambo on everyone is entirely up to you. With all of this said, I think that the hit detection with the Pistol and SMG can be iffy, at times. It's not noticeable if you're a good distance away, but if you're really close to the enemy, your bullets will probably not work half of the time. If you have this issue, just back away and fire again.

I know that you may be thinking that this game is really difficult due to all the stealth, and I would wholeheartedly agree...if you couldn't exploit item regeneration. With consumable items (rations, ammo, etc.), you're always going to seem them respawn upon entering the same room that the item is held in again...and again...and again...until you can't hold anymore of that item. I don't know if this was intentional or not, but it does make the game a tad easier than one would expect. Don't get me wrong: There is still some sort of challenge in the game by means of stealth and taking down your enemies.

The bosses in this game are either really easy or really frustrating. Metal Gear itself is immobile, so it's understandable that it's not that hard of a "boss." But all the human bosses just die within seconds upon firing your weapon. If you want better detailing, just go spoil yourself below.
SPOILERS wrote:Shoot Gunner? Just spam your SMG. Machinegun Kid? Hide behind cover, fire your RC Missiles, done. Fire Trooper? Stand next to him, deploy a few Land Mines or Plastic Bombs, done. Arnolds? Rocket Launcher. Coward Duck? Stand behind him, do something, done. If you're aiming to not take as much damage, then there is some sort of challenge to these bosses. But as I said, consumables respawn infinitely in the game, so you're always going to have max ammo and rations, so there's no way you can die in combat. The vehicular bosses are a bit more on the frustrating side, with the exception of the Tank, which is just deploy Land Mines, go behind cover, rinse and repeat. Hind-D, while another rinse-and-repeat boss, can be frustrating as you're pretty much having to eat a ration like every five seconds just to continue lobbing grenades at it. I'd say the one boss I had trouble with was the Bulldozer, where you only have like...ten seconds to blow up with grenades. You don't have any breathing room in that general area, so if you didn't throw that very last grenade to blow it up, you're gonna have to leave the room and come back, and then lob them much faster this time, as it has full health again. And what about good ol' Big Boss, the big final boss of the game? Get him in a corner, shoot a few rockets at him, and you should be good to go. The only challenge with this guy is that he keeps popping in and out of cover, and that he runs away like a coward if you try to approach him. For me, once I figured out that he hates rockets, it wasn't too hard of a fight.


Despite all of my complaints for this game, I enjoyed my time with the first Metal Gear. By no means is it perfect; in fact, it's along the lines of decent, but not great. And from the looks of the later games, it hasn't aged as well, in terms of gameplay. With all of that said, if you're a fan of the Metal Gear series, I think it's still worth having a look, if only to see how the series has evolved since its MSXption.

I'll cover Metal Gear 2 tomorrow. I've just finished the game, so I need to type it up first.

I realize I don't have screenshots of the game for this review, but I remembered to take some for Metal Gear 2, so you'll see some in that review. Promise.

*If you want to see more reviews I've typed up, look for them on my Steam profile.
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Nikki Wolf
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