One of the most iconic games all time and considered by many the very best title on the PlayStation 1, Metal Gear Solid's legacy precedes. The game's logo promises tactical espionage action and it delivers that in spades, transcending the low polygon count of the PS1 and delivering an inherently cinematic experience.
Metal Gear Solid 1 acted as sequel, remake, and reboot of Metal Gear 2, which was released eight years earlier. The game does a lot of the same things that MG2 accomplished, though to American audiences who were snuck with the Konami hackjob slop that was Snake's Revenge this was entirely fresh.
With MGS, Kojima marries the interactive action thriller that romanticizes the high-stakes explosiveness of blockbuster cinema with a deconstructive and often melancholic anti-war narrative. While we get to live out the fantasies of the ultimate action hero, we see what effects being the perfect soldier has on the individual. It has turned Liquid Snake into a bitter villain, and tragically destroyed Gray Fox's humanity. The atrocities of war are reflected in the bosses Snake must face. Campy as the game can be with characters like Psycho Mantis, Kojima's greatest trick is that he can pull the rug out from under you and considering the cynical mechanations and mechanisms (see: Metal Gear Rex the giant mech) that got them here.
So the story here is brilliant, but how does the gameplay hold up over twenty years later? There are definitely frustrations as the game's controls can feel very slow and difficult to deal with, and sometimes I felt myself wrestling with the camera just to see where the guys I'm up against were positioned. The radar does a lot to assuage this problem but at times it feels like you're playing entirely using it rather than doing your own thing.
The shooting in this game definitely hasn't aged well, with some miserable weapons like the sniper or the RPG where you have to utilize a first person view to fire. The snap-on automatic aiming and firing of the other weapons is something you can get used to but it's definitely not optimal. Fortunately, the pure CQC of the combat is pretty fun and the boss battles that rely mostly on those (Cyborg Ninja, Liquid Snake) were definitely my favorites.
Metal Gear Solid is of course packed with little details that characterize a Kojima game and give it all of its personality. The occasional absurdist humor fits well with the game's sense of surrealism. Mostly MGS can be taken as an excellent action game with so much depth for its time. The fact that I was blown away by everything it was doing four PlayStations later says a lot. This is a must-play.