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Metal Gear Solid
Review By: Jesse Mason
Developer:   Konami
Publisher:   Konami
# of Players:   1
Genre:   Adventure/Stealth
ESRB:   Mature

It's really funny that video games are often compared to movies and try their damnedest to be just like them, but really have more in common with board games and things like tag and football. Yes, it's true, when you get down to it, the interactive entertainment medium has less in common with expressionistic art (movies, books, theater, music, paintings, sculptures, etc.) and more to do with Monopoly. But that doesn't stop games from trying. Some went the Siliwood way of FMV games, and each one of them sucked. Some wrote epic tales and made games around them, and the RPG was the result (more or less). Konami went the Resident Evil route of a cinematic adventure full of controllable action. And they succeed. Full of talky times and cinemas, it really does feel like a movie.

When you get to the heart of the game, Metal Gear Solid is just an RPG masked as a Resident Evil sort of game. Why? It has a linear storyline with interactions with several characters. It has several mini game sort of things throughout the game. But the kicker is that it has RPG style battles. In Metal Gear Solid, you sneak your way through the levels dodging guards, cameras and the know how. When you're spotted, you'll have to run or face the guy and whatever guys that happen to come over to join him. A counter starts. Whenever you're out of every bad guys' view, it'll go down. Of course, they chase you making it a bit difficult. When it reaches zero, another counter will start where the guards don't look as hard. When that goes down, you're back to sneaking around. The whole thing feels like RPG battles thanks to the random encounter feel and the special music that plays.

Unfortunately, it's right there that the game could've been so much more. So much more it might've lived up to Konami's promises. Consider these two scenarios:

1. You're in a room that has several large objects. In the room is one bad guy. You're spotted by the bad guy and he starts running after you. Eventually you lose him. He thinks to himself for a minute and calls back to HQ telling them that he's found the intruder. Meanwhile, you're busy setting traps and hiding from the upcoming onslaught of ten or twenty guys that'll be searching the area. They come and one falls prey to your trap. Most of the guys go to inspect the death that just occurred. You, on the other side of the room, silently take out the remaining guys and escape.

2. Same room, same guy, same spotting, same chase. Eventually you lose him. He slows down and goes into search mode, eventually he stops searching and goes back to his post. You escape with the easiest of ease.

Well in a game this cinematic, it's really the presentation and story that matter. Fortunately, the game's story and its presentation make up for the gameplay. It's a long and complicated (if a bit straightforward) story that I just don't feel like getting into. But I will say it involves conspiracies, love interests, and haunted pasts. If Metal Gear Solid is extremely popular, the inevitable movie version would fit right in any studio's summer lineup (and would be better than most of the rest of the movies). Sure the dialogue is a little cliched and the voice acting isn't at movie levels (and in a game this clambering to be a movie, it should be) but it keeps you interested and it's presented in a much more interesting way than any previous game. It helps that the graphics are some of the Playstation's best. It doesn't help that the music is not up to Konami's standards.

Konami (and the press) did one thing wrong with Metal Gear Solid. They made a big deal about it. In fact, the smart thing to do would've been to unleash it with virtually no hype like Rare did with GoldenEye. Perhaps I might've been easier on it then, but as it is, Metal Gear Solid is just a game that feels like it should've been the greatest game ever but turns out to be just plain enjoyable.

Overall: 7.9
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