Metal Gear Memories

This post contains spoilers from the original Metal Gear Solid.

It’s recently been announced that Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is being released on September 1st. It’ been a long time coming, MGS4 came out in 2008, by far the longest between entries in the series. As hype begins to build, I’ve got a desire to play the whole series again in anticipation. The first game in the Metal Gear Solid franchise came out in 1998 for the original Playstation. I didn’t play it until I was 11 in 2001.

I got it for 10 dollars, my best gaming purchase of all time, a fact I doubt will ever change. I’d been limited by my age in experiencing a lot of what was available as far as mature storytelling went in gaming. One fateful day at Funcoland in Nanuet, New York, Metal Gear Solid changed all that. I knew it was rated M, but I decided what the hell, the worst they can do is not sell it to me. I nervously walked over the the counter, game in hand, trying to act as casual and “mature” as possible. He rang me up. No ID needed, no parent needed. Thank you, lazy Funcoland employee, for giving no fucks. You changed my life for the better.

I went home and popped it in. I had high expectations. They were met and then some. The opening sequence where Solid Snake begins infiltration of Shadow Moses (an Alaskan Island where Metal Gear Rex is being covertly developed by terrorists) was unforgettable. The opening credits, cinematography and voice acting were more sophisticated and cinematic that anything I’d seen before. Shortly after I Snake leaving footprints in the show and them being noticed by a guard, it seems rudimentary now, but back then, oh boy, that was some next level shit.

The game only got better. An incredibly lengthy cutscene (even today) with the Darpa Chief Donald Anderson that concludes with his mysterious death disturbed and enthralled me. (Hey, I was 11, remember?). I struggled to keep all the pieces of the complex plot together (I don’t think anyone was prepared for how convoluted MGS2 got), but I couldn’t get enough.

Who could forget the moment fighting Psycho Mantis that he read your memory card to make his psychic abilities tangible to players? Or when he forced you to change what slot your controller was in? Hideo Kojima began his long reign as the undisputed king of messing with gamers in memorable ways. Other bosses left similar unforgettable impressions: Sniper Wolf and Raven’s death speeches were tear jerkers. The triumphant sacrifice of Gray Fox in the game’s climax caused me chronic goosebumps and uncontrollable fist pumping.

A stealth action game with perfect pacing, tense and challenging gameplay and a complex, sophisticated story made me see gaming as more than a hobby, but a passion and art form. Without it, there’s a good chance I wouldn’t be writing this blog. Now, all that reminiscing has got me feeling extremely nostalgic… time to relive the magic all over again.

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