Have You Played… Metal Gear Solid?

Why did the soldier dies without being alarmed? Because it was SOCOM

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time.

Was Metal Gear Solid ever on PC? I have feverishly Googled for the answer and discovered: yes! It was ported in 2001 with slightly prettified graphics and some updated VR missions. That means I can write about it. Sweet PC port of the past, you have given me a fine gift this day. The gift of not scouring my brain for videogames that aren’t already on our 700+ list of things we’ve already covered for this column.

MGS was a wonderful thing. Full of surprises and fine detail. Don’t have a pair of thermal goggles to see infrared security lasers? Try using some cigarettes. Trouble beating that sniper? Neck some diazepam. Solid Snake and co also enjoyed peeping out from behind the fourth wall in fun ways. You needed to check the back of the game box to find an in-game radio frequency. If you swap controller ports when battling a psychic boss, he laments afterwards that he couldn’t read you because you “switched controllers”.

The legacy is harder to appreciate, or maybe just tougher to track. There was the glut of stealth-based games, not to mention all the stealth sections that soon got jammed into games where they didn’t really belong. MGS might even be responsible for proliferating one of the industries greatest design sins: the insta-fail stealth mission. And that’s despite the fact that no “insta-fail” portions even existed in Konami’s masterpiece (unless you count some of the VR challenges). But others, most notably Thief, were also responsible for the rise of stealthiness.

Its over-elaborate story was also madder than a bag of weasels, but it looks like high-brow literature compared to the sequels. It is Metal Gear’s curse that you can’t reasonably be expected to follow the shifting conspiracies of its world without some sort of vast index. Still, despite its age, MGS remains the best starting point for anyone hoping to follow the geopolitical demi-lore of the series. Sadly, the physical copy reportedly doesn’t work on newer versions of Windows. I blame big companies and the government. Sorry Snake, you can save the world from nuclear war but you can’t save it from planned obsolescence. Hah! You can’t even save yourself!

40 Comments

  1. yhancik says:

    In Snake’s voice: “Metal Geaaaar?”

  2. Premium User Badge

    DelrueOfDetroit says:

    It’s pretty good.

  3. j0p3s says:

    link to reddit.com

    found the pc version on reddit :D

    • Piratepete says:

      If this works, you Sir, are a God.

      • Piratepete says:

        Yes, you are a God. However after 20 years I have utterly forgotten how to play it :)

  4. tour86rocker says:

    I don’t remember “switching controllers” on PC. Have YOU played MGS on PC?

    • TonyB says:

      It treated the keyboard as the second controller, so a lot of people just completely bypassed that whole fourth-wall break. If you played the rest of the game with a pad though it still went through that sequence properly.

  5. infovore says:

    Yup. In fact, PC was the format I played it on first, in the surprisingly good SVGA version, published (I believe) by Microsoft. The big box packaging was great. (The CD case also had blurb/details on, which as we all know, was a necessity for this game).

    It held up well, although the PSX control scheme that relied on four shoulder buttons translated terribly to keyboard. I was well-versed by that point in cryptic keyboard control schemes, though.

  6. poliovaccine says:

    The PC port *does* work on modern machines, actually! Cant speak for em all, but coincidentally I just scored a copy of this off a friend of mine only a few weeks ago. It runs fine on my Windows 10 machine, whereas his copy of MGS2 actually does not.

    It’s a bit of a pain to play on PC though. It really begs for a controller to feel natural at all. And that’s coming from me, someone who’s never owned any console but a hand-me-down Sega Genesis, and who sucks at using controllers pretty much universally, for anything – like, even navigating Netflix. Also, I’m aware of the legendary Psycho Mantis fight, but I’ve got no idea how that plays out on the PC port…?

    • TonyB says:

      See my reply to tour86rocker above.

      • tour86rocker says:

        I think I did the whole game on keyboard/mouse? Don’t know

      • poliovaccine says:

        Interesting… now when you say it bypassed the 4th wall break, does that mean keyboard players went direct to the part where he says, “I couldnt read you, you switched controllers,” or is it actually altered so that the fight doesnt contain that bit at all? I guess it’s not super important and I’ll see for myself if I play through it anyway, but I’m curious.

    • Ragnar says:

      Did it not have controller support?

      It wouldn’t have even occurred to me to try the game with mouse and keyboard. Then again, I’ve had a controller for my PCs from back when you still had to plug them into the joystick port on your sound card.

    • ansionnach says:

      I’ve played the CD version of the game on a modern PC, too. I do remember there being some sort of issue. Might have been that I had to switch from nVidia to integrated graphics, which can be a common problem with old windows games.

      Yes, you’ve got to use the keyboard in that fight. I was playing with a Gravis Gamepad Pro, which was a rip-off of the PSX controller with a terrible d-pad and I’m not sure how I found out how to get past that bit. Maybe I failed so many times that the game told me. As out there as it was, I maintain that it was a stupid, infuriating design decision.

      • poliovaccine says:

        Yeah, I can see how for someone playing the game on PC but with the controller the game was designed for, that arrangement would make no goddamn sense. Glad I saw this before I got to that part, cus I intended on borrowing a controller to finish this game myself.

  7. Risingson says:

    I tried, many times, until I gave up. I cannot accept that low level of writing and characterization, sorry. It just plays against the game, and the game itself is designed in a way that feels game-y all the time. It was impossible to me to enjoy it. Maybe I was too old already?

    • vahnn says:

      Sounds like it. It was never a seriously serious game. If you hated the Escape From LA/New York movies, you probably wouldn’t like MGS.

      • RichUncleSkeleton says:

        Escape from NY is actually self-aware and smartly written. Unlike the MGS games with their laughable monologues about nuclear nonproliferation and genetic engineering in between the giant robot fights and the mustache-twirling comic book villains.

        • KenTWOu says:

          Yeah, I’ve recently rewatched ‘Escape from NY’ through MGS lenses and was amazed how Snake asking Hauk few clarifying questions, because he’s cool and annoyed, became Snake keeps asking tons of clarifying questions through the game, because he’s absolutely dumb.

    • Spuzzell says:

      Yep, I’m with you on this. MGS is just too compromised for me to enjoy. The story and writing is SO shit.

      I actually enjoyed the gameplay of MGSV enough to just about tolerate the stupidity of the “story” and characters, until the second chapter when suddenly my head just went ‘No.’.

      I’ll never go back, and I’m happy with that.

  8. haldolium says:

    Day1 Playstation purchase. Great times, great times…

    Never on PC though, since it’s just not a good port.

  9. Cryio says:

    A sincere recommendation is for everyone to just play Metal Gear Solid:Twin Snakes, emulated from GameCube. It’s a much better experience, gameplay and visual wise than the ported PS1 version.

    • spaced says:

      Blasphemy.

      • brgillespie says:

        Agreed. They re-recorded the voice actors, and certain performances were much, much flatter. Naomi sounded like she was fucking bored the entire time.

    • Deadly Sinner says:

      Bolting the MGS2 gameplay onto MGS1 made the game way too easy.

    • Ancient Evil says:

      Seconded. This how I played it for the first time, in glorious HD on Dolphin emulator.

      Some people complain about changes from the PS1 version, but I can’t imagine that offsetting the huge technical upgrade from the remake, so I really don’t think I’ll ever bother playing the original.

  10. thekelvingreen says:

    I had the PlayStation version and bounced right off it as a game — although I loved the clever bits, like the swapping controllers stuff — because I was rubbish at the stealth and the infinite guards that spawned when you were spotted made it impossible to get through the game any other way. Or so I thought at the time.

    I picked up Phantom Pain because it promised that missions could be completed in multiple different ways, other than stealth — I think it was a video here on RPS that piqued my interest — and while that is true, I also found the stealth mechanics much easier to understand, and so I had great fun.

    I now intend to go back through the series and see what I missed. I may even try the first one again.

    • Javier says:

      The original MGS game (and the subsequent ones to a lesser degree) is built around a very basic gameplay loop lifted straight from the MSX games. The depth lies in a wide array of tools and weapons with which to influence and alter said loop, as well as the very fun boss battles. You play most of the game in your radar. You just manouver around the enemies’ sight cones in your way to the next goal or map, using the layouts of the maps to your advantage. Sound plays a minor role in some of the areas, except for the knocking on walls to distract enemies which is one of the most useful abilities. Lighting is not a factor. Getting seen will force you to die and replay the section or hide somewhere and wait the storm out. Being too impatient in this game is an easy recipe for frustration, but played the right way things should go smoothly. It’s an old game but not a particularly difficult one (though that may be just me having finished it a couple dozen times). It’s also pretty short and refreshingly laser focused.

      MGS, MGS2 and MGS3 are all true masterpieces if you’re into what they have to offer. They were a rarity in that they introduced emergent gameplay to console gaming, they are very much auteur games and they are all polished to a sheen. They are very high quality games with incredible production values. There’s not much I can say about the narrative and writing that hasn’t been said yet. You either enjoy it or not, and if you hate it it’s safe to say that it’s pervasive enough that there’s little to no chance that you’ll enjoy the games for their gameplay. My suggestion is to not take it too seriously and enjoy it for what it is the same way one would do these days with, say, a movie like The Rock. In a medium like gaming it’s most definitely not without its merits.

      • Clarksworth says:

        I tried. I mean, I really tried to like MGS1. And later 2. I’d actually enjoyed NES metal gear in its day.

        I can enjoy a dumb action movie. Or dumb comedies. Even really dumb games
        translated poorly and voiced by the lowest bidder. But I really could not enjoy whatever was going on in MGS. I found it inane. Too bad to be enjoyed at face value, and too droning to be funny. And worse, there were checkpoints that would start with endless clickthrough chatter if you happened to mess up.

        The gameplay was pretty good, what I made it though. As a PC gamer who had already spent time with deeper or more engrossing stealth systems, it didn’t do enough for me to merit the (for me) torturous narrative elements.

        In short, I’m on the side of the divide that really could not enjoy these games. Which is too bad: a part of me realizes that I missed out on something.

  11. MisterFurious says:

    Does Mantis take control of your keyboard in the PC version?

  12. spaced says:

    I first came across the MGS demo at age 14 on a Playstation magazine demo disc (RIP demo discs, RIP magazines). I couldn’t figure out the controls and actually make it to the first elevator, but the opening sequence blew my mind wide open with its cinematic presentation and top notch voice acting. After it came out and got such good reviews I finally sat down with it and spent a sleepless night seeing it through to the end. It was so much more than I expected and made such an impression with its style. I didn’t know games could be so movie-like. Seeing the series change over the years has been fun, but it’s never been as good as that crazy night on Shadow Moses. The gameplay (and variety therein), the visuals, the MUSIC, the characters…they all work together to crank the atmosphere up to eleven. It’s a game with not just an engrossing story, but also a MEMORABLE one; an increasing rarity these days.

    It also makes the complete lack of an ending in The Phantom Pain feel like an especially swift punch to the gut. Funny how time sorts things. Maybe we can still take something from Mei Ling’s accidental philosophy; “The bright dot in the middle is YOU, Snake…”

    • Ragnar says:

      I love reading such game recollections – that I feel most occurred in the late 90s.

      Mine was Unreal Tournament. I had no idea what to expect. I installed the game, picked a map at random, and started playing. It happened to be a low gravity map with three separate towers, where I fell off to my death more than I fell to enemy weapons, and the resulting battle against bots was so intense that by the end I was left in a cold sweat, and when the round finally finished I had to turn off the game and take a break. It was amazing.

      • death_au says:

        If you’d like a more modern anecdote, I played Undertale for the first time not knowing what to expect apart from the fact you could play through pacifist or genocidal and had great music.
        I also played while home from work due to being sick with the flu which seemed like a good idea at the time until I ended up with weird, half-reto-graphic, nonsense fever dreams that may or may not have had an impact on my deep relationship with the game. The so-called neutral ending absolutely blew my mind at the time.
        Later on I tried to do a genocide run; felt really terrible the whole time. I had a lot of trouble beating Undyne and eventually gave up and never touched the game again. In my Undertale canon Undyne won that battle and the Underground as been rebuilding from their worst disaster since the war in my absence.
        … No idea why I felt I had to share that in a thread about MGS, one of my other all-time-favourite games…

  13. welverin says:

    Indeed, big enough fan of the series that it has influenced my decision on which console to get.

  14. RichUncleSkeleton says:

    There’s great, and then there’s late 90’s great. MGS is late 90’s great. Glad I played it back in the day but I wouldn’t be able to take it seriously now.

  15. Chillicothe says:

    HELLO DEAH BROTHAH!

  16. LennyLeonardo says:

    The elevator surprise scene, OMG!

  17. tonyt3rry says:

    Snake, snake… SNAKEEEEEE!!!!!!
    One of the best games I ever played, I loved the controller 2 port switch to confuse mantis

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    quasiotter says:

    The timing on this is… incredible for me. I was planning to look for this game today, actually… so thank you RPS and j0p3s!

  19. buzzmong says:

    Still own the proper boxed copy of this for PC.

    It’s a really good game. Played it again only a couple of years back and once you squint pass the very dated 3d, the gameplay still holds up solidly.
    The plot’s fun too :)

    Snake? Snaaaaaaaaakeee!