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Have You Played… Metal Gear Solid?

Snake? Snake? Snaaaaaaaaake!

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!

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