The beginning of a masterpiece series started in 1987 on the MSX2 computer when Metal Gear was released. Developed and published by Konami with a young Hideo Kojima at the helms, the game was far ahead of its time. A few months later, a port of Metal Gear was released on the Nintendo Entertainment System, which took some liberties with the gameplay and had no influence or involvement from Kojima. It is the NES version of Metal Gear that I’ll be reviewing today. Make sure you bring your pack of smokes as we sneak our way into this Metal Gear review.
Metal Gear Plot:
Twists and secrets are expected in almost every Hideo Kojima game and while he didn’t direct the NES version of Metal Gear, it’s heavily inspired by his work. During my Metal Gear review, I recognized familiar plot lines and elements. Big Boss, a threat of a nuclear bipedal Metal Gear, and communication through an earpiece all were welcomed.
Our Metal Gear review begins in the year 1995 in an alternative universe where the Cold War has not ended. You play as Solid Snake, a new member of an elite squad called FOXHOUND who has been dropped into an area in South Africa called Outer Haven. In Outer Haven, a weapon of mass destruction is being developed. It’s Solid Snake’s mission to disarm/destroy this mass weapon or rescue prisoners and other members of FOXHOUND. Originally, it was Gray Fox who was handed this mission, another member of FOXHOUND but the team lost contact with him with his last transmission being “METAL GEAR”.
With the help of his commanding officer, Big Boss, Solid Snake parachutes into the area to infiltrate the fortress. Aside from Big Boss, Solid Snake has help from Diane, Schneider, and Jennifer. After rescuing Gray Fox, Solid Snake learns that Metal Gear is a nuclear bipedal tank that can fight in various forms and launch nukes with ease.
As Solid Snakes goes deeper and deeper within the fortress, he rescues the Doctor responsible for creating Metal Gear and the doctor’s daughter who was held hostage to force the Doctor to build it. Solid Snake makes his way toward the Computer System that controls Metal Gear but he begins to receive bad advice from Big Boss that leads him into traps.
Solid Snake continues to make his way to the center of Outer Haven to destroy the supercomputer that controls Metal Gear. After he successfully detonates it he is confronted by the leader of Outer Haven who turns out to be Big Boss! Big Boss sets up a self-destruct code for Outer Haven as he battles Solid Snake. Snake defeats Big Boss and escapes Outer Haven before it blows up. After the credits, a message is received from Big Boss who declares the two will meet again.
Metal Gear Gameplay:
During my Metal Gear review, I was blown away by how ahead of its time this game was. I don’t even think the term “stealth-action” was a genre but if it was Metal Gear magnified it by a million. The majority of gameplay will be sneaking around on a single screen and avoiding any enemies that may spot you. These enemies include soldiers, guard dogs, and security cameras.
You’ll have plenty of weapons at your dispense but I stuck with my fists and a silenced pistol. Crucial weapons to advance include a rocket launcher and grenade launcher which helped destroy equipment and make fights with bosses much easier. Speaking of bosses let’s review some of the bigger fights in my Metal Gear review.
The “Shotgunner” was quite weak but an excellent first boss to fight against. Twin Shot Gunners I took down with the grenade launcher and they weren’t difficult but a bit tedious. Just like the Shotgunner, the Machine Gun kid was simple, run to the corner and shoot him where he can’t hit you. Flamethrowers were also easy but the hardest fight by far was the tank that comes in an alley. You need to put down mines in front of it and it took me about 10 attempts to beat him. I kept running across the field of fire and getting hit. Even the Big Boss fight is pretty easy. All you do is wait for him to go into the corner and continually fire at him until it’s over. Despite the low difficulty on most of the bosses in my Metal Gear review, I loved fighting them as they changed the pace from the regular grunts that I was taking out.
Another element that stuck out to me during my Metal Gear review was the hilarious mistranslation of when a soldier falls asleep. They said, “I feel asleep”. I also didn’t enjoy punching the poor dogs in the face but I knew it had to be done to quietly make my way into Outer Haven.
Sneaking is a huge element of Metal Gear. The famous cardboard box starts here and I was thrilled. A signature item throughout the series, the cardboard box allows you to hide from guards in a pinch. An example of how far ahead of its time Metal Gear was beside the cardboard box was the hidden transmitter in your inventory. At one point you are captured and have to escape. When you gather your belongings you will have guards constantly attacking you unless you remove the hidden transmitter from your gear. This was genius and I couldn’t believe it was included. Another item that always seems to be in the inventory is cigarettes. These were used at the very end of the game to boost the countdown clock before Outer Haven explodes to give you more time to run away.
Remember the amazing but long scene from Metal Gear Solid 3 where Big Boss is climbing up the ladder? Well, an aspect like that is in the original Metal Gear. Instead of climbing a ladder, you hop onto an elevator that seems to take forever. Knowing about the ladder in Metal Gear Solid 3 made me appreciate the insanely long elevator ride.
While my Metal Gear review is mainly me fawning over Hideo Kojima and his brilliant mind, there were some things that took away from the fun. I had to use a guide almost the entire time simply because of how easy it was to get lost and not exactly know what to do next. You can call via the radio and speak with your team but they aren’t quite as helpful as they’d later become in the Metal Gear Solid series. At times, there were things I had to do that I never would have thought of unless the guide told me so. Examples include punching at certain walls to expose hidden doors to rescue characters and radioing certain frequencies to gather required weapons. Maybe after weeks and weeks of playing Metal Gear, I may have found out about this but I don’t have all the time in the world to find these elaborate and hidden features.
The ending also felt quickly rushed. You defeat Big Boss in a less than stellar fight and then escape Outer Haven in about 30 seconds. You get a small scene of the base blowing up and then the credits roll. I wish I could have gotten one of Kojima’s infamous 30-minute cut scenes where characters wrapped up the plot and story to let me know exactly what I had just done. I know that’s not possible on the NES but some more text on the screen explaining what had happened would have been welcomed. The other thing that really bothered me besides the rushed ending and lack of direction on the mission was the trap doors. There are plenty scattered throughout Outer Haven and you have a split second to avoid them. Many times I did not. If you hadn’t saved in a while you were out of luck. These deaths felt really cheap and sometimes they were simply unavoidable even to the gamers with the quickest reflexes. My Metal Gear review was tons of fun but it was frustrating at times.
I can’t tell you how many times I thought about playing Metal Gear to see how the brilliant series began. It took me years to finally do it and I’m satisfied to see how my favorite series started. When I first attempted my Metal Gear review a few months ago, I made the mistake of not getting a crucial item. I can’t remember which one it was but to backtrack it would have taken me an hour to grab it. Not wanting to waste all that time I quit and didn’t attempt to play the game again until this version of my Metal Gear review in which I used a YouTube walkthrough.
Metal Gear Review Score:
Hideo Kojima despite not overseeing the NES port of his masterpiece still influenced much of Metal Gear on the NES. A game so far ahead of its time shocked me with the inclusion of sophisticated items, a well-rounded cast, and even breaking the fourth wall. Metal Gear starts the best franchise in video games, and it’s a must-play for all lovers of the series to pay homage to how it began.
Metal Gear scores a 9 out of 10.
What would you write in your Metal Gear review? Be honest, did you use a guide as I did? What was your favorite boss fight? How many trap holes did you fall into? What’s your favorite game in the series? Let me know your thoughts and comments on Metal Gear, I’d love to read them.
One thought on “Metal Gear Review”
I always loved the fact that they made very clever use of the PSX graphical limits, everything looked and felt very real while using in-game graphics. The best game ever made in my opinion. Lost count of the number of times I’ve finished it. Time to dust off the PlayStation and go again.