Earlier this week, the Metal Gear Solid Master Collection Volume 1 released on PlayStation, Xbox and Steam stores, as well as the Switch eShop – a significant development for a franchise so notably spread across a disparate array of consoles.
This re-release presents today’s gamers a chance to engage with a series that may have previously been prohibitively inaccessible for many. Let’s dig into the history of the franchise.
Hideo Kojima, the visionary director of the series and one of the great auteurs of gaming history, graced the world with our first taste of tactical espionage action in September 1998 with the release of Metal Gear Solid on the original PlayStation. The series’ soft reboot saw it transition away from 2D sprites to a fully 3D cinematic and narrative experience which possessed the simultaneous deep appreciation for the aesthetics of American militarism and cinema as well as anti-war, anti-nuclear proliferation messaging unique to the voice of Kojima’s upbringing in post-war Japan.
Kojima, a self-proclaimed cinephile, draws inspiration for his games from such films as “Escape from New York,” “Die Hard” and “Planet of the Apes.” The series’ first entry also possesses deep narrative similarities to the 1961 WWII sabotage film, “The Guns of Navarone.”
Metal Gear Solid possessed groundbreaking gameplay that helped define the shift to 3D, although it does not conform to modern expectations for third-person stealth action; it more than holds up today by its own unique merits.
Throughout these three chapters, players embody Solid Snake, Raiden and Naked Snake in perilous solo missions to take out elite squads of rogue paramilitary agents. The goal is to foil their plans to deploy the mobile nuclear weapons platforms and giant mechas known collectively as “Metal Gear.” Each entry in the series ultimately reveals a core thematic truth that modern imperial warfare will always treat both soldiers and civilians as tools to be used and discarded.
Each mainline series entry included in this collection has a sound argument to be anybody’s favorite. The melancholic and supernatural subversion of what appears at first to be a riff on classic American action films of Metal Gear Solid1, the seemingly prophetic visions of a late capitalist dystopia and AI driven media landscape in Metal Gear Solid2, or the cinematic James Bond-esque stylings of the Cold War era Metal Gear Solid3.
Volume 1 contains all three versions, as well as the original 2D franchise entries Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake. Additionally, the titling of this re-release as “Volume 1” may suggest we could soon see the climactic Metal Gear Solid 4 ported to a new console for the first time, being formerly bound by the specific capabilities of the PS3’s Cell Processor.
Should we come to receive a Volume 2, it would be reasonable to expect a future re-release to also include later franchise entries MGS Peace Walker, MGSV: Ground Zeroes, and MGSV: The Phantom Pain. Although not developed by Kojima Productions, it would be amazing to see Platinum Games’ cyborg gore-fest, “Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance.”