Few video game franchises have reached the iconic status of Metal Gear Solid. Ever since the first Metal Gear released on MSX2 in 1987, Hideo Kojima’s stealth action series has enthralled players with its intricate espionage storylines, eccentric characters, and pioneering gameplay. Now, after years without a new entry following Kojima’s departure from Konami, the publisher is dipping back into the well of nostalgia with the Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection.
This new compilation bundles together the seminal Metal Gear Solid trilogy that catapulted the franchise to blockbuster success. For the first time, Xbox owners can experience the original Metal Gear Solid from 1998, alongside the well-regarded sequels Sons of Liberty and Snake Eater. The collection also marks the debut of these classics on modern platforms like PlayStation 5 and Nintendo Switch. Along with the main attractions are bonus materials like behind-the-scenes screenplays, soundtracks, and graphic novels.
It’s an appealing package for Metal Gear devotees who want to revisit Solid Snake’s mission logs. But as a simple port of aged games and decade-old remasters, does the Master Collection properly honor the Metal Gear name? Or does it fail to meet the high bar set by such venerated stealth experiences? Our review will dive deep into the pros and cons, examining whether this nostalgia trip is worth the price of admission for both loyal fans and curious newcomers. We’ll analyze everything from presentation and gameplay to supplemental content, weighing if the collection adds valuable context or just unnecessary complications. Strap in as we enter the complex world of Metal Gear once again.
Spanning the Metal Gear Solid Saga
The Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection provides an expansive library of the core games in the storied stealth franchise. It includes the 8-bit origins, the revolutionary PlayStation classic, and its two direct sequels. Let’s break down exactly what’s included:
- Metal Gear – The 1987 MSX2 original that started it all. Play as Solid Snake in overhead 2D view infiltrating Outer Heaven.
- Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake – The 1990 MSX2 sequel that introduced more complex mechanics like crouching and distracting guards.
- Metal Gear Solid – The 1998 PlayStation game that propelled the series into 3D and mainstream success. Experience Shadow Moses and signature bosses like Psycho Mantis and Sniper Wolf.
- Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty – The 2001 PS2 follow-up set against a stunningly prescient story on an offshore clean-up facility.
- Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater – The 2004 PS2 prequel that brought the gameplay into jungle settings with Survival Viewer.
Alongside these core entries are a treasure trove of supplements to dive into. Each installment comes with a master book packed with lore, guides, and developer notes. The screenplays that breathe life into the complex stories are also included. For a behind-the-scenes look at the music, the soundtracks for all games are present. Rounding out the bonuses are the original Metal Gear games for NES, VR side missions, and digital graphic novels.
However, these aren’t all completely remastered versions made for modern systems. Metal Gear Solid is a port of the PS1 original without added enhancements. Meanwhile, MGS2 and MGS3 are based on the PS3/Xbox 360 HD editions from the prior generation. Some extras, like the graphic novels, are only accessible as separate downloads rather than integrated experiences. Still, the breadth of content is impressive and adds plenty of context around these landmark releases.
“Visual Novel Gaming Experience”: Are you a fan of narrative-driven games? Explore our comprehensive review of “Inescapable: No Rules, No Rescue,” a game that blends anime elements with a dark game show premise. Check out the “Inescapable” visual novel review.
Fragmented and Outdated Visuals
One of the most glaring weaknesses of the Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection is the lackluster presentation and preservation of the games. Rather than a unified, enhanced compilation, the overall package feels fragmented and dated.
The biggest offender is the convoluted UI. Each title is siloed in its own launcher app rather than integrated together. This means a total of 5 separate apps just to access all the content. The navigation becomes unnecessarily confusing as you hunt for specific versions or bonus features across various launchers. Even supplemental materials like the digital graphic novels require individual downloads outside the main collection. It’s a cumbersome arrangement compared to more cohesive remasters.
The visuals also feel outdated, especially for Metal Gear Solid 1. As a straight port, MGS1 retains its original PlayStation ratio of 4:3 without any resolution bump or other upgrades. It runs at a choppy 30fps framerate and feels like one of the least enhanced parts of the bundle. The HD versions of MGS2 and MGS3 are better but still lack polish, maxing out at 720p upscaled to 1080p rather than native high definition. Some textures appear flat and environments feel sparse. The visuals haven’t been meaningfully improved since the PS3/Xbox 360 era.
Despite these drawbacks, some fan-friendly touches do help ease the pain points. The ability to pause MGS1’s lengthy cutscenes is a basic but very welcome addition. Extras like screenplays and soundtrack integration also help round out the context, even if access takes some searching. However, on the whole, the Master Collection feels welded together rather than a fully revitalized compilation worthy of showcasing these seminal stealth experiences. The games demand preservation and remastering up to modern standards, not piecemeal ports that undermine their eigene values.
Stealth and Storytelling That Stand the Test of Time
When it comes to gameplay, the Metal Gear Solid trilogy has seen both evolution and aspects that stubbornly refuse to change. While some mechanics understandably show their age, the core stealth action, boss battles, and attention to detail remain just as compelling today.
Metal Gear Solid 1 feels the most dated, with clunky tank controls and fixed camera angles that can disorient. The overhead view when pinned against walls or looking down halls makes situational awareness difficult. Gunplay also feels loose and imprecise by modern standards. These limitations can certainly frustrate players accustomed to today’s refined mechanics.
However, the stealth gameplay loops still hold up remarkably well. Creeping past guards, hiding in lockers, and progressing between areas methodically is very satisfying. The level design accommodates different routes and strategies. Iconic boss fights like Revolver Ocelot and Psycho Mantis are still creative and memorable challenges. And while the PlayStation polygonal visuals are pixelated, the art direction and attention to detail in areas like Shadow Moses are striking. The overall experience shows its age but also why it was so revolutionary.
Sons of Liberty and Snake Eater built and iterated on these foundations masterfully. The increased maneuverability, ability to aim in first-person, and contextual actions make the stealth action feel exceptionally smooth. New mechanics like hanging over ledges or close quarters combat open up the possibilities. The boss encounters are lavishly designed spectacles that test your grasp of the systems. Snake Eater’s survival elements like hunting animals and healing add welcome wrinkles without overcomplicating the tense core. Whether sneaking through industrial facilities or lush jungles, the gameplay is sublime.
Of course, one element remains static across the entire trilogy – the lengthy cinematic cutscenes. Thesepolarize players, either absorbing you in the complex drama or frustrating with their duration and interruptions to the flow of play. But for fans already invested in the stories, the cutscenes are rewarding glimpses into the minds of characters like Solid Snake, Meryl, Raiden, and more. And the ability to pause or skip them provides more control than originally.
In the end, the Metal Gear Solid gameplay largely withstands the test of time. A few antiquated mechanics aside in early entries, the stealth action, boss battles, and meticulous design showcase why these games are revered. Each installment pushed the envelope of what’s possible in the genre.
Supplementary Materials That Enhance the Experience
Beyond the core games, the Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection provides a trove of extras and special features. These supplements help flesh out the context and history behind the blockbuster stealth series.
Each installment comes with its complete screenplay, offering rare insight directly into the games’ complex stories. The master books also compile development information, guides, and artwork in a presentation reminiscent of encyclopedias. For fans who want to dive deeper, these materials provide extensive detail about characters, settings, and Easter eggs.
The soundtracks compile musical selections from all the games into one place. Listening to the emotive compositions from legends like Harry Gregson-Williams and Norihiko Hibino provides another lens into the tone and themes of each chapter. And while not available initially, the eventual addition of digital graphic novels will further expand the media representations of Solid Snake’s adventures.
On the gameplay front, players can experience the original Metal Gear Solid with regional distinctions like the VR Missions previously only available in Europe. Diehard fans will appreciate these comprehensive versions. Another nice touch is using saved data from other Konami games to get the full Psycho Mantis encounter.
However, some extras still need improvement. The NES Metal Gear titles lack many modern quality of life refinements. The absence of save states, visual filters, or rewind features makes these retro additions feel unplayable rather than preserved. Thankfully, planned updates promise much needed improvements via aspects like CRT filters.
Ultimately, the range of supplemental materials provides essential context to appreciate these landmark stealth games. The screenplays and musical scores alone offer so much insight into the craft behind Metal Gear Solid’s cinematic experiences. While not perfect, the added content expands and enhances the collections meaningfully for devotees.
A Nostalgic But Unfulfilled Homecoming
Revisiting such landmark stealth classics in the Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection is a nostalgic joy, but also bittersweet given the missed potential. While the inherent greatness of the games shines through, the lack of care put into properly restoring these masterpieces is disappointing.
The quality of the original Metal Gear Solid trilogy persists even when played today. The intricate level design, cinematic storytelling, memorable boss fights, and innovative mechanics represent peaks for the entire industry. Metal Gear essentially wrote the playbook on stealth action while pushing video game narratives into more mature themes and scripts. They deserve prestigious preservation to match their cultural significance.
Unfortunately, the Master Collection falls short of that mark. The ports feel curiously bare bones, especially Metal Gear Solid 1. As the crown jewel that catalyzed the series’ popularity, giving MGS1 only the most minimal of enhancements is nearly unacceptable. The 4:3 aspect ratio, low resolution, and spluttering 30fps do no justice to its stature. Even the HD remasters of MGS2 and MGS3 reflect more of a quick up-res rather than genuine restorations. The audio issues and unfixed legacy bugs further indicate corners cut.
These are games that demand the red carpet treatment given their pedigree. Yet beyond the superficial addition of screenplays and soundtrack integration, the compilation does not feel particularly comprehensive or definitive. Even accessing supplemental materials can be a chore due to the fragmented UI spread across 5 different launchers. The extras showcase the breadth of content, but accessibility is lacking.
Make no mistake – simply having these incredible games available on modern platforms is still worthwhile. Their stories, characters, and design represent high watermarks that developers today could learn much from. The ability to visit Shadow Moses or hear David Hayter’s gravelly Solid Snake is nostalgia magic. But we expect more from Konami for such prestigious releases, especially when “Master Collection” is part of the title.
As it stands, this first volume will satisfy fans eager to replay the adventures on their platform of choice. However, it could have and should have been so much more in order to genuinely honor the Metal Gear Solid legacy. The stellar stealth gameplay at the core persists, but the preservation surrounding it undermines rather than uplifts. For the legendary hiding place this series holds, we hope subsequent collections or re-releases will finally give these masterpieces the museum-quality treatment they have long merited.
Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol. 1
A nostalgic yet spotty collection that puts some of gaming's greatest hits in one place but doesn't fully restore them to their former glory. The brilliance of Metal Gear Solid shines through outdated presentations.
- Includes several seminal games in the Metal Gear franchise like MGS 1, 2, and 3
- Core stealth gameplay holds up remarkably well even today
- Iconic characters and storylines that defined the stealth genre
- Memorable boss battles and set pieces
- Bonus content like screenplays and soundtracks for hardcore fans
- MGS1 now playable on Xbox consoles for the first time
- Presentation feels fragmented across multiple apps/launchers
- MGS1 port is barebones with no enhancements or upgrades
- MGS2 and 3 ports are based on last-gen remasters, not new editions
- Navigation and UI is confusing and unintuitive
- NES Metal Gear games lack standard quality of life features
- Visuals, graphics, audio are largely outdated and unpolished
- Collection doesn't fully honor legacy of these acclaimed games