metal gear

Even now I find it hard to believe that the Metal Gear series began life in the 1980s, but even more strikingly not on the PlayStation family of consoles because, well, they didn’t exist back then. There’s no denying that Solid Snake is a gaming icon, and was actually inspired by Snake Plissken from the film Escape from New York, played by Kurt Russell.

When you think of the complex, big budget stories told in today’s market it’s even more extraordinary to consider where the Metal Gear series all began. It was originally released on the MSX2 console, which was a joint effort between the now defunct ASCII Corporation and, wouldn’t you know it, Microsoft. To complete the set, it was ported over to Nintendo’s Famicom system (NES over here) a few months later and became an international success. Hallmarks from the game would be seen in many future sequels that followed. Both versions went on to be re-released on numerous occasions, but a full remake is yet to surface despite some chatter over the years.

Metal Gear chronicled the efforts of FOXHOUND operative Solid Snake during an alternate reality where the Cold War was still biting hard (although maybe not too far off today’s state of affairs). He infiltrated the fortress known as “Outer Heaven” in search of a bipedal weapon capable of launching nuclear strikes from multiple locations called, you guessed it, Metal Gear. 

The ever famous “Alert Mode” made its debut in Metal Gear. Ideally, totally avoiding detection was the preferred strategy but if you were spotted by an enemy things could play out in two different ways. If only one exclamation mark appeared over their head, sprinting over to a different screen would shake them off. However, if two appeared then reinforcements would rush to your location making it much harder to escape. Often eliminating them all would be your only option.

If combat becomes inevitable, then Snake was pretty handy with his fists as well as being able to make use of a variety of weapons that littered the Outer Heaven base. The suppressor was especially handy because it allowed you to pick off enemies without making a noise that would giveaway your position. 

Outer Heaven was a well established fortress. It was made up of numerous levels which featured plenty of doors where access was controlled by key card. During his mission Snake would come across several hostages which, when rescued, would boost his star rating and also his stats. Increased health and ammo capacity would inevitably make things a little more manageable, however these would take a backward step if a hostage was killed.

The game also features some famous names making their debut alongside Solid Snake. Two which are especially of note were his commanding officer Big Boss and fellow operative Grey Fox who was freed from captivity during the events of the game after losing contact with FOXHOUND. 

For its time, Metal Gear was a surprisingly in-depth adventure with sophisticated gameplay features that were impressive to say the least. It’s so good to see that advances in technology have allowed Hideo Kojima to fully realise his vision for the series.

However, you could argue it wasn’t until the release of Metal Gear Solid in 1998 that Solid Snake became a true household name. Widely regarded as a masterpiece, the PlayStation game followed on from the first two releases introducing a new generation to the gruff voiced, no nonsense hero. 

Whether you are a fan or not, Metal Gear is a huge force in the world of videogames with something of a quirky and maybe even unexpected origin point. The natural genesis may feel like Metal Gear Solid, however fans of the series would do well to check out what came before. 

if you want to play a Metal Gear Solid game on Xbox, your best bet is to get involved with Metal Gear Solid V. You’ll find The Phantom Pain on the likes of the Xbox Store

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