HomeReviews4/5 ReviewMetal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol. 1 Review

Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol. 1 Review

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Few video game franchises can sport a legacy like the Metal Gear series. But many of the other fabled franchises are still considered relevant with regular releases, whereas the Metal Gear franchise has been absent since the 2018 misstep, Metal Gear Survive. And if any arguments are made about Konami not being sure what to do with the franchise, this first collection of games proves that to be so, with some really odd design choices.

The Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol. 1 is a celebration of all things Metal Gear. The headliners in the compilation are the first three Metal Gear Solid games: Metal Gear Solid, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. Alongside these are the two Metal Gear games that started the franchise in the form of Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake. Then finally there is the NES version of Metal Gear and even the ‘unofficial’ game of the series, Snake’s Revenge.

But it isn’t just the games. There is an impressive collection of tie-in media to flesh out the collection. Soundtracks, screenplays, master books, graphic novels, VR missions for Metal Gear Solid and plenty of regional versions of the games.

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An impressive Metal Gear collection

However, one of the major issues with this collection is the segregation of it all. Rather than having a dedicated launcher for the games, a la almost every other legacy collection, the Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection keeps the games entirely separate. There are four separate achievement lists and five different UI icons in your games list. Whilst this does allow you to pick and choose which games you want on your internal storage if say, you aren’t interested in the original Metal Gear games, it does give a real disjointed feeling to the collection.

Even more bizarrely is the fact that the master book appears across most of these titles. It is the same book detailing the entire chronology of Metal Gear in each title; rather than it appearing once it is included multiple times.

But as for the games themselves, they need little introduction. The original trilogy of Metal Gear Solid games are still regarded as some of the best in the business, and even playing them today, it is clear to see why. The arrival of the first Metal Gear Solid game was a profound moment for the medium, pushing boundaries that didn’t seem possible before. Then, the second and third game helped cement the legacy of the franchise with two of the best games of all time.

Their cinematic influences mixed with social commentary really did change the video game landscape. That all this was housed within very solid stealth action games made younger me oblivious to how impactful and forward thinking these games were back in the day. I was too busy enjoying them for what they boil down to in their simplest form: simply great games, memorable characters and some really abstract ideas and mechanics.

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Exactly like you’ll remember…

These games are playable in this collection, almost exactly how you remember them. Sometimes to a fault. MGS 1 is the only playable in 30fps, where MGS2 and 3 are both in 60fps. The original MGS was only in 30 frames back when it launched on the PlayStation, so it retains how it plays. But even with this, all three games are only targeting 1080p. And that’s even with them not launching on last-gen consoles; on the Xbox at least this collection is only releasing on Xbox Series X|S. But not in 4K. This may be down to the ageing graphics, at least with the first game, but the previously released HD Editions of MGS2 and 3 still look pretty good, some eleven years after they last released on Xbox.

It is a series of odd design choices that are the major issues with Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol. 1.

Which is a shame because as already mentioned, the games are still fantastic to play even today. What’s better is that you can play them the way you remember them, or try another version that slightly tweaks things. These were released in a time when region specific features were still a thing, and that is addressed here. Take the first Metal Gear Solid again as an example: It comes with the standard version, the Special Missions standalone version that was in Europe, the VR Missions that differs slightly from the Special Missions and Metal Gear Solid Integral, previously only available in Japan. There are only minor differences between the versions here that may not even seem obvious when playing, but having them included is great for preservation.

Metal Gear Solid 3 also has American and European versions to choose from.

Another design choice that felt odd at first, but one I grew to appreciate, is the controller configuration for the Metal Gear Solid 1 main menu. For those that don’t know, the main action button for this when it launched on PlayStation was the circle button, like many other Japanese games at the time. And the main menu here has you using the B button found in the same location as the circle button as your main confirm button, with the A button to go back through menus. It’s a little odd at first, and still does catch me out from time to time, but I grew to enjoy this little easter egg callback.

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Weird interface choice aside, you cannot miss this one

For those also wondering, the physical version of Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol. 1 still has the image on the back of the case with a specific Codec code you will need to call during MGS1. Of course, back when this first launched I never thought for one second the game meant my actual cd case on my shelf, so only when talking about it in the school playground did I realise what it actually meant. As such, that number is now etched into my core memories.

Aside from some really questionable design choices, such as a lack of singular UI and launcher and next to no graphical improvements to the games themselves, this compilation represents a high point in video game history. The Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol. 1 contains three of the best games of all-time, in one package; sort of. Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3 have previously been available on Xbox but it also marks the first time that Metal Gear Solid 1 has been playable here. And despite the age of it, it is still highly enjoyable. Less so the likes of Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, but their inclusion is a welcome one nonetheless. 

If you can get over the fact that you’ll have five applications on your Xbox for the one collection and that there is a lack of 4K support in a current-gen only release, then the Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol. 1 is one compilation you cannot miss out on.

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • The quality of the games speaks for themselves
  • Nice inclusion of the original Metal Gear games
  • Includes regional variations and Special Missions for MGS1
Cons:
  • Games do feel like they were ported on the cheap
  • One collection but five different applications to launch
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Konami
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), PC, PS5, PS4, Switch
  • Release date and price - 24 October 2023 | £49.99
Richard Dobson
Richard Dobson
Avid gamer since the days of Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Grew up with the PS1 and PS2 but changed allegiances in 2007 with the release of Halo 3.
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>The quality of the games speaks for themselves</li> <li>Nice inclusion of the original Metal Gear games</li> <li>Includes regional variations and Special Missions for MGS1</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Games do feel like they were ported on the cheap</li> <li>One collection but five different applications to launch</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Konami</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), PC, PS5, PS4, Switch <li>Release date and price - 24 October 2023 | £49.99</li> </ul>Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol. 1 Review
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