It’s a busy old time for gamers, especially as we head into the final quarter of 2023. There are countless big releases approaching fast, so you would be forgiven for overlooking one or two. To avoid this, titles such as Alan Wake 2 have already shuffled, however the release calendar is quickly running out of space. Hopefully you are all as excited as me for the release of Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol.1. If for some reason you are not, let me tell you why you should be.
Now, me and Metal Gear Solid go way back. I’m old enough to remember diving in on the PlayStation, and being totally and utterly absorbed into the world of Shadow Moses. Big, bold cinematic stories backed up by tactical espionage action made for an truly irresistible combination. I can’t tell you how many times I played it.
Of course, such iconic games are usually subject to some sort of remake or remaster somewhere down the line. The original Metal Gear Solid got the treatment before too long, with the release of The Twin Snakes on the much misunderstood and underrated GameCube. This version borrowed numerous gameplay mechanics from its sequel which transformed the gameplay, but perhaps most importantly allowed Nintendo owners to get in on the action.
A few years later, I also picked up the Metal Gear Solid HD – Collection for the Xbox 360. This was less of a remake, and more of a remaster which upscaled the visuals of the original games compared to when they were released. This did mark the arrival of both Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater and Peace Walker on Xbox, but the original Metal Gear Solid still proved elusive for owners of Microsoft’s home console. That is, until now.
That’s right, Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol.1 will bring the original classic to Xbox for the first time, along with two of its sequels. It looks as if it really will be the original too. No Twin Snakes. No remaster. The second and third games will be lifted from the HD collection release to accompany the first game.
Given the title, Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol.1 is clearly aiming to be the ultimate version of each game. The original still stands up well today, and I understand why Konami have opted to include it in this bundle, but hopefully Twin Snakes will be released further down the line.
However, Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol.1 is packed with bonus content. The original Metal Gear games are included, along with art books, additional in-game content, videos and a soundtrack including newly recorded orchestral versions of classic Metal Gear Solid themes. I can already hear “Snake Eater” now just thinking about it.
I love a good narrative that weaves together the games I play, and Metal Gear Solid can not be accused of skimping on the story. In this collection, I can’t really fault the first and third games. However, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty did push it just a little too far for me at times, where I wasn’t quite sure what was going on. Still, Colonel Campbell’s meltdown near the end more than makes up for the spaghetti like storylines. It’s a joy to behold.
The Metal Gear Solid series is perhaps most famous for its lengthy cutscenes. These really marked a stepchange in storytelling in games, allowing the player to sit back and immerse themselves in the universe. It’s not all serious though, as the second game offered you the option of replacing special ops members with grannies, amongst other things.
Another strength is the depth that the series gives to its characters, both heroes and villains. You really get to know them and realise they are often not just one dimensional. Whether it’s Sniper Wolf, Revolver Ocelot or The Boss, there are countless memorable performances given to the cast in the Metal Gear Solid games. Encounters with these characters are also well fleshed out, meaningful experiences. I mean, who can forget that Psycho Mantis fight.
Protagonists in the Metal Gear Solid games proved to be pretty handy, and often had a treasure trove of gadgets and weapons to choose from. However, the iconic cardboard box used to hide from patrolling enemies really caught the imagination, and for me sums up the type of combat that these games brought to life. There were numerous ways to approach each mission, but stealth remained the only realistic method.
I have so many brilliant memories of playing these games, including historic moments, thrilling passages of play and iconic quotes. I could wax lyrical but on the off chance you are aware of the joys I’m referring to, I won’t spoil them here.
If you’re lucky enough to be in a position to experience the Metal Gear Solid series for the very first time, this looks to be the perfect place to start. For fans of the series, Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol.1 aims to be an essential addition to their collection, whilst offering the perfect excuse to begin the saga all over again. Best of luck squeezing this one into your gaming schedule when it drops on 24th October 2023.
Check back soon for our full review of Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol.1. In the meantime, you can grab a pre-order of the game via the Xbox Store for £49.99. You’ll be able to then play on Xbox Series X|S.
It’ll also be available on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch and PC.