Posted on March 11, 2013
My Top 100: #10 – Metal Gear Solid
Wow, 90 posts already? Where did the time go?
I was somewhat split on which game to actually feature on the countdown. The original version of Metal Gear Solid blew my mind in so many ways, and it became one of my favourite games before I even reached the title screen. On the other hand, 2004’s MGS remake for GameCube, The Twin Snakes, made a some big changes that perfected the game even further.
Without that PlayStation version, however, I would have never even considered playing Sons of Liberty, The Twin Snakes or anything else in the Metal Gear series. That’s why I had to go with that one!
Where do I begin, though?
The game starts with a lengthy cinematic, and though we didn’t know it at the time, it was only a taste of things to come for future games in the series. I couldn’t help but be impressed at how it felt like a big-budget Hollywood movie. The graphics might not have aged all that well, but at the time, those first few minutes explaining Snake’s insertion into Shadow Moses were really quite impressive.
That first little area of the game, where the credits are given time to finish while you learn basic controls, was all I needed to experience to know that this would be a game to remember. I knew the idea was to sneak around and stay out of sight, but that moment I stepped in a puddle and alerted a guard to my presence, I almost peed my pants.
“Aaaahhhh he’s comin’, the radar shows red, he’s mad, gotta hide!”
I failed spectacularly at hiding, and died about 30 seconds after I started controlling Snake. Instead of letting it get me down, I soldiered on. How Solid Snake had to think, I thought the same way. I had never really been immersed into a video game like that before, keeping track of everything I was doing, misleading guards with footprints in the snow, making noises for diversions, using force only when absolutely necessary, or using chaff grenades to disable security cameras. Those sorts of things might all be par for the course now, but that was pretty damn cool 15 years ago.
Any minor complaints I would have had with MGS were addressed in The Twin Snakes. Where the original’s gunfighting could sometimes feel a bit strange (not knowing what you were shooting at could be a pain in the arse), the remake changed a few of the camera angles throughout the game to help give you a better idea of what lied ahead.
It also added MGS2‘s first person view, which could be used at the press of a button to help you aim a little better. That alleviated some headaches that came whenever the game used a top-down perspective in a big room with lots of enemies, half of which were somewhere off the screen and still shooting at you.
All in all, both games were so fun, fresh and hilariously over-the-top that I couldn’t help but include it among my favourites.
I was three years late to the MGS party, but that didn’t matter.
The week I started at Saint Thomas University, I thought it would be a good idea to rent a game to relieve some of the stress I was feeling. I had some doubts I’d be able to keep up with the work load, and though I wasn’t afraid of failing, classes cost way too much for me to show up and slack off. This was going to be hard work, but I was trying not to let it get to me too much.
I was planning on majoring in Journalism, so I thought it might be a good idea to write for a student newspaper. What I’d write about, I had no idea, but I’d write my fingers off if it helped me in class.
The Sunday before Frosh Week started, my friend John and I went to the office of The Brunswickan, the University of New Brunswick’s student-run publication. We weren’t UNB students, but they added us to their roster of writers.
There was a section dedicated to movie and video game reviews, but a few people had those covered, already (damn). I put my name in for the music section, and walked out that night with three CD’s, just so I could get crackin’ on some reviews – Adema’s self-titled debut album, Slipknot’s Iowa, and Strait Up, a compilation album dedicated to the memory of the singer from a band called Snot. Awesome! I didn’t pay a cent, and got to keep both!
Feeling pretty happy about things, I went home and played the game I rented before going in to The Bruns meeting… Metal Gear Solid.
Whenever I play it, hear music or see screen shots from the game, I can’t help but think of all the random things that happened in my first few weeks at STU.
I actually enjoyed my classes, and saw potential in getting awesome grades out them. So, that was weird.
9/11 happened just as we were getting into “real” classes (i.e. not the Frosh Week kind). Being in Journalism, that somewhat flipped the whole curriculum on its side, and we ended up talking about the events of that day a lot. I’m a big history buff, and seeing events like those unfold in front of my eyes was quite shocking and fascinating, all at the same time.
My Physical Anthropology professor was actually not in class the day it happened, just because she was “on hold”, and waiting to be flown down to New York City to help in doing identification with body parts. She ended up not having to go, but we didn’t have class that particular Tuesday.
After being told the professor wouldn’t be coming in, we were all getting up to leave when the girl next to me said, “Good, I don’t believe in any this stuff, anyway.” My friend Nick and I loooked at each other and rolled our eyes, and to that, she said “What? You guys think this whole Australopithecus thing actually happened? God created the Earth!”
I had always known there was a divide between science and religion. I had just never met anyone who flat-out denied evolution. I was raised Catholic, but I never once questioned what I was being taught in school.
I was young, and felt like calling her crazy and all that, but I’m glad I didn’t. Religion and faith mean different things to different people, and it’s a sticky subject. I try not to touch it with a ten-foot pole, but I guess that’s exactly what I’m doing now!
Anyway, the cherry on top of the weird STU Sundae was having my first review published in The Bruns.
Even though I submitted a short review of Iowa, a few weeks went by without hearing back from anyone. No “hey, good review, we’re printing it next week” or “OK review, we just needed something different”. One morning while waiting for class to start, John unfolded the Bruns copy he was reading and said “take a look at page (whatever), there’s an up-and-coming writer you should check out”.
What he was trying to say didn’t dawn on me at all. I opened it up to the music section like he said, and there was my review, sitting next to a few others. There was nothing quite like seeing my name in print for the first time, underneath an article I wrote. I could definitely get used to this feeling!
Unfortunately, a handful of reviews is all I ended up writing. STU and I would end up going our separate ways a few years later, but I definitely look back on the whole experience quite fondly.
Playing MGS reminds me of that crazy week when I first rented it, and all the craziness that happened in the weeks that followed.