Press Start: Volume One

Hi guys and gals,

It’s your Super Wrestling Entertainment System Kevin Williams and welcome to Press Start. This will be a collection of game reviews old and new however as a child of what I consider to be the golden age of gaming, prepare yourself for the former!

There is something to be said about MY era of gaming (1986 with the launch of the Nintendo Entertainment System to 2005 with the launch of the Xbox 360) which has a large chance of just being nostalgia talking and don’t get me wrong gaming today is something that the graphics and gameplay on display now would blow a young Kevin Williams’s tiny little mind! However I feel many people would agree that while in the era of AAA titles with the above mentioned gameplay and graphics as well as story driven experiences, we are in a time where developers common practice is to squeeze every last penny out of us via micro transactions and needless DLC.

This just didn’t happen back in the day! You bugged your parents to buy a game, you got the game, and you then played the game and if you were like me played it to absolute death including unlocking all the lovely extras THAT ALREADY EXSISTED ON THE CART/DISK TO BEGIN WITH! No extra money required.

With that being said, the first game I am reviewing represents an example of how things used to be and is one of my favourite games of all time Metal Gear Solid on the PS1. Now many that know me would probably expect a Mario or Zelda title to take that title (and trust me we’ll get there) but Metal Gear Solid has so many good memories for me.

It was the first game I can remember that heralded in cinematic storytelling through the art form of video games. Metal Gear Solid was released in 1998 on the PlayStation One and is a stealth action game directed by the legendary Hideo Kojima and developed by the (then) reputable games developer Konami. This was before Konami stopped caring about their fan base and became a fancy gambling machine company, not bitter at all honest.

Metal Gear Solid is the third instalment in the Metal Gear Saga but is considered by many as being a soft reboot of Metal Gear 2 – Released on the MSX in 1990.

Being one of the first of its kind to portray a full voice cast with some of the best voice acting in a video game in my opinion. Fun Fact: Voice acting in video games was a grey area for some actors and many involved in Metal Gear Solid used pseudonyms in order to avoid heat from the Screen Actors Guild of America.

Plot – The plot finds Solid Snake (voiced by David Hayter) hauled out of self-imposed exile by his former Commander, Colonel Roy Campbell who needs Snake to go on one last solo mission to stop his former unit Fox-Hound who have taken over a remote is base of the coast of Alaska. Fox Hound claim to have access to the newest iteration of Metal Gear, a nuclear equipped walking battle tank and are threatening to use it unless their demands are met. Snake must infiltrate the base without detection, assess Fox-Hound’s ability to launch an attack on the U.S and stop it if necessary.

Gameplay – Metal Gear Solid is a third person game for its majority but being a stealth game allows the player to peak around corners or into a limited first person view in order to scope out the environment and plan their route to the given objective or area. Players must guide Snake through the base without being detected by the many guards and surveillance cameras. Doing so meant either two things: hide or die. The game does the very best it can to make you feel like you are on your own, guards during alert mode will come after you with everything they have and especially early on in the game this meant fighting was not really an option.

Snake is guided through areas and objective by use of the Codec radio system by his team of support characters such as the aforementioned Colonel Campbell as well as some you meet on site such as Hal Emmerich (Otacon). This is done via the select button and requires you to input a specific frequency in order to speak to each person. Saving is also done using a specific frequency which is pretty nifty.

Snake can acquire items and weapons which can be equipped using the left two button for items and right two button for weapons with a handy quick equip/unequip with the top left/right shoulder buttons. Items cover a wide range of needs from rations to regain health, mine detectors to spot claymore mines, binoculars to scope out the terrain and even cold medicine for even the harsh Alaskan cold takes it told and gives you a cold which gives you away when you sneeze!

There’s also an Arnold Schwarzenegger in Commando level of weapons you inexplicably can carry around with you. From the classic Socom pistol which can be equipped with a silencer for some clean silent kills, a sniper rifle for some ranged killing and even a remote controlled missile launcher.

Now given the items and weapons you can use, there is a choice in how the player can tackle each area, early on there is not much choice but to sneak around (granted snake can get hands on to dispense with some guards) however once you get more guns in your arsenal, guards can be dealt with quite easily.

Snake must make his way through the base which means dealing with different guards and environments. More specifically a nuclear warhead storage building where Snake has been programmed via nano machines to be unable to fire weapons which puts you back to square one for that area.

The boss fights in the game are some of the best in the series and one of the games highlights. Each boss is very different and involves different ways of beating them. Psycho Mantis being a favourite of mine in terms of how much this fight messes with you and the forth wall.

This game has superb replay ability in terms of unlockable’s and completion ranks. Things such as new clothing and items depending on choices made and special ranks for things such as time taken, continues used of total kills. The best rank is achieved by completing the game in under a certain time, killing very few enemies and being not being detected at all.

I have mentioned the story already, however, the gameplay and story blend so well in this game you often feel like you are playing an interactive movie and that is something that only increases as the series moves on.

I could do go on more about the ins and outs of this master piece but I want to talk about why this game resonates so well with me and why I think of it so fondly. It was one of the first games I played on the PlayStation after being a pretty much a Nintendo kid for most of my gaming life to that point. My best buddy introduced me to it and we spent several weekends just playing it constantly and not with the goal of completing the game, we carried out all kinds of faffing about and I wish lets plays were a thing back then cause I remember us having absolute comedy gold which was even better once we got hold of the stealth camo!

So in closing the game is in my opinion one of the richest and enjoyable gaming experiences of my life and is one I can happily go back and play again and again. Note I haven’t mentioned the graphics which are clearly night and day compared to today’s standard but it was designed that way for example the basic facial design of characters chosen to fit the style of the cinematics but also to make it easier for the player to immerse themselves more into the game.

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