Sneaking into the #10 Position…
When the original Playstation first came out, I remember being really skeptical about it. “The company that made that Walkman I got for Christmas in 1989 is making a video game console? Riiiiiiight, that’ll go well.” Shows you what I know. Playstation was the first console that presented a legit challenger to the Nintendo juggernaut, and they did it the only way a console really can; with really, really, really fucking good exclusive IPs. Would we still have Xbox today if the original Halo wasn’t a launch title? I doubt it. And I doubt we still have Playstation today without Cloud Stryfe and Solid Snake. Maybe my memory is a bit foggy after all these years, but I remember Final Fantasy VII and Metal Gear Solid being THE reason to own a Playstation in those early days. Out of the two of them, Final Fantasy VII has had a bigger lasting impact and was, ultimately, a better game. That doesn’t take anything away from the fact that, for it’s time, Metal Gear Solid was pretty damn incredible. While the series has more than jumped the shark in recent years, (at least in my opinion), Metal Gear Solid still stands as a high water mark for the franchise and for Konami and it absolutely deserves its place in the top ten on our countdown.
SOLID SNAKE? SURE… THAT’S A NAME THAT A PERSON COULD HAVE, I GUESS…
Despite the fact that “Solid Snake” is undoubtedly one of the worst-named protagonists in the history of ever, (and the villain is, of course, Liquid Snake, because fuck you audience), David Hayter’s voice acting does a tremendous job of making you care about Snake as a character, and it anchors the rest of the game beautifully. And in a lot of ways, the game needs it. The plot is basically one big trope: Terrorists highjack massive nuclear weapon and threaten USA with it, because reasons! Right, nobody’s ever told THAT story. And we have a cast of characters with names like Vulcan Raven (Ugh), Psycho Mantis (BLURGH), and Revolver Ocelot (GARGHAFLUGH MAKEITSTOP!!!). They even had the balls to include a character that refers to himself as “Deepthroat”, in a veritable orgasm of unoriginality. And the most fucked up thing? The sum of all these elements that might seem stupid or ridiculous is absolutely stellar. It actually kind of drives me nuts, if I’m honest. This game really shouldn’t work. But the writing (excluding the character names) and voice acting are exceptional, and the game manages to take a B movie throwaway plot and make it into something unique and interesting through sheer force of personality alone. That’s quite an achievement.
CIGARETTES: A SPY’S BEST FRIEND
Ah, the 1990s. When your protagonist could still be a chain-smoking burnout and you didn’t have some pain the ass from Public Relations complaining about how this might “send the wrong message”. In hindsight, it’s pretty funny that the game actually has you use cigarette smoke as a tool to detect sensor beams and whatnot. I wonder if everyone else in Snake’s “Spy 101” class smoked as well. If not, were they instructed to start?
Sgt. Lungbutter: Alright recruits ::COUGH COUGH HAAAACK SPIT::, from now on you’ll all smoke five packs a day! It’s the only tool we have to detect laser sensors and shit!
Pvt. Jenkins: But sir, won’t that drastically reduce our lifespans and decrease our effectiveness in the field? Also, I’m pretty sure water vapor would let us see those sensor beams…
Sgt. Lungbutter: That sounds like a bunch of fucking commie talk to me, Jenkins! Drop and give me 20! Smoke while you are doing so!
If they ever show Snake’s academy days, I really hope they include that scene. Apart from the cigarettes, however, Metal Gear Solid’s mechanics set the stage for pretty much every stealth game that’s come after it, as well as being a precursor to most modern third person shooters. Assassin’s Creed, Mass Effect and Uncharted all owe a pretty heavy debt to Metal Gear in one way or another. If you go back and play it today it doesn’t hold up all that well, but most games from the early years of Playstation look like shit through no fault of their own. They’re at exactly the wrong point in video game history, unfortunately. They aren’t old enough to have a classic look or feel, and they’re too old to be considered modern. All those games from the late 90s are stuck in this weird limbo where they don’t look retro, just bad. And that’s a shame because some of them, Metal Gear Solid included, are terrific games. Apart from them being remastered onto a current console, though, you couldn’t get me to play one.
THE OLD WAR HORSE
Metal Gear is, above all else, a series I really wish that they’d lay to rest. It’s getting to the point where I’m seriously worried that we’re going to start seeing games called “Metal Gear Solid: Snake Argues with the Nursing Home Staff About His Meds” or “Metal Gear Solid: Snake Buys a New Pair of Dentures.” I have way less trouble suspending disbelief for something like Skyrim than I do for a spy who has to be, like, 80 years old still being the first and best option to deal with high-risk military operations. Regardless of how the series has played out over the years, if you want to see Snake in his prime, this is the place to do it. Metal Gear Solid, the game that’s more than the sum of it’s parts, will kick off our top 10 with a solid (snake) five out five.