It’s been 25 years since Metal Gear Solid released on PlayStation, and 25 years since it has been my favourite game of all time. It changed the industry for the better, pushing the boundaries of what was possible both in terms of complex and exciting mechanics, and how video games could tell legitimately deep stories with superb voice acting. Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol. 1 not only includes this masterpiece, but it also features its two sequels that continued the trend Hideo Kojima began, as well as the original 8-bit Metal Gear games and a ton of bonus content, all wrapped up in one stylish package.
Every now and again, we get re-releases of older games that sometimes come with extra content. Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol. 1 is filled with so much that fans of the series are going to love. Even if you’re coming into this without ever stepping foot on Shadow Moses, there’s a fantastic amount of information to help get everyone up to speed. Perhaps my most favourite features of the whole collection are the master books. Regardless of what game you load up first, a detailed companion piece can be read that features so much background to the characters and story, along with Easter Eggs, collectible guides, and more.
They’re beautifully and concisely presented, helping to make sense of the often complicated story of Metal Gear. It provides plenty of detail to each story and their inspirations; the characters that made each one memorable like Eva, Ocelot, and Otacon; the complex relationship between Snake and FOXHOUND; the details surrounding The Les Enfants Terribles; and the famous villains that made the boss fights so iconic. Even I got confused when playing, but having context to everything was fascinating, and I spent a good few hours reading everything on offer.
There are also screenplays for each game, reminding you just how much work went into the acting and importance of good writing. Playing in 2023, there’s certain dialogue that wouldn’t work today, but the warning at the start of each game has made it clear these were all part of a certain period in history and might not reflect opinions and ideals of today. Watching the camera pan on Meryl’s derrière as she runs down the corridor in MGS is something I’d forgot, and I’m kind of glad that I did. Despite these occasional faux pas, the bulk of the Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol. 1 story is, and has always been, phenomenal.
Many concerns going back to older titles is how they play in the present day, especially when we get blessed with fantastic gameplay now. Whether it’s MGS, Sons of Liberty, or Snake Eater, they all hold up, showing that they were ahead of their time when they were originally released. The stealth elements of MGS, the more action-focused style of MGS2, and the survival elements of Snake Eater all work well today, and I was never frustrated with any aspect of them. They might not hold up visually, but they’re still just as enjoyable now as they ever were.
One of my only real issues with the entire collection is that everything isn’t included together. Playing Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol. 1 means having five separate games on your platform, so if you want to skip between them you’ll need to boot up the title you want to play individually. Another minor concern comes with having to confirm or go back on menu screens, which has a different input on the original MGS compared to the others. Even in-game on Metal Gear Solid, it took me a while to use Circle/B to fire my weapon or interact with the environment.
The amount of content you get from Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol. 1 is great value for money. Not only are you getting three of the greatest games ever made, you’re also getting Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, the two games that kickstarted the franchise, as well as Snake’s Revenge, the alternative sequel that Europe and North America got in 1990. They may not be the selling point for the collection, but having them be a part of it is integral in telling the story, and they come with their own master book and screenplay. The VR and Special missions from MGS are included, as well as a digital soundtrack and various graphic novels, although these weren’t available for review.
Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol. 1 isn’t just a bunch of re-released games, it’s an important piece of gaming history. Whether you’re playing for the first time or you’re jumping back in after a while, the three main titles all hold up incredibly well, despite some awkward voice acting and the occasional cringey moments. The master books are stunning to read and admire, with the history and legacy of Solid Snake and Big Boss preserved for everyone to enjoy. I can only hope that Vol.2 will include MGS4: Guns of the Patriots, Peace Walker, Phantom Pain, and everything else we got from the second half of the saga, because I am ready to enjoy more from the series that changed my life.
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