I'm working on an article covering Konami's games Metal Gear Solid and MGS: Special Missions for the Sony Playstation. This is horribly incomplete at the moment, but things are developing... bits of text will appear below, and move around for a bit until they settle.
Meanwhile, here is some light music...
Newsflash - Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty is on the way; a demo has been shown fairly recently at the E3 exhibition. It runs on the Playstation2, and apparently looks quite nice...
Metal Gear Solid
Metal Gear Solid is a game published by Konami for the Sony Playstation, and has the subtitle 'Tactical Espionage Action'. Metal Gear Solid is the third instalment in a series of titles designed by Hideo Kojima, all of which stress the importance of stealth tactics in achieving your goal - simply walking into a room and holding down the fire button is a very efficient method of getting killed.
To explain the slightly unusual title, 'Metal Gear' is the name of a nuclear-equipped walking battle tank, central to the plots of the series. 'Solid' is part of the protagonist's code name, 'Solid Snake'. Put them together and what do you get?
Setting the scene
The game opens with a cinematic cut-scene, following the movements of a nuclear submarine. A small craft is fired from the torpedo tubes and heads towards Shadow Moses Island, a small outpost in Alaska's Fox Archipelago. Upon nearing the island, the submersible breaks apart and a SCUBA diver emerges, swimming onwards through underwater caverns to reach his goal. The island's nuclear decommissioning base has been taken over by terrorists, and they're threatening a nuclear strike if certain demands aren't met. This is where the plot begins to get a little strange; instead of demanding money, they're after the body of a fallen comrade going under the less-than-subtle name of Big Boss. This character was killed at the end of the previous instalment of Metal Gear, and FOX-HOUND require the body to extract and analyse his DNA. Their plan is to use this information to create a race of super-soldiers; beyond this point, their aims aren't certain, but I think it's safe to assume they'll probably want to take over the world at some point.
Gene Therapy and Nanomachines
The FOX-HOUND terrorist group was once a unit of next-generation soldiers, genetically modified to improve their senses, reactions and durability. Solid Snake has been given the treatment, too - nanomachines injected into his body can repair him from the inside, as long as he has plenty of food. To be honest, for genetically-enhanced killing machines, most of the soldiers guarding the base pose little threat on their own; they have a restricted field of vision, their sense of hearing isn't so hot, and a disconcerting number of them end up sleeping on the job. Still, that makes Snake's task a little easier, and the game would be unplayable if they did have superhuman senses. However, if you bump into a pack of enemy soldiers, they're much harder to deal with, and you stand the best chance of survival if you can pick them off one by one.
You don't start the game with much firepower; in fact, all you have with you are a pair of binoculars and some cigarettes. Everything you use during the mission has to be picked up on the way - rations to replenish your strength, weapons to defend yourself and silence the opposition, and useful gadgets such as mine detectors and infrared nightsights. This equipment isn't normally left out in the open, either - to collect it, you need to avoid patrolling soldiers, closed-circuit television cameras, infrared beams and searchlights.
Here's a breakdown of the available weapons:
- SOCOM pistol - The simplest weapon in the game, unless you count Solid Snake's various kicks, punches and choke-holds. The SOCOM is semi-automatic; holding the fire button allows you to ready your weapon and take aim, and releasing it will fire the shot. It's worthwhile getting used to the aiming method; it's a little unusual and you might find yourself spinning round to face the opposite direction more often than not.
- FA-MAS rifle - This weapon is fully automatic, and holding down the fire button will release a continuous stream of bullets. The last three bullets in each clip are tracer rounds; you'll see streaks of light indicating the bullets' paths.
- PSG1 rifle -
- Chaff grenade
- Stun grenade
- C4 explosive - very useful, if a little hazardous to handle. These packs of explosive can be placed and detonated in turn, thus enabling you to plan ahead by using one explosion to lure the guards into one area, and a second to finish them off.
- Claymore mine
- Stinger missile
- Nikita missile
Here's a list of some auxiliary equipment:
- Cigarettes - Solid Snake manages to sneak his favourite brand of cigarettes past the security teams and into the mission. They turn out to have a particularly useful side effect, and that's to render visible beams of light that you'd normally miss. However, smoking is hazardous to your health; your health meter will drop slowly whilst using them.
- Electronic keycards
- Mine detector
- Infrared goggles
- Cardboard boxes
The good guys
- Solid Snake
- Meryl Silverburgh
- Roy Campbell
- Naomi Hunter
- Mei Ling
- Hal Emmerich (Otacon)
- Natasha Romanenko
- Master Miller
The bad guys
- Liquid Snake
- Revolver Ocelot
- Vulcan Raven
- Decoy Octopus
- Psycho Mantis
- Sniper Wolf
Then, of course, there's:
- Cyborg Ninja / Grey Fox
Metal Gear Solid Special Missions
'Metal Gear Solid - Special Missions' is an add-on disc that's available for owners of the original game. It's been released in different countries with different names; as far as I'm aware, 'Metal Gear Solid Integral' is an all-in-one product that contains both original game and add-on pack. It doesn't give you a new mission in the style of most other commonly-available add-ons, but instead beefs up the number of VR training missions in the game.
You'd be forgiven for thinking that 'Special Missions' might be a waste of time, especially if you've already completed MGS; however, there's more to it than that. Initially, the missions are identical to those found in the original game, but very soon their scope is broadened to cover all available weapons in a number of different play styles.