Review – Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol. 1
I love the Metal Gear Solid games. It was love at first sight after playing my first game at the age of seven. Ironically enough, it wasn’t Metal Gear Solid on the PlayStation 1, but actually Ghost Babel, that one phenomenal spinoff released for the Game Boy Color. I then played Sons of Liberty (half a dozen times throughout my life), The Twin Snakes (the superior version of Metal Gear Solid, don’t hate me for being right), and then the magnificent Snake Eater, way back when the first HD remaster collection hit the Xbox 360 over a decade ago. These are some of the best games of all time, titles so ahead of their time that playing them on the 360 didn’t feel like tackling older games.
But that was before the whole tiresome drama surrounding Konami, Hideo Kojima, and the pre and post release of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. We had heard very little of the franchise ever since that borderline telenovela, with the exception of the first game being included in the PlayStation Classic, as well as Metal Gear Survive. The announcement and subsequent of Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol. 1 made me really happy for two reasons. The first one was simple: Metal Gear Solid is now available on modern platforms, being preserved for posterity. The second one was the fact that there is a “Vol. 1” in its title, making me hopeful that, someday, we’ll finally be able to play a remastered version of Metal Gear Solid 4, which is still a PS3 exclusive after all these years.
Now, we’d like to try out something different with reviews like these. Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol. 1 is, by and large, a collection of remasters which had been previously released for other platforms in the past, be it the Xbox 360, PS3, or the aforementioned PS1 Classic. We want to tackle each title included in this collection individually, before giving our final verdict based on the collection as a whole. Without further ado, I don’t want to keep you waiting. Let’s get this analysis going.
Metal Gear Solid (1998)
Let’s start things off by making half of the gaming community want my head served on a platter: I don’t think the original Metal Gear Solid has aged well at all. If there was one game which needed a full revamp in its visuals, gameplay, performance, and everything else in this particular collection, that game is the seminal classic from 1998.
Well, that is until you realise that a remake of Metal Gear Solid does exist, does run at the same engine powering Sons of Liberty and Snake Eater, and could have been included in the collection, with the full Bluepoint-esque remastering treatment, if it wasn’t for the internet hating on The Twin Snakes just because Kojima had randomly decided to go full-on Pied Piper on his fan base and convince them that the game was not good for… some reason. A reason yet to be rationally proven or accepted… as telling me a Metal Gear Solid game isn’t good because of it being too over-the-top is like criticising a DOOM game for being too gory.
I feel like this version of Metal Gear Solid is the same one included in the PS1 Classic. It runs poorly. It looks stretched. To make matters worse, not even the button placement received some kind of revamp: you are forced to accept with the B button and decline with the A button, even on the Xbox, just because that’s how the original worked on the PS1 (X cancels, O accepts). Nothing else has been added or improved. Not even the aspect ratio received any semblance of improvements, with the game still running at a 4:3 ratio.
Of course, this is still a classic, and all of the content featured in Integral, be it the extra modes or the hundreds of VR training levels, are all included. Content-wise, you’re getting the full experience. Sadly, between the Roblox-like visuals, poor performance, terrible sound mixing of otherwise fantastic voice acting, stretched textures, lack of button configuration, or anything else that would be the bare minimum to consider this game a remaster, this is easily the most disappointing inclusion in the Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol. 1 package. Thankfully, those games can be purchased as standalone titles outside of the collection, letting you save a few bucks and skip this one outright, should you decide to do so.
Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (2001)
Back in the day, Metal Gear Solid 2 was considered a divisive game. I cannot imagine how confused everyone must have felt back when this game was originally released in 2001, as Snake wasn’t the main playable character. Nowadays, saying that you like Raiden as a Metal Gear Solid protagonist isn’t even controversial anymore. Konami spent nearly a decade trying to fix his image, making him go from whiny blonde brat in Metal Gear Solid 2 to the coolest cybernetic samurai of all time in Metal Gear Solid 4 and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance.
Metal Gear Solid 2 may have aged surprisingly well, as we now know its importance to the plot (as well as the shocking predictions regarding the information age), but man, this game is weird. Some of its moments, right near the end of the story, may have been the scariest gaming moments of my life, way back when I had no idea of what to expect from the story. Its pacing is a bit off, its environments can be a bit repetitive, and some of its characters are forgettable as hell (Fatman? Fortune? Meh), but I cannot deny this is one of the greatest action titles of the past three decades. It still shocks me to think this game is more than twenty-two years old at this point.
As for the remaster, well, this is the same version developed by Bluepoint, released for the Xbox 360 and PS3. I’m not even exaggerating: you are even greeted by the same HD Collection and Bluepoint logos upon booting it up. In a way, I get it, it’s a disappointment… if it wasn’t for the fact those Bluepoint remasters are downright perfect. When it comes to visual enhancements, physics, and performance, I don’t think there’s a lot that needed to be done when porting this game from the Xbox 360 to the Series S. The only difference is the vastly enhanced loading, all courtesy of the Series X|S’s SSDs.
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (2004)
If I was talking about how the lack of improvements upon the already excellent Bluepoint remaster of Metal Gear Solid 2 didn’t bother me that much, what can I even say about the remaster of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, the best game in the series, and one of the greatest games of all time? Back in 2004, that game was virtually flawless. Upon being remastered by Bluepoint, the game continued being virtually flawless, but now acceptable for a modern, HD, 16:9 gaming landscape.
The plot, the characters, the memorable moments, that freaking astonishing theme song… Snake Eater is just one of the greatest gaming experiences of all time. Writing about it in a review would just make me gush about it for a handful of paragraphs for no necessary reason. Furthermore, I don’t want to spoil the younger players who still haven’t played the game. I know this is something which is shared among pretty much every single Metal Gear Solid game, but jumping into Metal Gear Solid 3 without any knowledge of its plot is borderline mandatory.
What else needs to be said? Sure, there is nothing new to this remaster (even the achievements are the same featured in the Xbox 360 HD Collection)… so what? What would have you included to this particular remaster? The 3DS port? Not a bad idea per se, but still… why? Let’s not forget the fact Konami is currently remaking the game on Unreal Engine 5, so if a nineteen year old game is too old for you, then first of all, I pity you, and second of all, just wait a bit longer in order to experience magnificence in a brand new way.
The 8-bit games (1987-1990)
We are all here for the remasters of the three first Metal Gear Solid games, of course, but I do appreciate the fact that Konami did include all previously released 8-bit Metal Gear Solid games in the collection, as their own standalone experiences. The two MSX Metal Gears were also featured in the previous HD Collection, but as bonus titles hidden in Metal Gear Solid 3‘s extra features menu. This is not the case anymore. It feels a bit odd when you stop and think about the fact a handful of 8-bit games have received more remastering polish than some of the most famous games of all time in a collection, but hey, I won’t say no to more games in one package.
There are four 8-bit titles available in this package: the two MSX Metal Gears, and the two NES Metal Gears. The latter two are the biggest surprise in this entire collection, not just for the fact they hadn’t been included in the previous HD Collection from back in the day, but also the fact nobody likes them very much. Snake’s Revenge, for instance, is actually a terrible non-canon sequel reviled as the worst Metal Gear game of all time. The fact Konami bothered to bring it back is a bit weird, but I respect the hustle.
The only 8-bit Metal Gear worth mentioning, to be honest, is Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, an incredibly ambitious stealth game for 8-bit standards, complete with a ton of immersive mechanics, dialogue options, a deep plot, and some important plot details that would impact Metal Gear Solid, eight years later. If you really want to know why Snake respects Grey Fox so much, or what the hell Zanzibar even is, you have to play Metal Gear 2.
There’s nothing else that needs to be said about these games in particular. They aren’t very fun to play nowadays, but I do appreciate the fact they are still included in this package. With the exception of the admittedly excellent Metal Gear 2, those games should be treated as historical pieces of novelty.
The final verdict:
Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol. 1 is, admittedly, a somewhat lazy remaster collection. It includes two copied and pasted efforts by Bluepoint released a decade ago, and a shoddy port of Metal Gear Solid, most likely taken straight out of the guts of the PS1 Classic. With that being said, those are still phenomenal games (well, Metal Gear Solid has aged like spoiled milk, but the point stands), and well worth your time. While I do lament the lack of a remaster of The Twin Snakes, I still had a lot of fun replaying these timeless classics, and I surely cannot wait for the second volume of the collection.
A shoddy “remaster” of a game that has aged poorly when compared to its PS2 outings. There are no accessibility options, no button mapping, no nothing. The lack of Twin Snakes is noticeable.
The same remaster of Sons of Liberty released a decade ago, but complete with VR missions and all of the necessary extras. A game with a few flaws, but very important when analyzing the bigger picture.
Do you have any complaints regarding the Bluepoint remaster of Snake Eater? Even if it’s just a copy and paste effort, I doubt there would have been anything else anyone would have needed to do to a perfect remaster of a perfect game.
The NES Metal Gears aren’t exactly fun games, but having them in the collection is still fun, and necessary. The second MSX game, Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, is legitimately great.
Final Verdict: 8.0
Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol. 1 is available now on PS5, Xbox Series S/X, PC, and Nintendo Switch.
Reviewed on Xbox Series S.
A copy of Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol. 1 was provided by the publisher.