Saturday 28 November 2015

Metal Gear (NES review)

Developer: Konami
Publisher: Ultra Games
Released: 1988

Metal Gear is a stealth-action game that started on the MSX2 and was later ported to the NES without Hideo Kojima's involvement.

You play as Solid Snake and your mission is to overthrow Colonel Vermon CaTaffy and destroy a super weapon called Metal Gear. To do this you need to search five heavily armed strongholds and rescue hostages that reveal clues as to the weapon's whereabouts. Your standard attack is a punch but upgrades like Hand Guns and Rocket Launchers can be picked up. At times you'll also need to locate equipment such as a Gas Mask to pass through certain areas, as well as using Rations to refill your health. The gameplay usually involves hiding around corners, sneaking up on enemies and avoiding CCTV cameras. The stealth mechanic is weak though as there's seemingly no rhyme or reason as to why enemies spot you and walking slowly seems to have little effect. The level design is confusing and the developers did a poor job of directing players. There's also tons of areas where you're somehow supposed to know that punching hidden walls will open passages that progress the story. Enemies constantly respawn (especially when you exit a truck) and many times they'll shoot you immediately upon entering a room which is extremely cheap. The strongholds have hidden traps in the floor meaning lots of trial and error is involved; worse still, you die instantly and are taken back to a checkpoint that's miles away! While you do keep all your collected items the excessive backtracking is unnecessary. There are a few bosses but they're mostly uninteresting with simple attack patterns. The game is littered with typos and memorable lines include: "The truck have started to move!" and "I feel asleep!"

Metal Gear is a dreadful stealth-action game and either the developers intentionally set out to punish players by sending them on wild goose chases or the project wasn't properly planned from the outset. The level design and gameplay are lacking in quality and overall it's an exercise in pure frustration.

Random trivia: This version was heavily changed from the MSX2 original and series creator Hideo Kojima has since disowned it for straying too far from the source material.

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