7 games. 1 package. You could argue that the Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol.1 is a great value by quantity alone. That’s even before you even take into account how phenomenal the Metal Gear Solid games are.
It should be an easy win for Konami right?
You’d think that Konami would’ve wanted the very best impression for what might be their most famous franchise. Even more so when you realize that Metal Gear Solid Delta: Snake Eater is coming sometime in the indeterminate future.
Yet…somehow, the Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol.1 isn’t as good as you’d expect.
Keep on reading to find out why.
What is the Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol.1?
The Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol.1 is a compilation of games from the Metal Gear and Metal Gear Solid series. It includes 3 Metal Gear games (Metal Gear (NES), Metal Gear (MSX) and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake (MSX), a non-canonical sequel (Snake’s Revenge (NES)) and the first three Metal Gear Solid entries. It also includes the motion comics that were released for the PSP.
The compilation is produced and developed by Konami, who also were kind enough to give us the codes for the Playstation 5 and PC versions! Thanks so much!
The Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol.1 is available right now for all current platforms.
I was 14 when I played Metal Gear Solid.
I’ve been gaming for nearly a decade then (I started when I was 5, with the NES my grandpa bought me) but it was still unlike any other game I’ve ever played. Phenomenal visuals, incredible art direction (Yoji Shinkawa’s designs are still some of my favourites to this day) and all packed in a slick package that plays out like a Hollywood blockbuster!
When Metal Gear Solid 2 came out, I was a bit older.
I literally bought Zone of the Enders just for the demo that was included with it. I played that demo more than I played most games that I had during that point in time. I even had to replace my PS2’s lens because it wasn’t able to read discs due to the wear it got from playing the demo disc so much.
By the time the real game came out, I could’ve easily done the Tanker section with my eyes closed.
I don’t have much memories of playing Metal Gear Solid 3. It came out during my NS years and I was too busy with my duties that I didn’t really have time to play the game till I ORDed in 2005.
While I do have the Metal Gear Solid: The Legacy Collection (somewhere in my room) for the PS3 and the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection digitally on the Xbox, I’ve never actually gone back and played through the games…till now with the Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol.1.
The good news is Konami did a great job with the extras in the compilation.
Each of the games have a Master Book (which talks about the series and about individual games) and a Screenplay Book (which has the cutscenes in a screenplay format). Both books are great reads, providing insights (such as screenplay readily pointing FOXDIE being injected into Snake early on, despite it being a secret in the game) and other neat little tidbits you might not have noticed or are cut from what made it into the games.
The motion comics are a bit meh.
They came from a time when Konami was experimenting with other forms of media for the PSP (Silent Hill had motion comics too) and are kind of hit or miss. As artifacts of the past? It’s cool they were included. However, some of them (particular the Metal Gear Solid 2 Bande Desinee) takes a ton of liberties from the games, which gives a hokey, unauthorized feel to them.
Also, because they’re rendered as video, the text is pretty blurry and I had a headache after an hour or so from watching the first entry.
There’s also a soundtrack selection, but apart from ‘Snake Eater’, most of the games’ iconic songs are not included. I don’t really see why they’re missing but I’m just sad the Harry Griegson Williams’ MGS 2 theme (the one that plays during the intro video of MGS 2) isn’t available.
I’m quite disappointed that Konami didn’t go the way of the TMNT: The Cowabunga Collection for extras, which had box art and other material. Considering that the Metal Gear series is wholly owned by the company, I’m sure they have mountains of archival material that could’ve been included. I’d love to see some design documents, or even the movies they made for the pachinko machines in Japan.
As for the games, they’re certainly a veritable collection though I don’t understand the theme Konami was building around.
If it was Solid Snake, then why include Metal Gear Solid 3 (which starred Naked Snake/ Big Boss) and omit the PSP’s Metal Gear Acid games and the Game Boy Color’s Metal Gear Solid (or Ghost Babel as it’s known in Japan). Why is the GameCube remake of the first Metal Gear Solid (Twin Snakes) not included too?
Even Metal Gear Solid 4 would’ve made a more logical fit instead of the third game.
I’d rather those games were included and MGS 3 left for Vol.2, as it would undoubtedly also include Peace Walker, Portable Ops and other games that starred Big Boss. Even more so when you factor in that Konami would want to hype up Metal Gear Delta: Snake Eater, which I assume Vol.2 would release before.
Either way, the games included in Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol.1 are still fun enough in their own right.
The MSX games are still decent enough, and their sprite art still visually pleasant to look at. The NES games are a bit too meh for my tastes, both in terms of visuals and gameplay. I didn’t really enjoy my time with them in the past and didn’t enjoy them now either.
Snake’s Revenge is totally unlike any Metal Gear game and is easily the worst game in the compilation.
Thankfully, the Metal Gear Solid games aged much better.
Metal Gear Solid’s innovations with vibration, meta gameplay (looking at the back of the box for Meryl’s codec frequency is still genius!) and it’s Hollywood caliber plotline is still relevant today as it was back then.
While Metal Gear Solid 2 fares a bit worse (everybody knows the Raiden twist now), its gameplay is just as tight and Doc Ock wannabe Solidus and Vamp are still really cool villains! I’ve always thought it was a shame Konami killed off Solidus so fast, while Liquid reappeared in other games via Ocelot.
Ironically, as the most modern title in the collection, Metal Gear Solid 3 fares the worst, at least when you take it solely on its gameplay merits. The camouflage system isn’t really as groundbreaking as other innovations in previous titles, and honestly, Metal Gear Solid 4 (with its OctoCamo) simply did it much better and more effectively.
Unfortunately, while the gameplay for the games have been retained, Konami dropped the ball when it comes to visual options.
On the PC version, you’re not given a choice of resolution or other graphical options. I can’t recall ever having played any PC game which didn’t let you do that. Only Metal Gear Solid had any graphical options whatsoever, and that was just to select the borders.
Not exactly what you’d call comprehensive.
The other two Metal Gear Solid games are relegated to 720p, which means that look super blurry if you’re playing on 4K displays like me. Considering that the versions are the ports previously released by Bluepoint Games for the HD collection (there’s even a loading screen stating that mistakenly left in), wouldn’t it be easy to just upgrade the resolution to at least 1080p?
The low resolution doesn’t affect Metal Gear Solid (or the older games) too much but Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3 are a blurry mess. Everything looks like it’s being viewed through a lens that’s been liberally smeared with Vaseline.
Metal Gear Solid 2 fares better visually owing to its top-down perspective. It looks decent (if a bit too clean and plain) but as soon as you look at stuff in first person view, it all does out the window.
Textures for the background are completely fuzzy.
Part of it is definitely owing to the low resolution assets used for the original game, but the game resolution being at 720p also definitely doesn’t help matters.
Still, when you compare Metal Gear Solid 2’s visuals to it successor, it looks downright pristine!
Metal Gear Solid 3 is a complete wash since you view everything up close with its third person camera. Every single texture is blurry as can be. Tree bark, leaves, even bricks and the ground look muddy…and not in the a good way.
Weirdly, I’ve also had framerate hitches playing Metal Gear Solid 2, when transitioning between sections on the Big Shell and randomly during cutscenes. I suspect it’s a product of the PC code, because the Playstation 5 version of Metal Gear Solid 2 runs without a hitch for me, though it’s still a blurry mess.
I’m also very confused on Konami’s decision to separate the games instead of having a single UI like most compilations have. Sure, you can buy titles piecemeal if you want, but the Capcom Arcade Stadium retro compilation does the same thing AND still provides a unified UI.
Even more confusing, the NES games are bundled on the Bonus Content app, instead of with the MSX games.
On top of that, once you fully download all the individual apps, you still need to download language packs and the visual novels separately via download links in the apps. Infuriatingly, some versions of games (like Metal Gear Solid Integral) can’t be played without the various language packs installed.
Why not make installation compulsory and automatic then?!
It doesn’t matter what platform you’re playing, you still have to download everything individually.
The Bottom Line:
Playing both the PC and Playstation 5 versions, the Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol.1 is arguably not in a great state no matter which platform you pick.
Konami has somehow messed up what is a sure thing. While the games included are quality, their presentation leaves much to be desired.
If I had to pick a version though, it’d be the PC version.
Yes, Konami promises patches are incoming to fix all the issues, but on the PC you don’t really need to depend on them. Modders regularly come up with unofficial (and most times, better) patches and there are already a couple out now that have the games running on 4K (though with bugs and issues).
Hopefully Konami takes note and releases the Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol.2 without these issues.
Great games crippled by baffling technical issues.
- Lots of great games.
- Metal Gear Solid is still phenomenal.
- Decent extras included.
- No visual settings.
- Piecemeal downloads, no unified UI.
- Not enough extras.