VGamingNews

Game: “Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol 1”

Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol 1

26 March, 2024 by

Our Rating
7

Two weeks ago I’d never played a Metal Gear game in my life, and that’s despite my wife badgering me on and off for over a decade to give it a chance. My excuses ranged from “I’ll add it to the backlog” to “my PlayStation is packed away,” so the timing was never quite right. That all changed when Konami released the Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol 1 on the PS5, and I was tasked with actually sitting down with Solid Snake and finding out what all the hype was about.

To make sure that this piece doesn’t turn itself into a mini-docu series that Netflix would be proud of, I’ll keep my review of Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol 1 as concise as possible.  As the name suggests, this is a compilation of the first few titles in Konami’s long-running franchise that started way back in the 1980s with Metal Gear. Since Snake’s timeline is as convoluted as both Kingdom Hearts and The Legend of Zelda, Konami had the foresight to stick with the release order, which means we move on to the MSX version of Metal Gear 2 before hitting the PlayStation continuation; Metal Gear Solid and its sequels. Without spoiling the rest of the review too much, the Master Collection is aimed at two types of players: those who want to play the original titles who might not have the means to play them, or those, like me, who’ve never touched a Metal Gear game in their lives.


At A Glance

Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol 1

Positives

+ Five complete Metal Gear games in one package
+ Five Hideo Kojima games in one package
+ Nice bonus features

Negatives  

– Lazy ports of older versions
Convoluted menu systems
– Gameplay issues with MGS 1

Overall

7/10

Played On

PS5

Also Available On

Nintendo Switch, PC, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One

Find out about our scoring policy here.


Metal Gear started life on Sony’s MSX PC in 1987 and was created by an upcoming developer named Hideo Kojima (I wonder whatever happened to him). His idea was to create something a little different, a stealth game that revolved around one Solid Snake sneaking into various terrorist facilities to stop the production of Metal Gear, a bipedal tank capable of launching nuclear weapons from almost anywhere on Earth. As we move through the decades in the Master Collection, we see Kojima and his team create classic after classic, culminating in the PS2 hits Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. Each game follows a set pattern; Snake has been given some outrageous mission to gain intel and save a VIP, before spinning out into a worldwide threat involving some ridiculously named baddie like Revolver Ocelot, or Liquid Snake (not to be confused with our own Solid Snake). As I played through each game, keeping up with the story became harder, especially since MGS 3 is a prequel that predates everything else in the collection. That being said, each game is thoroughly enjoyable and balances the utterly convoluted plot with a difficulty level which means the games are accessible to almost anyone without being complete walkovers.

If this all seems familiar, that’s because both of the original Metal Gear games, along with MGS 2 and Snake Eater have been rereleased as the HD collection way back on the Xbox 360 and PS3. While this portion of the Master Collection is identical -even the old HD Collection logo flashes up with each game- there is a newcomer to the proceedings; the original PlayStation’s Metal Gear Solid. The 1998 entry became an instant classic when it was released; like the MSX games, Konami utilised the power to bring the series into a vibrant 3D world. Unfortunately, things have changed in the 25+ years since we first saw Solid Snake creep out of the waters in Alaska, and nothing is more evident than booting up MGS for the first time, as Konami have kept everything as it was. 

The first bugbear is that Circle is the accept button, with Cross being cancel. This is how the original PlayStation used to function, however the prompts were flipped in the West back in the PS2 days, so MGS is the only outlier in the collection. The next issue is that MGS is running on an emulator rather than PS5 hardware, meaning there’s slowdown during the high octane portions of the game, the image quality is in the toilet, and there is stuttering at points which wouldn’t be happening if the game was making use of the PS5’s fancy upgrades. If that wasn’t enough, players are burdened with the PAL version of the game out of the box, which clocks the game at 50hz instead of the now standard 60hz, where the sound is slightly off and the game runs approximately 10% slower. Once you’ve downloaded the main game, I’d highly suggest heading into the language options and selecting the North American option. While it’ll trigger a further 1.8GB download, you’ll get a much smoother game out of, it as it runs at the expected 60 frames-per-second.

This leads me to another big gripe with Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol 1, and that’s the downloads. It could be my age, but I grew up in a time when a compilation was contained in one disc or download, and that’s it. For the Master Collection, Konami saw it fit to break it down into 5 separate tiles; MGS, MGS 2, MGS 3, Metal Gear 1 & 2 and Bonuses. Don’t get me wrong, each game is stacked to the brim with artwork, soundtracks, behind the scenes extras and even scripts, but it felt disjointed having to go from one game, back to the main menu and then to the next. Having one main hub and being able to download whatever game was next on the list would have been a far better experience, especially as there are no clear instructions from the PlayStation storefront that this would be the case.

Along with the five official games that make up Kojima’s timeline, the Master Collection does come with two additional games in the form of the NES version of Metal Gear, along with the divisive Snake’s Revenge. As mentioned, the original Metal Gear is a port of the MSX version, but thanks to the inferior processing power of the NES, some drastic changes had to be made. This included a whole new introduction, along with the complicated buildings being split down so players could easily navigate through them. Following on from the events of the game is Snake’s Revenge, a game that was commissioned solely for western audiences, has no involvement with Kojima and isn’t considered canon. When playing these games, they felt like fine 8-bit adventure games but compared to the surprisingly detailed and story driven MSX versions, both the NES version of Metal Gear and Snake’s Revenge just felt like the black sheep of the series. Thankfully, it’s not just a pair of games that make up the bonus section of the package, as we are also treated to a lengthy soundtrack and four video comics based around the games. Each comic does require an additional download but once it is installed, you can press play and just let the action unfold in a fully narrated adventure.

It is a shame that all of that content is spread across five different apps, perhaps this was due to also having to contend with a Switch version but I think having one succinct menu to load in different games would have been a better option, as it would have helped to navigate through the timeline. At the very least, the bonus application could have been added to the relevant games to prevent having to load up yet another tile on the PlayStation menu.

The most annoying drawback with the Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol 1 is that it is obviously a reskin of the PS3/Xbox 360 HD collection from 2010, albeit with Peace Walker swapped out for Metal Gear Solid. The very same HD logo flashes up when loading all but MGS just highlights the lengths Konami didn’t go to when porting the games over. The reason why the collection scores so highly is purely down to the strength of the titles themselves, which are some of the craziest stories I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing. 

Even with this drawback, The Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection’s package is impressive, especially when you consider the amount of content you get for the price. The developers could have taken a leaf out of Nintendo’s book and created a 3D All-Stars-type collection with just the games and called it a day, but to their credit, Konami has crammed a lot of stuff into the collection to keep you busy for days. While there are no graphical improvements, they run fine as long as expectations are adjusted accordingly. If you have no way to play any of these games or would like to experience the Metal Gear series for the first time, I absolutely recommend Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol 1. If you already own the originals or the HD Collection, your money is probably best saved for the inevitable remakes.

In the interest of full disclosure, VGamingNews was provided with a copy of the game in order to conduct this review.


Thanks for taking the time to read our review. If you’d like to support us further, please consider buying us a coffee!