Top 100 Games of All-Time: #39

Metal Gear Solid

Release Date: September 3, 1998

Platform Played On: PS1

2018 Placement: #38 (-1)

What It Is:

The game that put Hideo Kojima on the map. Metal Gear Solid is a classic in every sense of the word. Solid Snake took the gaming world by storm when this tactical espionage action game hit the Playstation in the late 90s. The main gameplay is using Snake’s stealth skills and cardboard boxes to sneak around Shadow Moses Island as you try to thwart a terrorist threat. You gather more and more equipment as the game progresses, from Diazepam to help you in sniper duels to a Nikita rocket launcher, allowing you to tackle situations in interesting and unique ways.

But the gameplay is only 50% of why this game is legendary. The story of Metal Gear Solid is a tale of spies, genetic viruses, and a team of terrorists from FOXHOUND who have some of the strongest personalities in the history of gaming. The plot is convoluted and was completely unpredictable at the time. (Although it’s not nearly as convoluted as the later sequels get.) But the charm of the characters and the absolute balls-to-the-wall storytelling make this game one of the best in gaming history.

Why It’s Important To Me:

Look, everyone who grew up in the 90s in the gaming atmosphere had their expectations blown away when Metal Gear Solid hit. The creativity in the game’s puzzles and boss fights were second to none. And it carried such weight in personal discussions. My friends and I loved talking about and playing through this game multiple times, shocked by all the twists and turns the story takes. We would also take turns trying to alternatively stealth through and then blast through every scenario. It was another one of those single-player co-op experiences that made up my childhood growing up with games.

The entirety of MGS is a perfect encapsulation of what gaming was in the late 90s and trying to explain how groundbreaking and shocking some of the material is twenty years later is hard, because the landscape has changed so much. Kojima is a brilliant mind in gaming creation and this game was created when he was at his peak and before his reputation got so big that he started huffing his own creative farts and got a little too auteur-tastic. MGS had a huge impact on me and my gaming tastes in the 90s because after this, I expected more from all games regarding stories and using the medium to their utmost advantage.

My Strongest Memory:

There’s so many. Having to use the back of the CD case to figure out Meryl’s codec number is an inspired, fourth-wall breaking maneuver in game design (that you can’t even replicate anymore due to digital sales being a high percentage of games). And while we’re talking about fourth walls, of course there’s Psycho Mantis who talked to the player directly, analyzed what was on your memory card and made your controller rumble. And the solution to his fight was plugging the controller into the 2nd player slot so he couldn’t predict your movements! It was unbelievable!

The Sniper Wolf fights made me fall in love with sniping in gaming. Trying to survive the interrogation sequence is still hell. Each and every character reveal, from Decoy Octopus to Liquid Snake showing up in your codec. Hell, I can hear the codec noise in my mind on command and when ringtones were a thing I wanted to turn mine into the codec (like every fan did). This game is a masterpiece and the whole game is honestly the strongest memory for me.

Why It’s #39:

We’re getting to the point in the countdown where a lot of these games are gonna be classics and masterpieces that show up in every top 100 list. Not all of them can be in the top 10 or 20. But when I say Metal Gear Solid is a masterpiece, I mean it. Sure, there’s some stupid Kojima humor and perviness, but way less than later games. And while later games improved the actual stealth action gameplay, this one hits the perfect balance of gameplay and story. It’s just damn near perfect, okay.