Metal Gear Solid is an action-adventure stealth video game developed by Konami Computer Entertainment Japan and first published by Konami for the PlayStation in 1998. The game was directed, produced and co-written by Hideo Kojima and serves as a sequel to the MSX2 versions of Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, which Kojima also directed. The suffix Solid has several meanings as it not only references the game's protagonist, Solid Snake, but also alludes to the "solid" 3D graphics, and its placement as the third title in the series.
Metal Gear Solid follows Solid Snake, a soldier who infiltrates a nuclear weapons facility to neutralize the terrorist threat from FOXHOUND, a renegade special forces unit. Snake must liberate two hostages, the head of DARPA and the president of a major arms manufacturer, confront the terrorists, and stop them from launching a nuclear strike. Cinematic cutscenes were rendered using the in-game engine and graphics, and voice acting was used throughout the entire game.
Metal Gear Solid was very well received, shipping more than six million copies, and scoring an average of 94/100 on the aggregate website Metacritic. It is regarded by many critics as one of the greatest and most important games of all time, and is often seen as the game which helped popularize the stealth genre. The commercial success of the title prompted the release of an expanded version for the PlayStation and PC, titled Metal Gear Solid: Integral; and a remake, Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes was later released for the Nintendo GameCube. The game has also spawned numerous sequels, prequels and spin-offs, including several games, a radio drama, comics, and novels.
The story is set in 2005, six years after the events of Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake. A genetically enhanced, renegade special forces unit, FOXHOUND, leads an armed uprising on a remote island in Alaska's Fox Archipelago. This island, codenamed "Shadow Moses", is the site of a nuclear weapons disposal facility. The forces that seized this island, led by a mercenary known as Liquid Snake, have acquired the nuclear-capable mecha, Metal Gear REX, and are threatening the U.S government with a nuclear reprisal if they do not receive the remains of the "legendary mercenary" Big Boss within 24 hours.
Solid Snake is forced out of retirement and is dispatched at the request of Colonel Roy Campbell to penetrate the terrorists' defenses and neutralize the threat. Snake is also ordered to locate two hostages: DARPA Chief Donald Anderson, and ArmsTech president Kenneth Baker. Colonel Campbell's daughter, at the time believed to be niece, Meryl Silverburgh, is also held captive in the facility after refusing to take part in the uprising.
The protagonist of Metal Gear Solid is Solid Snake, a legendary infiltrator and saboteur. During the mission, Snake receives support and advice via codec radio. Colonel Roy Campbell, Solid Snake's former commanding officer, supports Snake with advice and tactics. While he initially keeps a number of secrets from Snake, he gradually reveals them. He is joined by Naomi Hunter, who gives medical advice; Nastasha Romanenko, who provides item and weapon tips; Master Miller, a former drill instructor and survival coach; and Mei Ling, who invented the soliton radar system used in the mission and is also in charge of mission data; the player can call her to save the game.
The main antagonist of the game is Liquid Snake, leader of a now-terrorist splinter cell of the organization FOXHOUND, and genetic counterpart to Solid Snake. An elite special forces unit, FOXHOUND contains experts specializing in unique tasks. Members are:
- Revolver Ocelot, a Western-style gunslinger and expert interrogator whose weapon of choice is the Colt Single Action Army
- Sniper Wolf, a preternatural sniper
- Vulcan Raven, a hulking Alaskan shaman armed with an M61 Vulcan torn from a downed F-16
- Psycho Mantis, a psychic profiler and psychokinesis expert
- and Decoy Octopus, a master of disguise
Other characters include:
- Meryl Silverburgh, Colonel Campbell's niece and a rookie soldier stationed in Shadow Moses who did not join the revolt
- Dr. Hal Emmerich, the lead developer of Metal Gear REX
- and the "Ninja", a mysterious cybernetically enhanced agent who is neither an ally nor an enemy of Snake but does oppose FOXHOUND
Despite a transition to 3D, the gameplay of Metal Gear Solid remains similar to its 2D MSX2 predecessor Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake. The player must navigate the protagonist, Solid Snake, through the game's areas without being detected by enemies. Detection is triggered by the player moving into an enemy's field of vision and sets off an alarm that draws armed enemies to his location. This also triggers "alert mode" and the player must then hide and remain undetected, at which point “evasion mode” begins and once the counter reaches zero the game returns to "infiltration mode" where enemies are not suspicious of Snake’s presence. The radar cannot be used in alert or evasion mode.
To remain undetected, the player can perform techniques which make use of both Solid Snake's abilities and the environment, such as crawling under objects, using boxes as cover, ducking or hiding around walls, and making noise to distract enemies. These are carried out using the third-person camera, which often changes its angle to give the player the best view of the area possible, and an on-screen radar, which displays enemies and their field of vision. Snake can also make use of many items and gadgets, such as infra-red goggles or a cardboard box disguise. The emphasis on stealth promotes a less violent form of gameplay, as fights against large groups of enemies will often result in serious damage for the player.
The game's progress is punctuated by cutscenes and codec, as well as encounters with bosses. To progress, players must discover the weaknesses of each boss and defeat them. Play controls and strategies can also be accessed via the Codec radio, where advice is delivered from Snake's support team. The Codec is also used to provide exposition on the game's backstory. Completion of the title provides the player with a statistical summary of their performance, and a "code name" based upon it, typically the name of a common animal.
- Developer: Konami Computer Entertainment Japan
- Publisher: Konami
- Release Date: Thursday, 03 September 1998
- Genre: Action, Adventure, Stealth
- Platform: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable, PlayStation Vita
- Director: Hideo Kojima
- Producer: Hideo Kojima, Motoyuki Yoshioka
- Mode: Single-player