Hands-on Preview: Metal Gear Solid Master Collection Vol 1

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Hands-on Preview: Metal Gear Solid Master Collection Vol 1

Metal Gear Solid Master Collection on Switch is a promising addition to the console’s library

Metal Gear Solid still stands as a groundbreaking masterpiece in video game history, trailblazing for 3D stealth action and pushing cinematic storytelling to new heights. Despite its dated PS1 graphics, it still manages to captivate players with its chilling opening Irish vocals in ‘The Best Is Yet to Come,’ transporting us to the eerie Shadow Moses Island.

However, one hour of preview time is simply not enough to fully appreciate this classic gem, let alone the plethora of content Konami has packed into the first volume of this Master Collection. It's a significant release as the first Metal Gear Solid game was available on modern console platforms just now, except for a PC release via GOG. And with its popularity, it's no surprise that a PS4 version is in the works to satisfy fans' demand.

What’s Inside the Collection?

Hands-on Preview: Metal Gear Solid Master Collection Vol 1

Credit: Konami

The collection contains the emulated version of the MSG1 game, essentially the same as the 1998 version. It doesn't offer any widescreen display or visual upgrades, which could be a letdown for those hoping to experience the game on their ultra-modern 4K televisions.

However, given the various intricacies associated with the series, including David Hayter's replacement as the voice of Solid Snake and Hideo Kojima's tumultuous departure from Konami, emulation represents the optimal solution for preserving the original experience without any compromises. After all, a complete understanding is preferable to one without a specific credit or voice actor.

The Master Collection is a comprehensive package that includes everything Metal Gear Solid offers, including the VR Missions later added in the Japanese expanded release, known as Metal Gear Solid: Integral. Interestingly, the Integral version even had a standalone release in the US and PAL territories. The Switch version of the collection was tested, but we can't help but wonder if it would have been even more thrilling if it had been a port of the GameCube-exclusive Twin Snakes, an updated version of the PS1 original.

The Master collection boasts a comprehensive lineup of classic 8-bit Metal Gear titles, including Sanke's Revenge, a non-canon game in the timeline, and was developed without the involvement of Hideo Kojima. Additionally, the bundle features all three of the original Metal Gear Solid titles, offering fans an unparalleled gaming experience.

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The Series’ Evolution: A Short Tour of the First Three Games

Observing the evolution of the Metal Gear Solid series is truly captivating. As we trace the franchise's history from its debut on the PS1, it becomes apparent that the games have undergone significant enhancements in graphics and gameplay mechanics. 

One noteworthy milestone in the franchise's journey was the release of Metal Gear Solid 2 on the PS2. This game marked a significant improvement from its predecessor, with added gameplay options such as the ability to aim and shoot in first-person mode. These enhancements undoubtedly contributed to the game's overall success and reception among fans. 

Moving on to the third installment in the series, Snake Eater, we find ourselves transported to the Cold War era. This game introduced more intricate gameplay mechanisms, such as camouflage and the need to hunt and eat for survival. It is worth noting that this laid the foundation for future survival games and influenced the genre to a great extent. 

What the Switch Version Brings to the Table

Playing Snake Eater 3D on the Switch is truly a one-of-a-kind experience, especially when you play it in handheld mode. Compared to other platforms, it stands out; some fans even believe it surpasses its predecessor on the 3DS.

The version of Snake Eater included in this collection is based on the Subsistence edition. This edition allowed for a controllable third-person camera, similar to most modern third-person games, and significantly transformed the gameplay experience. The Metal Gear Solid series has undoubtedly come a long way, and its impact on the gaming industry is apparent.

It's important to mention that backward compatibility makes the HD remasters of Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3 still accessible for play on Steam and Xbox, even though they were removed from sale due to licensing issues. If fans are disappointed to have to buy another copy, they should know that this collection includes a lot of additional content that makes it feel like the ultimate version.

As someone who loves Metal Gear, it's a dream come true to have access to the screenplays and Master Books for all three games. You can easily spend hours diving into the game's intricate storyline while enjoying the soundtrack in the background. 

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If you're a true fan, you also won't want to miss out on the digital graphic novels, also known as Metal Gear Solid: Bande Dessinée. These novels offer an immersive experience with sound effects, animations, and music, all in high definition. Remember that the file sizes can be quite large due to their high quality.

Metal Gear Solid Master Collection Vol 1 Size on Switch

The option to include different regional versions of the games in the Master Collection results in the collection occupying approximately 80 GB of disk space. This amount exceeds the initial storage capacity of a regular Switch or even the OLED model unless you use a Micro SD card.

Rather than being grouped as a singular, comprehensive gaming package, each game within the Metal Gear Solid collection will be installed individually onto your Switch, complete with its unique game icon. This approach is practical as each game can also be purchased independently. The physical game card will include the first Metal Gear Solid game and additional bonuses like the 8-bit games. Nonetheless, downloading the other titles will be necessary to enjoy the complete collection.

Bonus Content Comes Preinstalled – But You May Have to Redownload

Additional materials, such as Master Books and screenplays, can be easily accessed through the menu of their respective games. However, the installed content is tailored to the user's default region to keep storage space at a minimum. Despite this limitation, PAL users can still enjoy the Japanese or US versions of the games by downloading them as free DLC. 

While navigating through multiple games may seem slightly inconvenient, this compromise is a practical solution for Switch users who prioritize storage space and may only require some content to be installed on their console.

Closing Remarks

Although the package contains impressive content, it is essential to note that not all aspects have been updated to a thoroughly modern standard. For example, Metal Gear Solid still runs at 30fps, and we noticed frame drops in Snake Eater while running through a grassy area. 

Nonetheless, it is refreshing that players must still manually save via the Codec, as it allows for the whole experience of listening to Mei Ling's advice through proverbs from Lao-Tze or Shakespeare. With this aspect, it truly feels like playing Metal Gear Solid.

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Hands-on Preview: Metal Gear Solid Master Collection Vol 1
The Old One
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