A red exclamation point flashes above my head, the timer starts ticking down as I run for cover, there are guards with fully automatic guns everywhere, and I’m a Snake. If you haven’t guessed by now I’m talking about Metal Gear. Today marks the twenty-eighth anniversary for Hideo Kojima’s epic saga. This game series is the most iconic stealth games out there having sold over 41 million copies worldwide. Kojima expertly crafts each and every game, developing a dynamic story and even better gameplay. There are a couple of things that make this series great, so let’s get started!
First: Choice, it all comes down to choice. The finest aspect of this series is your choice. The game starts you off with one weapon. You choose to use that, or hand to hand combat to knock out your enemies. You can go whole games without killing anyone. Kojima specifically designs the games to only be as violent as the player is. With options ranging from feeding the enemy food that has expired, to waiting for an old timer to shuffle off his mortal coil, Kojima gives the player full control over if they want to kill or not. Let’s be honest though, the majority of people do end up killing at some point in the game, which is fine! That’s your choice, but the game actually rewards you for getting through a problem without using violence. Unlike other spy games where you can murder and destroy without any consequences, Metal Gear focuses on the actual elements of stealth and spy tactics. My favorite game in the series, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, there is a section of the game where you must face your demons by confronting everyone you have killed in a dream sequence. While you can get through this in a small amount of time if you used good spy skill, I have seen friends wade through the river of the dead for close to an hour! That choice is a huge part of what makes this game so amazing.
One of the other aspects that makes these games so incredible is the hidden Easter eggs in each game. Kojima leaves little things around for you to discover, or to scare the living crap out of you as a boss tells you what games you have played before! Some of these discoveries will grant you upgrades, achievements, or even special dialogue. With some of the eggs being nothing more than taking pictures of nudie magazines some of the enemy soldiers left around, to scouring the game to find a tiny frog in every corner of the map just waiting to be shot. Kojima makes sure that there is plenty to discover, plenty to keep you engrossed, and to keep you laughing in an otherwise serious game.
Lastly, I think the thing that really brings these games into the halls of gaming history has to be the storyline. Let’s not forget that these games have an intricate, well thought out story not only separately, but as a whole. Each game is tied together through a huge arc. With a great timeline stretching from the 60s into the future, each game has references to the specific pop culture of the time it was set to further immerse the player into the gritty goodness. Seriously, this game series has the cold war, biological weapons, gun fights, secret branches of military, giant robots, and the best stealth mechanics you can find. If you haven’t already, I suggest going out and buying all of them to join the 41 million plus who are already in awe from Hideo Kojima’s masterpieces.