On September 1, 2015 the newest member, and possibly final, in the Metal Gear Solid series will be released: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. It will be the first time Xbox users will be able to play a full-length MGS game on day-one of release. This leads to the question on a lot of user’s mind, “Is it too late to get into Metal Gear Solid?”
There is no doubt that one of the best aspects of the Metal Gear Solid series is the story. It is deep, intriguing, and can be really confusing at times. The story started almost 30 years ago and people are still eager to find out more. Getting into such a comprehensive and detailed story-arc could be a daunting task for anyone, especially over eight games in. In order to answer the original question, though, I will explain my experience with the Metal Gear franchise.
I wasn’t introduced to the Metal Gear Solid world until E3 2007 when I saw my first glimpse of Metal Gear Solid 4. Owning just an Xbox 360 at the time, with my PS2 breaking years prior, I had never played a Metal Gear game. I was sold on it right away and bought myself a PS3. I had no knowledge of the story apart from the few key points my cousin told me about, but I was enthralled by the game regardless. The graphics, the ability to camouflage automatically with the octo-camo, and the ability to hold-up soldiers got me extremely excited for the game.
Metal Gear Solid 4 is said to be more of a movie than a game. There are about eight hours of cutscenes in the game, about half the total length of the game. It finishes the story that was made a little over twenty years before its release. I had no idea who half the characters where and what they were talking about, but I was blown away by the game. I finished the game and played it again, finishing it roughly seven times in a month. I bought all the weapons, upgraded them, and beat it without being spotted on the hardest difficulty, while loving every second of it. The stealth was awesome, the gunplay was addicting, and the boss fights were some of the best I have ever seen.
It was not until January of this year that I played and understood the majority of the Metal Gear Solid story. I bought the Metal Gear Solid: HD Collection and played through Metal Gear Solid 2, Metal Gear Solid 3, and Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker. Playing through them, I really saw the brilliance of Hideo Kojima, creator of the series. The games, for the most part, held up great with their new HD enhancements. All were great games and worthy of multiple playthroughs, but MGS4 is still my favorite because of its gameplay. MGS2 had one of the best storylines, but the over-the-top camera angle felt a little outdated for me.
So, back to the original question, “Is it too late to get into Metal Gear Solid?” While it’s true that the story in Metal Gear Solid 4 would have been even more impacting on me if I had played the other games in the series beforehand; I loved the game regardless. Even prior to understanding the story, I would place it in my “favorite games of all-time” list.
Metal Gear Solid V: Phantom Pain comes out in about a month. Many will pass on the game because of the number in the title, and be scarred off by the heavy presence of story. I am the quintessential example that it is never too late to get into this masterpiece of a series and fall in love with it.
If you do want to get the most out of the story, there is a simple solution: play Metal Gear Solid 3 and Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker. Those are the two games that take place prior to MGS5. Luckily, for all Xbox 360 and PS3 users there is a collection, Metal Gear Solid: HD Collection, which grants them those two games and throws in MGS2, as well. It is one of the best deals out there and worthy of purchase.
Overall, the gameplay in the Metal Gear Solid series is good enough to hold-up on its own. The reason I fell in love with MGS4 and played through it so many times is because of the gameplay. The stealth mechanics have inspired so many games you play now. Don’t be afraid to pick up MGS5 on September 1st because of the number in the title. My recommendation is to pick up the MGS HD Collection now and play through the two games set prior to MGS 5: Phantom Pain. Also, download MGS V: Ground Zeros for free on Xbox One, with Xbox Live Gold, this month. It was previously free on PS4 for PS plus members. The campaign last roughly an hour and will teach you the basic controls.
Regardless of if you’ve played any Metal Gear game prior, if MGS V: Phantom Pain follows the footsteps of its predecessors, it is a game you won’t want to miss.