It's been so long since Metal Gear made its first stealth kill on the MSX that this sudden return to the game's original top-down form is a little jarring. But, in this age of retro remakes and copyrighted nostalgia, it seems like a wise move on Konami's part to provide such a timely reminder of past glories.
You’re dropped off at the docks at night, in that sneaky, head-just-above-the-water secret agent way, and you have to infiltrate the enemy’s base on your tip-toes. You go in unarmed, and that’s the best way to be.
Yes, it’s easier to take out enemies with a shooter, but the game is undeniably at its best when the stealth gameplay is brought to the fore.
The environments are quite sparse, but you can't accuse them of being random. Each room is a simple puzzle, usually involving a careful hunt of the patrolling guards, which you ideally take out by sneaking up on them from behind and rabbit punching them into submission.
Along the way is a variety of additional features and activities to explore (such as jumping into the back of the parked military lorries), with the occasional enemy to surprise and collectable items to use within your mission. Finding the binoculars, for instance, allows you to take a look at the screen immediately adjacent, which is very useful when planning your next stealth kill.
Despite this solid gameplay premise, Metal Gear is let down by some rather amateurish visuals, almost nonexistent animation and a general lack of objectives. Indeed, there’s no animation at all during a fight, where the characters simply jiggle around until unceremoniously disappearing. While this might be true to the original, it does nothing to add any spice to the current game.
Overall, Metal Gear appears to be a little too faithful to the original for its own good, and comes across as a once great concept tamed by time and spoiled by a lack of effort to inject much dynamism into its modern reimagining.