Data sharing seems to be a hot topic these days. We tick boxes to stop our emails heading to third parties, and reluctantly accept cookies so that we can browse websites. Why do we mention this? Well because of one incredible, defining moment that came in the middle of a pretty stellar game.
Back in 1998, when cookies were something you put in your mouth, Hideo Kojima brought Metal Gear Solid to our PlayStations. This action-adventure stealth-fest saw you take control of Solid Snake, a rather grumpy and grouchy retired war hero. He takes on his twin brother Liquid's FOXHOUND forces to save the world from nuclear bombs and a giant killing machine called REX.
This was one of the first fully cinematic video game experiences, with the story told through in-game voiced cutscenes. Also, it paved the way for stealth games like Splinter Cell to hit consoles. This was a title that ticked a lot of boxes - engaging bosses, tense action, and immersive audio-visual effects. Crawling around in confined spaces, trying to evade enemy glances. It even had a quasi-love interest in the form of Meryl. There are so many things that we could say about Metal Gear Solid, but two words in particular really take us back: Psycho Mantis.
While Solid Snake battles against Liquid's FOXHOUND forces, there's one boss battle takes place that, at the time, left players in shock and awe. Psycho Mantis was a villainous psychic who at one point manages to take control of Meryl, forcing her to try and shoot our hero.
All this came together with the fact that, through his mind, Solid was forced to get the codes to activate Metal Gear Rex. Well, also take into account that he had used his powers to convince some of the soldiers you were killing to revolt with Liquid. Did that mean we were killing innocents? It was a thought-provoking revelation.
All of these things make a pretty convincing backstory to this fight. Here we have a really complex and intriguing enemy, but what set this rivalry apart? What makes MGS a defining moment? Well, we're writing about almost exactly twenty years after its initial release because Psycho Mantis broke the fourth wall. You see, when you finally take him on in battle, he has the ability to read your mind.
In brilliant fashion, our jaws dropped as he read out a list of Konami games we had saved. Ok, maybe not as impressive these days, but at the time we had no idea our PlayStation could even do that. Many people were so engrossed in the action that they felt like they were having their minds read. After reading Solid's inner-thoughts, it seemed like he was reading yours too, and we remember him asking us: "So, you like Suikoden?"
The psychic Psycho even noted that we enjoyed RPGs. And if that wasn't even enough he then asked you to put your controller on the floor and watch as he made it vibrate. He was able to comment on your progress, highlighting things about your character based on the number of saves and the traps avoided. And then, to defeat him, we had to change our controller from one port to another to stop him reading our future. You could argue that these were all party tricks, but at the time they were both revolutionary and jaw-dropping.
Eventually, you go on to kill Mantis. As this leather-clad gas mask-wearing villain leaves this mortal coil, you take off his mask to reveal a disfigured face. His final action is to help you, redeeming himself a little in the process. That said, he even manages to leave a psychological scar, on that way out telling you how bad you are.
The rest of the game was amazing, with a wide variety of twists and turns keeping us enthralled along the way. Solid and Liquid, who were both clones of Big Boss, had to fight each other. There were battles with minigun wielding bosses and a huge robot. It was all very epic...
After writing this, we quite fancy taking a trip down memory lane. Maybe it's time for us to dust off our PSOne (or Gamecube, Psycho Mantis pulled the same trick on Nintendo's console in 2004) and listen to Campbell shout "Snake! SNAAAAAAKKKKKEEEE" as we die, one more time for posterity. That said, with the launch of the PlayStation Mini coming in December, and some of the games yet to be announced, we can only hope that MGS makes one more appearance.
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