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Snake kneels behind a box, gun at the ready, as a guard walks towards him Image: Konami

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Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection belongs in a museum

Official scripts and lore books are the real prize

In August, Konami announced that it would be celebrating the Metal Gear Solid franchise’s anniversary with a series of ports. Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol. 1 would bring games that were previously unavailable on modern consoles and PCs to a new generation of players. The collection, which was released on Oct. 24, has provided something more than that: It’s made games available that were otherwise inaccessible without older hardware, extremely expensive physical editions, or emulation. It allows players to own these games without fear of them being delisted or vanishing.

While Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol. 1 may be somewhat spotty in its performance, what it brings to the table is important in terms of preservation — not just for the bundle of games included, but also the external materials. The collection comes with the script of each Metal Gear Solid game, ranging from the first installment on PlayStation up to Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. The scripts provide a glimpse into how the cutscenes for each game were laid out, giving an idea of how these narrative elements were constructed. It’s rare that video game scripts are published or provided to the public at all outside of Japan. Collector’s editions sometimes include script books, mostly in physical packages, but the ones included in Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol. 1 are digital versions of these voluminous texts.

Snake calls Meryl via radio in Metal Gear Solid Image: Konami

The collection also features an assortment of lore books, titled Master Books but labeled as digital archives of the respective games, that break down the events of the Metal Gear series game by game. These function as a translated version of Famitsu Perfect Guides that were exclusively released in Japan. They feature commentary about the individual themes of each game and detailed character biographies, and in some cases they include map layouts or point out significant Easter eggs. The lore that the Master Books encompass doesn’t stop at Metal Gear Solid 3 and instead extends to Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain, so they’re chock full of spoilers. Regardless, it’s nice to have this on hand and not need to search for any physical volumes that might be out of print, being sold at an incredibly inflated price, or be unavailable in English. It makes this information more accessible and keeps these pieces of media in circulation and alive.

Also included in Master Collection Vol. 1 is playable content that was otherwise region-exclusive. The bundle includes the original game, the VR missions that were available in North America, the European versions of those VR missions, and Metal Gear Solid: Integral. This is by far the most robust of the three included Metal Gear Solid games, as Metal Gear Solid 2 just features a language selection option, and Metal Gear Solid 3 includes the European, Japanese, and North American versions of the game. More notably, the set also comes with both Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, which were available in Bluepoint’s 2011 Metal Gear Solid HD collection on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, but are difficult to legally play on modern consoles.

Snake kneels around the corner from an approaching enemy in Metal Gear Solid
Snake leans against a metal container in Metal Gear Solid
A screenshot of the scope sights in Metal Gear Solid zoomed in on an enemy Images: Konami
An isometric view of Snake evading an enemy in Metal Gear Solid

For some, this will be their very first experience with Metal Gear or the first Metal Gear Solid. And with both Metal Gear Solid 2 and Metal Gear Solid 3 having previously been delisted and later relisted, this is a surefire way to own these games physically without fear of them one day being removed from digital storefronts entirely — which has happened to more games than one can count.

We live in an era when old video games are harder to obtain than ever, with grading and a new wave of collectors inflating prices to the point that getting copies of Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake and Metal Gear Solid is simply not achievable for the average person in specific regions. More than anything, Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol. 1 is a way for people to own these games physically and to keep their contents without the need to rely on a digital marketplace. While the ports definitely need some work in terms of performance, it’s nice just having a tangible version of these games, and to have all of the extra content that was previously region-exclusive along with design materials and documents. It’s a way to preserve some of the most influential titles in the history of gaming as we know it.

Correction (Nov. 1): A previous version of this review suggested that Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2 were not available on the previous console generations. We’ve edited the review to address the error.

Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol. 1 was released on Oct. 24 on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, and Xbox Series X. The game was reviewed on PS5 using a pre-release download code provided by Konami. Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. You can find additional information about Polygon’s ethics policy here.