Six games to play while you wait for MGS 5
Six games to play while you wait for MGS 5
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Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes is heading our way on December 18, and the main open-world stealth game, Phantom Pain, will arrive at an as-yet-unannounced point, probably next year.
But next year is ages away. We need to fill our time with tactical espionage action right now. In truth, it's a tough challenge. There's nothing quite like Metal Gear Solid. Few games that can match the strange paranoia and absurd twists of its conspiracy-laden story. Few games tap pop culture to create their heroes and villains in the way MGS does so inventively.
We think it'll make a great PC game when it's eventually released, but you can get a taste of its open world stealth spoils by playing an elite selection of PC games. Here are six special cases that will keep you going until Big Boss rides his horse over the horizon.
Hitman: Blood Money
One of the most sadistic stealth games around, with a dark sense of humour and some huge levels. It won't quite give you the open world promised by Metal Gear Solid 5, but it will give you varied and intricate sandbox environments to mess with.
The creative manipulation of guard AI has always been a big part of Metal Gear Solid, and Blood Money has lots of that. With the correct disguise you can infiltrate restricted areas, poison tea, set boobytraps and be a terrible person in a multitude of other ways. Blood Money may lack MGS' range of gadgets, but there's something satisfying about getting the job done with little more than a pair of black leather gloves and a piano wire.
Absolution is the more recent game in the series, but it can't hold a candle to this 2006 genre classic. Check out Tom Francis' Hitman: Blood Money reinstall to find out why.
Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory
Another classic stealth game, this time in a near-future setting that allows for more of the gadgets you might associate with Metal Gear Solid. In spite of the series serious Tom Clancy military veneer, there's a sly sense of humour to be uncovered as you guide Michael Ironside's Sam Fisher through Chaos Theory's perfectly paced stealth challenges.
It never quite reaches Kojima's level of meta-humour (nothing really does), but it gives Chaos Theory the personality its successors desperately lack. As in MGS, you can sneak up behind guards, secure them in a choke hold and then interrogate them. You'll miss a lot of surreal jokes if you don't.
A PC Gamer favourite, but we can think of few other games with a plot convoluted enough to match Metal Gear Solid. It's got it all: conspiracies at the highest level of government, super-weapons, electronic old men. Okay, it doesn't have an amputee possessed by the limb of a clone, but that's forgivable - it is one of the best games ever, after all.
Deus Ex' sandbox structure made it a landmark study in open-ended design. The large environments and varied upgrade tree are designed to give you ways to solve tasks expressively, using imagination and forethought instead of a big gun. We can only hope that MGS 5 allows for a similar degree of creativity, but early signs are promising.
Mark of the Ninja
This slick, beautiful sidescrolling ninja game from Klei that boils stealth down to its bare ingredients. You navigate enemy vision cones with quick use of shadows, grates, noisemakers and throwing knives.
Bring Metal Gear Solid back to its fundamentals and you'll find a similar array of traits. In both games you find yourself darting for safety as a guard alert system ticks down, deploying items to mislead guards, and silently dispatching them when the situation demands. Both games also have ninjas, though the more traditional cloth-and-sword variety, and slightly less deadly than Metal Gear Solid's acrobatic cyborg equivalent, Raiden.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
This is definitely not a stealth game, but it does have that Metal Gear madness. It's one of the few games that deserves its all-caps presentation. METAL GEAR RISING: REVENGEANCE should be screamed loudly at every mention, as a hair-metal hero might after watching a bionic ninja chop apart a mechanical dragon.
Revengeance also has the honour of being the only Platinum game on PC. If there's one thing our platform misses more than Metal Gear Solid, it's the likes of Platinum's Vanquish. Revengeance will give you a taste of that studio's ability to turn out spectacular, challenging action games. You also play as Raiden, the slightly wet hero of Metal Gear Solid 2, who received a cyborg overhaul when fans took a dislike to him.
Metal Gear Solid
Metal Gear Solid and Metal Gear Solid 2 were indeed ported to the PC over a decade ago. So you can play HD versions of both games, but only if you can find them. They never received a digital release, so you'll have to rely on tracking down a second-hand boxed copy, and it might be tough to
They're still great games, full of clever, memorable moments like the Psycho Mantis fight, numerous odd codex conversations, the first appearance of Grey Fox, and Metal Gear itself. The first game especially feels self-contained and satisfying in a way the second doesn't, relying less on bamboozling wadges of plot to fill the time between levels, but if you want the full lore hit, it's worth hunting down both.
The first Metal Gear games may not be essential, however. Metal Gear Solid 5 stars Solid Snake's precursor, Big Boss. Events in the game take place long before the events of Metal Gears 1, 2 and 4. Resident Metal Gear afficionado Andy Kelly will be writing a guide to the huge story of Metal Gear Solid, so you'll be prepared when MGS5 finally arrives.