Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol 1 still has the classics but they feel more confusing and limited than they should be

This doesn’t need much introduction: you can now play the original Metal Gear Solid trilogy on modern platforms with the NES games thrown in for good measure.

This represents a couple of firsts. It’s the first time Xbox owners will have Metal Gear Solid 1 on their family of hardware and that it now has Trophy/Achievement support. The first time Nintendo owners can experience Metal Gear Solid 2 (let’s not forget 3 was a launch title on 3DS). As well as seeing the original Metal Gear games beyond their original platforms.

But it goes further still, like offering regional exclusive content to everybody such as the Metal Gear Solid VR Missions which previously only released in Europe and Metal Gear Solid Integral, the Japanese variation of the game.

On the surface, then, this should be a collector’s dream. And it sort of is, between the screenplay books, the digital soundtracks and even video graphic novels of the first two games. There’s a real treasure trove of content in here. But there’s something about this collection that just complicates matters more than it needs to.

The big thing is the UI. It’s all over the place. Rather than give players one SKU where they can access both Metal Gear games as well as the original Metal Gear Solid trilogy, Konami have split them all up into five seperate SKUs. I know…

You’ve got one for each Metal Gear Solid game, as well as a double pack for Metal Gear 1 and 2 and a Bonus Content SKU. But it gets worse. You can only access the NES versions of the Metal Gear 1 and 2 games within the Bonus Content SKU – making you wonder why they bothered to create a seperate entry for the retro games – as that one features Bluepoint’s takes on the game, complete with save states. Which the other doesn’t have. Confused yet? Still not done…

Metal Gear Solid’s Master Collection Version’s SKU has a different control scheme to the other four. In fact, it’s been built to match the game by switching around the X and O circle buttons on your PS pad which, with the best will in the world, I continuously wrestled with. I don’t know how many times I pressed the wrong button and kept going back in the menus rather than forward. Which, inevitably, also transferred to the game.

Worst part? You can’t even change it in the menu screens. And even though the button config for gameplay can be changed, it still retains the button prompts within the in-game menus. Nightmare. But I’m still not done.

Manuals for all the games are not localised content, they are accessed via web browsers which I wasn’t a big fan of. You also have to press the PlayStation home button and jump back to the dash before you can go back into the game and see the Stance Menu that lets you jump out and go back to the original SKU menu.

There’s also some things we weren’t able to see in this build yet as they just weren’t available, like a North American and Japanese Language pack for Metal Gear Solid, as well as the digital graphic novels because they’re seperate downloads and not available on store. Meaning I also couldn’t try out Integral. So thoughts on those will have to wait until post-launch.

The other big elephant in the room is MGS 1 running at 30FPS. It’s not an enormous deal for me, as playing the game as it was originally intended is obviously most of the attraction here, but this one also feels untouched from the original PS1 release and while it’s a heck of a nostalgia kick for those who played it in the early days, the preservation is pretty disappointing, all told. Especially since this will be the draw of the pack for many who probably already own the HD Collection.

There’s no full screen option, meaning you are constrained to borders, but also no filters or ways to upscale the game at all. Alongside the Bluepoint upgrades to 2 and 3, the lack of Twin Snakes really does show this one up and just makes you wonder why Konami wouldn’t want to go all out to really showcase their crown jewel in the best light possible.

I’m also quite disappointed that the original Metal Gear 1 and 2 have basically had zero updates to them to make them more playable on today’s hardware. While the Bluepoint Games at least have save states, most retro titles at least get filters or rewind options and ways to make them more user friendly for today’s gamer who would otherwise ignore them.

Fortunately, we have been made aware that CRT scanline filters and Aspect Ratio options are coming to the NES versions of Metal Gear 1 and 2 in a future update. The MSX versions will also be getting full-screen and windowed options later on. But it is a real shame these were not ready for launch.

I’ve barely even talked about Metal Gear 2 and 3, but the reality is, if you played the HD Collection there’s not a whole lot to say They still look and play great, don’t get me wrong, but perhaps some filters and tweaks to suit the more powerful hardware would have been a beneficial upgrade here to give players something a little bit different from what they’ve already had.

And sure, having the multiple different Metal Gear Solid variations to play out of the box is fantastic and reliving these three classic games together in one collection for the first time is brilliant. It should be a landmark moment, in fact, as they all still feel and play brilliantly, but because of all of the above it feels flat.

I’m remiss to call this collection lazy. It’s not that. But considering how important Metal Gear is to Konami, how long people have waited to get their hands on this content and replay these games natively on their current hardware, it’s such a baffling mixup of unnecessary errors. Fans will inevitably want more from this. Others will be confused by how scattered everything is. And even how unready this collection feels.

As such, it’s a tricky one to recommend. Not because of the games within it, as I said, those are still treasures and are among the greatest games ever made. That’s never been in question. And even the bonus content added in really will be a dream for some Metal Gear fans, including full screenplays of the story, the soundtrack all brought together, the slick look of the menus and a compilation book that brings together the history of Metal Gear. Brilliant stuff.

But the entire presentation is clunky. The preservation feels lacking. And you just can’t escape the feeling that between Konami remaking Snake Eater and the rumours abound of the original Metal Gear Solid, that there will probably be better, more complete collections to come down the line.

At least we know there will be more updates to come on this one in the future. Maybe Konami will address even more of these concerns. But you just wonder whether perhaps they should have kept this one in the oven for a bit longer and really given this franchise the Collection it truly deserves. If this is Volume 1, then there’s a lot of work to do for Volume 2.


Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol 1 comes complete with the same world class, incredible games but sadly doesn’t feel like a worthy collection of this world-class franchise. The presentation causes unnecessary confusion and the preservation is surprisingly lacking across all the featured titles. There’s some great optional extras in here, such as screenplays for all games, a compilation for the franchise and a fan-dream of being able to play the different MGS 1 territorial variations along with playing some games on respective platforms for the first time. But nothing has moved on for MGS 2 and 3 since the HD Collection and without Twin Snakes or any major, noticeable tweaks to MGS1, there feels like a lack of desire to really maximise the potential of today’s platforms.  This should have been a huge moment, bringing the original trilogy together like this, but you can’t help thinking this could and should have been more.


+ Three of the best games ever made, together in one collection
+ First time some Metal Gear Solid games have been playable on specific hardware
+ Some really cool optional extras that MGS historians will love
+ Multiple versions of Metal Gear Solid you may have never played before


– The Master Collection presentation is all over the place across multiple SKUs
– Control interfaces change between menus and can’t be adjusted outside of game
– Game preservation is surprisingly underwhelming and doesn’t maximise platform potential
– Some content forces you to the web and isn’t localised, some available as seperate downloads, and some expected features didn’t make launch

Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol 1  is out tomorrow on PC, PS, Xbox and Switch

Code Kindly Provided by Konami for review purposes

Played on PlayStation 5

About the author

Sam Diglett

Sam grew up with a PS2, spending hours howling at the moon in Okami and giving students wedgies in Bully. Fortunately, she also likes Pokemon because otherwise life could have been quite annoying for her.
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