Back at the beginning of 1999 Future Publishing released Official PlayStation Magazine UK issue 42, which was a big deal. The front cover depicted a robot ninja, the cover disc had the logo for Metal Gear Solid on it. There were other games on that demo disc, but as far as a 14 year old me was concerned they didn’t even exist. I got home from the Co-Op I’d bought it from, put the disc in the PlayStation (I’d read the MGS feature on the way home) and jumped straight into the demo. The following day I had French, I was in the first year of my GCSE’s, but instead of listening to the teacher a group of us were sat at the back of the class, talking as quietly as possible about sneaking past guards, Hind D’s and the DARPA chief. I’ve no idea how much I played that demo, but it was alot.
Later a friend of mine, who had a chipped PlayStation, got a bootleg copy of the US release, I went over to his straight after school and we spend the next week or so playing through. We were obviously hampered by not having a game case with Meryl’s codec code printed on the back and also that elevators would occasionally crash the game, but we got through it, taking it in turns to play, swapping the pad when the other died.
I didn’t get the PAL release on launch day, which was shortly after the magazine was published, I think I rented it from Blockbuster first and eventually persuaded my Mum to by me a copy of it and finished it on each difficulty multiple times (the only time I’ve ever done that for any game, aside from Phantasy Star Online on Dreamcast but that’s totally different), but I’d still say getting that demo was a pivotal moment in me becoming so enamored with video games as a medium. I’d been playing them for a long long time before then, and it wasn’t the first game that became an obsession (I think that would probably be SEGA Rally, but I didn’t own that for myself till much later, it was my brothers copy that I would play as much as I was/wasn’t allowed, but thats a story for another time), on the PlayStation it may have been Gran Turismo, but it was definitely a moment where I just wanted to know as much as I possibly could, I later got hold of MSX emulators for my PC to run the older Metal Gear games (although I bounced off of those) and picked up the Special Missions bonus disc when that came out (which my Step Brother from my Mums second marriage stole, well I blame him for it going missing but was never able to prove it). I made a fansite with as many video’s and pictures I could store on GeoCities when I started college, which then fuelled an obsession with finding out every little bit of information about Metal Gear Solid 2 as I possibly could.
I’ve loved every instalment I’ve played (so the main line titles up until and including Ground Zeroes) but none of them have grabbed me like Metal Gear Solid did where I’d find any reason I could to play through it again, including on two other occassions at other friends’ houses, taking over their playthroughs and showing them how to finish the game in a day (but still watching each and every one of the amazing cutscenes and codec sequences).