I can’t think of anything better for an immersive VR experience than Metal Gear Solid, a video game series that so often deals with simulations, distinguishing truth from falsehood, and literal virtual reality. Thanks to an inspired modder who is a big fan of the games, you can now experience the first three main areas of 1998 Metal Gear Solid (and a few other fun surprises) in VR itself.
the “Metal Gear Solid Mode”, created by modder Holydh, marries the style and aesthetic of the first MGS adventure with the highly technical, very realistic feeling physics and advanced virtual body simulation of the popular VR game Bonteworks. While Holydh’s mod only mimics the first three areas of the game at the moment, it’s a very powerful proof of concept for how cool it would be to experience Metal Gear Solid in real VR.
It also fits well. Games have never been the same since then Metal Gear Solid came to the original PlayStation in 1998. While the groundbreaking stealth gameplay stemmed from two previous 2D entries for the MSX 2 computer, Metal Gear Solid broadened the series’ stories and themes just as much. What appeared to be a standard Hollywood-inspired spy thriller gave way to a twisting tale of truth, deception, genetics, advanced technology, and government conspiracies.
Coincidentally, VR is a staple of its world as well as gameplay, with Metal Gear Solid and the many sequels that allow players to train in simulated ‘VR’ environments that match what you experience in the main games. These cards provide a concentrated experience of: Metal Gear Solid‘s stealthy gameplay loop, challenging you with time trials in stylized visual representations of what it might look like “inside” a computer. VR is also often mentioned in the actual stories, where the subject of discussion is its effects on one’s sense of reality.
metal gear‘s celebrated director, Hideo Kojimais also known for often toys with player expectations. When promoting Metal Gear Solid Vhe even went so far as to hire an actor to play a fake game developer who gave outlandish interviews representing a fictional game studio. MGSVBTW, then proceeded to make you question the concept of ‘identity’. If there’s one series that wants to make you question reality, it’s this one Metal Gear Solid.
Join Holydh’s “Metal Gear Solid Mod” for Bonteworksa VR game known for its quite advanced physics and a very Portallike narrative atmosphere woven into the campaign and overall presentation. Like Metal Gear Solid, Bonteworks also plays with themes of virtual reality and experiments performed by manipulators beyond your immediate understanding, so while the VR title offers a rich physical palette of game mechanics to romp around Metal Gear Solid‘s Shadow Moses Island, it is thematically resonating in it BonteworksYour own story also gives way to suspicion about what is happening in the environment around you.
After playing with this mod until very late last night, I will tell you that I still have chills from what I went through. It felt surreal going through the opening cards of . to move Metal Gear Solid with my own body in the first person, complete with the original graphic presentation largely intact. The environments of the first MGS burned into my brain from playing it countless times as a young person. But the obvious novelty of sneaking through vents and corners, engaging in gunfights with genome soldiers, and gazing up at the towering Metal Gear Rex (it’s parked in the mod’s “museum” area) was always on my mind. thoughts underlined by literal quotes from the games themselves about reality and simulated environments, and where society might go once this technology is advanced enough to fool us.
I’ll just leave a quote from the character Eva in 2008’s Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots underline everything here:
Today, anyone with a computer can get combat training. The FPS games that these kids love are distributed for free by these companies. It’s all just virtual training, of course. It is so easy for them to get absorbed in these war games. And before they know it, they’re in the PMCs with real weapons. These kids end up fighting proxy wars that have nothing to do with their own lives. They think it’s cool to fight like that. They think fighting is life. They don’t need a reason to fight. After all, it’s just a game for them.
Speak with Kotaku, Holydh described the experience of creating a VR mod based on a series that so often involves technology that manipulates our sense of reality as “amazing and terrifying at the same time”. Holydh’s first exposure to Kojima’s stealth series was in 1998 Metal Gear Solid, which is still his favorite entry. “I play games like I read books,” he said, “to immerse myself in an atmosphere. And VR is just incredible for that.”
The nuts and bolts of this mod itself were created with original code, but Holydh describes the work as building on the efforts of passionate modders and digital archaeologists who scoured the original game to bring these environments to life like never before. That work goes back more than a decade, Holydh said. ‘I am like the little man on the giant’s shoulder. … I met [fellow Metal Gear Solid modder Vapor_Cephalopod] and started making my mod a little over a year ago. But it wasn’t until the end of last year that I started taking it seriously.” He added that the mod has become a “great hobby” that he works on almost every day.
The choice to recreate spaces from Metal Gear Solid is a bit spooky considering the game’s immediate sequel, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Libertyreveals that the events of the first game were sampled and simulated to help train the main character. MGS2 main character Raiden states that he is more or less through the events of MGS as part of his VR combat training. MGS2 Referring to the actual game you may have played yourself as a possible simulation is just one of many fourth-wall-breaking moments. Playing this VR recreation of Shadow Moses Island then feels strangely like something said to exist in the fiction of the series itself.
walking around in Metal Gear Solid‘s Shadow Moses in VR feels deeply connected to the revelations of Metal Gear Solid 2, and that was not lost on Holydh. The mod is primarily a passion project for him that allows him and others to jump into one of gaming’s most celebrated environments, but he often thinks about the “meta” of his work. In a way, his VR mod is like glue that binds the first game to the second.
“I think about it every now and then,” he said. “I’m closing the loop a little bit.”
Despite all the cerebral trips this mod inspires, it’s still not a complete game. You need Bonteworks itself, and you’ll have to go through a bit of a mod installation labyrinth to get everything up and running. This is why, in addition to adding more playable areas, Holydh hopes to repackage his mod as a standalone experience. However, as the project currently stands, it will take a little patience to get everything working.
Once everything is settled, spawn in the room where Solid Snake fought Psycho Mantis. Here you can choose between warping to the start of the classic campaign or entering a ‘museum’ with various recreated items from the game, including Metal Gear Rex and many character models and items. There’s even a recreation of the game’s opening submarine area, which is normally only visible through a cutscene. It’s a joy to get to meet such classic characters and environments up close and personal.
Once you’ve taken a tour, selecting ‘Campaign’ will activate the room’s secret door, which led you to confront Sniper Wolf in the main game. Here it warps you to the opening level of the game, where Snake first landed on Shadow Moses.
For now, the only playable areas are the crate/elevator area, the outer helipad, and the two-level internal tank hangar. You can use the elevators, find weapons and ammunition on the maps, sneak past cameras and guards and engage in gunfights with a SOCOM pistol, suppressed for sneaking or muzzled for full volume and mayhem.
Shaky enemy AI, as well as the difficulty of navigating certain spaces (I’ll probably have nightmares of falling to death from ladders connected to Metal Gear Rex now), keep the Bonteworks “Metal Gear Solid mod” feels like a full game. However, there is a nice discovery in the environments. It was tricky to get every time, but can you hit enemies over the head to take them out, or maybe even strangle them a bit? I’m not sure about that last one. Between the loving attention to detail and the narrative resonance that this fun experience has with the real games, it feels like an authentic metal gear experience.
Here I am, in spaces that are not real, although my brain feels like it has some kind of reality. How can I not remember Snake’s comment to Raiden that VR can play with your sense of reality? How can I not think of the countless times the metal gear games have wondered why i find simulated gunfights, violence and death pleasure? Is it because? I enjoy all the killing? Is that why?
While this mod certainly doesn’t have the answer to those questions, it does lead me through the rabbit holes of conundrums and meta-perspectives for which Metal Gear Solid is loved. The last entry of the main series came seven years agoand his future is uncertain at best. I’d given up hope of being able to experience those classic brain teasers the series loves to pull off one more time, but this VR mod got me there in a way I don’t think a newer, official game could. For all the talk about “metaverses” and ways we try to giving meaning to digital worlds and itemsthe Bonteworks “Metal Gear Solid mod” shows that such a thing is possible, if not a little terrifying.