Coming 10 years after the video game — and just as METAL GEAR SOLID 4 arrives — is Raymond Benson’s METAL GEAR SOLID, a novelization of the original. As cool as this might be for longtime fans, you’re going to get a serious case of déjà vu within these pages, since its story is literally a straight copy of the game, right down those cut scenes.
This is not a slam against the book at all, since reading it brought back memories of the game, as if I were just playing earlier in the day, even to the point of remembering the frustration of certain levels.
For those unfamiliar with the world of METAL GEAR SOLID, here is a brief synopsis: Solid Snake is a top-secret operative who is dragged out of retirement in the backwoods of Alaska to infiltrate a secret base that has been overrun by a group of terrorists. This group of renegades is comprised of former members form an elite group called FOXHOUND, led by a man called Liquid Snake. We follow Solid Snake as he infiltrates this secret base and comes face-to-face with a laundry list of baddies.
Benson does a fine job translating the game to the page. He’s the perfect author for this type of reworking, given his experience writing for another top spy: that of one James Bond. But there is nothing truly spectacular added to what already was a great story, albeit in game form. Benson does add a few pages here and there that provide a little more backstory, with a few added quips, but for those chomping at the bit for their METAL GEAR fix, this book will tide you over.
Again, it might make you dust off your old PlayStation just to see how closely it follows the source material. For all the hardcore fans out there, yes, the cardboard box makes a very crucial appearance in the plot. —Bruce Grossman