Best way to play Metal Gear Solid on PC

There are three ways to play the amazing videogame Metal Gear Solid on PC:

  • GOG version: Based on the Windows port released in 2000. Runs at 60 FPS and allows 3D-accelerated higher resolutions.
  • PS1/PSX CD-ROM/ISO + emulator: The purest form. Runs at 30 FPS, software rendered, at a resolution of 320x200 pixels.
  • Steam's Master Collection Vol.1 version. Emulates the PSX version, so also 30 FPS and 320x200.

I recently purchased Metal Gear Solid Master Collection Vol. 1, played it for a while, and did a full walkthrough of the GOG version, so I am in a good position to compare versions. The following are my findings and personal preference.

Some notes before I go into the details:

  • At he time of writing this post, the latest and tested versions are: MGS1 Master Collection: v1.5.0, MGSILauncher: v1.4.5, MGSM2Fix: v2.2
  • For simplicity, I won't differentiate between the normal and Integral versions of the game. It is safe to assume everything refers to a non-Integral version.

MGS1 PSX Version

There's not too much to say here. Depending on the emulator, you might be able to bump the internal resolution, correct its affine mapping, or add some filtering, but that's mostly all.

You get the original experience, with the original graphics, at the original speed (30 frames per second).

MGS1 Master Collection Vol. 1 version

This version got a bit of pushback upon the initial release, because if you, like me, first played the Windows port, losing 50% of your FPS hurts, even if it originally run at that speed. At v.1.5.0, I think it is well emulated, as you can toggle the filtering/smoothing on and off, and provides some subtle tweaks missing from the Windows port, like emulated PSX saves for the Mantis boss fight.

Being a modern emulation, people tweaked with the internals, and we have an amazing tool, MGSM2Fix. With it, you can bump the internal resolution to any value you want (including widescreen resolutions) and apply some input tweaks.

I tried the tool, and indeed you can get to 1024x768 and bigger, with perfect aspect ratio and the original unfiltered textures, making it look very pleasingly retro. But the 30 FPS are still there, and that's the only reason why this does not become my favourite. Still, worth it.

MGS1 Windows port version

This was my first contact with the Metal Gear series, and as such, I am a bit biased. Playing at 60 FPS at a higher resolution was an amazing improvement and left me good memories; but the game also features some of the Integral version changes, and a few PC tweaks (like direct game saving from menu option, faster than the codec conversation based one).

Via software rendering runs at 640x680, but using 3D acceleration you get up to 1280x960, plus texture correction (less warping, although the engine is still not perfect).

I had the original Windows release, and some fan patches were available to improve modern 3D GPUs compatibility, but then the GOG version came out, with all fixes applied, so I can only recommend to go buy that version for a fully Windows 10/11 compatible, no-tweaks needed experience.

But again, tech-savvy game fans peeked at it, and saw some potential improvements, and we got tools like MGSILauncher. With it, you can install even more patches, that range from input and resolution tweaks, to an improved music pack, or some game tweaks and cheats.

This launcher is now my main way of launching the game. I activated the music pack patch and tried the software rendering resolution to 1280x960, but ended up going back to the 3D-accelerated version (old memories of my first contact with the game). I've done a full run and had zero issues with the patches or the launcher.

Conclusion

If you want a more "pure" experience, the Master Collection version, optionally with increased resolution, is the way to go. But if you want some quality of life changes, and smoother gameplay, the GOG/Windows port is still the best way to experience the first Metal Gear Solid.

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