System: PlayStation (released 1999)
If you've played Metal Gear Solid, from the story standpoint you've pretty much played the Integral version too, so there aren't any new details to cover on that end. There are, however, quite a few new features. Read on....
While Metal Gear Solid was lauded almost universally as an incredible game, its most often recognized flaw was its length (or lack thereof). One run through the game, with no foreknowledge of the mechanics or puzzles, and viewing every cinematic sequence, would typically top out at around 12 hours. Dialogue and cinemas composed fully half of that time, so it's no wonder that some gamers were a little perturbed that they'd finished the game in two sittings.
Enter the Integral version of Metal Gear Solid. Although it did very little to lengthen the core storyline, Integral introduced enough "value added" features to keep fans coming back long after they'd destroyed Rex and put an end to Liquid Snake. The original Metal Gear Solid package consisted of only two discs, and both contained only the game. Integral not only added a variety of elements to the first two discs but also included a VR Missions disc for fans of the surprisingly addictive VR training simulation.
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Metal Gear Solid Integral is truly the definitive version of MGS. Although only released in Japan, Integral features the superb English voice acting featured in the American edition of MGS, with subtitles available in both English and Japanese. In addition to the difficulty levels found in the American game, a "very easy" mode was added that provides Solid Snake with a weapon and unlimited ammunition from the outset. Completing the game once opens a first-person-perspective mode. This mode differs from the original game, which didn't allow movement when using Snake's own viewpoint, by letting you actually move around the world in first person at all times.
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For those who've played the American-localized version of Metal Gear Solid, the real meat in the Integral version is on the VR Missions disc. It contains literally hundreds of new missions that use the virtual reality motif of the original game's training simulation. These missions vary much more widely in range and complexity, however. Entire sets of missions are devoted to honing your skills with all of the weapons found in Metal Gear Solid's story mode. Many missions feature the use of items like the cardboard box or cigarettes, and the later missions contain some very intricate puzzles.
Integral contains a few interesting bonuses but sets very high requirements to obtain them. For instance, after obtaining the camera item, Snake can take pictures of the polygonal Dr. Naomi and Mei Ling. The catch is that he can only get so close to them. As more VR missions are completed, the distance between Snake and Mei Ling decreases. Yes, this feature is little more than fan service. Of much more interest is the VR disc's ninja mode, which lets you take control of the ninja character (complete with his own moves) for a grand total of three missions. Unlocking the ninja demands an incredible display of skill in the story mode, unfortunately.
US gamers hoping to own the most complete version of Metal Gear Solid were disappointed that Integral was never announced for American release. However, the availability of English voices and subtitles made for easy importing. Of course, most of the new material was consigned to the VR Missions disc, and that disc did make it overseas, as an entirely separate game (entitled Metal Gear Solid: VR Missions). Having the American MGS and the VR Missions game is almost as good as MGS Integral (but you miss out on some really lovely packaging).
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