Metal Gear Solid HD Collection Review
Metal Gear Solid HD Collection
Kojima Productions / Konami
Bluepoint Games / Armature Studio / Aspect Co.
3rd Person Stealth Action
This past weekend, Kojima Productions celebrated the 25th Anniversary of the Metal Gear franchise. Most franchises rise and fall, and few have survived to see a 10th Anniversary, much less a 25th. Want to know how a franchise endures for so long without losing its appeal? Buy this collection and experience it.
Let us get right down to it. The two main attractions of the collection- Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater– are two of the greatest games ever made. And what’s more is that they are nearly a decade old, and they can still go toe to toe with the games of today. The legacy of some games is perpetuated by nostalgia, but not these games- no. Even a seasoned gamer that has never played Metal Gear Solid for whatever reason can enjoy these games as if they were brand new- and that really is a testament to the quality of these titles.
For those that have yet to experience the Metal Gear universe, I will give you a quick and dirty idea of what we are working with here. These are “tactical espionage” games, and the idea is to use stealth tactics to infiltrate various locations, sneaking past or quietly taking out enemies, to accomplish your mission objectives. These infiltrations can be accomplished in many ways, which allows the player to choose their own way to play the game- refreshing in today’s action game climate. The environments contain many hidden goodies and Easter eggs, so it is worth your while to explore the world rather than just run from point A to point B. All of this is wrapped up in extremely well-told and compelling narratives supported by one of the best voice acting casts gaming has ever had. These are games that you will want to immerse yourself in, and play again and again.
Many versions of these titles have been released over the past ten years. So the question here is, why the collection? What is its value? Alone, these games are easily among the highest rated of all time. The HD Collection is the most recent packaging of these two titles, and while the Vita version may not be the best option, it’s still a very good one. In this review, I will be comparing it to the 360/PS3 HD Collection as well as the 3DS’s recent 3D makeover of MGS3.
What you’re getting here is MGS2 and MGS3 remastered. Visually, it is only bested by the PS3 version. It still runs silky smooth- no hiccups, no stutters, no slowdown – Quite the contrary to the 3DS version of MGS3, which suffered greatly because of these issues. The audio is incredible, and the presentation is clean. Menus are slick, easily navigable, and pleasant to look at. The Vita version of the collection also has some unique controls using the touch screen (menu navigation) and rear touch panel (CQC actions). For the most part, these are intuitive and neither add nor detract from the experience. A lot of time and care was clearly put into making sure that the series got the makeover it deserves.
Fans of Metal Gear Solid know that there exists previously updated versions of the two games, called Substance and Subsistence, respectively, that added many new features and goodies to the games. The HD Collection is based off of these versions of the games, though there are some omissions. First and foremost, Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake are included as a part of MGS3. That’s right- this collection also includes the remakes of the two 8-bit MSX2 classics that kick started the series 25 years ago, and they are playable straight out of the box. MGS3 does lack the limited edition’s movie Existence, which seems like a missed opportunity given the collection’s coinciding with the anniversary. Metal Gear Online is also absent, as the service no longer exists. MGS3 does retain the Subsistence 3D camera controls, but also gives the player the option to opt for the original, semi-fixed camera controls. Here’s the thing- the one thing that has not aged well is the 3D camera control option. Oftentimes, having that extra control is more of a hindrance than a help, frequently causing your view to be obstructed by the environment. I recently blasted the 3DS version for only including the option to use the 3D camera, especially given the lack of dual analog without the Circle Pad Pro. Fortunately that is not a problem here, and I thoroughly enjoyed the game as it was originally designed.
Here comes the deal breaker for some of you. The Vita version of the HD Collection does not include the updated version of the PSP hit, Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker. Owners of the console version have enjoyed playing Peace Walker with dual analog, but us handheld gamers will have to stick with the PSP version for now. While this does cheapen the value of the collection when compared to the PS3 version, I believe that the collection is still a great value for what it is- Snake and Raiden in the palm of your hand, no holds barred, with a high quality makeover. Handheld gamers should not think twice about picking the game up, while console owners may want to take a gander at the version that includes an additional, awesome game. For the hardcore fanatics that have to have both the PS3 and Vita versions, you will be happy to know that, via “Tranfarring”, you can trade your save file back and forth between your two systems, simultaneously earning trophies for both games on the same save.
Bottom line, these games are incredible. Metal Gear Solid first-timers and seasoned veterans alike owe it to themselves to play these updated versions of the games, and I cannot recommend getting one or both versions of the HD Collection any more highly.