GAME NAME: Metal Gear Solid HD Collection
DEVELOPER(S): Kojima Productions
PLATFORM(S): PS3, Vita
GENRE(S): Action, stealth
RELEASE DATE(S): 11/8/11
A remastered, updated HD collection of three games of the series, the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection includes MGS2, MGS3, and the PSP’s MGS: Peace Walker on one disk. Though they are simply remasters to HD and not full-on remakes, this is a game collection that should not be missed, even if you’re only a fan of one (or two) of the games in this series.
The HD remastering has sharpened edges, smoothed out jags, and generally made everything more palatable to the 1080p crowd. The remastering has also made MGS2 and MGS3 widescreen, and has upgraded all three to a silky smooth 60 frames per second. It may not seem like a massive upgrade, but the extra 30FPS is a nice touch when the action picks up. MGS2 looks slightly better. MGS3 looked good to begin with, but the HD remastering has allowed everything to be more distinct – making it easier to spot items and enemies in the jungle parts.
The biggest improvement from the HD remastering, though, is Peace Walker. Although already widescreen, the PSP’s graphical capabilities are nowhere near the full size consoles, so enemies were blocky and jagged. The backgrounds suffered as well – it all looked very unimpressive. And the PSP’s single analog stick meant we were back to an awful camera. But the HD remaster really clears up a lot of these issues. Characters, although still a bit blocky, are much smoother, without pixelated edges. Backgrounds are so improved, I thought they were completely redone. The PS3’s second analog stick VASTLY improves camera control, making the game much more enjoyable to play and to watch. And of course there’s something to be said about being on a 40″ TV and looking nice, rather then a 4″ screen on your lunch break.
The MGS series has always been an action/stealth tactics game, stressing the stealth moreso than the action bits. You play as various guys named Snake (and one girl named Raiden) as they sneak around to complete objectives, generally relating to the titular Metal Gear robots – giant bipedal automotons that use nuclear weapons. The various plots of the games themselves are MUCH more convoluted then that, but these weighty and mature plots are pretty interesting, and always engaging. They’re all very political, and generally touch on some uniquely thoughtful philosophy as well. Plus, stealth action games are always a good time.
In MGS2, you play as one of the Snakes and Raiden. Since this is a remake of one of the earlier games, it’s interesting to see how far the controls and camera have come – and they’ve come quite far. MGS2 was at a time before the over-the-shoulder camera, a staple in every third-person game, was a thing. So here we have a floating camera, thoroughly disconnected from the action. It moves when you move, but the lack of perspective makes it much harder to get used to after playing so many games with updated camera controls. If you can get past the goofy camera and odd control scheme, though, there’s a hell of a game under there – and if you just want to get to the sneaking, you can of course skip all the cut scenes and dialog.
MGS3 goes back to the past as a different Snake, who eventually becomes Big Boss, who is actually a… you know what, just play through it and find out – it’d probably be faster. But MGS3 definitely lets the player see where all that development went. The game is much easier to play, and substantially more enjoyable then MGS2. It introduces the camo index as well, which is a helpful tool to tell how easily you can get spotted. Also, there’s the boss battle with The End, an extremely old sniper you fight in a series of areas. It can be a painstakingly long ordeal – longer if you decide to take the easy way out – but is one of the most innovative boss battles I’d played in years. He can be woefully frustrating, but his loot is great (if you can get it) and the whole concept of it deserves praise.
Need more Metal Gear? Peace Walker is the third game included in the collection, and as mentioned above, the game that benefitted the most from the HD remastering. Once again, you are in a guy named Snake’s shoes – the one from MGS3. Since this game was updated from the PSP, the layout for the game is slightly different. The mission selector lets you replay stages, and there are also “Extra Ops,” side missions you can play (and replay) for more soldiers and loot. More soldiers? Yes, because you’re building a mercenary army on an oil derrick and you need boots on the ground. So Peace Walker becomes a stealth action game with a bit of a spreadsheet-staring business sim, complete with R&D department and a cafeteria. It sounds a bit droll, but really adds depth to an already rabbit-hole deep series. Also added in Peace Walker is online co-op and competitive multiplayer. Although the competitive stuff can be safely ignored, the co-op parts are almost necessary during the cripplingly difficult boss fights that pop up every once in a while. And it’s not just old guys in ghille suits, either – APCs, tanks, and hovercraft all show up. Bring your RPG7 (you did develop that, right?!). The ever-present oddball humor pops up often as well, even injecting series creator Kojima in the back of a truck in one mission. And the side missions allow for some of this as well – pack your swim trunks and tuxedo for your various dates you’ll be going on.
The sound in all three games benefited from the remastering as well. Since Blu-Ray disks have so much space, they can store audio uncompressed – meaning that if you have the sound system to support it, you can listen to the game exactly as the developers intended. The music (when present) is great, and the parts where there is no music works as well. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, is voiced in the series-staple over the top goofiness that we’ve all grown to accept – think lots of people shouting “Snnaaaaaake!” and you’ll get the idea. But even the sub-menus and dossiers have voice recordings. Plus the cut-scenes, radio chatter, dozens of unique characters…
Something definitely worth mentioning as well is the fact that these games are nearly technically flawless. Aside from the age of the graphics, there are no weird vanishing weapons, no backwards-travelling opponents, and no horrendous, broken voicechat. During my plays, the game never crashed, locked my system up, or had any odd sound issues. The fact that this game went back a full generation of consoles, both shelftop and handheld, and can be this well-made should be a serious talking point for any game developer. These games work, every time you put them in. It’s almost shameful that I have to devote a paragraph to a review about that, when some games will just stop working at random intervals.
Even if you’ve never played a Metal Gear before, this is a game to pick up just on value alone. $40 at release for 3 huge games is a damn near unbeatable pricepoint, and it’s actually pretty amazing, since each game could’ve been sold individually for that price and still made fans and newcomers alike quite happy. Do yourself a favor and pick this up. This is a collection that should not be missed.