Metal Gear Solid HD Collection
Developer: Kojima Productions, Bluepoint Games
Platforms: PlayStation 3 (Reviewed), Xbox 360
Release Date: November 8, 2011
Price: $49.99 – Available Here
Perhaps no series has created such a polarizing opinion in the gaming world like the Metal Gear Solid series. There are those who love the title for everything that it is, with its often shifting and easily confusing at times storyline and stealth gameplay for what it is, and also those who just want nothing to do with a series which can be seen as way too convoluted for its own good.
But for those who love the series Konami has chosen to provide an HD version of three of the more recent titles in the series. They have brought us 2001’s Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, 2004’s Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, and last year’s Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker for the PSP. Now these were all arguably great titles back in their day, so how have they aged with this HD upgrade? Let’s find out.
Now those familiar with the storyline of the Metal Gear Solid series should know that Metal Gear Solid 2 isn’t actually the beginning of the story; as Metal Gear Solid 1 was, however that was not included for various reasons, including the fact that the title is thirteen years old and no amount of HD can make it stand up to today’s standards.
However, it is interesting to note that the storyline of the series doesn’t follow the chronology of the time they have been released, in fact the series abruptly jumps back forty years to tell us the story of Naked Snake, otherwise known as Big Boss from past games in the series. This occurs for Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater which can be a bit disorienting for newcomers as they wonder exactly what is going on at times.
That being said, the stories that are included are as great as fans remember and just as convoluted as well. We begin with Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty which chose to take a bit of a controversial turn by replacing fan favorite Snake with the different main character Raiden. Now this titles’ story is a bit odder than the rest of the games included in the package, mostly due to the way that Raiden and his handler Rose interact with one another and includes a number of strange twists that just shouldn’t make sense in a logical way of thinking.
Now as for the second title in the collection, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, as stated before, occurs forty years in the past following Naked Snake as he is sent on a mission to rescue a defecting Soviet Scientist right in the middle of when the Cold War between Soviet Russia and the United States was at its hottest. The story of this title is a bit more steeped in reality than Sons of Liberty and can be seen as perhaps the most easily understandable and revealing stories in the Metal Gear Solid series.
The third and final game of the collection is a lesser known title which was only available on the PlayStation Portable, and that is Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker. Peace Walker follows the story of Naked Snake (Big Boss) once again, ten years after the events that occurred in MGS3. In MGS3, Naked Snake who first uses the title of Big Boss in this episode has put together a group of mercenaries. Now while the other two titles included in this collection contained memorable enemies and bosses, Peace Walker lacked that aspect and could be seen as the weakest of the three titles in the story department.
In the end each story is the exact same as fans would remember them to be. This is a great thing for those who have already played the titles and want to replay everything again and try to see if, at an older age, they can understand the storyline a bit better. One issue with the collection however is that the few titles that aren’t included in the collection leave a few gaps in the storyline. Now this isn’t too much of a detriment, as each game can more or less be taken as an individually contained story, but it is disappointing that the focus on keeping a continuous story flow was lost when putting the collection together.
Being that most of these games are quite old, it only comes to reason that an HD upgrade is something that most of these titles need desperately, and being that one of the points of this entire collection was to provide a nice HD coat on the entire series it is a must that it is done well. Now Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty was released at the launch of the PlayStation 2 back in 2001, ten years ago. The HD upgrade to MGS2 looks quite good and a number of the main characters benefit greatly from the upgrade, making the title stand up to your average title released digitally through the PSN which is certainly an accomplishment considering its age.
Now Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater is another story entirely. The original release on the PS2 was an amazing looking experience for its time and the HD upgrade is instantly noticeable to anyone who has played the earlier version. The upgrade brings the title nearly to current-gen levels with attention paid to keeping details intact and providing great looking characters. The scene amidst the field of flowers has never looked so amazing.
One of the more intriguing upgrades is for Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, being as the title was only released last year. Now the reason for the intrigue is due to the fact that the title was originally released only for the PSP, meaning the graphics are of course the weakest point in the title. The HD upgrade has made most of the title look up to par with its counterparts but unfortunately the textures just don’t do the game justice, usually looking too polygonal and often look too simple to be included with the rest of the game. Now besides those upgrades, there are still problems with the title that I experienced such as plenty of texture pop and the character’s lips not syncing with their dialogue.
One of the highlights of the Metal Gear Solid series has always been the quality voice actors that the various characters have been provided with. The character’s voices sound just as great as when we heard them many years ago with plenty of emotion and memorable parts. Of the three titles, perhaps Snake Eater suffers slightly from a multitude of characters and the occasional bad performance but those looking to hear their favorite voices in the cutscenes and codec calls have no reason to worry.
The Metal Gear Solid series has always been a game that focused around both stealth and action and Metal Gear Solid 2 was one of the first titles to ever take the stealth element and make it its own. This included the, at the time, new addition of first person shooting. Besides this we also saw a number of new moves added to Raiden’s repertoire. This included a number of neat features such as shooting an enemy’s radio to prevent him from calling for help. On the other hand the game’s age still holds itself back in this day and age. At the best of times the controls feel stiff and awkward at times. At times the game also feels a tad bit too easy thanks to the fact that the enemy AI isn’t the brightest, meaning more often than not you can sneak up on nearly every normal soldier standing in your way.
Metal Gear Solid 3 took everything that MGS2 did and made it all the better. The stealth aspect in the title can be seen as one of the best, even by today’s standards. This includes a number of new additions, including the fact that the MGS3 in this package is the “Subsistence” version of the title. This means you will have full camera control, allowing players to look around walls while not having to expose themselves. There was also the introduction of the camouflage system where players could match their outfits to the surroundings and be able to blend in. This means you can easily crawl through an environment in a dirt colored camo, sneak up on enemies and drop them with a well-placed headshot.
Now Peace Walker had a certain limitation when it was developed, and that was a limited amount of buttons to use on the PSP. Because of this, a number of moves and stealth actions have been removed. However players are able to move around while shooting which is nice, and considering there is a second analogue stick to use on the PlayStation 3 this is very simple and easy to use.
Peace Walker did a few things unique to the series, where players played through a number of smaller missions and multiple side missions that were developed for the portable quality that the PSP possessed. Players could even capture enemy soldiers and try to recruit them to their militia and place them into various sections of their militia, including R&D and others. When a certain department levels up this also unlocked extra weapons and gear to use on missions which was a nice inclusion. Plus the title has retained its online co-op mode that allows for other players to help you out through the PSN and take on the various missions in the title.
The Metal Gear Solid HD Collection has everything that fans would want of the series. Each of the titles has benefited greatly from the HD upgrade and at times look immensely better than they did before. Plus, everything else is more or less the exact same. Plus for the trophy and achievement hunters out there they can earn newly added trophies/achievements to help increase their enjoyment.
Of course an HD upgrade can’t change some of the problems that were inherent in the original titles and a few of them do feel quite dated as far as controls go. Plus out of the three games included Peace Walker just feels like the odd man out, not containing the same quality of gameplay or story that the other two titles had. Still, this title is quite simply the best and possibly cheapest way to pick up the series, even for newcomers, though they may be a bit lost as to what is actually happening.