It’s not so often that I review one, two…..five games at the same time! Technically, they’re all part of the same collection but what we’re looking at here is a span of more than three decades of gaming wrapped into one. Up until now, all of these games were either on defunct systems or console exclusives with Metal Gear Solid and Metal Gear Solid 2 being on GOG for a short while before getting removed. But for the first time ever we have a pack of 5 games being served in one convenient package for the first time on Steam.
There’s Metal Gear, followed by Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, then Metal Gear Solid, followed by Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. We also get some bonus content in the form of two regional versions of Metal Gear, the original version of Snake’s Revenge, the first and second Digital Graphic Novels in video form, and a digital soundtrack. We have a lot of ground to cover, so let’s dig in.
In the first game, we have our first run-in with Gray Fox, Big Boss and we get to explore most of Outer Heaven and of course, take down Metal Gear. The sequel takes place four years later and takes Snake to Zanzibar land to rescue the kidnapped Czechoslovak biologist Dr. Kio Marv. Next, we have our first journey to 3D with Metal Gear Solid. New game mechanics were added, new ways of sneaking, our arsenal has been expanded and we have a deadlier Metal Gear that goes by the name Metal Gear Rex.
The next entry is probably one of my favorites – Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. This time, we get to see (and fight) the secret antagonist from the previous game, we have a new playable character (much hated at the time of release) and new game mechanics such as swimming, taking down cameras, hanging over the rails to hide, etc. Lastly in this collection, we have Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater and it is a prequel that takes us to the era of the Cold War and we actually get to play as the Big Boss – you know, before he became the villain and all that. In this game, the soliton radar is removed and replaced by a motion detector and a sonar system, with emphasis on the player’s camouflage in the game environment.
As expected, all games have an emphasis on sneaking and avoiding enemies (minus the mandatory boss fights) and as we move forward with each release, new game mechanics are introduced that often turn the whole game upside down. Like, it’s hard to go back to the previous game once you get used to destroying surveillance cameras and improved camera.
Strangely enough, when it comes to the camera, I find the one in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty to be the best. Even though this collection is supposed to be a complete release of all the games up until Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, I do notice some things missing, notably that Ape Escape minigame from Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater and the skateboarding game from Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. And even though we’re talking about the games older than a decade, some of them still hold up well. For Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, the gameplay is the core experience and quite often the visuals take a step back due to the engaging nature of the series.
However, taking steps back is good, especially in this case. Why? Well, all the games in the collection are……playable. And that’s all I can say about them. Did you want to play MGS games that were previously only available on PS2? Well, this is exactly what you’ll get and nothing more. This is especially glaring in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. Still on the original resolution, with broken v-sync, and nothing was upscaled or put in higher res, not even cutscenes.
We’re talking about the bare minimum when it comes to these releases. Playing Metal Gear Solid today in 240p is borderline masochistic but I suppose that’s what KONAMI thought it’s good enough for us. Here’s to hoping some community mods can save us because these are just simple PS1 games finally being ported to PC. Nothing more.
If you’re anything close to a genuine fan of this series, then names such as Harry Gregson-Williams, Rika Muranaka, and Norihiko Hibino will definitely ring a bell. From Metal Gear Solid and onwards, the soundtracks were a quality staple of the series. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty was famous for even getting the acclaimed cinema composer Harry Gregson-Williams, whose work you might have heard in the Shrek franchise, X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Man on Fire, to name a few. And Rika Muranaka might be the sole reason why you should never skip ending credits, or else you might miss a wonderful rendition of “Can’t Say Goodbye to Yesterday” by Carla White.
Things get even more interesting in boss fights of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, considering how experimental certain tunes can get and delving deep into electronica and drum and bass – thinking about the “Yell Dead Cell” track specifically during the Fatman boss fight.
Well, it hasn’t been a while since the release of the game (or a collection, in this case) left me so disappointed. At the end of it, these are just the simplest PC releases from the PS2 era and older. We get some goodies in the form of an interactive screenplay, and the ability to select a specific version of the game and that’s pretty much it. Only get this if you’re a serious MGS fan. Other than that, consider waiting for some official patches or community fixes – whatever comes first.
The only thing that’s saving these games (especially from Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty and onward) is incredible replay value and quirky unlockables in the form of stealth camo, infinite ammo, and a plethora of collectibles – especially in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. Over there, you have to earn your right to stealth camo by shooting a bunch of hidden frogs throughout the game, and aside from that, this MGS prequel is basically an animal-hunting game once you forget about the plot.
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