REVIEW – Metal Gear Solid HD Collection (PS3)

GREAAAAAAAT!

Without question, the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection is quite the package.  Arguably, MGS2 and MGS3 are some of the PS2’s finest titles with Peace Walker standing as one of the highest quality titles on Playstation’s portable.  Bundling them all on a single disc, giving them an HD makeover, and selling for a reduced price is outstanding value pound for pound.

Before DLC and downloadable patches, developers had to re-release games if they wanted to change or add content.  Both MGS2 and MGS3 received this type of overhaul after their initial releases: Substance and SubsistenceMGS2 Substance included a bunch of extras like VR Missions, a theater mode, and Snake Tales which are fictional Solid Snake side stories.  MGS3 Subsistence mapped a new rotatable camera to the second analog stick and also included the original MSX version of Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2 Solid Snake, the original two 2D Metal Gear games.  Fan and newcomers will be pleased to know that this HD Collection contains both the Substance and Subsistence versions and most of their extra content.  Basically, the only thing that is missing from these original PS2 releases is the online multiplayer mode in MGS3.

Peace Walker’s biggest flaw was the local-only wireless multiplayer option.  Built from the ground up to support multiplayer, fans were displeased with the Ad Hoc connection as it limited most players to a single player experience.  Making matters worse, the difficulty does not scale according to the number of players participating.  Because of this, some of the later levels especially like the final boss, is extremely difficult due to the lack of friendly support.  Luckily, it is now possible to play Peace Walker online with up to 3 friends, the way the game was meant to be played.  Also, players of the PSP version can transfar their save data into this HD version and continue the quest on the big screen.  Transfarring is a term coined by Mr. Kojima meaning it is possible to start your game on one machine, then continue where you left off on another.  This feature will also be used in upcoming Playstation Vita titles as well.

Living up to its name, this game has received a nice HD makeover.  Everything not only looks great displayed off a high def TV, but it is actually surprising to see how well these games hold up, with Snake Eater being the highlighting title.  Further, the developers at BluePoint, the company responsible for porting these titles, actually gives the player the option of aspect ratio – viewing the game in its original letterbox version or in full screen aspect ratio option is available from the main menu.  It might sound like a simple feature to include, but this actually takes quite a bit of work, so props goes out for including this feature into the final product.

I only have a couple minor complaints with this compilation.  First, and although not totally necessary, I would have like to see the inclusion of The Document of Metal Gear Solid 2.  Through a limited release, this PS2 disc can be easily compared to the bonus features found on just about every commercial DVD release.  Extra scenes, additional content, making-ofs… all this type of material can be found on this rare documentary disc.  Fans would have loved this extra content so not having it including is a bit of a disappointment.  Further, unlike the Metal Gear Solid Essential Collection, MGS1, the PSOne original, nor is The Twin Snakes, the Gamecube remake, is included in this collection.  However, MGS1 is available for download on the PSN, giving the PS3 a one up versus the 360 version.  Further, Portable Ops, the other PSP Metal Gear canon title, is not included as well.

Speaking of the 360 version, this system’s controller does not have pressure sensitive buttons which can make performing some maneuvers, like holding up a guard, more difficult.  The 360 version is also missing some Achievements as MGS2 and MGS3 are combined on a single disc, and you cannot Transfar with the 360.  Besides, Metal Gear has mostly been based around Sony systems and just seems to fit more naturally on the PS3.  If given a choice, the PS3 version has the edge.

These games are direct ports of the originals.  With this said, there are positives and negatives.  The positive features are simple – these are the same highly entertaining titles that you remember.  Negatively, you still cannot pause cutscenes and cannot access the menu when playing Snake Tales in MGS2, which can make bathroom breaks more inconvenient and gameplay troubling when you cannot swap to Inverse look when aiming in First Person mode when trying to enjoy the game’s extra content.  Although these are livable flaws, it would have been nice if these features were tweaked for this HD Collection.  However, the overall menu system has been created with care as the player can switch from one game to the other without resetting the system and even instruction manual scans are included and can be viewed digitally.  It is a nice touch that makes this compilation feel like more of a complete package.

Yes, I am a Metal Gear fan.  A big fan actually.  But even if I was not a tactical espionage expert, it would still be difficult to not acknowledge the value that is contained on this disc.  If you missed these games during their initial release, there has never been a better and more convenient time to play these games.  And fans will also be pleased with all the extra content and lower price.

With many games receiving the HD treatment latest, without question, this is the HD Collection to purchase.

Finally, the game was also released with an optional Limited Edition version.  The difference is that the Limited Edition has different packaging and contains a very high quality art book consisting of over 200 pages of Metal Gear Solid art from the three included games.  This hardcover book is a must for any fan.  The higher cost of the Limited Edition might sound off-putting, but the artbook and new packaging justifies the higher dollar amount.

 9.5/10

Better Than: most recent HD remixes

Also Try: the MSX originals found in Snake Eater’s main menu

Wait For It: Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3DS

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