By Leo Stevenson
We here at Stevivor.com are a thorough bunch, so when the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection was released on PS Vita, we thought we owed it to our dedicated Steviants to bring them a review of the portable version in addition to our previous review on consoles. Well, it was either that or we are just Metal Gear obsessed; take your pick. As this title has been reviewed already, this time around I'll just be focusing on the differences between this version and the one on consoles, and will talk about how the game translates onto the small screen.
Let's start with the bad news shall we? The PS Vita version of the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection only includes two games, rather than the three bundled on the console version. Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker is missing. While not a deal breaker, it does make recommending the Vita version over the console versions impossible. The lack of one of the games, re-enforces this versions status as a companion game to the PS3 version. Which is not a bad thing in itself, it's just that the lack of Peace Walker seems like a missed opportunity. The other piece of bad news? Controls and the touch screen controls in particular. Whilst the PS Vita excels due to its second analogue stick, the lack of two shoulder buttons and analogue stick clicking really hurts certain genre's and ports from consoles. The touch screen controls just aren't intuitive or as responsive as they should be and when I have to resort to Google to figure out how to do certain actions there is a problem. That being said, the weapon and item menus in the bottom corners of the screen are now entirely touch controlled and work a treat, so it's not all bad news.
Now for the good news. First and foremost, this title includes two Metal Gear Solid games and while being originally released for the PS2 they have aged rather well and look even better on the VITA's smaller screen than they did in the console release. Even better is that you get Metal Gear Solid 2:Substance and Metal Gear Solid 3:Subsistence which includes VR missions, Snake Tales and the original MSX Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2. The VITA card is chock full of gaming goodness.
I talked about this version of the game being a companion to the PS3 version and this comes into play with the "Transfarring" feature. This allows you to play on your Vita, upload your save to the Playstation Cloud and continue your game on your PS3. Alternatively, you can link your Vita and PS3 directly via wi-fi. Both methods work perfectly. Obviously to be able to take advantage of this feature you will need a PS3 and a Vita and a copy of the game on both, but if you do it's a real treat. I didn't expect to enjoy Transfarring as much or use it as often as I did but it works so well it became the norm. Having the ability to play on my Vita on my way to and from work and then to continue on my big screen when I got home is great and the fact that it worked seamlessly made it all the better. And for all you trophy hounds out there, once you have linked your saves across the systems any trophies you unlock in one version will automatically unlock in the other once you "Transfar" your save. Transfarring works so well that I am genuinely excited and looking forward to seeing how Sony and other developers take advantage of the feature in the future.
At this point I'm not sure there are many gamers around who aren't at least aware of Metal Gear Solid and it's legacy. Needless to say, the games have had a massive impact on gaming and Snake is now an icon of the video game world. If you are still unsure, read Steve's review of the full version for more details of the gameplay and features of the games themselves. If you are an existing fan and own a Vita you can't really go wrong with this collection, especially if you own the PS3 version. And if for some reason you have never heard of or played a Metal Gear Solid game this is a great introduction and a great addition to any Vita owners library.