With all the recent HD collections hitting the market, it’s safe to say that many gamers have had to make the hard realisation that their nostalgia for certain games paints a rosy picture of a title that doesn’t hold up when replaying in 2012. As we age (and hopefully innovate!), so too do our games, and the way in which we play them. So, with that being said, how does Konami’s recent Metal Gear Solid HD Collection hold up now that PAL-regionned gamers finally get to buy it?
In short? It holds up pretty damn well.
Before we praise the games, let’s get straight to our first criticism: the original (yes, we know about the MSX games, shh!) PlayStation 1 Metal Gear Solid isn’t part of this collection. Now, it’s easy to see why; other titles in the MGS HD Collection are from the PlayStation 2 or PSP, so they’re easier to re-jig for our 1080p-capable televisions. The game was remastered as Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes for the Nintendo GameCube…but, sadly, the game is too closely tied to Nintendo to ever see a release on a competitor’s console. Still, it’s a missed opportunity and one that we need to slug Konami for.
That aside, both PlayStation 2 originals Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (aka Subsistence) have made the transition to HD very well. Both games look brilliant, even wedged together on one Xbox 360 DVD (which I used to review, obviously). Strangely enough, the games have been presented according to their canon’s timeline, meaning MGS 3 is suggested to be played first. Since MGS 3 was released a full three years later than 2, it’s just that much nicer to look at. Additionally, the controls were tightened, camera control was greatly improved, and innovations like the camouflage and hunting systems were introduced to players…only to be taken away, really, if you go ahead and play Metal Gear Solid 2 afterward. My advice? Play according to the release schedule, not the canon schedule.
Nostalgia doesn’t put rose-coloured tints on some aspects; the ridiculously long, exposition-rich, mind numbingly slow and boring cutscenes you remember? Still there. Someone needs to slap Hideo Kojima across the face and explain that cutscenes do nothing for the Metal Gear Solid series. Easily understood plot points are explained in great detail, as if you couldn’t possibly understand them; integral plot points are skipped over as if that act provides a sense of mystery and suspense. For those playing along at home, that’s backwards.
On its own disc is the online-enabled Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, originally appearing on the Sony PSP. It’s a tight game, with a very different flavour than the PS2 originals; the controls are heavily cut back (because the PSP doesn’t have as many buttons, naturally), and environments have a ton of crouch-behindable (that’s a word, shh!) objects to make up for a removed “crawl” function. Its amazing online multiplayer and co-op functionality easily make up for the lack of “Metal Gear Online” (the feature, not the spin-off game) goodness that helped make Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence so great.
More confusing? Peace Walker is actually the sequel to Metal Gear Solid 3, continuing the story of the original Naked Snake…so really, chronologically, the organisational structure of the collection is a downright mess. But I’ll let that go.
On the whole, the games are worth playing if you haven’t and replaying if you have, because they won’t tarnish what you remember. While I’ve been a little negative in this review, there’s no denying Hideo Kojima has an eye for detail and has made titles that hold up, some ten years after they were first released. Oh yeah, and remember how I briefly mentioned the original Metal Gear MSX games? They’re included with Metal Gear Solid 3. Put simply, this collection is a bargain just because of the sheer amount of content packed in. Add to that the fact that you can obtain three Platinum trophies or 2000 gamerscore by playing through all three main titles, and I’m sold. You should be too.
PS – I LIKE Raiden. What of it?