Metal gear Solid HD Collection review
Obsession would be the word I would use to describe my experiences with Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3 on the PS2. I loved them so much that completing all difficulties (including European Extreme) and collecting all of the dog tags was inevitable. Hideo Kojima’s masterpieces are now available for the PS Vita, but do they have the same pull 10 years later?
While it’s probably a waste of time, for those of you unaware of the Metal Gear Solid series it is best described as cinematic stealth action. High stakes terrorist threats, extreme super-villains to battle and some of the best in-game movie sequences of their time. The games were both praised and slammed for their hours of overly dramatic story thrown in-between the excellent ‘try to get through an area without getting caught’ gameplay, and unsurprisingly, this package contains just as much of the same being essentially a PS Vita port. I, however, have always taken the viewpoint that the nearly 15 minutes of introduction before getting control of a character in the second game of the series was a treat, not least because of the outstanding production quality.
Fortunately it includes a number of extras not available on the original disc but added to the Substance and Subsistence version of MGS2 and MGS3 respectively, including a few hundred VR missions. Alternative missions and the five part non canonical ‘Snake Tales’; shorter missions set around Snake’s exploits in MGS2′s game’s areas, replacing the lavish cinematics with text based storylines. MGS3: Snake Eater even includes the original two Metal Gear games before even the original Metal Gear Solid graced our PS1 systems.
An 11 year old review
Rather than retreading old territory and reviewing games that have been analysed and critiqued endlessly over the past decade (I believe I even reviewed Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, back in the day), I shall move away from whether the games are in fact good (spoiler: they are) and instead focus on how this version compares to the originals. Frankly the Vita hosts an incredible port; with the exception of a few moments of visual slowdown during extreme weather effects, the games run smoothly and beautifully. Sure, given that MGS2 is 11 years old there are bound to be a few rough edges, but both games are visually intact and hold up surprisingly well against modern portable games.
In terms of the single player experience it loses nothing. Rather than adding gimmicky Vita control based extras, a few of the features have been mapped on to the touchscreens including weapon select and leaning around corners. Unfortunately these seem to be undocumented so it may take a moment to explore the new systems, but these touch controls feel more like smart uses of the available options (and reduced shoulder buttons) rather than a case of developers choosing these inputs simply because they were available.
Should you decide to splash out on the PS3 version of the game too you can perform the questionably named but fantastic addition, ‘Transfarring’, which allows you to transfer your save games between portable and home console to continue where you were on either platform. Sure it’s unlikely you’ll splash out on both, but it’s a good encouragement to should you have the inclination and spare cash.
Where’s Peace Walker?
Unfortunately, the Vita collection is missing the HD update of Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, the excellent latest PlayStation Portable entry in the series. It’s a disappointment, considering it is present in the PS3 and 360 versions of the package, but the game is available in its PSP original to download on the Vita, so with the exception of the trophy support, it’s not a big deal.
Speaking of trophy support, the two Platinum’s available in this collection certainly add objectives and life to the games. MGS2′s is far more time consuming; encouraging a play through in every difficulty, collecting every dog tag in the game, reminding me of my original obsessive compulsive enjoyment of the game, before even mentioning the much more portable friendly VR and Alternative Missions. MGS3′s is more lenient however, with everything being achievable within a single play through, although realistically it’s a tough sell without some kind of guide.
Interestingly the games are placed in reverse order of release, with MGS3 (possibly because it’s the 60s spy thriller prequel) appearing on the left side of the selection screen. I advise playing them in their original order however (and start by picking up Metal Gear Solid 1) to really get the most out of the stories.
Then and now
It really is a testament to how far technology has progressed to see these games running so well on the hand-held PS Vita, and although they are technically old games being revived for another go at our wallets, with games of such a calibre as the Metal Gear Solid series, it’s hard not to be excited to play them again.
It’s a great port which is very well adapted to the PS Vita and its controls. Harry Gregson Williams’ score and the talented voice cast should really be enjoyed through headphones, and although it really comes down to your own preference of where you’re likely to be playing the games again, at least having a Vita version gives you an option. While we all would have liked the PS3 version to have unlocked this game for free, it’s hard to complain about two full games at the top of the PS2 pile that feel all shiny and new on the beautiful Vita screen. My train journeys will certainly be a lot better because of it.
While I am a big fan of starting a series way back at its roots for story and history reasons, whether to visit the games for the first time or to rekindle the love you once had for them, Metal Gear Solid HD Collection on the Vita is a superb package and an easy recommendation.