Europe finally sees the release of the long awaited HD version of the Tactical Espionage Action that is Metal Gear Solid. However, has the longer wait been worth it and do we really want games from yester-generation again?
The answer to anyone who has played or even sniffed a Metal Gear Solid title previously will be a massive positive. Within a few minutes of hearing the score spark into life the memories come flooding back, unlocking some of the most seminal moments in gaming history. However, you can’t help but feel like there is a missing link in the collection as it lacks the first title in the Solid series. The lack of beginning could cause confusion for newcomers to the series, the fact that you can pick up the game from the PS Store is beside the point, it would have been nice to have all the games in one single pack. The collection sets the games out in a chronological order instead of the numeric order of the games, therefore starting you off with the Cold War Era, Snake Eater and moving through the years to Peace Walker and finally ending with Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty.
Snake Eater is the most technically accomplished of the pack, but that more than likely amounts to the fact that the game is the youngest of the console entries. The up scaling looks almost native in definition, there is no jagged edges in the cutscenes nor in the game itself. However, there is one problem when it comes to the graphics. At random points when you are curing Snake of broken bones, cuts or burns, a small insert video kicks in showing him completing the required actions to heal. This video takes the higher resolution back down to PS2 standard, with some pixelation included. This really breaks the overall look of the game, which is incredibly impressive.
The worst looking game in the collection is Peace Walker which is to be expected in some respects as it is a massively up scaled PSP game. Strangely, the up scaling doesn’t show too badly inside the actual game, there are some jagged edges and the environment looks pretty flat compared to the grand vistas of Metal Gear Solid 3. However, it really comes to light when you open up the quick select menus, the words are pixelated and so are the little images of the weapons or items. While these icons were of the same design in the original PSP release placing the game on a HD TV makes something which you could have glossed over on a smaller screen that much more obvious. Interestingly, Metal Gear Solid 2 plays the middle ground between the two, which is more than impressive considering the fact that it is over 10 years old. The carbon copy soldiers with blank unblinking faces is very annoying, especially when you look at the faces of the main characters and see the amount of detail in them. However, the overall look of the environment don’t look any worse than what you might see in some PSP games, but the difference between 2 and 3 is a massive leap; especially with 3’s more dynamic environment.
The two console games are definitely from a different time in gaming history, one where the formation of a story took precedence over the guns-blazing gameplay. Throughout the 2 and 3 you are interrupted in your one-man fight for Codec (radio) chats filling you in on other goings on of offering new insights into the area you are currently in, also there are the notoriously long cutscenes. These scenes can and more often than not will stretch over the course of tens of minutes. But they offer such depth to the game and bring you closer into the story that the jot of being pulled out of the game doesn’t matter. Peace Walker on the other hand was designed for a portable system, therefore the game has a more bite-size and action packed orientation to it. Instead of long cutscenes there are short burst like scenes, or if there is a longer one it is punctuated by interactive QTE sections. This is more likely down to the fact that you can’t put a portable console down and watch a scene like you can with a console controller, so the interactive scenes give you something to do while you watch. But that isn’t to say that they lessen the storytelling to any extent.
One thing you cannot say about Hideo Kojima and his direction of the series is that it is easy on the player, these HD versions are the original games down to a ‘T’. In MGS2, the camera is still static, even though MGS3 brought in a dynamic camera, this can make things a little tricky at times as the camera is fixed to one position and pans left and right (or up and down) which can mean you walking straight into an enemy guard or security camera that the game’s camera didn’t let you see. However, the inclusion of the First Person viewpoint (which was revolutionary at the time) does make the annoyance of the locked camera easier to deal with, but the switching of perspective can get a little disorientating at times. Something that was introduced into the series in Snake Eater that was and still is revolutionary, is the camouflage system, allowing Naked Snake to adapt his clothes and face paint to match the surroundings. This is still something that isn’t used in any other series to great effect.
Out of the three games Metal Gear Solid 3 has the most standout moments, with some amazing boss battles. Due to the limited technology of the era in which it is set, there are some very tense moments within the game, but there are also some brilliantly funny moments too. As much as I would love to give examples of these, they would be too big a spoiler for those who haven’t experienced the game before. Needless to say when you reach them you will see what I mean.
Both of the main console titles are in their re-release forms, with MGS2 and MGS3 packing additional content. For MGS2, you have all of the VR missions and the Snake Tales content, with MGS3 there is some content missing, additional content like Snake vs. Monkey mini game and the Secret Theatre are missing, which is a shame but not game breaking. What is included is the original Metal Gear titles from way back on the MSX2, allowing you to experience the origin of the series. Peace Walker, while it hasn’t had an additional content re-release, does include the multiplayer function from the PSP release. While we could actually get a game before going to press, the co-op and versus options are both there.
The advent of HD collections of previous games has allowed a new generation of gamers to enjoy some very classic titles and this collection doesn’t break that flow. While Metal Gear Solid isn’t for everyone, to be able to experience the story of this amazing series it is worth the money. This is the definitive way to experience the series made miles better by the inclusion of a higher resolution.
Rating: OutstandingReview Policy(version tested: PS3)
You can order the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection from ShopTo here.