Review: Metal Gear Solid: HD Collection
Back for a second run on current generation consoles are three titles from the critically acclaimed Metal Gear Solid series in one bundle remastered in glorious high definition. The titles included are Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons Of Liberty, Metal Gear Solid 3 Snake Eater, and formerly PSP only title Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker.
Those familiar with the modern Metal Gear saga will know them to be third person cinematic, stealth, action games with deep story telling and supernatural characters. So over ten years since the release of Sons Of Liberty and seven years since Snake Eater, how do they fair with today’s gamers and current gen releases?
The version of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons Of Liberty included is the Substance release which included a few tweaks to the story and the extras included in both the Xbox and Playstation 2 releases. These include the VR mode, alternative missions revisiting the game missions from a different perspective, and “Snake Tales” with 5 extra missions as the protagonist Solid Snake.
The main story sees you playing as protagonist Raiden on a disposal facility just off the coast of New York called Big Shell which has been taken over by terrorist group Dead Cell lead by one claiming to be Solid Snake. The Dead Cell members each have eccentric abilities, and it is up to Raiden to discover and exploit their weaknesses to take them down. The game involves infiltrating various sections of Big Shell while avoiding/ taking down enemies with minimal exposure.
Considering the game’s age, the high definition remastering really does it justice on the current gen consoles. Character models, animation and fine details do seem a little dated, but there are no flaws to the gameplay. The game was very advanced on its original release and shows with a little polish it was not too far off being matched to some of today’s releases. Controls seem a little awkward, partly due to the static top down camera angles and because they do not follow the general cloned control systems we are now used to with modern third person shooters.
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater contains the Subsistence version of the game with the user controlled camera as well as the static top-down view as well as the two original MSX titles Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2 in full. Other options include “Briefing Files” with video briefings of each of the two missions in the game, “Demo Theatre” where you can watch all of the movies unlocked in the main game, and “Basic Actions” with video tutorials of the various moves and tactics you can pull off in the game.
The story is split into two parts, “Virtuous Mission” and “Operation Snake Eater”, which are both prequels to the events in Metal Gear Solid and Metal Gear Solid 2. You control the protagonist codenamed “Naked Snake” first on a rescue mission, then a mission to stop a potential nuclear threat. As with Sons Of Liberty, Snake Eater requires you to battle against anomalous beings forming the main group of antagonists known as Cobra Unit.
Snake Eater has a lot more emphasis on stealth and survival than previous titles requiring you to hunt food, use various camouflage suited to the area you are in, and making best use of the environment to sneak past enemy sentries. You are also required to collect medical supplies to treat wounds, infections and poisoning incurred throughout the game. The hand-to-hand combat known as “close quarters combat” has been greatly improved from previous titles with a few new moves thrown in.
Character animation and models, as well as the environments look absolutely stunning in high definition and could easily be matched to some of the great titles being released today. Gameplay is less fiddly compared to Sons Of Liberty, mostly due to the user controlled camera, both allowing better scope of the environment and less awkward movements incurred when entering different rooms and areas. Sounds do not flaw and balance careful with the use of music in tense and dramatic sequences, with environment sounds such as birds, snakes frogs etc for hunting as well as footsteps and crunching branches used to detect enemies and food.
Metal Gear Solid: Peacewalker is a very different game to the others. Again it is a stealth action game, but requires different tactics to tackle each of the areas. There are many other options available in the game such as recruiting a team and assigning them to various departments in the main base in order to research and acquire new equipment, treat casualty wounds and maintain morale. It also features an online mode which consists of a range of game modes set in small arenas for up to 6 people. Missions are split and after each one you are taken back to the “Mother Base” screen to sort your team and assign what equipment the team should research.
Set in Costa Rica between the events in Snake Eater and Metal Gear, you play as protagonist Big Boss (Snake) leading a group of mercenaries known as “Peace Sentinels” on a mission to track down a nuclear threat while trying to restore peace in the region and rescuing and recruiting members along the way.
Controls are quite different to those used in the other Metal Gear titles and can be a little tricky to get used to. Peace Walker has been converted from a PSP title to a full console title to an almost comparable current gen console title. Some of the models and environments seem a little simple, but if you respect it being a PSP exclusive, that can be forgiven and does not damage the gameplay at all. Cutscenes are presented in a very new style for the series, using comic strip style animation which works very well, even if it is a step aside from the dramatic full cutscenes. Some cutscenes require input of buttons through quick time events. One good feature on the Playstation 3 version (PS3) is the ability to transfer data between the PSP and PS3 systems using the “Data Transfarring” option.
Missions in Peace Walker can be played solo or cooperatively with up to four other players on the boss missions. This adds a new edge to the Metal Gear series on consoles allowing you to play online with your friends. Vs Mode is the online multiplayer for up to six players. It did not seem such a popular option for players with some difficulty getting set up into matches, but once in you could tell those who had more experience of the game with their high quality equipment and tactics. This is something a little play through of the main missions will assist with to get new equipment and practice on gameplay tactics.
Individually the games would be worth the asking price of this complete package, especially Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, so the complete package offers great value. With some of the most unique stories, characters and memorable moments this is definitely something for those who loved these titles the first time round allowing you to revisit with improved visuals, as well as for those who may have missed them on the previous generation consoles. While they do not offer anything new when compared to what was experienced before in terms of story and gameplay, they do show why this series is so highly regarded as some of the best games ever produced as well as how they have influenced newer titles.
They still stand very strong when compared to releases of today given their age and offer a lot of content for players. Each title is highly replayable, especially Metal Gear Solid 2 and Metal Gear Solid 3 with new game plus, multiple ways to tackle the story, boss battle tactics, collectables and the introduction of trophies and achievements adding new in game tasks to accomplish. The gameplay is refreshingly different to the many generic styles currently being released, which feels nice to come back to.
So put on that sneaking suit and give this collection a try. You will not be disappointed.