After years of begging, Konami answered fan requests by repacking some of the most iconic Metal Gear Solid games for PS3. Even years after their original releases, the Metal Gear Solid series still has some of the most well written and deep storylines to date and Metal Gear Solid HD Collection allows the current generation of gamers to experience the series' unique world either for the first time or again for some serious nostalgia. Break out the rations and your trusty cardboard box and let’s get started.
The first game in this trilogy (chronologically) is the remastered version of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (MGS3), arguably one of the best games released on PlayStation 2. This particular instalment retraces the history of Naked Snake, explaining what made him the famous soldier he is and how the other Snakes came to be.
Being one of the later games released on the PlayStation 2, the graphics were not only excellent for its time, but also still look great with the remastered edition for the PlayStation 3. The cut scenes and gameplay alike translate well, the sound is crisp and clear and the smoothed textures and polygons really make a world of difference when comparing the two.
Like the other games in the series, the most notable aspect of MGS3 is easily the depth of the story told. Diving deep into the past of many different characters including Naked Snake (aka Big Boss), Major Zero and Eva including their relationships with one another, the beautifully rendered cut scenes are lengthy, but they welcomed. Even though it's one of the later released titles in the series, it helps explain many of the back stories to Metal Gear Solid, Metal Gear Solid 2 and Metal Gear Solid 4 to ease the confusion most players had.
The first appearance of the camouflage index system, where Naked Snake can adjust his clothing to better blend into different areas of each environment, pushes this more towards the stealth side of the genre. Not only was the stealth aspect improved over the previous titles, but upholding Snake’s health becomes vital: as you dive deep into the Soviet jungles, not only will you have to dodge the spray of bullets from enemy soldiers, but also avoid injuries such as falling long distances and breaking a leg. When similar injuries occur, your health bar will not regenerate fully until healed with bandages or splints. Survival also depends on Snake's ability to catch food whether it be a nearby snake or ration.
The second game in this collection, Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker (MGS:PW), is also the most recently released game of the series. While the story isn’t nearly as profound as the other games, MGS:PW expands more on the life of Naked Snake after the events of MGS3 using beautifully drawn and animated comic clips.
Even with a less interesting story, MGS:PW shouldn’t simply be pushed aside as just some PlayStation Portable port: with hundreds of quests to accomplish and side features such as maintaining a full army and military base, the sheer amount of content is astonishing for a PSP title.
The most innovative feature MGS:PW introduces is the completely cooperative campaign. Any of the story missions can be played with either two or four players via the PlayStation Network as well as a plethora of side missions to make for an amazing amount of replay value.
While the oldest release in this collection, Metal Gear Solid 2:Sons of Liberty (MGS2) actually takes place last chronologically. As a near direct sequel to the original Metal Gear Solid on PlayStation, gamers take control of Solid Snake for the first half of the game followed by a new mysterious playable character, Raiden, with his high tech nano suit and HF blade. As one of the more complex games of the series, the story of many different characters including Vamp, Liquid Ocelot, and Olga are unravelled quickly as Raiden discovers a sinister group of individuals known as Dead Cell.
The convoluted story isn't spoon-fed to you and will require a lot of outside thinking, but such a complex tale couldn’t be told without long and complicated cut scenes – if MGS2 is known for anything, it's the 30 minute long movies between brief periods of gameplay. With a strong focus on plot, you'd be wise to sit and pay attention rather than skip the movies and miss huge aspects of the action. If a more passive experience in a game isn’t something you care for, perhaps MGS2 isn’t the MGS title you should start with.
Of all the titles included in this package, the controls in MGS:PW will be most familiar with many gamers. It fully utilises the dual joystick layout of the DualShock 3, while the other two titles have limited use of the right joystick and retain the exact control configuration from their original PlayStation 2 releases. This pitfall will limit the population willing to pick up and either learn or relearn the older style of third person shooters from the PS2 era.
The updated graphics look great in MGS3 but the visuals in MGS2 haven't aged well, and the PSP port of MGS:PW still shows signs of being a portable game with muddy textures and blocky characters. Many fans of the series also would have rather had the original Metal Gear Solid in place of MGS:PW to help piece together and fill in gaps of the multifaceted story.
Both MGS2 and MGS3 contain many bonus missions to be done outside of the story; while not as robust as the missions and bonus quests in MGS:PW, these extras should keep the completionist busy for a very long time adding even more to the already unbeatable value.
Even with the lack of updated controls in two of the three titles, the intriguing storylines and updated graphics are well worth a look, giving you enough reason to sneak past the drawbacks. Every fan of the series and anyone looking to get into the Metal Gear series for the first time should consider this collection a must have. You’ll never look at magazines or large boxes the same again.