[Review] Metal Gear Solid: HD Collection

ESRB:T-M
ONLINE:Peace Walker [2-4 player Co-Op, 2-6 player Competitive.]
INSTALL:No
RELEASE DATE:November 8, 2011 [PS3/360]; June 28, 2012 [Vita]
PLATFORM:Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Playstation Vita
PUBLISHER:Konami
DEVELOPER:Kojima Productions/Bluepoint Games
ONLINE PASS:

Story

Metal Gear Solid 2

Two years after the Shadow Moses Incident, Solid Snake and Otacon, working as Philanthropy, receive intelligence of a new type of Metal Gear being transported through the Hudson River. As Snake boards the tanker, it’s seized by a group of Russian mercenaries led by Revolver Ocelot, intent on stealing the new Metal Gear.

Fast forward two years later and the Big Shell, the offshore clean up facility, is taken over by a terrorist faction calling themselves the Sons of Liberty. New FOXHOUND operative Raiden is sent in to neutralize the threat. However, all is not as it seems.

Metal Gear Solid 3

At the height of the Cold War, America’s greatest agent, a woman known only as The Boss, defects to the Soviet Union. At the same time, an extremist named Colonel Volgin fires an American-made portable nuclear missile at the Soviet design bureau OKB-754, sparking an international incident. In order for America to clear its name and avoid World War III, The Boss’ last apprentice, a man named Jack, a.k.a. “Naked Snake”, is dispatched by special forces unit FOX to assassinate the woman who taught him everything.

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker

The year is 1974. In Costa Rica, an unknown army of well-equipped soldiers has taken over the defenseless country. The soldiers have also brought along a new kind of nuclear weapon, named “Peace Walker”, to set off their last nuclear warhead for deterrence, and demonstrate their power with the “perfect deterrent”. Big Boss is asked to save the country along with his Militaires Sans Frontières (Soldiers Without Borders).

The Metal Gear Solid: HD Collection lists the 3 games in order of the series timeline, as opposed to their actual release dates. This is both good, and bad.

It’s good, because it flows well, and helps the other games make a little more sense. It’s bad because if you’re a newcomer to the series, and you play them in this order, you don’t get the same feelings from them.

I greatly recommend playing them in release order to experience them the way they were really meant to be – twisty and surprising.

Presentation

Bluepoint has done an amazing job converting these titles to widescreen HD. All three games look even better than they did on the PS2/PSP.

The real stand out is Peace Walker. The fact that they took a low resolution PSP title and made it look as good as it’s PS2 brethren is frankly, a stunning feat.

The textures of the game have been updated nicely, and it runs amazingly smooth.

There are a couple of glitches, such as the Sea Lice not appearing in MGS2 sometimes, yet their sound plays. Also, during the first fight with Vamp in the water treatment area, if you fire a lot of Stingers or throw a lot of grenades into the water, there’s a bit of slowdown. This was an issue on the PS2 as well, and it leads me to believe it’s an overall issue in the game.

Metal Gear Solid 3 fares better and the game runs at a smooth 60 FPS, even with a lot of explosions/activity on screen – which it didn’t before, the PS2 version would slow down quite a bit.

Gameplay

Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3 play exactly the way they did on PS2. Nothing has really changed in this department for them. Peace Walker sees the biggest changes here.

MGS2 and 3 have some pretty convoluted controls that will take a little wrestling to come to grips with. Once you get them down, you find that the games control quite well. Peace Walker has multiple control types, including a new one that feels similar to the style of Metal Gear Solid 4.

All of the games revolve primarily around stealth, though you are free to go in guns blazing if you so choose – though that’s not exactly the most wise thing to do.

Metal Gear Solid 2 echoes the PS1 Metal Gear Solid in its gameplay – it’s all primarily indoors, hiding in all kinds of nooks, crannies and ventilation shafts.

The new features include hanging over ledges – from which you can do pull-ups to strengthen the “grip” gauge. Pop-Out aiming, which allows you to hide behind a wall, and pop out around a corner to aim at enemies.

You can also hold enemies up by sneaking behind them and aiming your weapon at them. This causes them to put their hands in the air. You can then move around to their front, use first-person aiming to aim for their weak points – either the head, or the groin. Depending on the enemy, they’ll either shake and drop items, or a dog tag [Items in the game that you can collect to unlock special items, like Stealth], or they’ll be unfazed, comment to you about shooting them, and then knock you down and alert their buddies if you don’t prove you mean business – which is done by firing a warning shot from a lethal weapon.

The biggest change, is the aforementioned addition of first-person aiming – now a staple in the series. This allows you to aim accurately at enemies. You can now fire directly at their weak points, the head, heart, or groin.

You can also tranquilize every enemy in the game, including bosses. No longer are you forced to kill enemies you come across. But be careful, whether you kill or tranquilize, the bodies don’t disappear, usually.

You have to hide them, otherwise, another soldier could find the body and call in an alert.

This being the “Substance” version of MGS2, it also includes the VR missions, boss rush mode, and Snake Tales – mini stories featuring Snake that have nothing to do with the main story.

Sadly, it’s missing the cheesy-but-fun Skateboarding game that the PS2 version had. I wish I knew why it was omitted.

Metal Gear Solid 3 is where the series made a huge leap in gameplay, taking things outdoors and giving you camouflage to blend in to your surroundings as opposed to having a high tech sneaking suit. There are very few indoor areas, and you have to make good use of your camo to stay hidden.

The better you Camo Index, the better you’re hidden from your enemies. If it’s good enough, an enemy could even walk right over you without seeing you.

It also added the now standard “Stamina” gauge [Known in Metal Gear Solid 4, and Peace Walker, as the “Psyche” gauge], which effects a lot of your gameplay elements – such as aiming, and oxygen. Let it get too low, and you won’t last very long underwater, nor will you be able to aim well.

The other addition is having to keep Snake fed to keep his stamina up. There are a ton of different items that Snake can eat. Some good, some bad, and some downright awful. Don’t worry, Snake will tell you what’s what when he eats them.

This title, too, features extra content, as it’s the “Subsistence” version. Extra camos are included, as well as the original Metal Gear & Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake [So, yes, you actually get 5 games for that $40].

However, like Substance, this too is missing some content. Namely, the amazing Snake vs. Monkey missions, and Secret Theater modes. MGO is also missing, but that’s not a surprise, as the servers were shut down long before this was ever a reality. It would have been nice if they went the Ratchet & Clank Collection route, though, and reinstated the multiplayer.

Peace Walker is a bit of a departure for the series. Where MGS2 and 3 were all pretty steady games in how they flowed, Peace Walker couldn’t do that, being a portable title. It had to be designed for a more “pick up and play” style.

So Peace Walker adopts a mission based structure that allows you to play, and replay any mission in the game, and has extra missions, called “EXTRA OPS” that can reward you with weapons, items, and other goodies.

Gone are the difficulty levels of the previous games, it’s now based on the missions themselves and shown with a skull rating system. 1 white skull is easy. 5 red skulls, and you’re in for hell.

Also new is Co-Op play, for up to four players. This is actually really fun to play in co-op, especially if you can team up with players who are good at the game.

There’s also a kind of “base building” side game, where you recruit soldiers – either tranquilized enemies, online through “Soldier Search”, or rescued POWs – and then assign them to different teams in your base.

The Mess Hall keeps your soldiers fed, and allows you to develop food recovery items, like Rations, in conjunction with the Medical team ( Who also determines how quickly your soldiers recover from sicknesses and injuries ).

The Combat team is used to carry out “OUTER OPS”, special missions that offer another opportunity to earn items. you can also play missions with anyone from the Combat team. They also determine how much money you have for building items and weapons.

The R&D team is what determines what items/weapons you can build, and how quickly they get made.

Last is the Intel team. They determine how good your support will be when you call for it on the field, as well as allowing you to see information on your opposition in any given mission. the higher their rank, the more you can see. They also determine certain items that can be made by the R&D team.

Replay Value

These games all have a pretty high replay value. Peace Walker especially. There are a ton of items and weapons to find in each game, over 200 VR missions in Metal Gear Solid 2, the original Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2 within Metal Gear Solid 3, and the tons and tons of missions in Peace Walker.

Add to that Trophy support for all three titles, and you got yourself a lot of content for $40.

Speaking of Trophies, these games are no joke. Metal Gear Solid 3 is by far the easiest of the collection to achieve the platinum on, as it’s the most straight forward. MGS2 and Peace Walker on the other hand, will be very difficult, and time consuming as the Platinum for MGS2 requires you to collect just about all dog tags, as well as completing all VR missions. Peace Walker requires the S ranking of every mission, and some of them are quite difficult, even with good items and gear.

Like Metal Gear Solid 4, if you’re looking for a challenge, you’ll definitely find it here.

Overall

If you’re a fan of the series, it’s worth purchasing this collection. If you’ve never played the games before, and wanted to start, there’s no better place to do so – though I would recommend playing the original PSOne Metal Gear Solid as well – available for $10 on the Playstation Store.

There’s really no reason not to buy it, outside of not caring about the series at all. If you plan on playing MGS4 at all, I definitely recommend grabbing this, and MGS and playing through them beforehand.

It’s honestly one of the best HD Collection(s) on the market. It might even be the best collection.

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PROS CONS
  • Technically 5 entire games in one set.
  • Peace Walker looks absolutely stunning.
  • Overall, a lot of content for your money.
  • Some issues present in the original games are still present.
  • Doesn't include MGS1 outside of Japan.
  • FINAL VERDICT
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    About James Headrick

    James is an aspiring game reviewer that plays primarily on the Playstation 3 & 4. He also works freelance as a graphic designer, doing print and branding based design.
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