Not one, but three unforgettable experiences.
The Metal Gear Solid series has gathered a cult following that transcends the simple love of video games. The series has long been renowned for its tactical espionage gameplay, its production values, the intense and expansive story lines and creator Hideo Kojima's ability to create something that is a work of art. With Metal Gear Solid 4 well and truly behind us and Metal Gear Solid 5 currently in the works, we check out the recently released Metal Gear Solid HD Collection to see if these classics have stood the test of time.
What Metal Gear Solid HD Collection Got Right
Engaging stories - It doesn't matter if you have never played Metal Gear Solid before or not, as the HD Collection simply highlights Hideo Kojima's ability to create an engaging story. Despite being eleven years old, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty still offers one of the most memorable stories in video game history. All three titles present on the HD Collection provide deep and memorable stories that will stay with you long after the end credits roll.
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Updated controls for Peace Walker - Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker is the stand out in the collection. Originally released as a PSP exclusive, the title benefits greatly from an improved control scheme incorporating a second analogue stick. Simple tasks such as sneaking, aiming, shooting and more are far more functional under the scheme. In many ways the HD version is far and beyond the original hand-held version. There is only one way to play Peace Walker, and that is on your PS3 or Xbox 360, not your PSP.
Outstanding visuals - MGS 2 is 11 years old, but thanks to a new coat of paint it still looks outstanding today. However, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater is the most noticeable with its vast and lush jungle environments benefitting from a HD facelift. Peace Walker is vibrant and exuberant, however due to the fact it was originally a PSP title, the textures can look a little empty at times. Regardless, considering the age of these titles developer Kojima Productions has really delivered something special with this HD collection in terms of visuals.
Still relevant - The best thing about the Metal Gear games is they are still relevant today. Their stories touch on social issues such as global warming, war, poverty and the state of the world, which still hits close to home today. The stories crafted in these three games are ageless, and this HD collection simply proves that without a doubt.
What Metal Gear Solid HD Collection Got Wrong
Controls - Going back to MGS 2 after all these years can be quite a shock to the system. The controls feel almost counter-intuitive, and it is going to take you quite some time to wrap your head around them after playing modern games. Things are a little better in MGS 3: Snake Eater, thanks to finer camera controls and a better viewpoint, however things are pitch perfect when it comes to Peace Walker. The control scheme benefits greatly from the introduction of that second analogue stick, so much so that you wouldn't be able to go back to the PSP version.
Lip Syncing - Not a deal breaker at all, but the lip syncing is definitely below par compared to what modern games feature. Considering the age of these games, it's definitely expected, but we thought it was worth mentioning in the review.
Accessibility - Metal Gear Solid has always been a niche title, thanks to its batshit crazy story lines and tactical espionage gameplay. This HD collection may bring these games out for a new generation, but they are still lacking when it comes to accessibility. You'll either love them or hate them, there is very little middle ground available here.
The Final Verdict
If you're a fan of the Metal Gear series then you don't need to read this review: go and buy this collection now! If you're looking at a chance to enter the series, the HD collection is a perfect place to start. Despite the age, it looks great in HD, and as long as you're willing to re-learn how third-person games are controlled, you'll find not one, but three unforgettable experiences inside.
By Stephen Heller