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`Age Hasn't Slowed You down One Bit'
on 23 September 2013
Where do you start with 25 years worth of games? Some of which are considered amongst the best ever made?
Well, chances are a lot of us have played some or all of these before, so I'll just clarify some things (If you're completely new to the series; more on this later)...
This set does include what it says on the `tin', but its configuration is a little complicated (unnecessarily so)...
The housing is a cardboard Blu-Ray box which contains 1 standard PS3 case and a 100-page art book. The book is very good, and is a trip down memory lane cataloguing various artworks from all the Metal Gear releases to date.
Everything else contained in the set is within the PS3 case, apart from the PS1's `Metal Gear Solid' and its offspring `VR Missions' (referred to in this collection as `Special Missions`). These two releases need to be downloaded from the PSN via a code on an insert in the case.
Inside the PS3 case are two discs, the aforementioned insert and a standard manual which briefly describes the controls for each of the games included. Disc 1 is the Trophy Edition of `Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots`. Disc 2 is pretty much everything else. Upon loading the disc, you get a choice of the following:
Meta Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater - HD Edition
This is essentially an HD upscale of the PS2's `Subsistence' release, (not including the `movie version' that was originally on disc 3) and includes Snake Eater (with third-person camera option), and the original `Metal Gear' and `Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake' (these are selectable from the Snake Eater main menu as per Subsistence).
Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker - HD Edition
The HD conversion of the original handheld game. This is the only piece from this disc that works as per the PS3 era (i.e. it saves automatically and records preferences etc. Everything else on the disc just plays from the disc straight).
Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty - HD Edition
An HD upgrade of the PS2's `Substance' release.
All of the above have their original manuals digitally selectable on their main menus too. A nice touch.
So far, so good: 8 Metal Gear games and an accompanying art book. All of the above plays exactly as you remember them, just with an HD gloss. They're all still brilliant and haven't dated at all.
Finally, what - for this player at least - is the icing on the cake of this release: The two Graphic Novels. With disc 2 in-situ, these are selectable from the Video menu of the XMB. These are not just digital `flick-page with controller' uploads. Both these novels play as if they were an actual full-motion Blu Ray film; complete with opening menu and chapter select, full soundtracks and voiceovers. The first is well over 2 hours and the previously-unreleased-in-Europe second `movie' is over 3 hours. These are both brilliantly entertaining and, for some, will be worth the entry price on their own. A brilliant surprise.
If I were to dig out an almost paltry criticism, it's that the set doesn't include the `Metal Gear Solid Database' - which would have been the cherry on the icing on the cake, but presumably this can still be downloaded for free from the PSN. (It also doesn't include `Portable Ops', `The Twin Snakes' or any of the `Ac!d' games, but they're not considered canon).
So is it worth buying for a Metal Gear veteran? Chances are if you're reading this, then yes. For me, having some of the best games ever made all uniformly on a wireless controller and an internal memory card (hard drive) is totally worth it. There's trophies for games 2, 3, 4 and Peace Walker too if that's your sort of thing. Also, on a totally personal note, there is another aspect that perpetually gets overlooked, and this release is the best example of it yet: The sound. With the majority of these games originally available in either mono, stereo, or at a push Pro Logic II, it is an absolute result to now hear all of them in proper, fully remastered DD 5.1 and DTS Digital Surround. Remember that pretty standard main menu in Snake Eater? I was stopped in my tracks by it this time around. It sounds absolutely MONSTROUS. If sound is important to you in a game and you have a half decent system, playing these games again with `proper' sound is a whole new experience - even the two MSX games are in 5.1!
And for people new to Metal Gear? Well, there's more to catch-up with here than your can imagine (in a good way), so I will write another piece in the comments section which will (hopefully) bring you up to speed if you so wish. If you're happy to take my word for it, this pack contains some of the best games ever made, and is literally a recollection of the entire saga to date; from the very first release all the way up to the release of the first trailer of the impending `Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain' (The awareness of which may well be the reason you're looking at this boxset). These are war games, certainly; but this is not Call of Duty: The blood running through Metal Gear's veins is stealth. You have to go out of your way to avoid combat.
So how do you summarise? Well, if you have thumbs, I recommend this pack. I can't say it better than that.