on 4 April 2012
Metal Gear Solid: HD Collection is what it says on the tin. It's a collection of some old classics, brushed up in HD and put on one disc (two on the Xbox 360), not much more nor less really. However, it's an opportunity for not only hardcore fans (like myself) to reconcile their love with these games but a great opportunity for those who missed a few of the games or are simply new to the series and have heard all about Metal Gear and want to give the series a try for themselves, and at a good price.
Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty
Originally released in the UK in March 2002, this was the sequel to the critically acclaimed PSOne game, Metal Gear Solid which came out in the UK in 1999 and the first Metal Gear entry on the PlayStation 2. This game is divided into two chapters, the Tanker (which is more of a prologue) set in the year 2007 and the Plant/Big Shell set in 2009 chapters. In the Tanker chapter you play as Solid Snake who is now a member of the UN recognised anti-Metal Gear group, Philanthropy who, with the backup of old Shadow Moses (see: MGS1) colleague and friend, has been sent to investigate and expose the development of a new Metal Gear project being developed by the U.S. Marine Corps, of course all this goes horribly wrong. The Plant/Big Shell chapter is set two years later and you play as newbie green agent Jack or "Raiden" as he's codenamed to dismantle a terrorist threat and rescue the U.S. President, or so he believes.
The graphics of MGS2 was quite simply stunning and the best ever when this came out, and today in 2012 they still stand their ground, especially with the HD lighting although it's obvious the textures are from the PS2-era. The gameplay and camera feels outdated compared to later entries, but it's faithful to the original MGS1 and introduced new gameplay mechanics such as first-person view/shooting, hiding in lockers, tranq. gun, hiding guards bodies in lockers and toilet cubicles, etc.
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
This was originally released in the UK on the PlayStation 2 in March 2005. Rather than a sequel to MGS2, it's a prequel to the entire series set back during 1964, the height of the Cold War between the East and West, and is appropriately themed.. given that the MGS series have strong storylines which are usually very political and lets not forget the espionage aspect of the stealth genre. In this game you play as Naked Snake (later known as Big Boss), a former US Special Forces "Green Beret" who is a founding member of a new CIA unit called FOX headed by ex-SAS man, Major Zero, and is sent on the debut mission to rescue a Soviet scientist in the prologue chapter (Virtuous Mission), which ends up going wrong of course.
This is the Subsistence version of MGS3, NOT Snake Eater, despite the name. You have the 3D camera (with the option of using the original Snake Eater camera)and you can play the original Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake in the menu, however there is no 'Snake vs. Monkey' like in the originals for some reason. The HD lighting in this game makes it a lot more beautiful than it originally was, and it makes a good change that it's ran at 60fps rather than the original 30fps which is noticeable playing the game - it's the best version of the game yet.
This is my favourite game in the series and one of my favourite games ever. The game features quite a few environments, but it is primarily set in a Soviet jungle and features "survival"-based gameplay.. you hunt animals for food and you have to patch up your wounds from insect bites, stings, leeches, gunshots, burns, etc. The storyline is not as cyberpunkish/complicated as MGS2's, being that it's set several decades beforehand, but the storyline is the most beautiful in the series, the whole game pays a lot of homeage to 1960s movies and the intro/theme song ("Snake Eater" by Cynthia Harrel) is James Bond inspired.
Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker
This is a fairly recent game, it was originally released in the UK in June 2010 on the PSP. This is set in 1974, 10 years after MGS3, and you yet again play Naked Snake/Big Boss who is the commander of a small private army known as Militaires Sans Frontieres (MSF) based in the Barranquilla Coast, Colombia. His second-in-command is a Japanese-American former member of the Japanese Self-Defence Force and now-mercenary known as Kazuhira Miller, or just "Kaz" (he is the man Liquid Snake murdered and then impersonated in MGS1, as explained in the timeline). They are approached by a supposed university professor and a 16 year old student who request their services in freeing neighbour country Costa Rica from an unknown armed group who are being backed by the CIA, Big Boss is given a personal motivate when he hears a Walkman tape with the voice of his former mentor, The Boss (see: MGS3) talking to an unknown British woman and wonders whether she might still be alive. Like all Metal Gear games, the storyline gets more complicated.
I enjoyed this game when it came out on the PSP nearly two years ago and still do, but out of the three in this collection, it's definitely my least favourite. However, it does look beautiful pepped up on the big screen with the assistance of HD, which is a good feat considering the game was intended for a small screen, however the graphics make it obvious that it's not a PS2 game, the textures are quite blurry and pixelated, the game also retains the comic-book cutscenes from the PSP version which disappointed me because I'd heard they were being replaced with CGI ones which are in the game, but minimal (only at the end and 1 or 2 other parts of the game).
This is different to all the other MGS games in which it has RPG elements. You have to recruit soldiers by effectively kidnapping them and "convincing" them to join, when they join you can sign them to any part of MSF you want. The Combat team, the Research + Development team, the Mess Hall team, the Intelligence/Reconnaissance team and the Medical team, depending on their skill-sets which vary a lot and are ranked. Most of the soldiers you recruit are useless so they aren't any good as you progress through the game, so you have to rely on unique (storyline)characters and POWs which you find around the place, as well as the 'recruit option'. It's a bit like the old Pokemon games really. Fundamentally, it's a Metal Gear Solid game, in the storyline missions you can only play as Big Boss and alone. Despite some of it being jungle environments, you don't use much MGS3 style gameplay except for camouflage. What I love about this game, which bugs me in MGS2/MGS3, is the shooting style (over-the-shoulder and you can aim whilst shooting, rather than stopping and shooting in First-Person View) and how you can crouch-walk. But for some reason you can't crawl through ducts anymore or use lockers, which was a bit of a shame.
So that's all three of the games in this collection summed up, I recommend this collection to all and any Metal Gear fans and it's a great opportunity for those thinking of giving the Metal Gear franchise a go, which you'll either fall in love with, or not like, depending on your tastes in gaming. If you're expecting a mindless Call of Duty shooter with glitzy graphics, turn away. If you're looking for a series with arguably one of the best plots in gaming and a unique gameplay style and a sense of humour, definitely give this series a try. The downside to this collection is that it doesn't include the original Metal Gear Solid or the other PSP MGS, Portable Ops. Another plus, though, is that this is also an opportunity for Xbox 360 owners to play the series and it will also be coming out on the new Sony handheld; the PlayStation VITA.