on 29 February 2012
Its fair to say that I love MGS. Love it. I love the attention to detail, the bat-crap crazy story, the carefully directed gameplay, the Easter eggs and the over-long cutscenes. As a gamer, I 100% bought into the world, where the MGS series constantly battles for my affections as my favourite game series with the Half-Life series. Which one wins is usually the last one I played. So today its the MGS series.
So, if you are like me and love Metal Gear Solid but you have no way to play it because your PS2 broke (and lets face it, I don't really want a PS2 under my TV any more) then you are a lucky lad/lass, because no matter what HD console you bought this generation, you get the pleasure of some of the finest games ever created. In my opinion.
The main menu is the game selection screen. I particularly liked this screen as it displays the games in a form of timeline, where MGS3 comes first and ends with MGS2. When you click on a game a brief description of it comes up along with the original menu music of that game. It was at this point it hit me. When I scrolled across to MGS2 and heard that menu music I just grinned like an idiot. The rush of familiarity just came rushing back, as memories of ten years ago filled my head. So many hours I have spent playing this game. In fact, my original review of MGS2 still survives on this site somewhere. Its terrible.
I started with MGS3 as I have never played it before. About 2 years ago I bought my friends old PS2 just so I could play it, but I never got round to it. I even bought the Subsistence version (2nd hand of course, I'm not obscenely rich) just so I could have the right camera angles. But it looked crap on my big telly, there was no widescreen, the framerate was awfull, the textures were mush and it was impossible to see the guards walking around. Not so with this version. It was a glory to behold. Everything was visible, everything was crisp and sharp, including the poor PS2 textures. Many people will have played MGS3, but few will have played it with the revised camera. The world is far easier to negotiate and makes life easier for those used to playng MGS4. Now I have finally completed it, I can say its probably my favourite MGS in the series. If you want to know what a hard game feels like to play, try this. It's tough if you want to play it right.
Then I picked up MGS2 and all the memories started to flood back. After more than 10 years away I had forgotten much, but there were some things that never left. I remember my excitement when I finally got this game back in the day, I even had a crowd of people watching me play it on my first playthrough. So many happy memories came flooding back. I loved messing with the guards (hold them up, shoot the arm, shoot the radio behind them, shoot the leg, put your gun away and watch what happens), the level design, everything. I can't remember grinning quite so much. What really amazed me was how well it had aged. It still looked fantastic and vibrant, it makes you realize what's important in gaming.
Peace Walker I am still in the process of playing. The mechanics will be familiar to MGS4 fans, the over-the-shoulder weapons aiming is intuitive and the Fulton recovery system takes care of the problem of hiding guards in bushes. It is most definitely a portable game, it's designed to be played in bursts and I am quite enjoying it, but we all know the main show is MGS2 and MGS3. To me, Peace Walker is an added bonus.
On the plus side, all these games have achievements now. In fact, some achievements highlighted things I didn't even know were in these games the first time round (Vamp at the end of MGS2?). Another plus is that all these games look super sharp. MGS3 can now be played the way it was always meant to be; in glorious HD with 60fps (MGS3 was originally meant for the PS3, but Sony couldn't get it out in time).
The down side is that you realise how far game design has come since these games. The control scheme of MGS2 has not aged well, especially if you are trying to first-person aim an M4. I can see this not working at all on XBOX 360 as you need pressure sensitive buttons. It was something I never felt worked very well in the first place and seems even more rediculous now. I wasted so many rounds against the Arsenal Tengu, I ran out after the second wave. Also, no matter how much we all loved the PS2, there is no denying it was rubbish at textures. It's flaws have been made all the more apparent playing these games in HD.
The decade old MGS2 and the 8 year old MGS3 still have so much to offer modern gamers. They contain gameworlds unlike anything else found in other games or indeed books and films, with gameplay that never fails to challenge, excite and amuse you. Upgrading these games to HD means they are well documented for the future and are utterly essential for those that call themselves gamers. Not everyone will love them quite as much as I do, but please give them a chance. They are a very important part of our gaming pop culture.
Even if you own them all on their various platforms, you still need this collection. £30 almost seems too cheap. New versions of MGS are on their way in the form of the Raiden spin-off and a possible MGS5 (which I hope is set in the 80s), but you still need to know how it all began. These titles feel just as relevant now, it kind of makes you feel a little embarassed for new games coming out, like Syndicate, that they cannot get close to the innovation in these old games. For shame.