Much like record companies in the
late-’80s, game publishers have realized that they can mine their back catalogs
by sprucing up a couple classics and putting them out in a single package. While
some of these are obvious cash grabs, even those are often worth it for people
who missed the included games the first time around. Such is the case with the
Metal Gear Solid HD Collection, which pairs 2001’s Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of
Liberty, 2004’s Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, and last year’s Metal Gear
Solid: Peace Walker. For anyone who’s already played all three games repeatedly,
HD Collection isn’t worth your hard-earned ducats. Sure, seeing these games in
hi-def is cool – as with the God of War: Origins Collection, Bluepoint has done
an impressive job upgrading these games’ visuals – but since they just have
better looking versions of the original graphics, not new HD graphics, it’s hard
to justify the double-dip.
However if you’ve missed any of
these games, even just one, or you really want to play any of them again, this
is totally worth it. All three hold up well, in large part because they were
ahead of their time when they first came out. Of the three, the most dated is
Liberty, because it employs an archaic fixed camera. Admittedly, anyone who
hates these kinds of controls won’t be convinced otherwise by playing this
game, in which Solid Snake’s routine recon mission goes awry, and his replacement,
Raiden, has to clean up the resulting mess years later. Those who don’t mind or
are willing to put in the time to get used to the controls will quickly
understand why this is still one of the more inventive stealth action games
ever made. Not only does it have a diverse cast of characters and scenarios,
but it has an equally varied set of weapons, tools, and actions you can use to
complete your mission.
Faring better, the prequel Snake
Eater has Solid Snake’s poppa, Big Boss, on a mission to a Russian jungle
during the Cold War. While this prequel wasn’t as gripping, either narratively
or mechanically, as Liberty, it did add some interesting camouflage and eating
mechanics to the already impressive sneaking action. What’s important about the
version included here is that it’s the one from Subsistence, which added the
far more intuitive player-controlled cameras (though masochists - we mean purists
- can still opt for the fixed camera approach if they want).
The game that’s dated the least,
naturally, Peace Walker once again casts you as Big Boss, who’s on a mission to
lead a band of mercs into the Costa Rican jungles to take out another group of mercenaries.
Which is easier to do here than it was on the PSP thanks to the PS3’s and 360’s
dual thumbsticks. This game also boasts the most contemporary controls and
camera set-ups, as well as such modern conveniences as optional auto-targeting
and aim assistance. While this prequel is still a sneaky good time, it’s
actually the least enjoyable of the three games. Not only does it have the
least interesting story, but it’s also unnecessarily frustrating, since a lack
of reasonable checkpoints requires you to completely restart a mission you’ve
failed, while enemies are inconsistently resistant to bullets and tranquilizer
Besides the three games, Konami has
also included some of the extras from the special editions of Liberty and Eater.
From the former’s Substance edition comes “Snake Tales,” a series of missions
for Solid Snake, while the latter’s Subsistence version gives us the original
Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2. That said, this is hardly complete, as some extras
from those special editions are annoyingly MIA. Eater, for instance, is missing
the competitive online modes included in the Subsistence edition, an omission aggravated
by the fact that those same kinds of modes are also missing from Peace Walker.
Most egregiously (unless you’re a member of PETVA: People for the Ethical
Treatment of Virtual Animals), Eater doesn’t have the hilarious “Snake vs
Monkey” minigame in which Snake uses stun grenades and a stun gun to rescue the
monkeys from the Ape Escape games.
Even without these modes, and
Liberty’s less-than-intuitive controls, the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection is
still a great value, even if you only plan to play one of the three games. That
it has three you might want to play, plus a bunch of fun extras, just cements
this as the best multi-game compilation since 2007’s Orange Box.