Metal Gear Solid hits the PlayStation Vita in style with the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection. With it, remastered versions of Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance and Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence (minus the online multiplayer, of course) come to Sony’s handheld. It’s a largely well-adapted port, though some caveats apply to the experience.
We were big fans of the PS3 version of Metal Gear Solid HD Collection when it bowed in Fall 2011. There’s a lot to be said for the overall quality of both MGS2 and MGS3, both of which are two of the finest titles to grace the PlayStation 2, and that’s indisputable. The Vita version is truncated – no Peace Walker HD on this compilation, for still unexplained reasons – to solely include the two console games. For some, that’s a glaring issue, especially since Peace Walker is still unavailable on the Vita as of this title’s launch. It does make the collection feel a bit fragmented.
That aside, MGS HD Collection Vita does a mostly-decent job in transporting the action to handheld, though it’s hard to recommend it as the best way to experience either of these games if you’ve never played them.. There are some quirks inherent to the system. For example, the touch based controls function as a substitute for the missing trigger buttons you’d have on PS3. However, it’s clunky from a gameplay standpoint. To rifle through Snake/Raiden’s inventories, you touch the front screen. The rear touch is used for different functions, such as stabbing in MGS3. The front screen also helps Snake and Raiden shimmy across ledges in MGS2.
But wouldn’t it have made more sense to use the touch zones on the rear touchpad to enable that functionality, rather than fiddling around with the touch screen while Snake is either peering around a corner or trying to evade a pack of trigger-happy guards? It’s a baffling decision, and at least providing a diversity of control options would’ve gone a long way.
Additionally, a degree of precision is lost with the Vita’s analog sticks. Sure, you’ve got the ability to rotate the camera with the system’s twin sticks, but first-person aiming at a distance looks muddy, and (especially in Snake Eater, which encourages non-fatal tranq headshots), it’s a little frustrating in sections when you can’t really see a guard from a distance. That’s driven home even further if you’re hopping back and forth between the PS3 version and Vita. But more on Transfarring later…