Saturday, February 25, 2012

Metal Gear Solid: HD Collection Review

When the Japanese create a game, you expect all kinds of weird and wonderful ideas to be conveyed in a stylish presentation not seen from Western developers. Hideo Kojima's highly successful series however could be deceived as a western game, as you control the main protagonist Snake in a stealth shooter. Metal Gear Solid is a highly successful series, even if the vast majority of gamers who use the Xbox 360 as their primary console will have probably never touched a Metal Gear title before. For the first time since Metal Gear Solid 2 made an expanded released on the Xbox, we again have Metal Gear on Microsoft's platform before Metal Gear Rising launches hopefully later this year. For those who haven't played it before, think of Snake as an old school Splinter Cell.


The Metal Gear series is an old one with only one game making an appearance on the current generation, albeit it 5 years ago now. That title isn't in this collection however so the developers were tasked with updating PS2 and even PSP graphics to todays current standard. Unlike standard anniversary editions such as Halo: CE where the graphics were given a complete overhaul, Metal Gear Solid was merely a remastering of the original graphics. That means that the same issues arise such as pop in and some dodgy animations, but these are what people remember from the originals so will give a sense of nostalgia. Comparing it to Halo is unfair as that game had immense expectations on it, compared to other HD collections Metal Gear holds itself high due to the standard of the original games.

All the audio from the original titles returns and are accompanied by the laughable lip syncing. It would've been nice for Konami to take a little bit of time to try and fix this up as cut scenes are an integral part of Metal Gear Solid, especially in 2 and 3. The one disappointing thing was the menu layout which was poorly designed and didn't offer a user friendly experience. The barebones title screen didn't offer me with enough choices as settings had to be altered for every game. While this is fair enough, the in game menus haven't changed a single bit from the original releases. Metal Gear Solid 2 in particular is ridiculous for newcomers to try and navigate. A more modern approach would've been better suited for this HD Collection.


The Metal Gear Solid HD Collection features 3 games from the franchise. The titles included are Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance, Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence and Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker. MGS 2 and 3 are the expanded post-release versions of the originals and MGS: Peace Walker is a PSP title. Despite being a handheld release, Peace Walker gets a disc to itself while 2 & 3 and placed onto disc 1. The games are stealth shooters and are based in periods of time conflict with the Soviet Union rather than the modern approach taken by Splinter Cell for example. This sets up the series as more of a tactical game as the vast array of gadgets are now available to be used since they simply aren't available in the time period.

Despite the the original Metal Gear game not being in the collection, you still get a nice travel through time to see how the games have improved. MGS 2 brings a top down aspect to the adventure with first person aiming which was revolutionary at the time but commonplace nowadays. The controls will take some getting used to since they don't follow rules we take for granted such as aiming and moving at the same time. This offers up a nice challenge for those who wish to relive the glory days of gaming before undertaking the more modern experience presented in Peace Walker. Modern gamers who never played the originals will feel more at home with a third person aspect to the game.

The story in each game is confusing and you will have trouble picking up on it in the beginning. MGS 2 and 3 in particular really play out as an interactive film, with cut scenes and pauses in the game as someone speaks to you making a regular occurrence. Once you get past these though the game is a heap of fun. Finding ways to take out enemies will challenge you to think outside the box and other revolutionary aspects at the time such as collectibles are back. Veterans of the series are going to be seeing Metal Gear just as they loved it last generation and that is what HD collections are all about.

Outside of the single player, mutiplayer has never really been a central part of the Metal Gear Solid franchise, but that hasn’t stopped it from trying. Multiplayer was introduced in Metal Gear Solid 4 but greatly refined for Peace Walker, where the focus shifted from the standard deathmatch offerings in favour of co-op. The game still spots the usual deathmatch and team deatchmatch options, but the co-op remains the main attraction.
It allows you and a friend to team up when on missions or taking down bosses. Having a few friends by your side gives you a whole new range of options for eliminating enemies. You can work in tandem, with one of you distracting the guard while the other sneaks up from behind and so on. It’s a great feature and a great use of co-op that complements the game’s core mechanic rather then subtract from it.


Metal Gear Solid: HD Collection has packaged together some of the greatest old games going around and given them a new home and a new coat of varnish. Old players of the series will love the fact that the developers have kept the old formula intact while bolstering the graphics. Certain aspects which just don't make an appearance in todays game will bring a sense of nostalgia. Those who have never played a Metal Gear Solid game before should also be tempted by this package. Three full games for the price of one is a great deal and while they do take some learning to master, you won't be disappointed by the thrill you will receive by playing as Master Snake. Especially in Peace Walker which is especially close to the standards in the market today for shooters. A great package that I'm glad has been brought to the Xbox 360!

Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 8.5/10
Gameplay - 9/10
Overall - 8.5/10