You ought to buy this for the Snake Beater achievement alone (get caught by Otacon “stimulating” yourself)…
Choosing a favorite Metal Gear Solid is like choosing a favorite child. They may not be perfect and they may frustrate you with the choices they’ve made, but in the end you still have to love all of them.
This collection, like any family, has a diversity of personalities. There’s the older kid who grew up too fast, got a hell of an education, and uses it to sound smart when he’s more often than not just spouting a lot of fancy words and random techno-babble (MGS2). There’s the brooding, emo middle child who started participating in anti-war protests to punctuate his crises of conscience (MGS3). And the young punk who’s always out on the town, running with too many friends to keep track of and you wish that just once he’d call home to let you know where he is (MGS: Peace Walker).
They’ve all got their quirks, but it’s a good family, and it’s got a damn fine pedigree. And while it may be difficult to choose a favorite (*cough* MGS3 *cough*), as long as they’re all together you won’t have to.
HD Collections are often a wonderful treasure trove for late-comers who missed great games the first time around, but they’re usually hard as shit to grade. Most of the time they’re just ports with some obligatory Achievements/Trophies and a spiffy coat of paint that still isn’t enough to make it look good compared to what’s out there today. So if you’ve already owned or played them once upon a time, it’s hard to justify recommending a re-buy. But if you didn’t get the chance to play a few awesome games before, who can argue with competent ports at a cheap price?
Fortunately for me, the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection doesn’t provide much of a dilemma. Not only are you getting two outstanding PS2 era classics, the third offering seals the deal by dishing up an experience that surpasses the original because of the new platform, so much so that you might want to get it even if you own it already.
Let’s get MGS2 and 3 out of the way first. Besides the graphical update, there’s nothing especially noteworthy about them. They’re superb single-player stealth titles with a kick-ass, if not overly convoluted, story to go along, but they’re still basically the same games that came out years ago.
Thankfully, though, they’re the enhanced Substance and Subsistence versions of the game, which means an Arsenal Gear-load of extra content beyond just the story mode. Whether it’s the staggering number of VR missions in Substance or the wonderful inclusion of the original Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2 in Subsistence, these games definitely have much more content than their age lets on. The collection stumbles a little bit, however, because it’s not all the bonus content that was on the original games—MGS2’s skateboarding and MGS3’s Snake vs. Monkey, sadly, didn’t make it in.
But if you really want insane amounts of content, look no further than Peace Walker. This one’s the real pièce de résistance, despite its humble handheld origins, as it’s the only game made truly better by the port. I didn’t have the chance to play the original Peace Walker, but I heard enough of Blake’s hootin’ and hollerin’ back in the day when he played it to know that the PSP was never the ideal platform for it.
Now you can play Peace Walker the way it was always meant to be played; whether you choose the 360 or PS3 version, you’ve got a full-fledged online service at your fingertips to hook up and play co-op or versus—not the sub-par service that made Blake Hulk-level angry whenever he’d pound his head against a boss solo because he wasn’t able to connect with one of the other few PSP players around the country. Sliding into a deathmatch game or hosting a mission from the campaign is hassle-free and Gray Fox-fast.
And if you get a PS3 version, Peace Walker HD will give you access to Kojima’s first crack at his vaunted “transfarring” service. Silly names aside, transfarring will let you move your save files from PSP to PS3 and vice-versa, so you can play the same file at home or virtually anywhere else in the world. Even better, if you already have Peace Walker on PSP you won’t have to start from scratch with this version—just slide that save file on over.
As for the graphics, the HD touch-up is pleasantly surprising. Being the oldest of the bunch, MGS2 gets the shortest end of the stick—the minimal amount of textures and polygons in the characters and environment especially are always constant reminders of the PS2 era. MGS3, on the other hand, with its lush jungle foliage and more detailed models, is about the closest HD port I’ve seen to looking like a current-gen game. Peace Walker, despite being birthed on a handheld, holds up very well and lands squarely between the other two on the graphical scale.
As far as HD collections go, this one is packed to the gills. A $40 price tag like ICO had would have been a little sweeter, but at $50 you’re still getting five amazing games (don’t forget MG1 and 2) for less than a new release would cost. The fact that this includes (most of) the Substance and Subsistence versions, coupled with Peace Walker being available in a far more refined form, makes it a rare instance of a collection you might want to purchase even if you already have some or all of the originals.
Review based on PS3 version. Copy provided by publisher.