Metal Gear Solid: HD Collection
Tested and reviewed based on the Xbox 360 version.
Review by Luca Tosney
GAME NAME: Metal Gear Solid: HD Collection
DEVELOPER(S): Kojima Productions, Blue Point Games, Genki, Aspect Co.
PLATFORM(S): Xbox 360,PlayStation 3 & PS Vita
GENRE(S): Stealth Action, Third Person Shooter
RELEASE DATE(S): 3rd February 2012
Metal Gear Solid is quite possibly one of the most famous video game franchises of all time. The franchise is famed for its popularisation of the stealth genre, its legendary main protagonist and its amazing and sometimes weird bosses amongst many other things. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater came out in 2001 and 2004 respectably on the PlayStation 2, with Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker not being released until 2010 on the PlayStation Portable. It has been a long time for the first two since they say action and the first time these games have made their way to the Xbox 360. After all this time, are these games capable of being as enjoyable as the games being produced today? Or should the old dogs of war lie down and rest their weary heads? The simple answer is this collection of games hasn’t kept up at all, but has in fact overtaken many others.
Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty’s main portion of the game is 4 years after the “Shadow Moses Incident” which is the events that took place in Metal Gear Solid in 1998. You control a FOXHOUND operative codenamed Raiden who has been sent to the Big Shell clean-up facility which was set up after the prologue portion of the game. His mission is to rescue a group of hostages which includes the US president from the terrorist group Sons of Liberty who is heavily backed by anti-terror gone rogue training unit Dead Cell who are also threatening to destroy the Big Shell itself.
Following the “Tactical Espionage Action” title that all the Metal Gear Solid games seem to carry and embody, Metal Gear Solid 2 is a stealth game. The game takes into accounts many factors (including smell) when you are sneaking around, and gives you the options to tackle each portion in pretty much any way you’d like. For example, if a guard is in the way you could probably shoot him. But you could also knock against the wall which will cause him to investigate the noise you’ve just made allowing you to run past him, or maybe knock out his teammate at which point he’ll leave his post to go see what’s wrong. Perhaps things go wrong and he sees you, at which point you could blind him by shooting the fire extinguisher, or distract him by sending that pile of fruit flying. Perhaps you should concentrate on shooting the radio out of his hand so he doesn’t call in the assault team? From holding enemies up to hiding them in lockers with pictures of half-naked Japanese models, the game leaves it up to you how to progress.
I was most worried about how the graphics would fair. Have my years of playing excruciatingly detailed video games left me critical about the tiniest aspects in this HD format of some very old games? Nope! In a huge sigh of relief about 10 minutes into the game, it was clear that the graphics were indeed very impressive and did not look much older than 2010/2011. Occasionally when the characters are talking what is happening with their mouths doesn’t quite match what is coming out, but unless you are very picky about these types of things this won’t bother you much. If it does, then I guarantee you that there are other things you should be concentrating on rather than their facial movements.
The game itself is truly, truly fantastic. The atmosphere the game generates the whole way through puts you exactly where the game wants you to be, and you’ll realise quickly that every detail in the storyline has been put there perfectly for a reason. The characters you will meet are extremely memorable and likeable and really draw you in. In some cases you genuinely begin to feel a bond between you and the game. It is exciting and the 15 hours you will spend if you choose an appropriate difficulty will be 15 hours you will not regret. At the end of a portion of the game, you will face a boss who is extremely unique and range from scary and threatening, to just plain weird and almost quite funny.
Once you’ve finished the game (or before, whichever is cool) there are other options for you to do. You can go back and hold up lots of different guards in attempt to collect every dog tag which will give you collectables which give you various different powers. If collectibles aren’t your thing then perhaps you will enjoy the challenging VR missions which test your skills and abilities. After an easy start, you will be spending a good while trying to get past that one bit where that one guard always turns around at the wrong moment.
The game is let down slightly by its controls. There is seemingly no tutorial and you are thrown in pretty much at the deep end to begin with which can be frustrating to a few players. The manual helps a little bit but only scrapes the surface of the controls you need to know. In some places they are also quite fiddly and will take some time to get your head around, but after you nail them you should have no problems from then on. First Person Shooter fans will be quite irritated by the RT being the unequip/equip button and the X or Square button being the shoot button which can lead to some rather interesting experiences, most memorably for me was being able to stare a guard right in the eyes as I point my gun at his forehead and then suddenly holster the gun and continue staring at him. Needless to say I was cut down pretty quickly after that.
In addition, Metal Gear Solid isn’t a game you can play in a spare five minutes. Catch the wrong part and you can be in a cut scene which will last for (in some cases) easily 2 thirds of an hour. The cut scenes are in no way bad and are in fact brilliant and are vital to the story line, just very long and you need to set aside some amount of time in order to watch it all.
Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater is the third game in the franchise where you play as Naked Snake (who will later on become “Big Boss”). It is set in the Cold War just after the Cuban Missile Crises. You will be dropped off in the USSR to rescue a defecting Soviet scientist. This mission goes terrible wrong when you are almost killed by your former mentor “Boss” who herself defects to the extreme Brezhnev faction led by the electrically charged Colonel Volgin and Special Forces unit known as the “Cobra unit.” A week later and Naked Snake is dropped right back into the action to prevent full scale Global Thermonuclear War by stopping Colonel Volgin, destroying the new and powerful Shagohod tank and killing “Boss.”
The game follows the same pattern as the last game, and in an effort to prevent from repeating myself I will just tell you what has changed between this amazing game and the last amazing game. Instead of being in the same costume the whole time, you will now have the ability to change what you wear. This choice reflects in your “Camo Index” which ranged from 0 to 100%. A high camo index will make it harder for enemies to see you, and a low camo index will make you stick out like a sore thumb. This is an interesting feature in the game which will at the start be quite irritating the change, but will eventually grow on you. This feature is enhanced by the lack of map in Snake Eater, which was an interesting development but I think makes the game a lot better as you genuinely feel accomplished when you do it right, and also makes way for some heart stopping moments when you believe you are being sly and the trademark alert noise sounds which makes you jump out of your seat.
Also, unlike the last game your character now has a Stamina bar. Running and climbing will drain your stamina which you will have to replenish by eating animals which you will have to capture alive or dead in the wild. This is a fantastic feature and will also grow on you as you realise its potential and start to use it to your advantage. From distracting guards to interesting mushrooms, to setting a live poisonous snake on them, the animals you catch will all turn out to be very useful and will lead to some very funny moments when talking to the team medic, creatively named “Para-Medic.” A quick word of advice, no, eating the poison dart frog is not a good idea mid-way through a boss fight. Although it may take some time getting used to, it will really allow you enjoy the jungle setting of the game.
In close relation, the game takes place across several environments. Although you are mainly based in the jungle, the storyline takes you up mountains, through rivers, caves and ravines and through shacks and army bases. This allows for the opportunity to explore lots of different game styles which will require you to adapt and survive, making you feel more like the soldier. It also makes you start to think ahead. If you have to go into a building for the next bit, you don’t know how long you’re going to be there for so it might be a good idea to go back and catch some food so you’re not caught off guard when you’re tired and sloppy.
The game has also introduced the Close Quarter Combat system. Weapons which are labelled “CQC” allow the player to put enemies into a chokehold, which you can then use to interrogate the enemy for useful information, or just to jerk him around for a bit before you kill him. A positive addition to the game, and gives for some great experiences and when you find that golden soldier who just gives in so easily and start spurting boss tips, you’ll be there for ages demanding more.
Personally, I find Snake Eater the best game in this collection and has an ending which I will always remember, and quite personally would vote as one of my top favourite video game endings of all time. If no heartstrings are pulled during the final hours, then you have no heart at all.
Finally, I have set aside Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker because it is actually very different from the other Metal Gear games in this collection, and in a good way. Peace Walker was originally intended to be a PSP only release but I suspect after the sales were not as good as previously hoped, has been added to the consoles. The lower than expected sales, however, do not reflect on the game. Peace Walker is a great game and we’re talking about a franchise who considered 13th place to be a disappointing feat. In an attempt not to ruin plotlines from the previous two games, the summary of Peace Walker is short and sweet. It takes place is Costa Rica a decade after the events of Snake Eater. Due to Costa Rica’s constitution of not allowing the creation of armed forces, they have decided to hand matters over to Big Boss to handle the problem of a heavily armed mysterious group known as the Peace Sentinels, who are threatening the balance between east and west.
The controls have been changed a lot from the previous two games, and after a while like a true soldier you will adapt and pull through. Little things have been changed such not being able to move when lying down anymore, and the peak and shoot feature has been removed so you can no longer shoot when you are pinned against a wall. Also, the camo index has made a return but you cannot change it during the mission and have to make a choice before the mission starts. However, this does not impact too much on the game and you eventually not even notice their absence.
The graphics are also still very impressive for a game which has been ported over from a handheld console, and the cutscenes are still long and vital but have also undergone some radical changes. The cutscenes are now in beautiful comic form which starts off as quite a detriment, but will be quite appreciated in due course, and are slightly more interactive than the other games.
Peace Walker also has to offer two completely new features in this collection which are cooperative gameplay. This is where in normal missions, 2 different players can take part and they can work through the campaign together. In boss missions this player cap is raised up to 4. This also offers up new abilities such as reviving downed comrades and “Snake-in” which allows players to fire on the move whilst one other leads the way. Also, during this you have the abilities of being the other player’s spotter where you are their eyes when their vision is obstructed as well as sharing items with each other. This is quite fun and fresh, and really makes the game that little bit more enjoyable when you are playing with a friend.
In addition, there is another feature which makes an entry here and that is the recruitment of different troops for your army base. Because the Costa Ricans can’t actually afford to pay you in money, they have instead decided to give you a base as payment. This is a lot of fun and it requires you to knock guards out during missions and attach them to a Fulton Skyhook, at which point they decide that working for you is far better than doing anything else. This is great fun and you can recruit a large amount of soldiers and decide how you’re going to build your base and assign who, where. Some people would be better off in the tech labs, working on new weapons and equipment for the team whilst others may be looking at the assault career options, going out on Outer Ops so that Big Boss can concentrate on more important missions. This is a fantastic part of the game and you really feel like you’re building something big throughout the game.
Multiplayer matches can now be played in Versus Ops in special versions of in game maps. This is great fun and you can choose to organise single or team death matches, base capture and quetzal capture missions. The online is very good and adds a lot to the overall gaming experience, as the other Metal Gear Solid games in the collection do not support online play.
Taking into consideration that the visuals are pretty much just updated from PS2 graphics, they are stunning. The game just doesn’t seem to have aged and there are some moments where you are actually caught off gaurd by the scenery and you really appreciate the detail. Unfortunately the game is just a tiny bit behind and the voices are not synced well with the faces, which I presume is an issue of the game being made for a Japanese audience and then english just dubbed over it.
The audio is extremely well put together, notably Snake Eater’s theme song is just brilliant. The guns all sound great and when there is music it really puts you where you want to be and that’s right in the game.
These are truly games you will never forget and you will have an insane amount of fun playing them. They draw you in and they will provide you with a gaming experiance you have always wanted. There is a slightly larger than usual learning curve and a complete lack of informtation about the controls and what you can do, but once you get used to it and finally cave in and read the online manual, you’ll not think nothing of it.
The overall delivary of these games are completely flawless. Yes the cutscenes are long but they are important and not a chore at all the sit through, especially when they are so exciting and powerful. The endings to these games will make you crave for more and wanting all video games to have endings like these. The Metal Gear franchise will ensure an experiance with your console that you have always wanted.
In conclusion, the Metal Gear Solid: HD Collection is a must have for any gamer. It’s extremely good fun and with each game taking around 15 hours to complete, it lasts. Each game brings something fresh and new and the things you love will always be kept. The storyline’s are some of the best ever seen in games and the endings are memorable and truly fantastic. The only places where the game is let down are in the same departments from game to game, with cutscenes being long, the voices are ever so slightly out of sync and he controls are fiddly and poorly explained. However once you get over this barrier, there is nothing to stop you three truly fantastic games.
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