|System: Xbox 360, PS3|
|Dev: Kojima Productions|
|Release: November 8, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood and Gore, Drug Reference, Intense Violence, Language, Sexual Themes, Use of Tobacco|
by Josh Wirtanen
It's a good time to be a Metal Gear fan who owns a PS3. With the release of the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection, seven entire Metal Gear titles are now available on the console, and nabbing all of them won't break your bank account. (The original MGS is cheap on PSN, MGS4 is a bargain bin purchase these days, and the HD Collection adds five more titles to that list for a budget price.) Of course, the HD collection is also available on the 360, but for me, Snake belongs on a PlayStation console. Playing Metal Gear on Xbox would feel a bit dirty, like playing Halo on a PS3. But if Xbox is your only option, that shouldn't hold you back from enjoying this trilogy (well, quintet, actually) of video game masterpieces.
Now, bear in mind that these games are relics from a past age, and this fact is going to be pretty obvious from the get-go. The first thing you'll have to get used to is the lengthy cutscenes. Sometimes it's hard to sit through entire half hour stretches where you don't have to touch the controller once, but this is just how Metal Gear Solid has always told its stories. And if you actually pay attention, you'll find a lot to enjoy here.
Also, MGS 2 and 3 have antiquated control schemes that may have felt alright in the PS2 era, but they're a little hard to get used to now. This fact becomes especially obvious when playing the first-person VR missions in MGS2, then comparing that to Peace Walker's more intuitive controls. In fact, Peace Walker actually feels like a modern game, with dual-stick movement/camera controls closer to those of current gen hits like Uncharted 3 and Gears of War 3 than the PS2 Metal Gear titles on this disc. Since the PS3 has two analog sticks instead of the PSP's single stick, the PS3 version of Peace Walker has greatly benefited from the HD translation. I do have one issue with Peace Walker's controls, though: aiming a weapon without the assistance of the auto-aim feature is just plain awkward.
Now, even though these games are remastered in high-definition and looking better than ever, the low polygon counts of the character models become even more apparent when the visuals are in HD. Low-res textures, as well, often show the age of these titles, and the low-quality water effects of MGS2 wouldn't be tolerated in a modern game. Personally, I think Peace Walker suffers the worst for this fact, as its images weren't originally intended for viewing on TVs. Even so, this is obviously a visual upgrade, and considering the age of these titles, they're looking better than we would have dreamed possible when they originally came out.
Aside from the enhanced visual quality and Peace Walker's upgraded control scheme, the only real addition to these titles is trophy/achievement support. Now, normally, HD remakes suffer from poorly implemented trophies, since the games were never designed with them in mind. Shadow of the Colossus, for example, was a great game, but aside from what you earn by bringing down each of the sixteen colossi, the trophies in the HD re-release didn't feel all that meaningful. Metal Gear Solid, on the other hand, has always been a series filled with Easter eggs; the trophies almost feel like they were meant to be here. For example, MGS2 awards you the "Kissing Booth" trophy for kissing a poster while hiding inside a locker, and MGS3 awards you with the "Snake Eater" trophy for actually eating a snake. These particular examples are pretty simple to earn and encourage you to try out things you may not have thought of on your own. And some of the trophies even play off the adult humor that seems to always underlie the Metal Gear games. (There's a trophy called "Snake Beater." I'll leave the interpretation of that title up to you.)
What about the audio? Well, Metal Gear Solid was never about super realistic sound effects. Don't expect to find the meaty sounds of bullets hitting flesh you'd expect of a Call of Duty game; MGS takes a more stylized approach. But Metal Gear's sounds are iconic. The exclamation sound of a guard discovering your whereabouts, the distinctive ring whenever Snake's companions page him on his radio, and Snake's echoing death cry are unmistakably Metal Gear. The music in the game is equally as iconic; at this point, you simply wouldn't mistake the Metal Gear theme for anything else. And the voice acting is phenomenal. Mind you, these games come out of an era in which video game voiceovers were expected to sound fairly bad. David Hayter, though, is Snake, and his raspy voice portrays the character as a hardened, well-trained killing machine, yet one who also has some personality.