Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Review: Metal Gear Solid HD Collection (PS3)

I’ve always loved the MGS series, and I decided it was worth buying this HD compilation. The disc includes MGS2, MGS3 and MGS: Peace Walker, and costs about £20. The first two were originally for the PS2, and the latter for the PSP. This review contains some spoilers about things revealed early on in the games. If you’ve played the games before it won’t be an issue, and if you haven’t, you should buy this compilation.

MGS2 is the Substance version (a swankier game with a few extras) and MGS3 is based on Subsistence (which is likewise). However, they don’t have absolutely everything the original swanky versions did. The fun skateboarding mini-game is missing from MGS2, although it does seem to have everything else (VR stuff, Snake Tales etc). MGS3 lacks Snake Vs Monkey, but does have other features. Sadly only Peace Walker has an option to change language, and happily German’s available (I always like playing games in German if I can, helps refresh my memory. Plus, I still remember my German teacher being impressed yet concerned that I knew a Stürmgewehr was an assault rifle, which I learnt from Fear Effect 2).

MGS2 is the immediate follow-up to the fantastic Metal Gear Solid (for the original playstation), which was an instant classic and featured Solid Snake facing off against a group of elite commandos turned terrorist and a doomsday weapon. Raiden was far less annoying than I remember, but somehow my mind had blocked out the tedious melodrama of Rose and her constant bloody emotional nagging. The Tanker episode was too short, but I felt that the Plant episode was very well-paced.

Villain-wise, Vamp is the only new one who really strikes a chord. Fortune was too self-pitying, and the main villain was too generic to stand comparison with Liquid. Gameplay is pretty good and enjoyable, and on normal difficulty I found most boss fights to be of appropriate difficulty. I must admit that I rather disliked the endless babble and jargon of the cut-scenes.

MGS3 is a prequel, set in the Cold War, and has the man who becomes Big Boss as the protagonist. (He’s codenamed Naked Snake, presumably because Exposed Todger was already taken). From the PS2, I seem to recall that MGS3 had a noticeably worse frame rate compared to very good rate of MGS2. In the HD version the game’s been improved enormously in this regard. It also has the Subsistence viewpoint option, which basically enables the player to rotate the camera and raise or lower it to see further into the distance. It’s a really simple feature but makes the game a lot better. MGS3 is perhaps second only to Metal Gear Solid in the series.

The Codec has a good set of permanent contacts, the plot is more straightforward, the villain is genuinely loathsome and psychotic, CQC is great both in-play and cut-scenes, there’s a great relationship between Snake and The Boss and the last few hours fly by. It’s also longer than MGS2 (both episodes).

However, it’s not quite perfect. The boss fights (again, on normal) seemed to either be a bit too easy or a bit too hard. In addition, the camo(ouflage) index is a good idea, but the fact that, especially in the jungle which is most common in the game, patches of ground vary over short distances make it a pain in the arse to keep going to the menu to change. It might have been better to have backstories for the Cobras, but that could’ve shifted attention from The Boss, and in MGS4 we saw what happens (with the Beauty and the Beast) what happens when contrived backstories are put in. Overall, a great game.

I must admit I hadn’t played Peace Walker before, and I haven’t finished it, but I think I’ve played enough to review it. It’s substantially difference to the main MGS titles, with a large number of very short (5 minute or so) missions that are selected from a hub menu. It’s the 1970s and Snake’s running a mercenary group. You can ‘hire’ (or ‘kidnap’ to be more precise) unconscious enemy soldiers and ‘liberate’ PoWs into a productive life of mercenary work to increase your numbers.

These soldiers then join one of five teams (combat, R&D, mess hall, medical and intelligence) to provide advantages for Snake (such as new or upgraded weapons). The system actually works pretty well, and you can use the combat troops in optional extra missions.

Because it’s from the PSP the graphics are a slight step backwards but not enough to be anything like an issue. Cut-scenes are done with cartoons, and whilst that can work well the art style wasn’t really to my liking. Miller, who features in Metal Gear Solid, is Snake’s deputy, which is a nice touch. Whilst the execution is pretty good, I prefer the standard solo sneaking missions approach of the main titles.

Overall, I think the compilation is well-worth getting. However, it must be said that I am a big fan of the MGS series.


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