[gameinfo title="Game Info" game_name="Metal Gear Solid - HD Collection" developers="Kojima Productions" publishers="Konami" platforms="PS3 (Reviewed), Xbox 360, PSVita" genres="Tactical Espionage Action" release_date="3/02/2012"]
Despite the fact that the front of the box advertises three games, the inclusion of the first two games in the series, Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake brings the total up to five. Assuming you paid the average price of £30 for this lovely collection, that’s a mere £6 for each game you get. Not bad, especially when you consider that this collection contains some of the greatest games ever created.
The Sons of Liberty
Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons Of Liberty was first released on the Playstation 2 in 2001. It holds a special place in my heart as being the first game in the series I played but even without nostalgia clouding your vision it’s easy to see that this is still a great piece of interactive storytelling. I’m hesitant to use the word ‘game’ straight away, because anyone who has played this instalment will tell you that it’s the one you get to play the least.
Saying that, when the game finally shuts up and does actually let you play, the actual gameplay shines. The praise the game received for its excellent enemy AI upon its original release was totally justified and sneaking around the Big Shell facility, holding up guards until they give you their dog tags, hiding under a well-placed box as five armoured soldiers run right past you and sticking tranquiliser darts in the heads of all in your way are all still as rewarding experiences as they were ten years ago. There’s some pretty intense boss fights too, whether you’re frantically disabling explosives while trying to gun down a mad bomber on roller skates or pumping stinger missiles into a fighter jet. It’s all very memorable stuff.
However, it’s the game’s story that is probably the most controversial aspect of MGS2. Expect to sit and watch a ton of cutscenes and listen to more dialogue than your brain probably has room for. By today’s standards, MGS2 is slow and tedious, especially its opening, and its convoluted storyline could be considered “too deep” for its own good. If you’re like me, however, and you enjoy complicated mindscrew storylines, then you’ll love this thrilling tale of deception and espionage.
In all honesty, MGS2 hasn’t seen that much of a boost in graphical quality. The graphics were great for the time but by today’s standards they’re quite simplistic, even when upscaled to HD. This is most noticeable when you look at some of the characters’ rigid hairstyles. While the game is musically excellent, in my opinion the score is one of the weakest of the series.
In terms of extra content, MGS2 has by far the most out of any other title included within the collection. You get the excellent Snake Tales from the Subsistence release; these mini-missions put you back in the shoes of Solid Snake as you find out what kind of things he got up to while he wasn’t present in the main story. There is also a large selection of VR missions to try.
I’ve already reviewed Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (read it here) and it’s just as awesome on the PS3 system as it was on the PS2. Here is where you will start to notice the increase in graphical quality; the Russian jungle has never looked better.
MGS3 takes its cues from the spy thrillers of the sixties and almost every aspect of the game has been crafted to a sort of cinematic quality in order to successfully reflect this theme. Powerful vocal theme after the ‘pre-credits’ sequence? Check. Sexy heroine? Check. Vehicle chases? Check. Cold war setting? Check. The list goes on and on.
This instalment also puts a much heavier emphasis on gameplay than its predecessor. The long cutscenes are definitely here, but they’re much more action-oriented than MGS2, which tended to focus more on the philosophical banter and technobabble. The radio calls, while still present, are often much shorter and to the point, which is a God send. Surviving in the jungle is your main priority and to aid that there is a camouflage system to let you blend in to your surroundings (because, you know, wearing a cardboard box in a swamp only makes you look like a tit), as well as the stamina bar, which you can replenish by eating food you find yourself.
The music from MGS3 is my personal favourite in the series. From the excellent bond-esque opening track ‘Snake Eater’ to the brilliant ‘Ocelot Battle’ theme, to the heartstring-pulling ‘Debriefing’, MGS3 delivers one of gaming’s best soundtracks. Coupled with believable characters and a story that grabs you by throat and never let’s go, MGS3 was one of the best games on the PS2 and it’s still one of my favourite games today. And if you don’t shed at least one tear during the ending you’re not qualified to call yourself human. Man up and let it out.
Back to Basics
Packaged in the MGS3 section of the game are Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, the first two games in the series for the MSX computer.
Metal Gear, released in 1987, tells the story of Solid Snake, ordered by his commanding officer Big Boss to infiltrate the fortress of Outer Heaven and destroy TX-55 Metal Gear, an armed bipedal tank. In the now-infamous plot twist, it turns out that Big Boss is actually the mercenary leader of Outer Heaven, who called in the rookie Snake to feed bogus information to the higher-ups. The story is very simple compared to later instalments, and the same can be said about the gameplay and almost every other aspect about the game. However, that doesn’t stop it from being fun, and it’s an interesting experience for fans of the later games to play so they can see how it all started. Simple it may be, but it’s still part of the over-reaching storyline of the series. You’ll also find yourself humming ‘Theme Of Tara’ for weeks.
Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake also released for the MSX system in 1990, has you, Solid Snake, infiltrating Zanzibar Land, a territory in Central Asia, to rescue a kidnapped scientist and take out the new Metal Gear D. After a somewhat simplistic start to the series in the form of Metal Gear, MG2 is a whole lot closer to what you’d expect from a game in the series. The story is full of twists and turns, not to mention several now-famous characters that make their first appearance here (to name a couple, Colonel Campbell and Master Miller show their faces in this instalment). Snake is joined by Holly, a CIA operative and just about the only surviving character in the franchise that didn’t show up in MGS4. In MG2, gameplay is much more refined, with the guards now being able to see along diagonals and hear loud noises. You can crawl to avoid making noise and pick up landmines, and the radar makes its welcome debut. Music in this game is fantastic, pushing the MSX to its capabilities to produce a soundtrack more complex than you’d think possible with an 8-bit sound chip. It’s no surprise that MG2 is a favourite amongst those that have actually played it.
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