The critically acclaimed Metal Gear Solid series has become a constantly evolving franchise. With every outing the series added new mechanics to its pioneer stealth action gameplay, and then adapted them to suit a number of different formats. Here in 2011’s Metal Gear Solid HD Collection, gamers are given the opportunity to see a cross section of that progress with two successive titles from the PlayStation 2 era, and a handheld release. If the wake of the recent Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater remake announcement, there’s no better way to revisit these classics.
The Metal Gear Solid HD Collection was the first Metal Gear Solid release on the Xbox 360. It’s backwards compatible for Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S. Three Metal Gear Solid titles are included, and with the package’s budget price there’s plenty of content for your money. One might wonder why the publisher chose not to go whole hog and include the fantastic Metal Gear Solid: Twin Snakes as part of the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection. Having said that, as a shocking – yet entirely pleasing – addition, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater HD Edition includes both the original MSX Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake ROMs as part of the package. This results in effectively five Metal Gear videogames across two DVDs on Xbox 360, and one Blu-ray on PlayStation 3.
Metal Gear Chronology
The disc containing Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty HD Edition and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater places the two titles on the frontend in reverse order. Quite why Konami have chosen to do this is not clear, though one might assume it’s due to the series chronology.
Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty HD Edition features the familiar pre-set camera angles of the first Metal Gear Solid videogame, using mostly top-down angles. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty was effectively a new Metal Gear Solid experience built for a new generation of consoles. As such, the leaps in technicality it offers over it’s predecessor are more concerned with scope and visual design. The same enemy rules, location detection and stealth abilities are in place, with a few new additions to keep things feeling fresh. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty was a step-up on the familiar formula, and a welcome one at that. But it was Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater that arguably offered a true next-generation experience for PlayStation 2 gamers.
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater added new manoeuvres, health activities and of course, the titular snake eating to the formula. The game expanded on the basic principles and created an original experience. However, for all the credit given to the innovation featured in this title, there’s arguably less reason for the player to use any of it. Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater was an easier videogame, made for audience that wanted action experiences, not challenging ones. While Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater HD Collection is technically the best videogame included in the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection, experienced Metal Gear Solid gamers would most surely argue that’s it’s the weakest in terms of playability.
Still, there’s no denying that Metal Gear Solid HD Collection offers a fantastic rendition of the game. Even to this day, it stands up as a confident representation for modern hardware. For gamers of a certain age, using the term ‘nostalgia’ may seem a stretch. However, this remastering is over a decade old in itself. Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater is nearly twice that. And so coming back to the game in it’s finest form will be a welcome ideal to many.
We Come in Peace Walker
While the similarity in gameplay design is evident in both Metal Gear Solid: 2 Sons of Liberty HD Edition and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, The basis for Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker HD Edition is significantly different. The fact that the videogame was originally designed for a handheld system is evident throughout. Not just in the fact that the visual quality bears all the hallmarks of a PlayStation Portable (PSP) product dusted off and given a HD coat of paint, but also in the structure of its missions. Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker HD Edition features a level system, with missions selected from a menu as opposed to simply offering one long, continuous campaign.
After the ridiculously long and boring training section (which thankfully can be skipped), players jump straight into an intro animation. Of course, this is just as lengthy and convoluted as you would expect from a Metal Gear Solid videogame. The art style is very welcoming, more similar to the commendable collection of Metal Gear Solid comic books than the in-game graphics, and the juxtaposition is an elegant device to portray drama in what could have otherwise been very static plot delivery.
Metal Gear Stealth
Of course, the fundamental experience of Metal Gear Solid’s breed of stealth action remains intact – this isn’t another Metal Gear Ac!d after all – but it does seem somewhat diluted. Players are still able to sneak, hang off ledges, take hostages and more. But certain tactical elements have been removed. Either by force or simply by readdressing the animation sequences.
What’s more, the enemy intelligence is woeful. Troops will often come out of cover directly in your line of fire, then simply stand out in the open. They are essentially dummies for you to take out at your leisure. On the one hand this allows you to experiment with your equipment and abilities. But on the other not really providing you with any incentive to do so. Any skilled gamer will be able to walk through the first half of the game as loud as they like without facing too much of a challenge.
Metal Gear Solid in HD is Still Metal Gear Solid
As the first remastering of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, Metal Gear Solid HD Collection was a success. However, it still provides the best way to experience the game to this day. Even the subsequent Nintendo 3DS port didn’t provide the same level of detail as is on show here.
Metal Gear Solid HD Collection is a package with a reputation that precedes it. While Konami also brought the Zone of the Enders series back in the same format, there’s no denying that this was the bigger attraction. And still is, as the delivery of each title is of an undoubtedly high calibre. If you’re looking to replay Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater ahead of the upcoming remake, there’s no finer option.