Odds are very good that you already know whether you like the brand of gameplay and storytelling prevalent in the Metal Gear series of games. I won’t review each of the five games included because it would make for a very long article, and what’s really important here is whether this omnibus of Metal Gear is worth the upgrade.
So is it? I think so. You’re getting Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, and the original MSX versions of Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2 for $10 less than any other new single console game will cost you. In terms of bang for your buck, the HD Collection is amazing. What isn’t so amazing is the glaring error: there should be six games present instead of five.
Unless you’ve got a GameCube (or Wii) laying around to play the excellent up-port Twin Snakes, your only option for playing the original Metal Gear Solid is to pull out a PSX copy and deal with a game that was clearly never intended to be played on a PS3 outputting 1080p to a 51” television. I’m assuming that the Twin Snakes is not included because it was published by Nintendo, but it would have been great to see this collection complete, and in the off chance you’re picking this up without having played the series once before you’re going to miss a lot of story. You wouldn’t randomly skip The Two Towers while reading the Lord of the Rings series, and you shouldn’t skip Metal Gear Solid when playing the Metal Gear series either.
Sons of Liberty and Snake Eater don’t gain a ton from the jump to HD. They were technical marvels on the PS2, and the fresh coat of paint is nice, but you’re already used to MGS games setting a high bar for graphics. Controls are exactly the same as you remember them, but in the years since MGS2 and 3 were released small things have changed, and that’s evident when you boot up Peace Walker where you can walk while crouched and pause a cutscene. Peace Walker lets you pause, thankfully, and it’s jarring that this feature wasn’t added to MGS2/3 – especially since the MGS games are known for their overly long breaks from gameplay. This seems like a minor annoyance – until you need to use the bathroom, or the phone rings, or your dog wants out, or the UPS guy brings a package by. The scenes fit the game perfectly, but there is no excuse for the lack of a pause feature in the up-port.
The game in this set that really shines is easily Peace Walker, since you can now play it online instead of trying to track down three local friends with PSPs and copies of the game. At the beginning the online elements feel like a nice option, but by the time the last fourth rolls around you’ll be glad for assistance; those last boss fights are designed with multiple players in mind. The MSX games are also a great addition, since they can be difficult to come by in the US and they fill in some good story points. They aren’t modern, but they’re great examples of how stealth worked in the old days.
You won’t find better versions of any of the five included games – especially Peace Walker. It stings that the original MGS is not represented here, but don’t let that stop you from picking up the majority of a great series.
Pros: Peace Walker benefits greatly from console online connectivity, nice to have the MSX games included
Cons: Where is MGS? And why can I still not pause cutscenes in MGS2/3?