Maverick Reviews: Metal Gear Solid HD Collection

As my favorite gaming franchise of all time, I essentially own every copy of every game humanly possible for the Metal Gear franchise, except for the NES versions of Metal Gear 1 and 2 (I have the MSX versions that came with Subsistence), the super rare copy of Subsistence, Portable Ops+, the Acids or Ghost of Babel.

So, I bought the Collector's for PS3 day one and just recently picked up the Vita copy.

This is gonna be an interesting review because I'm gonna to do it for PS3 and then if something differs in the Vita version, I'll make a mention of it and give both a separate score.

Hopefully, this will help new readers and die hard fans decide whether or not to acquire this . For me, it was obviously a no brainer.

PS3 Graphics: -0 (20/20)

This series has always pushed the bar graphically, with exquisite character models, realistic animations and detailed environments. The HD update actually gives us what it promotes: a silky-smooth frame rate that never drops and HD textures that do the game justice. It easily beats out some graphically inferior games that were made this generation.

PS3 Sound: -0 (20/20)

From Harry Gregson-Williams' score always nailing the tone of any given circumstance, to the cast who deliver top-notch voice work, the sound is spot-on all across the sound-board.

PS3 Controls: -3 (17/20)

These games have always had a steep learning curve. With pressure-sensitive and multi-purpose buttons (especially in Snake Eater), you'll end up getting spotted for no reason at all just trying to get used to everything.

In Snake Eater (the more recent of the series) the circle button has multiple functions. CQC (Close-Quarters Combat) involves hand-to-hand which a focus on grappling. So during gameplay, tapping circle strikes your enemy, holding it grabs them, pressing and holding in a direction throws them, holding gently and clicking L3 interrogates them and pressing it all the way down after holding them hostage slits their throat. There's a few more things you can do but I think you get my point.

Every action is mapped flawlessly though, and the Tactical Reload (double tap R2) is still one of the coolest features ever. It becomes habit after awhile.

And Peace Walker (which had only one analog stick in it's PSP days) benefits the most from now possessing dual analog sticks. So now, there aren't a ton of different control layouts that each have their strengths and weaknesses. Now it feels like the perfect chair, bowl of porridge and bed (get it? No? Eh, one does what one can).

PS3 Style: -4 (16/20)

These games are insanely hard to get through for multiple reasons.

They were the first attempts at cinematic gaming. The cutscenes are long, complicated and deep. You can skip these cutscenes if you aren't into story. However, if you're like me, you'll fall in love with the characters, motifs, settings, high production values, gripping narrative and everything in between. And you won't care playing these games multiple times and still watching every cutscene in its entirety. And each time, you'll notice something you didn't before (soooooo many easter eggs) or gain more insight to the proceedings.

The story/ending to MGS 2: Substance (or Sons of Liberty) is a bit on the convoluted side (understatement of the century) and many may get turned off by it. Also, going from Snake (one of the best video game characters of all time) to Raiden is a bit of a let down (not only because you play as Snake in the beginning)  because Raiden is a whiny character who's melodrama with his wife inserts itself awkwardly throughout the story. I will say that he has a very cool background though (and then in Snake Eater, his ancestor is given a very mean end of the stick). Later in the series though, he becomes a complete bad ass (so play Metal Gear Solid 4)

However, when you've finished playing MGS 3: Subsistence (Snake Eater, which takes place 50 years prior), you'll have that moment of clarity where everything from Substance makes sense and is actually very awesome. It's a rich tale of philosophy, science, drama, and action all rolled into one big philo-sci-dram-act ball.

Hideo Kojima is on the top of his game, giving us an inch of truth to shadow the craziness. The stories, characters and their situations are all based in real-life or potential real-life (war, politics, etc). The gameplay itself is to, from authentic and changing enemy A.I pattern patrol, to being spotted to noise, vision or other such discrepancies, this game will suck you in.

Then, Kojima says "Hey! This is a video game!"

Then you go up against super-powered bosses, giant mechs and all sorts of cool stuff (at one point, you fight prehistoric animals).

While these games are fun, they're fun in a very different way.

There is also oodles of content. Being the special editions of their respective games, there was content given on top of the all ready existing content.

Finding dog tags is still a blast in Substance (and will always be my favorite aspect). Now you can do stuff like Skateboard (lame) Snake Tales (supposed to add more backstory to Snake's narrative, which is ok). But my favorite additions are the VR mission modes and challenges.

Test your sneaking, take-down, action skills in VR rooms can help you get the skills necessary to get the best end-of-the-game emblems, which base your playthroughs on time, enemies killed, times spotted and times killed. Big Boss is the highest: no kills, never spotted, limited saves and in under a certain time limit.

And when you do that, try it on European Extreme with no radar.

In Snake Eater, they put in things like a theater mode and they even added a true third person camera, which was a very welcome add on, although for the real experience, use the original.

As for Peace Walker, this plays differently than the others.

It's level based and is based around building up your military crew and training them.

Also, most of the heavy story-based cutscenes are in graphic novel form. Not a downside by any means, but I though it needed mentioning.

The CQC is given greater variety as well. You can link takedowns together (although it's usually just the same animation performed however many times in a row) but it's still a nice addition.

The deductions come form the difficulty and the patience it requires to sit down and play these. These are not your typical action games...this is of the tactical espionage variety. So, while you can try to blast your way through, it isn't the best choice and won't work the way you plan it to.

Transfarring is also a nifty feature, which allows you to take your save file from PS3 and play it on Vita and vice-versa.

Nifty, not practical. You heard it here first.

Oh, and you can sneak around in a cardboard box.

PS3 Fun: -3 (17/20)

As stated before: these games are difficult and force you to play in a way that most aren't used to. If you can get past that and the heavy-handed narrative (unless you're into difficult, heavy story-based games like I am), you're in for a top-notch action game that'll keep you in the ballerina stance until the conclusion.

Vita Graphics: -2 (18/20)

On Vita, this game runs about as well as it does on the PS3. The only difference is that at certain points, the frame rate does drop and slows the game down a hair. It may not be frequent, but it's still noticeable.

Vita Sound: -0 (20/20)

Same as PS3.

Vita Controls: -6 (14/20)

The same as PS3 except because it's on a handheld, certain buttons were mapped to the front touch screen and back touch panel. Which depending on what you're doing, does or doesn't work.

Item selection is now on the bottom left and right of the touch screen, which works just fine. Tactical reload just requires you to double tap and voila! No issues there.

Now, in the PS3 version, if you were in the first person aim, you could use the L2 and R2 triggers to look left and right behind cover or both at the same time to stand on tip toes.

This is now dedicated to the back touch panel which doesn't always work, which doesn't help if you're trying to peer through a locker or over a crate to spot an enemy location.

Also, in Snake Eater, brushing against the back panel thrusts your knife if equipped, which happens way too often. It's rather annoying.

Vita Style: -10 (10/20)

There is one reason this gets a further deduction: the exclusion of Peace Walker.

Which not only means no online mode, but you're paying the same price for something on console with one less game.

Sure, you can buy it on the Playstation Store and play it when it eventually gets released for Vita but that's an extra $20.

Vita Fun: -3 (17/20)

Same as PS3.

PS3 Final Score: 90/100 A-

Vita Final Score: 79/100 C+

These games will always hold a special spot in my heart and I'll always shell out money (as a collector and fanboy) to acquire anything Metal Gear related.

The PS3 copy is totally worth every penny. The Vita one is only for die-hard fans who really want to take their game on the go or those who need a decent game for their Vita library. Newcomers should just get it for console (because let's face it, 99% of people who have a Vita have a PS3 (or 360). So, get the better of the two.