When you consider the stealth genre, one series stands above all the rest: the Metal Gear series, which has been gracing consoles ever since its original release on MSX and NES in 1987. The early games were revolutionary for their time thanks to their stealth and puzzle mechanics, and understandably wowed gamers. Fast forward to 1998 and “Metal Gear Solid” was released: a pinnacle of gaming on the original PlayStation, MGS helped re-invent/invigorate the stealth genre.
Recently, Sony has been re-releasing some of the MGS titles that followed that initial release, giving them the HD treatment (which we are seeing more and more of in today’s market). This PS Vita HD collection comes hot on the trails of the PS3/360 HD collection with one glaring omission, the absence of the PSP title “Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker.” While Peace Walker is compatible with the Vita – meaning you are able to re-download it from the PSN store if you already shelled out for it – it is still glaring that Sony would not have included it in this collection. I guess I was hoping for too much.
Still, with MGS HD Vita, what you’re getting however is two of the best PlayStation 2 games to play on the go, in HD, and with a slew of new touch screen controls.
The collection includes both Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater: Subsistence, as well as the original Metal Gear games for the MSX. What can be said about these games that have not already been said? Well, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater is a prequel to the franchise and is where it all began: set in the Cold War era, the game tasks the player, as Naked Snake, to rescue a weapons engineer and sabotage his creations. The jungle setting allows you to adapt to your surroundings by mixing and matching camouflage, hunting and eating animals for health/stamina, and using the wilderness to dispatch of your foes.
MGS 3 is a brilliant game and that brilliance shines on the Vita.
First off, the game looks gorgeous on the OLED screen. Snake and the jungle are in the palm of your hand and it feels great. Second, the game still plays great. Remember MGS3 came out in 2004 and is a Japanese game, meaning the controls will take a little getting used to but every movement and all the controls are precise, just the way Kojima wanted them to be. The Vita’s new touch screen controls attempt to alleviate some of the problems with the controls. For instance, in Snake Eater you can pinch the rear pad to switch between first and third-person views, flick to slit throats, and slide to peek around corners, but none of it feels intuitive. What does, however, is the inventory: simply flick up or down to scroll through weapons and items, and tap to equip. It’s simple and it works. Also, you are getting the Subsistence version of the game giving you a few extra features as well.
The other game in the collection is Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty: Substance. When MGS 2 was first released back in 2001 people were skeptical because it didn’t feature the series’ main protagonist that everyone has come to know and love. Instead it introduced us to a new character, Raiden and had us play as him for most of the game. Well since then it has gone on to become one of the highest rated/most acclaimed games of all time. The game still holds up. The range of interaction the game lets you have was truly breathtaking for its time. Hanging off ledges, using targets as human shields, hold up enemies and rob them of their ammo. These were things that we had not seen before in a game. It translates well to the Vita however traversing stealthily through the game was a bit challenging due to the Vita’s small analog sticks. Also, like Snake Eater the controls take a little while getting used to. The game also looks great with the HD treatment on the OLED screen. Colors/textures pop and the touch screens act in a similar way to Snake Eater.
The long and short of it is that the Metal Gear Solid HD collection for the PS Vita is great. It brings to you two of the greatest games of all time and puts them in the palm of your hand. The game look great in HD on the Vita’s OLED screen and the touch screen controls add a little to the experience. That being said if you have not played these games before I recommend the console HD collection (PS3/360). This is because these games are meant to be experienced as high action blockbusters and playing them on a big screen tv in HD makes them more enjoyable. Also, the inclusion of Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker (PSP) in HD makes the console HD package a better bang for your buck. If you travel a lot and want to games that are certain to keep you busy then the Vita collection is the way to go.
Metal Gear Solid HD Collection is out now for PS Vita.