Vita Review: Metal Gear Solid HD Collection

With the release of the Metal Gear Solid series on the Playstation a decade ago, the world saw a new take on gaming.  Stealth was key.  Instead of attacking your enemies head on, you were tasked with trying to figure out ways around them.  Story-telling was placed at the forefront, making the experience almost movie-like.  MGS saw three direct sequels and a few spin-offs.  Last year, Konami released the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection for PS3 and XBox 360.  It included MGS 2, 3 and Peace Walker, which was originally on the PSP as well as the original Metal Gear games for the MSX.  Seven months later, Konami has released another iteration of the HD Collection, this time on the PS Vita.  Does the handheld do justice to Tactical Espionage Action?  Or, has Konami gone to the well one too many times?

Metal Gear Solid 2 takes places some time after the Shadow Moses Incident from MGS1.  The game starts with players controlling Snake as he infiltrates a Navy ship which is housing the new Metal Gear, Ray.  After the ship goes down, players find themselves in control of Raiden, two years later as he infiltrates the Big Shell to take on the terrorist group, Dead Cell.  MGS 3 goes into the past as players control Naked Snake during the Cold War.  He is tasked with stopping an all-out war between Russia and the United States by sneaking into Russian territory and taking out an extremist faction threatening to unleash the Shagohod, a weapon capable of destroying any country on the map and inciting World War 3.

The collection on the Vita  has the Substance and Subsistence versions of MGS 2 and 3 and the original Metal Gear 1 and 2.  For whatever reason, Konami did not include Peace Walker, which is really a shame.  It may be because the game is already on the PSP and can be played on the Vita without the collection, but it doesn’t make sense to include it in the console HD collection and not the handheld version.  They could have also put MGS 1 on there for us as well.  It would certainly give more people a better reason to spend another $40 on games they’ve played several times already.

Graphically (this is an HD game after all) the PS Vita doesn’t disappoint.  The game is crystal clear and silky smooth on the Vita’s OLED screen.  Textures pop and there is no slowdown in the frame rate. The Vita rivals its big brothers in terms of quality. Even the original Metal Gear 1 and 2 (which again are the MSX versions, not the NES versions, which is a good thing) look clean. It’s remarkable that a game can look this good on a handheld and shows just how powerful the PS Vita is.  The sound quality is impressive as well for such small speakers.  All of the dialogue and music is there.  You can hear every bug in the forests of Soviet Russia and recognize every grate on the Big Shell.

A nice addition to the game, if you happen to own the PS3 version, is transferring. Your save on one system is linked to the cloud and can be accessed on the other system. So, let’s say you started playing MGS2 on your PS3.  Your wife says you have to go visit your mother-in-law. You are able to save the game on the PS3 and continue on the PS Vita.  Any trophies you get on one will be automatically unlocked on the other version. It’s a good way to double your trophy count.

It wouldn’t be a Vita game without some touch controls.  Items and weapons are accessed via the touchscreen.  Moves, such as slitting a guard’s throat with your knife, use the rear touch panel. Zooming in during cutscenes also uses touch. MGS’s use of the touchscreen is minimal.  However, I found it to be more or less tacked on, like Konami felt they had to use the touch options because they were there to use.  The touch controls do take some getting used to and I found myself messing up more often than not, resulting in some bad situations and unnecessary deaths.

Despite the lack of Peace Walker, the MGS HD Collection is still a great addition to any PS Vita library. The story still holds up years later.  It plays very well on the handheld. And who wouldn’t want to take Snake with them everywhere? Couple that with the transfarring capability for PS3 owners, and you have a nice, neat little package. My concern is that these games, while still great games, have been released so many times many gamers may be getting sick of the same old song and dance.

Pros:

  • It’s Metal Gear Solid, it’s HD, and it’s portable.
  • Transfarring makes playing the game anywhere and anytime a reality.
  • The game plays well on the PS Vita.  And the Vita needs all the good games it can get.

 

Cons:

  • No Peacewalker.  Why no Peacewalker?
  • Touch controls, while not intrusive, seem tacked on.
  • It’s a very basic collection.  Konami could have added a little more to justify spending another $40 on games we’ve been playing for years.

 

Final Score: 4/5

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Author: Joey Alesia View all posts by
Joey's adventure into the realm of video games began at 3 when Nintendo first hit the West. He grew up a Nintendo fan and ended up branching out to Playstation when FF7 hit and XBox when Oblivion hit the 360. He's not huge on first person shooters or sports games but definitely enjoys a good RPG or survival horror game. His all-time favorite series is definitely The Legend of Zelda, followed extremely closely by Metal Gear. Joey has a firm belief that games should be treated with respect when they are made and that the classics should never be overlooked.