- Publisher: Konami
- Developer: Kojima Productions
- ESRB Rating: “T" for Teen - "M" for Mature
- Genre: Stealth Action
- Pros: Nice updated visuals; three great games in one package; finally, MGS on Xbox 360
- Cons: Gameplay feeling a bit outdated; hope you like cutscenes
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The Metal Gear Solid HD Collection is a collection of three Metal Gear Solid Games - MGS 2: Sons of Liberty, MGS 3: Snake Eater, and the PSP MGS Peace Walker (sadly, still no MGS4)- with touched up graphics to make the games actually look good in high definition. Even better, these are the special "Substance" and "Subsistence" versions of MGS 2 and 3, which mean they pack extra modes and special features found in those releases (though not all, no skateboarding in MGS 2 or multiplayer in MGS3, among a handful of other omissions) but you do get the MSX versions of Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2 included with MGS3, at least. Peace Walker offers Xbox Live multiplayer. And you get all of this value for $50 or less, which is absolutely outstanding for the amount of gameplay hours it offers.
MGS 2 and MGS 3 come on one disc and share 1000 Gamerscore between them while Peace Walker is on its own disc and gets its on list of achievements and 1000 Gamerscore. It would have been nice for each game to have its own set of 1000 GS, but we can't complain. The actual achievements are pretty well thought out and offer some creative and unique achievements beyond just following the story.
Visually, the games look really good and are definitely the best looking versions of the games you'll find. And they absolutely look better than playing upscaled PS2 versions on a BC PS3 (60GB PS3 owners high five!). MGS2 has sort of simple textures, and Peace Walker definitely shows signs of starting out on the much lower powered PSP hardware, but they are nice and sharp with great looking character details, awesome special effects, and they run at a mostly silky smooth framerate. MGS3 looks the best of the three with great lighting and lush jungles. Keep in mind that none of the games are going to be top of the line looking, but considering that they are up-rezzed PS2 and PSP games, the graphics are pretty darn nice here.
Controls were a bit of a concern since the Xbox 360 doesn't have pressure sensitive face buttons like the PS2/3, but the games play just fine here. It isn't like the terrible awful port of MGS 2: Substance on the original Xbox that was basically unplayable due to a dumb button layout. The MGS HD Collection controls just fine on 360. You just have to remember that when your gun is drawn you can put it away by clicking the left analog stick. On the PS3 you'd just slowly release pressure on the square button to put your gun away, but since that isn't possible on 360, clicking the left stick isn't so bad.
The actual gameplay is one area where the MGS games are a bit hit or miss. The games are rather stiff to control and don't feel anywhere near on par with modern third-person action-stealth games like Splinter Cell. They are fun, but definitely take some getting used to. If you've never played a MGS game, I can definitely see players not being super impressed with some of the gameplay elements. Many gamers, however, myself included, have already played through these games several times, so the stiff controls are more of a comfortable homecoming than a hindrance.
The heavily cinematic style where you're bombarded with codec conversations and cutscenes every five steps is kind of off-putting these days, particularly when the story (especially if you've already experienced the ultimate story payoff with MGS4 and know all this trouble wasn't really worth it) isn't especially good. It is a fun ride, though, with great set pieces, awesome boss fights, and lots of plain ol' cool stuff to do. MGS3 in particular is a lot of fun thanks to all of the hidden stuff spread all over the game world and unique boss fights, plus you get to hunt for food.
All in all, the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection is pretty easy to recommend. I'm not going to give it a score, since these are older games and it isn't like the Halo CE Anniversary release that offered completely redone graphics and other new stuff, but I will give it a solid recommendation to purchase even if this isn't a scored review. You get the absolute best versions of three great games all in one package for less than $50. Longtime series fans who have already bought these games twice over (guilty ...) may not like buying them again, but getting this much value for relatively little money isn't so bad. This is also definitely the version to buy for series newcomers, just keep your expectations in check because these are pretty different playing and paced games from what we have these days. At any rate, the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection is a great game that is definitely worth a purchase.