Reviews// Metal Gear Solid HD Collection

Posted 26 Jan 2012 13:00 by
Hideo Kojima loves a well-defined butt. This is proven by playing the majority of his Metal Gear Solid games - be they female, half-cyborg ninja or even protagonist war hero Snake, you’re guaranteed a perky, cheeky time. So I can imagine that the idea of remastered HD humps was too much for Kojima Productions to pass up.

Of course, there are many reasons to love the Metal Gear series besides the studio’s curious fascination with the human form. Starting life as a 2D top-down adventure game for the MSX in 1987, and reinventing itself on the PlayStation in 1998, Kojima has consistently eschewed obvious run-and-gun mechanics and forced players into adopting skill, patience and circumvention for success.

It’s little wonder, then, that Metal Gear Solid has won many fans around the world. And arguably there is no selection of PlayStation 2 classics that greater deserve a high-definition revamp. For your money, the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection contains remastered versions of Metal Gear Solid 2, Metal Gear Solid 3 and recent PSP release Peace Walker.

A few key titles are missing, such as the original Metal Gear Solid and the PS3-exclusive Metal Gear Solid 4, but there’s more than enough story here to string together a nice little timeline of events. Indeed, the first thing you see is the game select screen, all arranged in chronological order. If you’re a complete newbie, you might wonder why Metal Gear Solid 3 takes place before its predecessor - and to be fair, Kojima has been known for his rather obtuse plot points and cinematics in all three of these games - but a quick read and a ten-minute blast on each title will soon sort you out.

The only game that may require some prior background is Metal Gear Solid 2, as certain events are best understood after playing the PS1 game that precedes it. But, because the version included in this HD Collection is the Substance edition, there are various special features that you can take advantage of that can negate some of that.

Metal Gear Solid 3 - my personal favourite in the series - also happens to be the Subsistence edition too, meaning that you can play the 1987 and 1990 MSX Metal Gear games that kicked off the franchise. Sadly, it doesn’t include the Metal Gear Online, Secret Theatre, Boss Survival and the hilarious Snake vs Monkey modes.

One major bonus that comes with the PlayStation 3 version of HD Collection, however, is what Kojima Productions is calling Transfarring. This allows players to begin a round of Metal Gear Solid 2 or 3 on their console, and then continue it on their PlayStation Vita handhelds.

The same can be done on PSP with Peace Walker right now, assuming you have a copy of the game in your UMD slot. I've not been able to test out Transfarring yet, largely given that for MGS2 and MGS3 to work with Vita, one needs a Vita version of Metal Gear Solid HD Collection. Which isn't out yet. So, not quite the delights of Remote Play, but at least a step in the right direction.

Graphically, the side-to-side comparisons between the PS2 originals and the HD updates is absolutely breathtaking. Bluepoint has done a solid job of really clearing up the screen and making greater use of colour and lighting. Environments are much more vivid, navigation is made easier by the increase in definition and in some cases control has been improved. Peace Walker, for instance, has been adapted for use with a second analogue stick.

Despite this, there are a few issues with texture blurring and pop-in on the rare occasion. I also noticed some slowdown in very infrequent places, where there is a lot of enemies and activity. The HD remaster, otherwise, is a similar effort to previous HD Collections on PlayStation 3 - Metal Gear Solid 2 is probably the best example of this, with cleaned-up metal panel textures making the environment seem a bit ‘flat’. As Peace Walker is an update of a PSP game and the original Metal Gear Solid 3 went far and beyond anything seen before on a PS2, this is less noticeable on the other games.

And even when you discount the incredible graphical leap, the gameplay of each title hasn’t changed one bit. This is a collection of three excellent, critically-acclaimed games that were each handed out many accolades on release. Today, Metal Gear Solid 3 and Peace Walker in particular still hold up to a 9/10 score on their own. £30 for games that helped define the PS2 and PSP, as well as a generation of action-adventure games, is a deal you simply cannot ignore, especially considering Bluepoint’s formidable effort.

If you’re new to the Metal Gear Solid series, this is an absolute must-buy. For die-hard fans of Snake, its minor technical foibles doesn’t betray the timelessness of these espionage adventures. Highly recommended.


+ Great value for money and a competent remaster
+ Metal Gear Solid 3 still stands up against current-gen games
+ Small but significant control changes to Peace Walker


- Metal Gear Solid 2 is showing its age
- Infrequent technical issues
- Transfarring not quite there yet - requires purchase of upcoming title

SPOnG Score: 9/10

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gingineer 26 Jan 2012 13:46
I look forward to picking this up as I have played 1, 2 and 4 but not 3 or Peace Walker, so it is good value for me.
Hark 27 Jan 2012 12:39
I've played them all, and although some people hail 3 to be the best, I thought it was the weakest out of the collection. But its still an amazing game and story of the original cast.

Funny even after playing all 4 I still found myself browsing the MGS database for 2 hours for more answers.

Great Gaming Series ever!
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