Fresh off last fall’s release of the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection for both PS3 and Xbox 360, Konami has now packaged the series into a portable version for the PS Vita.
Bringing the beloved series to the Vita is a no-brainer, and porting the HD versions really shows off the Vita’s five-inch OLED screen capabilities, but other than aesthetics, the package starts to crack with serious omissions and features that fall flat.
Metal Gear Solid HD Collection takes Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater and condenses them down into a portable package. Fans will surely recognize that this Vita version is missing the superior Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker title that was included with the console games. Seeing as Peace Walker was designed for handhelds (it originally bowed on the PSP), the fact that it is not part of this release is puzzling and troubling.
What remains are two games in the venerable MGS series that benefit most from an HD update. Sons of Liberty picks up months after the original Metal Gear Solid, and follows Snake’s mission to stop black market Metal Gears from destroying the world (in reality, the game’s story is so convoluted that by the end, most players have given up trying to figure anything out and are just enjoying the tight gameplay). Sons of Liberty is also the game most noted for introducing the world to Raiden, a move that originally angered the fan base back in 2001.
Snake Eater actually jumps back in time to the 1960s and follows a man named Jack, who gets the codename Snake during a mission, as he tries and prevent a cold war nuclear showdown. This Snake goes on to become the Boss (as well as the genetic blueprint for half dozen different people during the course of the series’ story). Snake Eater is arguably the stronger of the two titles, having benefited from being released later on in the PS2’s lifecycle.
Rounding out the package, MGS HDC also includes the VR missions and Snake Tales from the MGS2: Substance and the original MSX versions of Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2 that were originally included with MGS3: Subsistence. In essence, you get five games in this collection, which is great, but it still doesn’t make up for the omission of Peace Walker.
Hoping to take advantage of the Vita’s touch features, developers Armature and BluePoint Games have tried to tweak the controls, but in so doing have actually castrated the use of many of the Vita’s face/trigger buttons. Weapon and item selection is now done primarily by front screen touch, which works okay, but the precision needed to switch items during an intense moment can be lost to fat fingers. Snake Eater also utilizes the rear touch screen to initiate knife attacks and both games allow you to control Snake’s sneaking ability in regards to peeking around corners.
There are controller configurations that can be tweaked, but there is no clear explanation as to how or what a configuration is short of trial and error.
The true meat of this collection is the HD (960 pixels x 544 pixels) and the stereo soundtrack, which still sounds amazing today. And of course, two of the greatest games of all time are now completely portable, so that’s a major plus.
Metal Gear Solid HD Collection also uses the Transfarring feature introduced last fall for the console release. Back then, Transfarring was used to transfer Peace Walker files from the PSP to the PS3, but here, it is used as a “cross platform play” feature that allows the user to save their game into a cloud and resume it at anytime between the Vita and a PS3.
This would be great, but that would mean having the same game collection on two systems, and that is a lot of money ($40 for each collection) to be dropped on games that are eleven and eight years old respectively. And again, Peace Walker’s omission rears its head here too. Konami really dropped the ball here, and it is simply inexcusable.
For fans of the series, the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection is a nice addition to any Vita library. Snake Eater is one of the best MGS games ever, and it is nice to play the original Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2 games as they were originally designed and not the Konami/Ultra Games remakes that originally graced the NES back in the late 80s.
The Metal Gear Solid HD Collection PS Vita touch controls are decent, but not a game seller, and the game looks and sounds amazing. The lack of Peace Walker hurts this collection as a whole, and both Sons of Liberty and Snake Eater are starting to show their age. I hope that Konami has an ace up their sleeve and has plans to release an updated HD Metal Gear Solid and Peace Walker as a second collection. If they don’t, please take my idea and run with it, Konami. Seriously, I won’t mind at all.
Shop for the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection on PS Vita for a discounted price at Amazon.com (June 12, 2012 release date).