Okay, I’ll admit it. I’m a sucker for these HD re-releases of classic PS2/PSP games, and I’m not sure why. Often I’ve already played the games to death the first time I bought them, and while most HD collections have tarted up graphics, their gameplay is seldom updated, especially the control schemes, which often have a niggling “last generation-ness” to them – something which I just knew would be the case in Metal Gear Solid HD Collection. It’s finally here, so let’s take a look at it.
I’ll start with the low point of the package, MGS 2. It’s the stealth action game we all remember – which is no bad thing. It’s got action, depth, a compelling-if-ridiculous story and tons of secrets, nuances and Easter eggs. The biggest problem of all is that the control scheme hasn’t aged well: running around with a top-down camera; struggling with the fiddliest shooting system ever devised for a videogame; and suffering a jarring disconnect from the camera view to Snake/Raiden’s viewpoint every time you want to shoot in first person… Let’s just say that your love for MGS 2 had better be pretty strong if you want to see past this. If you can, it’s good fun.
Metal Gear Solid 3 is a bit more bearable, mostly because they gave us the Subsistence version, meaning that, at least, we get complete camera control while walking around instead of a locked, top-down camera. Unfortunately, the shooting is still retarded and there’s still a jarring disconnect every time you press the first-person view button, making the camera suddenly snap to where Snake is facing. That aside though, it’s a huge game with plenty of stealth-survival action and a ridiculous amount of depth and little things to discover. Again, the story is… pretty stupid, but it’s fun to follow.
The highlight of the package, however, is the excellent HD version of MGS: Peace Walker. Why is it so good? Well, first of all, you can transfer your save from your PSP version, so you don’t have to start from scratch – and you can play the PS3 version and transfer your save back to your PSP! How about that, eh? But that feature is small potatoes compared to the fact that the developers have, to my surprise, tweaked the control scheme to suit the PS3. Now it plays like a modern action shooter, with dual analogue camera controls and camera-directed aiming. Awesome. Again, there’s lots of depth and things to discover, which is par for the course for Metal Gear, and a gripping story to follow.
Even back on the PSP and PS2, these games were no slouch graphically, and the HD makeover just makes you realise that some developers don’t need the latest and greatest pixel shader models and highest-end graphic processing hardware to make a gorgeous game – they do it with sheer effort, determination and a bit of tender loving care. I think modern developers could learn a thing or two from Metal Gear.