The greatest stealth saga of all time?
Written by Super User
Published Tuesday, 03 January 2012 19:00
The recent surge of compilation packs can be considered an ideal win-win situation as far as I’m concerned. It can be a nostalgic blast to go back and play some of our beloved stories of the past, and it can provide an opportunity for the many who never had the chance to experience some of the great games of yesteryear. Some of these re-releases do a better job than others in terms of content. Some are just the games themselves, while others pack in Making-Of videos, themes, and so on. And each one carries a lower price point than the typical new release, which makes it even more enticing.
The latest collection to hit store selves is Metal Gear Solid HD, a compilation that pretty much covers the entire Metal Gear franchise with one glaring exception: Metal Gear Solid (ok, make that two, as MGS 4 isn’t here either). Don’t let that dissuade you though, as Metal Gear Solid HD comes with arguable some of the best the console titles ever to grace North American shores in the form of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater and the PSP entry, Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker. And as this uses the Subsistence version of Metal Gear Solid 3, the original 8-bit Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake are here as a cool bonus. So essentially, short of a few missing elements (namely MGS and MGS 4), we have all the core MGS titles in a single package.
As most fans can attest, the story of Solid Snake is a convoluted one at best. Bouncing around between the modern day and the 1960’s, it’s a tale of clones, politics, evil brothers, world domination, nuclear robots and, of course, loads of tactical stealth gameplay. Ok, so I’m severely glossing over the franchise here, but you get the picture.
"There’s enough in this collection to keep you busy for many sneaking, box-hiding, and bad guy eliminating hours."
Things begin with Solid Snake, a member the special ops team FOXHOUND, tasked with infiltrating Outer Haven, home of a para-military group bent on world domination via the nuclear robotic tank Metal Gear. As the tale unfolds over the course of the games that fllowed (beginning with the first 8-bit Metal Gear), FOXHOUND leader Big Boss turns out to actually be the leader of Outer Haven as well, and him along with uber-baddie Revolver Ocelot end up being the catalyst that storyline circles around. I won’t even attempt to detail it all here, half because I don’t want to spoil the narrative gauntlet the series sends you on and half because I would probably get lost somewhere between Raiden and ADAM.
The storyline may have jumped all over the place across the various entries in the franchise, but what made the series so special was the innovative gameplay. Tactical espionage has never been so much fun, and the stealth mechanics that Kojima and crew brought forth here served to inspire many games to come. Elements like an active cover system were pioneered by the MGS series. Some of the inspiration is obvious, such as the successful Splinter Cell franchise, while others drew upon it more indirectly, like the Gears of War series. Facets like keeping noise to a minimum, using non-leathal means to dispatch your foes, breaking the “fourth wall” before it really became a popular element with the current console cycle, and hiding in plain sight all were so different in comparison to the gameplay offered by the rest of the industry at the time that gamers flocked to it in droves. There’s no denying the impact the Metal Gear franchise has had on the industry as a whole, and help propel gameplay standards into whole new direction.
Arriving during the early days of 3D visuals (yes, 1999 was still the early days), the MGS series was an eye-catcher from the very start. However, it was 2001’s Sons of Liberty that really kicked things up a notch. Well detailed (especially for an early PS2 title), it utilized its graphics engine to render the cut-scenes as well, adding a level of fluidity to the narrative not typically found during its day. Even without the coat of HD paint this collection provides, Sons of Liberty could stand up just fine against today’s releases. With much of the game taking place in the jungle, Snake Eater carried on the same accolades, including lush foliage and a unique camouflage system. As the game launched during the twilight of the PS2 era, the jump from MGS 2 to 3 wasn’t quite as dramatic as it was from the first one to the second, but it still looks fabulous, especially now, as it seemed to benefit the most from the HD upgrade. Chalk it up to the set pieces, since MGS 2 was mostly an indoor affair, while MGS 3 had a bit more variety and outdoor locals.
As one of the best games of the PlayStation 2’s catalog, and arguably one of the best of all time, running through Sons of Liberty is a treat in and of itself, regardless of the almost over-bearing plot threads. Adding in Snake Eater and Peace Walker fleshes out the package perfectly, and will give gamers plenty to love for the price. It is painful not to have the original Metal Gear Solid or even Metal Gear Solid 4, but given the wealth of content here, that pain is short lived. There’s enough in this collection to keep you busy for many sneaking, box-hiding, and bad guy eliminating hours. If you have never played any of these games, or if you are just looking to return to some of the best the stealth genre has ever produced, you can’t go wrong with Metal Gear Solid HD Collection.
Release date : 2011-11-15
Publisher : Konami
Developer : Kojima Productions
Gameplay : Action-Adventure
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