Snake. That is one word that has so many different responses. When you hear the word, a multitude of objects and things can pop into your head. Animals, the old video game where you guide a pixel and eat others to create a tail, among other things. What gamers think of, however, is the iconic character from the Metal Gear franchise, Solid Snake, along with his predecessor, Naked Snake or otherwise known as Big Boss.
The Metal Gear franchise has spanned over the course of the past 26 years and has spawned thirteen games in that time. It is a very big franchise with a very big fanbase. With Metal Gear Solid V right around the corner with the release of Ground Zeroes next year, fans and newcomers alike are trying to catch themselves up on the series. There is a lot to catch up on and some people may need several game consoles to do so.
Those who own a PlayStation Vita will not have too much trouble, as most of the franchise is already available to be played on the system. You can play the first Metal Gear Solid if you have a PlayStation 3 to transfer it over, as well as downloading the PSP title, Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker onto the Vita. The bulk of the Vita’s Metal Gear arsenal, however, comes from its version of the HD Collection that released on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Here is our review of Metal Gear Solid HD Collection for the PlayStation Vita.
Metal Gear Solid HD Collection is a compilation of many games all in one, so the story isn’t easy to tell. In this collection, we have Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater and, thanks to the inclusion of the Substance and Subsistence versions of both games, Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake. That is four games in tow, so the storyline won’t be easy to tell, as this will tell the story of a large portion of the franchise.
At its simplest, each Metal Gear and Metal Gear Solid game can be taken down to a simple phrase. Stop a nuclear strike. In each game of the series, there is an impending threat either known from the beginning or information is given throughout the game. At some point in the storyline of each game, the opposing party, whether it be terrorists or otherwise, will have access to a nuclear weapon and the means to launch it at an unsuspecting country. Your job, of course, is to stop it.
Each game has its own set of characters and everything plays out differently, though that goal is the same. In chronological order, the games included go from Metal Gear Solid 3, Metal Gear, Metal Gear 2, Metal Gear Solid 2.
In Metal Gear Solid 3, you play as Naked Snake, later known as Big Boss. After a famous Russian scientist who had come over to the United States in the middle of the Cold War is taking hostage and returned to Russia, you drop in to rescue him. Upon his rescue, you find your mentor, a legendary war hero, kidnap that scientist and defect to the Soviet Union. After being subdued and ties between the United States and Russia intensified from a nuclear strike where the scientist was kept, you are sent back in to rescue him and take out your mentor, the traitor.
In Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2, you play as Solid Snake. In these, you are infiltrating high-security bases in order to stop the leader of Outer Heaven from launching a nuclear weapon from a bipedal tank known as “Metal Gear”. You are on your own, as it is a solo sneaking operation, where stealth is key, as you traverse the bases and find your way to Metal Gear.
In Metal Gear Solid 2, the United States President is kidnapped and taken to an environmental cleanup facility over the ocean. You play as Raiden, a member of the FOX Hound infiltration unit, sent in to rescue the President and unlock the mysteries behind the terrorists who kidnapped him and their nuclear capabilities towards the rest of the world.
The stories are all similar, though they are all different. This also isn’t just a war-time series, as the story summaries make it sound. While there is a war element here, with the threat of nuclear war, there are also some fantasy elements thrown into the mix, too. The series offers characters surrounded by many fantasy-like characteristics, like ESP, the ability to generate electricity from their bodies, and more. The storytelling is well done in the series and can draw in even those who cannot stand video games about War.
The Metal Gear series has had the same type of goal with its gameplay, ever since the beginning. Although the gameplay of games like Metal Gear Solid 3 seem vastly different than that of the original Metal Gear, the main idea is the same. That goal is Stealth. Whether you’re playing Metal Gear 2 or Metal Gear Solid 2, your goal will be to sneak past guards and enemies, rather than fighting and gunning them down.
When you traverse rooms and areas in the games, the idea is to watch the movements of the enemies, and move yourself around them when they are not looking. The game encourages this by throwing an Alert system into all of the games. If you, for example, run up to an enemy in any of these games and gun them down, an alert will sound the moment an enemy sees or hears what you have done. After the alert is up, several more enemies will respawn in the room and chase after you until you’ve either escaped from them or they’ve gunned you down and you get a Game Over. So, the general idea is that it’s a lot easier and safer if you go by stealth.
How you traverse is a big way of how the games differ. Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2, for example, are 2D games, being from the late 1980s. So, you are traversing a 2D plane, going only in the directions of Up, Down, Left, and Right. You really have to watch where the guards are looking to know when you can move past them and risk taking one out while another isn’t looking your way. The difficulty is also a bit higher in the 2D games, given the era in which they were created. It’s harder to just run-and-gun in those games, like you can in the easier difficulties of Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3.
Metal Gear Solid 2 plays a little similar to this, offering an overhead camera display, but with 3D graphics. Most of the time, when you play the game, the camera is overhead, like in a 2D game, but there are a lot of things different. First of all, you have a radar to show each enemy’s line of vision, to help you stay out of their sight. There are also several kinds of weapons you can acquire, which allow different kinds of attacking, from handguns to swords to sniper rifles.
There is also a 3D aspect to Metal Gear Solid 2. If you go into Manual Aim for the game, you will switch to a First-Person view, which looks much like the view of a First Person Shooter game, like Call of Duty or Doom 3. This lets you manually aim and see the game from a 3D perspective, rather than always over-top. Some weapons, like the Sniper Rifles, require this perspective for their precision with aiming at moving targets.
Metal Gear Solid 3 also uses these elements, though it is always in a 3D perspective. While the camera of Metal Gear Solid 2 is set above the area, the camera in Metal Gear Solid 3 is right behind the player, similar to the perspective in a Third Person Shooter. It also features the First-Person manual aim and, along with being able to roll into enemies to knock them out, you can use CQC (Close Quarters Combat) to sneak up and subdue an enemy into unconsciousness.
As you progress through each game, you acquire different items for different uses. These can all be equipped and accessed in the middle of the game. Some items will be required for tasks, like a Spray Can for defusing C4 Bombs, or Thermal Goggles to find hidden mines and claymores in your area. To traverse through those games, you need to have the right tools for the right areas, which encourages a lot of exploration as you go through the game, so you always have everything you need.
Stamina and Survival are something exclusive to Metal Gear Solid 3 as major parts of gameplay. You and enemies have Stamina and Health gauges. When stamina runs low, you, or they, will pass out. So, you need to keep your stamina high in order to play the game well. You can also perform stamina “kills” on enemies to easily subdue them with weaponry that is not loud and will not attract attention. This ties into survival.
Survival is a collection of Medicine and Food. As you traverse through Metal Gear Solid 3, your stamina gauge will slowly drop, and you will need to catch and eat food to replenish it. You can find food around areas, but you will also need to catch it. You can shoot down animals you find to use as food, though you should be careful as some are poisonous. There are a lot of different kinds of animals, from fish to snakes to spiders to alligators to frogs. They also replenish different amounts of stamina, so it’s good to test and remember where certain animals are located so you can stock up.
Medicine is also something you can collect, but this is used when you suffer injuries. Normally in games, you can just use a healing item to heal damage you receive. In Metal Gear Solid 3, you take damage depending on what kind of damage you take. For example, if you’re shot from a gun, you will have a bullet wound. This will block your automatic healing from taking place until the injury is nurtured. So, you have to open the Cure part of the Survival Menu and dig the bullet out with your knife before you can replenish that health. This adds a certain amount of realism to the game.
Camouflage is the final part that makes Metal Gear Solid 3 unique. You can find and collect camouflage and face paint throughout the game that helps you blend with your surroundings and move around easier without being detected.
The only downside to this collection is that, unlike the PS3 and Xbox 360 version, this does not include Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker. While you can buy and download the PSP title to your Vita, it doesn’t come with the collection and doesn’t have Trophy Support, as it does on the home consoles.
The controls of the games differs a little between the games, though it is mostly between the 2D and 3D games. First of all, there are touch controls for the game, which I will go into when I talk about the controls for Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3. In the original games, you don’t have many controls to work with. The D-Pad is used for Movement, while the Circle button is used for attacking enemies and interacting with objects. The Start Button opens the Menu, and the Select Button opens the radio, which you can use to talk to your commander or other people via Radio Frequencies.
In Metal Gear Solid 2, your movement is done with the Left Analog Stick. Just as with the 2D games, Select opens the Radio Menu, and Start pauses the game. You use the Circle button to punch and the Square Button to fire your weapon. The R Button opens the First Person Mode, and you can fire a weapon there with the Square Button as well. Moving the manual aim around is done with the Left Analog Stick. X is also used to crouch down when standing still or to roll when you are running.
In Metal Gear Solid 3, movement is done with the Analog Stick. Since it is with a 3D perspective, the camera can be moved, which is done with the Right Analog Stick. Attacking is still done with the Square Button and punching with Circle, along with rolling with X. R brings up the Manual Aim, and you can use Manual Aim just like in Metal Gear Solid 2.
The Touch Controls are used for L2/R2 on the Rear Touch Panel, which are mostly not used, but for pull-ups while hanging. The other touch controls are used for your inventory. You can only have one item equipped at a time of each type (Weapon and Item). You hold down the touch-screen over the equipped item to open that menu and scroll with your finger until you find what you want. Since your finger has to be held down this entire time, it feels pretty awkward at first.
Graphically, this collection is all over the place. Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2 come in their original forms, while Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3 comes with enhancements above their original PS2 incarnations.
When you take a look at Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3, they are well-done in the visual department. There are very few jagged edges and everything looks crisp and fluid. While it doesn’t look as polished as the HD Collection does on the PlayStation 3, it still is an exceptional-looking title for the PlayStation Vita. The developers did well at making it look well-done, given how small the file sizes are compared to their PS3 counterparts.
The music and audio also are done well. While there aren’t a whole lot of songs that will stick in your head for ages past playing the games, all of the music is appropriate. More importantly, all of the voice-acting is well-done for the games that have it. Most of that is pretty believable for how it is said and, savor a couple characters, the dialogue is enjoyable to listen to.
The game plays very well and smooth. There is a solid frame rate, and the game doesn’t lag. While there are some sizeable load times when you are first loading the game to get to the title screen, most of the load times after you actually start playing the game(s) are relatively short. Impatient gamers may be a little frustrated when first loading the collection, but not after diving into a game.
The Metal Gear Solid HD Collection is missing Peace Walker and has a few awkward touch-based controls. Despite this, it offers four full games with enough content to last someone more time than they could care to guess. This is one of the most time-consuming games in the Vita library and any Metal Gear fan would not want to pass it up.
The PlayStation Vita Review Network rates Metal Gear Solid HD Collection an 8.5/10