I’ve already reviewed Metal Gear Solid HD Collection on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 awhile back, and it was a port that was handled splendidly. I’ve also reviewed Metal Gear Solid 3D: Snake Eater for the Nintendo 3DS, in which I felt that despite all great efforts and innovations, it suffered some issues that made it a substandard version of the original Snake Eater.
Now we’re back again with another re-release. Joy!
Metal Gear Solid HD Collection on the PlayStation Vita brings both Metal Gear Solid 2 and Metal Gear Solid 3 together with HD visuals and some small refinements. Omitted from this collection was Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker.
In an effort to keep things the same between the PlayStation 3 version and the PlayStation Vita version, the whole “Transfarring” thing keeps everything on level. The idea is that you can transfer (erm, “transfar) your save file between your PS3 and Vita so you can continue where you left off. The negative side about this is that the PS3 and Vita would have to play virtually identical. This means that none of the innovations from the 3DS version of Snake Eater is seen in the Vita version at all.Crouch walk, emulating the Peace Walker control style for better gun control, and even using the Vita’s camera to generate custom camo did not make the transfer at all. It’s a shame.
Everything else is faithful to the console ports. MGS2 does run into some frame rate drops when rain or smoke effects are involved, but otherwise it maintains 60 FPS with very few hitches. MGS3 on the other hand was scaled back to 30 FPS just like the original PlayStation 2 version. I’m not sure why I’m so surprised at how well it maintains that constant 30 FPS, but it is a sight to see when a portable console is able to handle a game like MGS3 without frame rate issues.
Thankfully, the MGS HD Collection is not plagued by overuse of touch controls. Switching items and weapons are now done by using the touch screen, while the rear touch-pad is used for functions that otherwise could not be done on the Vita’s buttons and sticks. There’s no need to relearn controls, though there are a few functions that need some explaining. It did take me awhile to figure out how to slit someone’s throat in MGS3.
Both MGS2 and MGS3 are fantastic games. Putting them in a portable platform can have its advantages and disadvantages. Checkpoints are placed down every time you enter a new room or zone. If you need to stop playing, you can always hit save and end up right where you left off. That’s fine for a stealth game where everything is formulated in a way where each zone has its own uniqueness to it. The bad thing is absorbing all of the story and cutscenes, which will most likely be segmented depending on when you’re able to pull out the PS Vita and do some gaming.
Thankfully in the case of MGS3, all cutscenes can be reviewed again thanks to the Demo Theater. Not so much for MGS2, and those cutscenes are known for being notoriously long.
Even if you can’t really fit a full fledged Snake/Raiden adventure into your limited schedule, let’s not understate just how much content you’re getting with MGS HD Collection. Both MGS2 and MGS3 are based on their Substance/Subsistence re-releases on the original PS2. This means that for MGS2, you not only get the full game but you also get a massive list of short but challenging VR Missions and five Snake Tales side missions. For MGS3, you get the MSX version of Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake. These additions are actually fantastic for portable gaming. It’s as if Konami wanted players to engage themselves in the main story on their consoles while using the Vita version to do the side things.
Sadly, the MGS2 Skateboarding mini-game was removed. Tragic, I know.
If you must take your Metal Gear on the road, this is the definitive way to go about it. While the differences between the Vita version and the previously released console versions are kept very minimal, the transition did not hamper the experience at all. There is almost no reason to purchase this if you primarily play your handhelds at home and you have access to an Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3. Regardless, it’s great to have choices, and this is a choice that I recommend to get your Snake in a box going.