I only intended to turn on the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection for the Vita for a bit. I just really wanted to check the graphics, see how it moved, and check the content. I am a long time Metal Gear fan, even back to the original NES title, so I know and have played the games on this re-release many, many times, most recently last November when I played the console HD Collection release. So I was just planning on testing it against the originals and other re-releases and passing on my impressions.
It was nine hours before I first put my Vita down, and that was only because I grudgingly realized that I had to sleep at some point.
The MGS Collection will last much, much longer than your Vita battery will. The Vita version includes: the original Metal Gear for the NES, Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, and a vast selection of VR missions. Notably absent are Metal Gear Solid, which was also missing on the console HD Collection, and Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, which was removed from the Vita release.
Both omissions hurt. Not including MGS1 in the HD Collection was by far my biggest complaint when I reviewed it last year. MGS1 is an amazing game, and more than that, it is an important one in gaming. I am trying my best to avoid the phrase “game changer,” but it is apt. It revolutionized the stealth action genre, and was amongst the best PSOne games released, and arguably one of the best games ever made. And yet it didn’t make the Collection. It was a massive oversight that was blamed on the technical side of things, but it marred what would have been an otherwise “must own” collection.
The removal of Peace Walker is a bigger issue for this collection, since it was already included as part of the console version, so a remastered version is floating around. You could argue that the game didn’t fit on the Vita cartridge, while the cynics might argue that Sony wants you to buy the PSP version through the PSN store. Regardless, the lack of the game isn’t a deal-breaker since there is still plenty of other content to enjoy.
Plus, it really isn’t fair to directly compare this title with its console counterpart–the systems are fundamentally different–but it is unavoidable if you also own a PS3. The Vita version features “transfarring,” which will allow you to save a game to cloud storage from the Vita then load it on the PS3 version of the game. A great feature, but it also means you must also own the console version, which inevitably leads to comparisons. For the same list price you actually get one less game. But of course, you get the boon of having two excellent games to take with you on the go. Call it a wash.
The game plays well on the Vita. The touchscreen replaces the shoulder button that bring up the inventory, but that is about it. There is some limited functionality with the rear touchpad, especially in MGS3 where you use your knife fairly often, but it is a limited feature that you won’t need to rely on.
Otherwise the dual thumbsticks and shoulder buttons translate well. The gameplay is much the same today as it was all those years ago, and the obsessive desire to make it through a room without being seen remains, as do all the awesome and bizarre Easter eggs that Hideo Kojima and Kojima Productions crammed into the games.
The graphics look very good, and the translation suits the Vita—especially MGS2. On the console version MGS2 looked fine, but not amazing. On the Vita, the graphics are more in line with what you would expect, so the contrast isn’t as stark as it is on the console. MGS3 actually looks fairly stunning for a handheld title, and on the Vita it looks brilliant. It isn’t quite on par with the HD remastering on the consoles, but it is as good as any Vita game out there.
Both MGS2 and MGS3 are stellar games that were instant classics. Missing Peace Walker and MGS1 is tough to hold against the Vita version beyond just as an academic complaint. What there is on the Collection is more than enough to justify the purchase of both games. Throwing in the VR Missions and the NES games is an added bonus.
Other than the lack of MGS1 and Peace Walker, which will bring a pang of regret to any fan of the series, the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection on the Vita is among the best offerings on the system. The game is smooth and fluid, and it brings two incredible games to a new medium. If you own a Vita, and if you have even the smallest interest in playing or replaying the MGS games included in the Collection, this should be an easy, and immediate purchase.
(This game was reviewed on the PlayStation Vita on a copy provided by Konami)