Sunday, 26 February 2012

The Return of A Beloved Classic

Metal Gear Solid HD Collection
Developed by: Konami
Platform: X-box 360 and Playstation 3

This has been a recent release by Konami and Kojima. A reinvention of a game that set the bar on Stealth and Infiltration games. When they were originally released, these games were extremely popular and the subsequent stream of sequels, prequels and other games on various gaming systems has proven that one thing is true. The legacy of Solid Snake will live on, long after the man himself has succumbed to death.

What made these games great was the fantastic research (particularly on subjects like the Cold War, Soviet Russia and the Nuclear Arms race) which gave the games such a level of plausibility. The realism of the story makes it fascinating and as you progress through the games, you become enveloped within the story and you almost feel at times like you are watching a film instead of playing a computer game. The idea of a soldier sneaking in to a building and doing everything by stealth gave the game an element of fun and a challenge. Unlike other games similar to this, you don't always have to kill someone, you can just cleverly sneak past them instead!

As a long time fan of the franchise, you can imagine the palpable delight I felt when I saw that Metal Gear Solid HD Collections was going to be hitting the stores. I was actually really looking forward to the idea and when I saw that it was not only a PS3 release but it was also going to grace the platform of X box 360. This is the first time since Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes that the franchise ventured on to other systems other than Sony's Playstation systems. So this was a pretty exciting move.

Original Box Art from 2001
Before a HD Makeover
After it's HD Makeover
But, how does it play? Well to start with this game has 3 games in one, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons Of Liberty (original release was on Playstation 2 in 2001) and it followed on after Solid Snake had been victorious at Shadow Moses Island. Once again Snake and his comrades are called again to stop a group of terrorists, this time calling themselves "The Sons of Liberty". The main protagonist Raiden, has to fight his way through a group of old faces and threats from the previous game. After it's HD makeover, it looks polished and almost anew. Smoother graphics and improved gameplay. It looks like a neat little package and a pleasing one at that! It looks like a new game and it is in this format that it will recapture it's appeal for old fans as well as encourage a new generation of Metal Gear Solid fans. It is only a shame that we couldn't experience Metal Gear, Metal Gear 2 and  Metal Gear Solid in the same way, unless Hideo Kojima ever planned on recreating them for today's audience (maybe on a PSP format similar to how Square Enix managed to re-release the early Final Fantasy games).

Original PS2 Box Art 2004
Next up (and my personal favourite), is Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. When this was released on the Playstation 2 in 2004, it was received very well and it showed the audience the origins of the Les Infants Terribles project and a bit of insight in to the life of the mysterious "Big Boss" (the game's playable character who goes by the name Naked Snake). You start the game being deposited from a gunship in to the jungle, where you must brave dangerous wildlife, flora and fauna as well as enemies who are armed to the teeth with all the artillery they can carry.
Original Screenshot
As part of the games innovative features is the use of hunting and procuring your own food on the job. This will keep your stamina bar high and helps with health recovery. Also you have to heal your own injuries on the mission as well as typical Metal Gear tradition, procuring your weapons. There is a lot out there, so there is plenty to keep you amused! It has been remastered in such a way that it is as beautiful as it is authentic. The vast research and twisting and turning storyline carry the game forward, keeping it as timeless as it was on release. OK so I did sit for ages with the SPV sniper-rifle picking off KGB guards as they came past where I was hidden. The improved visibility made sniping and hunting simpler and more profitable. After it's remaster, you really get to see just how much detail really goes in to a game like this. Even the individual follicles of hair and beard are carefully reproduced and the textures look incredibly real, not bad considering that this game is nearly 8 years old and was originally released in SD on a console that didn't really stand up too well, especially as HD gaming was being developed as well as more advanced consoles which allow us to enjoy things like this now.

Also included on a separate disk is the 2010 release, Metal Gear Solid: Peacewalker. This is the first time this title (previously on PSP) was released on a home console. I've not played it yet so forgive me for my lack of review on this aspect, but from what I have read and seen, it looks to be just as spectacular as the rest of the package. I felt that perhaps an XBox release of "Guns of The Patriots" would have also been a good addition to this, but perhaps that may have to wait for a while. I believe it's release would be a welcome prospect for the future, but we will have to wait and see.

Fabulous re-port of incredibly popular games and I hope it brings in some new fans as well as exciting old ones.


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