The Metal Gear Solid franchise is one of the most celebrated in all of gaming, spanning multiple console generations and iterations. Konami returns to the world that Hideo Kojima built with a port of Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3 for the PlayStation Vita. Does this port of last year’s HD Collection hold up on a handheld? Find out in our first multi-editor review.
Metal Gear Solid 2 – Rae Michelle Langdon
As I said in my initial impressions piece Metal Gear Solid 2 is one of my favorite games of all time, and it brings back a lot of memories to play it 11 years after its release. Does that mean that it is a game that is perfect? Or has no flaws? Of course not, and unfortunately the PlayStation Vita port of the game suffers from some of the same issues as the original and some brand-new ones.
At its core Metal Gear Solid 2 is a stealth title with the option to go out guns blazing, for the less sneaky among us. The gameplay translates perfectly to the PlayStation Vita, with movement, contextual actions, aiming and sneaking all working as they do on the PS3/PS2 and Xbox 360. If you haven’t played through the original MGS 2 or the Subsistence Add-on, you’ll have no problem picking up the controls after only 20 min. or so.
The problems with the controls, aren’t the use of the physical buttons, but the way that the touchscreen has been implemented. Konami says that the touch controls are there to enhance the gameplay but I found them slightly to mildly irritating during my time with the game. One of the big functions maps to the touchscreen is the selection of items. Instead of holding down the shoulder buttons, as you do on the console versions, you’ll touch too little square boxes to select either offense weapons or one-time use items. I got used to this within the first half an hour but during my entire play through of MGS2 I kept asking myself “Why isn’t this maps to the rear touchpad?”. It would’ve felt more natural in the absence of a second set of show their buttons to tap and hold the touchpad on the back of the system rather than using the front screen, thus forcing me to remove my thumb from one of the joysticks. The most extreme example of the touchscreen’s ineffectiveness is the mapping of the push-up function. While doing push-ups to increase your grip meter is optional, it is very helpful and having to swipe up and down on attachment 100 times gets monotonous.
Tension has always been at the center of the Metal Gear Solid games and 2 is no exception. One small footstep over a metal grate or peeking out from behind a crate at the wrong time can be disastrous. The port of Metal Gear Solid 2 keeps this tense atmosphere in place and sneaking around the tanker and a big shell can be some of the most exhilarating moments to be found on the handheld.
Graphically, Metal Gear Solid 2 HD looks leaps and bounds better than the original. Gone are the blurry background textures, like the one seen during the mess hall in the tanker, and gone too are the artifacts and anti-aliasing issues that plague the PlayStation two version. Everything is crisp and clear and Connie has done a great job updating the textures on character models, although they can look a little plastic at times. The same cannot be said for some of the background objects, while objects like posters are now completely readable, other objects in the environment like the grates along the side of big shell look muddy upon close inspection. The PlayStation Vita version of MGS2 also suffers from severe slowdown when transitioning from cut scene to gameplay and vice versa. This issue seems to be localized completely to the second game is the third game did not suffer these problems.
Metal Gear Solid 3 – Jason Bassett
When you look back on the Metal Gear Solid franchise, you think of a great game with survival instincts, a great and diverse cast of characters and settings. One setting is among one of the greats in the storied franchise: the jungles of Russia. Set in 1964, you are Naked Snake. You are tasked to: find a scientist, stop a nuclear attack, prove a country’s innocence, and to kill a legendary soldier and defector. You also have about a week to do so.
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater is set during the Cold War. Amidst a terrifying time in world history, the two great powers: United States of America and USSR (Soviet Union) are at each other’s throats throughout a war of words. In order for America to be the #1 in all of this, they are tasked to find a scientist that is developing a new type of mobile weapon. Snake finds the good doctor, however, was stopped by a legendary female soldier. This sets the events for an epic journey of courage and honor. To fight to the death to prove a country’s innocence and to stop a world war.
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater came out in 2004 on the PS2 and is near perfected in 2012 on the PS Vita. The game looks just as good if not more so when it first came out and the better resolution makes Snake look his finest. The gameplay is largely unchanged, however, there are some quirky changes to the control. The L button now acts as your stalk button, which makes thing a bit weird when trying to use your gun and sneak along with the analog stick. The D-PAD has brand new way of interacting with the game. Press down on the D-PAD will ready snakes gun so he may walk and aim. This was one of my favorite aspects of the game; especially since the Playstation 2’s control for this system was very cumbersome.
The touch pad now acts as your item and weapon selectors. Push down a bit on the touch pad on the lower right part of the screen and you will enter your weapon selections. Scrubbing the area up and down, you will be able to pick your weapon of choice. The same goes for the items box on the left. At the times the touch screen is weird to handle and you will end up picking the wrong weapon if you’re trying to quickly switch weapons. The back touchpad now acts as your interrogator technique. Getting an enemy in the grab position and then touching the back pad, you will interrogate the enemy. You can swipe the pad to slit the man’s thought, but I found that this was very seldom and found that half the time, this did not work.
During play, the player will notice some small framerate issues especially during scenes of intense action and some weird places like the codec screen. Most of the time, you will noticed these issues in cutscenes and not so much in the gameplay, unless there is fire animations around the camera. However, it is still very noticeable at times and will break away from the action. This does not take away from how beautiful the game is; HD is a treat for the Playstation Vita and players will be awestruck on how good both Snake and the jungle around him looks. Great lighting reflects the dim sun around Snake and animations are just like the original, as stiff as they are.
There is no denying that Snake is back and he’s on the Playstation Vita full force. Metal Gear Solid 3 in HD contains all of the features from the Subsistence game sans the multiplayer. You will also have the ability to play the original Metal Gear games: Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake. These are both emulated from their original versions on the and run wonderfully on the Vita.
Snake is back. So sneak out!
In our opinion the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection for PS Vita is a definite purchase for Metal Gear Fans looking for a portable fix. There are some issues that we had with both games however, namely the frame rate drop experienced during Metal Gear Solid 2 and the decision to use the touchscreen for item selection. There are also some really big positives here, you’re getting two games which will take you 8 to 10 hours each and graphically they look great with the lush jungles and lighting effects improved immensely.