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Metal Gear Solid HD Collection – PS Vita review

Our Rating :
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A must for Metal Gear fans and action gamers alike, HD Collection is also one of the best time sinks the Vita has to offer

The brain has a nasty habit of playing tricks on your when trying to remember something from your past – a phenomenon we experienced playing the opening minutes of the Metal Gear Solid HD collection. Arguably two of the best looking games on the PlayStation 2, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater were so visually impressive the first time around it was difficult to spot what had changed in the transition to Sony’s Vita handheld.

However, returning to the originals for the purpose of this review, it was astonishing what a difference the high definition visual upgrade has made. All the characters, objects and scenery look simply gorgeous on the Vita’s OLED screen, with incredible levels of detail that completely transforms Sons of Liberty. Where before there were blurred textures and jagged edges, there are now pin-sharp graphics and anti-aliased lines. The aspect ratio has been widened from 4:3 to 16:9 to take full advantage of the Vita’s display, but rather than simply stretch existing cut-scenes the development team have re-rendered them so there’s no sign of distortion.

Metal Gear Solid HD Collection

The level of detail was already impressive, but here it’s astonishing

For the uninitiated, Metal Gear Solid was the brainchild of Japanese developer Hideo Kojima. The emphasis on stealth over confrontation, a playful willingness to break the fourth wall and a deep and complex plot driven heavily by present day military, political and environmental issues arguably made it one of the greatest games of all time, so it came as no surprise when a sequel was announced.

However, the decision to replace series protagonist Solid Snake with newcomer Raiden wasn’t well received by fans, and despite its plot eerily foreshadowing our present-day reliance on technology and information, Sons of Liberty wasn’t the sequel most were expecting. It introduced many new elements to the series, including first-person aiming and an extended arsenal that let you avoid lethal enemy encounters, but the somewhat convoluted storyline and extended cut-scenes detracted from the gameplay.

Metal Gear Solid HD Collection

Even with a katana, Raiden just isn’t as cool as Snake

It’s by no means a bad game – it still hold up incredibly well, and more so than the original Metal Gear Solid, but the HD Collection is still rescued by the sublime Snake Eater. Switching the action from present day America to 1960s Russia was a stroke of genius that completely changes the stealth mechanics players had grown used to over the first two MGS games. The urban environments are all but replaced with dense jungle, placing a greater emphasis on survival and blending in with your surroundings.

Being able to change your camouflage to match your environment, having to cure yourself when attacked or injured by the various creatures that inhabit the jungle, and needing to maintain your stamina by catching and eating whatever you can find greatly adds to the sense of being one man very much alone in a hostile country. The 1960’s technology might not be as cutting edge as the gadgets available to Raiden in Sons of Liberty, but the larger than life characters and storyline focused on the constant threat of the Cold War still feel every bit like the Metal Gear games fans were expecting.

Metal Gear Solid HD Collection

Break a bone or get poisoned and you’ll have to cure it here

The boss battles still deserve a mention, seven years after they first amazed gamers with their scope and creativity. Our highlight will always be the sniper battle with The End, a century-old marksman who can still give you the run-around through three massive open levels. It took us almost an hour to find him and whittle down his health, and every minute was an absolute joy to play.

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