Metal Gear has been a staple of gaming since its jump from 2D to 3D with Metal Gear Solid for the Playstation 1. The first game is one of the favourites of many and practically gave birth to the modern stealth games. Over the next thirteen years many more titles would be added to the series and sell millions of copies. Now though, three of these titles are being given the HD upgrade that fans have been screaming for since HD remakes were first introduced. Not only that but 2004 title Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater is also being released in 3D on the 3DS. All of the titles were available at Eurogamer Expo and we were there to try them all out.
The main meat at the show was the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection. The pack contains, in Europe and America, HD versions of Metal Gear Solid 2, Metal Gear Solid 3 and PSP title Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker. Going in release order, MGS2 is the oldest title but even the PS2 version still holds up today as being graphically fantastic, especially thanks to the water and rain effects on the Tanker. The HD version of it still looks good, but if you go into it expecting the same feelings of amazement when you first played it, you’ll probably be disappointed.
The problem with MGS2, and other HD remasters, is that the game looks the same but with more pixels. PS2’s and XBOX’s graphics look bad today because of the fuzzy analogue signals and lack of higher resolution. MGS2 and other titles from the era are simply exactly the same, just re-rendered. There’s been no additions or overhauls in terms of textures, everything is now just clear. This isn’t a bad thing if you know that this is what you should be expecting.
The same can also be said for Peace Walker as it’s the PSP game but blown up and re-rendered. Things look nicer in general, especially as the PSP version had a weird sort of dot layer on top of the image, but texture wise it’s still the same.
The two games look great, but people shouldn’t imagine that they’ve suddenly been turned into current gen standard games. Of course everything I’ve just said could just be an enormous fallacy, as then came MGS3.
There is only one way of describing the HD version of MGS3 and this is by saying this: Metal Gear Solid 3 HD might be the best looking PS3 and X360 game. The game is arguably the best looking game in the PS2 library and this has transferred to HD perfectly. The jungle environments still look deep and rich and the characters still look as rugged as ever. Whether this will transfer onto the more linear bits of the game later on is yet to be seen, but it’s a perfect HD upgrade and is a game that needs to be replayed when the collection is out, even just to see the spectacle of it.
That’s on the PS3 and X360 though. On the 3DS it’s a horrible, unoptimised mess. Not in the graphics sense per se as the graphics look great, very comparable to Peace Walker, but the game suffers from immense FPS slowdown during cutscenes and with Metal Gear you get two things; Lots of cutscenes and lots of slowdown.
Loading times are also a big problem as you expect loading when going into the next area of the game, but a loading screen before a cutscene and before codecs is inexcusable. The screen also seems simply too small. I hadn’t seen or played MGS3 HD yet, so it wasn’t a subconscious feeling of needing to see more on the screen, it was just a big reduction in the POV.
The controls aren’t fantastic, leading many people to give up and walk away whilst I was playing on a different unit. They probably won’t be a problem to anyone who has played MGS games on the PSP, but that’s no excuse for them being bad. MGS 3DS will support the 3DS second control stick add on though, which will make the controls better whilst simultaneously bulking up the console.
In regards to the 3D aspect it’s certainly there, but it’s nothing special. As I’ve said many times before, I cant see 3D properly but I’ve still played 3DS games at other Nintendo events and seen depth. Nothing really seemed to happen with MGS 3DS, even on the maximum setting. Metal Gear Solid 3 is a game that flows very well, but on the 3DS it just feels stodgy and awkward.
The home consoles have certainly got the upper hand with three fantastic games, the best on each respective original platform, in HD with full controls and achievements. The 3DS however has got the runt of the pack, something that certainly shouldn’t be used as an introduction to the series. With both probably retailing for around the same price, it’s easy to see which prospective Metal Gear fans should buy.
The Metal Gear Solid HD Collection is coming out later this year for the PS3 and X360. Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D is due in February for the Nintendo 3DS