Metal Gear Solid HD Collection - Preview
History lessonFeaturing high definition updates of 2001's Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, 2004's Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater and 2010's Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection is a love letter to fans of the series and a brilliant way for those who haven't been exposed to it to experience some of the best stealth games ever made, and indeed some of the finest gaming moments of all time.
Sons of Liberty tasks players with infiltrating an Atlantic rig to confront a terrorist hostage threat involving the President, Snake Eater sees players carrying out a series of Cold War-era assassination missions deep in a Soviet jungle, while Peace Walker challenges players to thwart a nuclear threat after Costa Rica is overrun by an organisation of highly-trained mercenaries.
Classics rebornDespite their age, all three games hold up well in 2012. Featuring lengthy cinematic cut scenes, intricate storylines exploring political, technological and philosophical themes, plus a welcome dose of offbeat humour, in many respects they feel as though they've hardly aged, something that's largely due to the fact that they were so ahead of their time when first released.
With nine globe-trotting games in the Metal Gear series, which jump back and forth across five decades and features a giant cast of characters, some players will find it difficult to keep up with the storylines in these twist-laden espionage thrillers, but even if that's the case, the stellar gameplay alone makes them worth experiencing.
Tactical espionage actionSons of Liberty and Snake Eater see players taking on the role of a lone agent going up against enemy forces that outnumber them dramatically. A gung-ho attitude will lead to a quick death, so the best way to progress is to avoid drawing attention to yourself by tripping alerts of entering an enemy's line of sight, and the central premise of playing hide and seek with intelligent guards is a joy to engage in.
Players collect and use clothing and items as camouflage, seek alternate routes to reach objectives, use distraction techniques, hide in lockers, boxes or the undergrowth, and take out enemies with choke holds or tranquiliser darts before hiding their bodies. It's all brilliantly executed, and no other series gives you such a genuine sense of dread that you're going to be discovered.
Brilliant bossesOf course, sometimes lethal force is necessary, particularly when you're attempting to take down an army of 80-foot robots, as in Sons of Liberty, or are tasked with assassinating a deadly, otherworldly military squad, as in Snake Eater. Constantly original and set in gorgeous jungle locations, the latter's boss battles are the stuff of gaming legend. The standout encounter is arguably a lengthy face-off against the century-old 'father of modern sniping' The End, a foe who's as hard to locate as he is to finish off.
Originally developed for PSP, Peace Walker plays out somewhat differently to its console brothers, featuring a series of bite-sized missions in which you're challenged to recruit a series of soldiers for your own military unit to help complete your end goal of averting a nuclear threat. Mixing stealth, shooter, strategy, base-building and RPG elements, it's a varied offering that benefits greatly from being playable with a second analogue stick on console controllers.
UnmissableMixing innovative gameplay with deep, twisting storylines and cinematic flair, the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection is a great antidote to more predictable modern war shooters. Sons of Liberty, Snake Eater and Peace Walker are all fantastic games in their own right, so to be able to pick up them together with updated visuals and at a value price point makes this a standout compilation that looks set to delight series fans and newcomers alike.