Yes, you should buy the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection on PlayStation Vita. There was an off chance that the game bundling Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance and Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence could screw things up on the handheld, but it didn’t. The titles look great, play smoothly and are as much fun as ever. Don't sweat plunking down the money.
But you're the thorough reader. You want more than just a paragraph recommendation and a score. I dig that. The Metal Gear Solid HD Collection takes two of the best Metal Gear Solid games and puts them in one handheld experience. MGS2 casts you as Solid Snake and then Raiden as you attempt to stop an amphibious Metal Gear Ray (see: mech) and bring the world back from the brink of nuclear war. MGS3 is similar, but it's set in the '60s and casts you as Big Boss, the man who would be cloned to spawn Snake (along with a couple of bad eggs).
Both of these games are classics because of the way story melds with gameplay. Before Drebin points and grabbing statue crotches, sneaking starred in the Metal Gear Solid franchise. These games are stealth masterpieces where you need to stay hidden, use silencers and complete your mission. There are crazy bosses to fight, dog tags to collect and quite the story to try and wrap your head around.
All of this makes the leap to the Vita without missing a step. The system's dual-sticks, shoulder buttons and face buttons all serve to put the Metal Gear experience you know on the go. Some touch controls are tossed in (zooming with front screen, stabbing with the rear panel and swiping to look around corners), but if I hadn't watched a video pointing them all out, I doubt I'd be able to list them for you. MGS2 and MGS3 feel great with the traditional Vita controls, so I overlooked most of the new implementations. When the few times it is mandatory -- like flicking the back screen in MGS3 to slit throats -- I found it to be hit or miss.
These are a couple of the greatest games ever, and for $40, you can play them anywhere with all the bonus content.
However, the one control change you can't overlook -- and that is a good example of making a known system simple -- is equipping items and weapons. Your gun and item slots are always on the screen in Metal Gear Solid. In the past, you'd have to hold a button and scroll through each list to pick your armaments, but here, it's all done via the front touch screen. A tap equips or unequips your item and you hold the box to bring up the list to scroll through. The change is responsive and welcome.
Now, outside of those touch controls, the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection on Vita is a lot likethe one seen on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 last November. As MGS2 is the Substance version, you get the Sons of Liberty story along with VR missions and side missions in Snake Tales. As MGS3 is the Subsistence version, you get the origin of Big Boss in Snake Eater along with the original Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2 MSX2 games.
The one notable content difference here is that the Vita version of the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection doesn't include Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, the impeccable PSP title. Peace Walker came in the PS3/360 collection, so its absence here is strange. Konami told IGN the omission is because the company "wanted to focus and perfect" MGS2 and MGS3 for now," but there is money to be made. See, both collections cost $40, but you can buy a PSP version of Peace Walker off the PlayStation Store for $30.
However, I can't fault the overall product for this exclusion. There's no other way to get these two games on the Vita, so the collection is still a good idea -- and a good deal. Let's not overlook that MGS2 and MGS3 are the No. 10 and No. 2 entries respectively on IGN's list of the Top 100 PlayStation 2 Games. These are a couple of the greatest games ever, and for $40, you can play them anywhere with all the bonus content.
As great as these games are, keep in mind they are from the last generation of consoles. As such, some minor gripes are sure to come up. Snake can't crouch and walk, you can't move and shoot, and it's hard to walk five feet toward the beginning of the games and not have a codec conversation or cutscene pop up. But the games stand the test of time and are experiences sure to keep my Vita busy for the next few months, though it's weird to not aim and shoot via the shoulder buttons in 2012.
Thankfully, the graphics and sound are still stellar regardless of the year. David Hayter's Snake leads an excellent voice cast that’s complemented by a spectacular soundtrack. Aside from the bland ground texture or framerate dip, the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection stuns on the Vita's OLED screen. Watching Raiden cartwheel through hallways and Snake choke people out are visual treats, even years after the games’ original release.
Now, if you're a Metal Gear nut and buy both the Vita and PS3 collections, you can transfer your save back and forth from the Vita to the PlayStation 3. This is a benefit that I didn't expect to enjoy as much as I did. You could make a whole bunch of progress in MGS3 on the train, transfer it to your PS3 via wifi or the cloud, and pick up where you left off on your HDTV. If you're a Trophy whore, you'll be happy to know that the PS3 and VitaTrophy lists are separate but connected; if you earn a Trophy on the Vita and then transfer the save to the PS3, you'll get the Trophy for the second time on a separate Trophy list without doing anything. Important note: if you bought the Peace Walker PSP game and played it on your Vita, the PS3 version isn't set up to transfer from Vita to PS3; it needs a PSP.
It's OK to be disappointed that Peace Walker didn't make it into the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection on Vita, but it would be wrong to punish the game for Konami's move. The Metal Gear Solid HD Collection is packed with content, and it’s a joy to play. Whether you're returning to Snake's adventures or experiencing them for the first time, these two games feel at home on the Vita, look great and will keep you busy for quite some time.