Metal Gear Solid Master Collection Vol. 1 – Mostly Solid Snake
It is 2001. I am 16 years old. I am playing Metal Gear Solid 2 on my next gen Sony PlayStation console.
It is 2011. I am 26 years old. I am playing Metal Gear Solid 2 on my next gen Sony PlayStation console.
It is 2023. I am 37 years old. I am playing Metal Gear Solid 2 on my next gen Sony PlayStation console.
The Metal Gear series, despite its origins on the MSX2, is intrinsically linked to the history of PlayStation consoles with 1998’s Metal Gear Solid as tightly connected to the PSX as other landmark titles like Resident Evil and Final Fantasy VII. Konami have continued to recognise this legacy with varying results over the years; spotty availability for some entries, most notably MGSIV which still eludes a way to play it two console generations on due to the PlayStation 3’s unique architecture. Metal Gear Solid Master Collection Volume 1 collects the first five entries of the series including Metal Gear, Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, Metal Gear Solid, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater into a scattershot package of multiple installs and various versions of Metal Gear Solid.
Now available for the first time outside the PlayStation and PC ecosystems, MGS is likely the biggest draw for this release across Nintendo and Xbox as it’s the first time it graces these platforms, while MGS2 and MGS3 were remastered in 2011 alongside Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker for the HD Collection. With 12 years passing, it’s somewhat shocking how little has been done to prep these games for a modern audience, a mostly barebones series of ported ports that shine on the strength of the original games alone and perhaps in spite of the low bar set by Konami.
The most well served of the bunch is the original Metal Gear Solid which includes all iterations across multiple regions, alongside the VR Missions expansions and even the previously Japanese-only release Integral. 25 years on from release, MGS still holds up in many respects, it’s stylised graphics some of the best the PSX had to offer at the time. Here it has been blown up from the original 240p to 1080p while maintaining a 4:3 aspect ratio and 30fps. Konami have made a number of updates such as referencing the PlayStation 5 controls in text and providing a virtual save creator loaded with other Konami PSX titles of the era in preparation for a certain memory-reading boss battle in the latter half of the game. When looking at it from a preservation angle, it’s a triumph of a release which celebrates every aspect of Metal Gear Solid, provided one ignores the glaring omission of The Twin Snakes, it’s GameCube exclusive remake which would have been a fine exchange for Nintendo consoles receiving the original MGS. It’s hard to separate out nostalgia when replaying through the first few hours of this game, but I find it easy to believe it might not hold up for those experiencing it for the first time with awkward controls and some less than contemporary attitudes which Konami acknowledge in an opening splash screen.
Jumping ahead a few years in the Metal Gear timeline, both Metal Gear Solid 2 and Snake Eater have been taken from Bluepoint Games’ HD Collection, bumped up to Full HD and a solid 60fps from the 720P and spotty frame rate in their 2011 release. As in that release, while there are a number of extras to be found in the MGS2 menu, neither the full suite of MGS2: Substance or Snake Eater: Subsistence version extras been included here, a move at odds with the approach Konami took when including MGS in all its forms. Had these been bespoke current gen remasters rather than improved PS3 ports, I may have held out hope for more additions in future content patches, but that seems wishful thinking. Coming just three short years after the original, the leap in tech between the PSX and PS2 is still impressive all these years later, MGS2 appearing a mere three years after MGS took the gaming world by storm and MGS3 cemented the series’ legacy another three years later again, closing out the trilogy and fittingly, the Metal Gear Solid Master Collection Vol. 1. Despite a complete remake of MGS3 underway, it’s still a worthwhile endeavour that has lost little of its impact, the maligned MGS2 seeming to increase in relevance as time goes on. As with previous releases, the addition of the original MSX titles will do little to move the needle for the majority of purchases, but leans into some of the preservation aspects and would be odd to exclude given they’d likely run on a potato at this point and who can resist the ‘Contains 5 games!’ bullet point they enable on a box?
If I had to summarise the Metal Gear Solid Master Collection Vol. 1 into a single word, it would be inconsistent. There have been great efforts by Konami to provide the most complete experience of the original Metal Gear Solid here, but this contrasts strongly with how little has been done to attempt the same for MGS 2 & 3 in terms of preservation and breadth of content. I can only hope that Metal Gear Solid Master Collection Vol. 2, which will presumably contain the missing HD port of Peace Walker alongside Metal Gear Solid 4 and V will bring a much more worthy set of updates to the venerated series. As it stands, the MGS Master Collection Vol. 1 is now the best (official) way to play these classic titles on a current platform.
The Metal Gear Solid Master Collection Vol. 1 was reviewed on a PS5 system with code kindly supplied by PR.