Metal Gear Solid Master Collection Vol. 1 review: Faithful renditions

Metal Gear Solid Master Collection Vol. 1 review: Faithful renditions
Images via Konami

Written by 

Dave McAdam

Published 

23rd Oct 2023 09:35

It doesn't take much convincing to get me to play the Metal Gear Solid games again. MGS has been my personal favourite franchise for 20 years now - Metal Gear Solid 2 was a central part of my childhood. The series has been effectively dormant since creator Hideo Kojima left Konami, leading to assumptions that this tentpole of gaming history is now and forever dead in the water.

Whether that will continue to be the case remains to be seen, but right now we can continue to revel in past glory, as the Metal Gear Sold Master Collection Vol. 1 is here. This package contains the first three MGS games, as well as the now very retro Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, as they appeared in Metal Gear Solid 3.

GGRecon Verdict

For the first time in many years, the Metal Gear Solid trilogy is available on modern systems. The Master Collection gives us the experiences we remember with three of the greatest games ever made and includes the majority of the content ever released for those games - including some new content for dedicated fans.

Kept you waiting, huh?

Solid Snake speaking to Colonel Campbell over Codec in Metal Gear Solid
Click to enlarge

For the first time in a long time, Metal Gear fans can own the original trilogy on a modern console, with "Vol. 1" looming large over the unannounced possibilities of what is to come. So now we're here to answer a more direct question: how good is this new collection?

As mentioned, the first volume of the Master Collection contains Metal Gear Solid, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. The first game has been largely unobtainable on modern systems for some time and several generations. Until now, the most up-to-date options were the PS3, the PlayStation Vita, or a largely maligned PC version available through GOG.

This alone is a huge plus for the Master Collection. The original MGS was absent from the HD Collection on Xbox and only gave PS3 players a port of the original, which until now has been the most recent version of any of the classic games available on the market. For many, the original game has been lost to time, but the Master Collection ensures that Metal Gear Solid will be easily available for years to come.

Further good news is that this version of MGS includes the VR Missions expansion - extra content that was sold separately long before DLC was a thing. In fact, all bonus content released for Metal Gear Solid is included here. This is as complete a version of Metal Gear Solid as you could ask for, which unfortunately is not the case for the other two games.

Les Enfants Terribles

Solid Snake hiding at a corner in Strut A of the Big Shell
Click to enlarge

The MGS2 and MGS3 in this collection are the exact same versions of those games as they were presented in the MGS HD Collection, to the point that they still have the HD Collection loading screens. These are absolutely fine versions of Sons of Liberty and Snake Eater, but those games also got expanded with new content.

The HD Collection versions are based on the expanded games, those being MGS2 Substance and MGS3 Subsistence, but do not include everything from those versions. It isn't the greatest loss, you still get these classic games as they were, but I'll never stop lamenting the absence of the skateboarding minigame.

The point of this story is, that anyone hoping that the Master Collection would bring any updates or upgrades to these games will be let down. That said, there is an easy argument to be made that you shouldn't mess with perfection, and the MGS titles are good enough to be left as they were. Anyone who remembers the Silent Hill HD Collection will know first hand that sometimes you need to leave the memories alone.

... Keeping the past alive

The MGS2 Master Book, containing info on Snake and Raiden
Click to enlarge

All that being said, what new content is included? The collection includes a soundtrack, on which there are some new versions of classic songs, with Master Collection versions of Can't Say Goodbye To Yesterday, The Best Is Yet To Come, and everyone's favourite Snake Eater included. Each game has its own Screenplay and Master books. The Screenplays transpose all of the dialogue and events of the games into screenplay format for anyone who would rather read MGS than play it.

The Master books are really interesting, and something many fans would love to get physical copies of. These books serve multiple purposes; they contain well-presented encyclopedias of Metal Gear history, information on all of the characters, locations, and events of the game selected, and even guides on how to complete it.

For example, the Metal Gear Solid 2 Master Book tells you the locations of all of the dog tags in the game, and the MGS3 book has detailed maps showing the locations of all the Kerotan frogs. If you ever wanted a Hyrule Historia-style book for Metal Gear Solid, which also included an old-school strategy guide, digital versions of those very books are included with the Master Collection.

The collection also comes with the digital graphic novels of Metal Gear Solid 1 and 2. This pack has a pretty comprehensive collection of Metal Gear written media, almost enough to cover the entry fee.

You're pretty good

Naked Snake fighting Revolver Ocelot in Metal Gear Solid 3
Click to enlarge

To review a collection of older games really comes down to a question of value. The Metal Gear Solid Master Collection Vol. 1 will run you $59.99/£49.99/€59.99. For this price, you get Metal Gear, Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, Metal Gear Solid, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty HD Edition, and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater HD Edition.

There are two groups of people for whom this is an excellent prospect; long-time fans happy to pay for another version of their favourite games, and newcomers curious to try these classics out. It feels safe to say those two groups encapsulate a large group of people. If you happen to be in either camp, then this is money well spent.

For some, the fact that these games have not been remade or remastered may drive them away. That is totally fair, and it can be jarring to load up the "HD" versions of MGS2 and 3 to be met with blurry cutscenes and graphics. Those folks might just have to hold out for Metal Gear Solid Delta, the remake of Snake Eater.

It all comes down to taste - some may want an upgrade, and some may want to keep the memories as they were. The Master Collection contains extremely faithful renditions of three of the greatest games ever made. I find it hard to fault that decision.

If you still own the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection and the means to play it, then all you are really getting here is the original Metal Gear Solid and some digital books. That's a harder sell, but in this age of consistent remasters, remakes, and rereleases, the Metal Gear Solid Master Collection Vol. 1 does not feel out of place, and in and of itself, is an excellent deal.

4/5

Reviewed on PlayStation 5. Code provided by the publisher.

Dave is a Senior Guides Writer at GGRecon, after several years of freelancing across the industry. He covers a wide range of games, with particular focus on shooters like Destiny 2, RPGs like Baldur's Gate 3 and Cyberpunk 2077, and fighting games like Street Fighter 6 and Tekken 8.