Providing some of the most memorable titles across nine generations of consoles, from the NES to the PlayStation 5, Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol. 1 wraps up a significant portion of this franchise’s history in one convenient package. While there are plenty of reasons to return for the ride, this collection feels like a missed opportunity when it comes to overall presentation.
Now it’s worth noting that while we’ll touch on the newer and improved features of each of these five titles, we’ll be commenting on the actual quality of these remasters, as opposed to the games themselves.
We Meet Again, My Old Friend
Right out the gate, let me make one thing abundantly clear. While those NES titles haven’t aged particularly well, the first three mainline Metal Gear Solid games, which this package includes, are absolute masterpieces in their own right. Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater might be my personal favourite, but there’s no doubt that these titles have indeed aged well, and still hold a place within any library as a contender for a weekend put aside for some stealthy action.
This collection includes the remastered versions of Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, both of which were originally released on the NES, Metal Gear Solid, which was released on the PS1, and Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, both of which released on the PS2. While there are things that this collection doesn’t do entirely well, let’s first focus on the positives. Konami had mentioned that these ports would be the improved versions of those released in 2011’s Metal Gear Solid HD Collection, and it shows. Running at 720p might seem a little disappointing at first, but given the age of something like the original Metal Gear Solid at this point in time, it looks and runs well enough to at least be both enjoyable and accessible in the modern age.
Certain bugs have been ironed out and the PlayStation 5 version of the package even takes advantage of the DualSense haptic features, which is always a plus. The only real issue with the games themselves comes from the newer hardware, which doesn’t really take into account how things worked on those previous consoles when it came to controller inputs and memory cards. If you’ve played the Psycho Mantis boss fight from the first Metal Gear Solid, you’ll know where I’m going with this.
But at the end of the day, they’re pretty much the best-looking versions of these games to date, and thankfully much more accessible than that Metal Gear Solid HD Collection from 2011, which is now really hard to find.
Not for Honour, But for You
The main gripes I have with the actual collection come from pretty much everything else. The menus across each of the games are clean and easy to navigate, but it’s still touting a repackaged label all the way from 2011, highlighting Bluepoint Games‘ stellar work all those years ago.
Downloading the entire collection splits these games into five separate tiles on your platform’s home screen. Metal Gear Solid games each have their own, while the NES Metal Gear games come packaged together, while a final Bonus Content portion stands alone. This section wraps up the first and second Metal Gear Solid: Digital Graphic Novel and complete soundtrack, which I’m a huge fan of.
While this system can be a little messy to navigate, each offering is packed with the most comprehensive version of each experience, given the original Metal Gear Solid comes with its extra VR Missions and Special Mission add-ons, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty is presented as Substance and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater is bundled in with its later released Subsistnace content.
Japanese voice tracks are also available but as a separate download. Extra goodies like the original manuals can be accessed, but only via its website which forces you to use the external browser. How this was not initially built into the experience baffles me.
I have reserved most of my main criticisms for this section, so buckle up for a slightly longer read in our final portion. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol. 1. While the games could have been given that 1080p shine, they still look decent. While it can be a little annoying to swap between each game or to download the Japanese audio tracks separately, it’s all still there in its most robust and complete form of each of these games to date.
While the Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol. 1 is presented as a fully-priced new release, it tends to raise some significant questions about overall game preservation and how we access ageing titles today. I’m a sucker for each of the Metal Gear Solid games, and while it’s great to play them on my PS5 in 2023, it says a lot about the price of admission when weighed up against features that can’t really be touted as new or innovative.
I don’t think Konami has crossed any egregious lines here, in fact far from it. But it’s definitely something that many people have played, almost to a tee, before having to purchase it again for a newer generation of consoles.
Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol. 1 is still a worthy bundle for both new and returning fans alike. While the majority of these games have aged incredibly well, they’ve also had their bugs ironed out and even gotten some haptic support on the PS5. Its name implies that we’re in for another collection, and I have faith in what the rest of the franchise has to offer.
THREE AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Highlights: All three Metal Gear Solid games have aged incredibly well; Most complete versions of each game to date; Plenty of bonus content
Lowlights: 720p resolution across all platforms; Wonky navigation between games
Platforms: PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Windows PC
Review conducted on PlayStation 5 with a code provided by the publisher.