The world of video games is filled with iconic franchises that have left an indelible mark on the industry. Among these, the Metal Gear Solid Master Collection holds a special place in the hearts of gamers. With its complex storytelling, memorable characters, and innovative gameplay, Metal Gear Solid has been a beloved series for decades. So, when Konami announced the “Metal Gear Solid Master Collection Vol. 1,” the excitement was palpable. The prospect of reliving the adventures of Solid Snake and Big Boss on modern gaming platforms was a dream come true for fans. However, as the saying goes, “the devil is in the details,” and it’s in those details that the Master Collection falls short of expectations.
Content of the Collection:
The Master Collection is not lacking in terms of content. It promises to deliver seven main entries in the Metal Gear Solid series, spanning from the original 1998 release to Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, released in 2004. In addition to the core titles, the collection includes the MSX2 releases of Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, offering players a chance to experience the series’ roots.
For fans, having these games in one package is undoubtedly appealing. The collection even goes a step further, offering extras like a digital master book for each title, detailed character backstories, a jukebox, screenplays for all seven games, and even voiced graphic novels for Metal Gear Solid 1 and 2. It’s a treasure trove of content that any Metal Gear completionist would appreciate.
The problem, however, lies not in what the collection contains but in how it presents this content on modern gaming platforms.
Issues with the Collection:
The heart of the issue with the Master Collection is the lack of ambition in its execution. While fans expected a lovingly crafted homage to the series, what they received was a hasty port of the games with minimal enhancements. The older MSX and NES games are excusable, given their 2D sprite-based nature, but when it comes to the transition to 3D that the series made during the PlayStation era, it’s clear that more effort was needed.
For instance, the original Metal Gear Solid runs via an emulator at the same 240p resolution and frame rate as the original PS1 hardware. The PlayStation 2 titles, Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3, use code from the 2011 Bluepoint HD Collection versions for Xbox 360 and PS3, resulting in minimal changes to their visuals. This means that players on the latest consoles, such as the PS5 and Series X/S, still experience a native 1280×720 presentation, a far cry from what these platforms are capable of.
Even more disappointing is the treatment of the PC version, where both MGS2 and MGS3 run at a fixed 720p resolution with no graphics menu to boost the resolution, despite suggestions of targeting 1080p. The final results are underwhelming and fail to make the most of the hardware capabilities of modern gaming PCs.
Comparison between Platforms:
To understand the shortcomings of the Master Collection, we must look at how it performs on different platforms. The PS5, Series X, Switch, and PC versions all have their own set of problems, making it clear that the collection was rushed to market without proper optimization.
The Nintendo Switch version, in particular, stands out for its visual and frame rate issues. The native 1280×720 resolution is a notable downgrade from what the hardware can achieve, and the absence of anti-aliasing and texture filtering in MGS2 only exacerbates the problem. Players on the Switch are treated to a subpar experience, with visuals and frame rates suffering in comparison to other platforms.
The PC version also disappoints, lacking basic video settings like resolution adjustments and graphical enhancements. This lack of options is surprising given the power of modern gaming PCs. However, the modding community has stepped in to address some of these issues, offering solutions to improve resolution and visuals.
Improvements on PC:
One silver lining of the PC version is the modding community’s efforts to rectify some of the game’s problems. Modders have created fixes to enable higher resolutions, including 4K, and improve the overall graphics. These modifications, such as increased anisotropic filtering and higher resolutions, drastically enhance the visual quality, providing a breath of fresh air for players who want to experience the games in their best form.
However, the fact that these fixes were necessary in the first place raises questions about Konami’s commitment to delivering a quality product to its fans. The existence of these mods demonstrates that the potential for improvement was there but left unexplored by the developers.
In conclusion, the “Metal Gear Solid Master Collection Vol. 1” had all the makings of a dream come true for fans of the series. With a wealth of content and a beloved franchise at its core, the collection had the potential to be a definitive way to experience the iconic Metal Gear Solid games. However, the lackluster execution and the failure to take full advantage of modern gaming platforms have left fans disappointed.
While the collection does offer a convenient way to access these classic games, it falls short of providing the enhanced experience that fans were hoping for. The issues with the PC version and the lack of optimization across all platforms are clear indicators of a rushed release that could have been so much more.
For those who are willing to invest the time and effort into modding the PC version, there is a chance to enjoy the games in a better state. However, the fact that such efforts are necessary to bring out the best in the collection is a testament to the missed opportunity by Konami.
Ultimately, the “Metal Gear Solid Master Collection Vol. 1” presents a nostalgic trip down memory lane, but it could have been a masterful celebration of a beloved series. For fans, it’s a bittersweet reminder of what could have been.