It's not easy coming to the realization that you're a walking ATM machine for a major corporation. Konami, the famous Japanese fitness club operator who occasionally releases a videogame now and then, has been relying more and more on it's tactical espionage cash cow over the last couple of years, much to the chagrin of my wallet. The increase in Metal Gear titles certainly hasn't been a bad thing for fans of the series, as Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker turned out to be one of the finest entries in the franchise, and the tepid expectations I had for Platinum Games' Metal Gear Rising: Revengence were completely blown away when that gem of a game was released earlier this year.
But maybe my favorite cash grab by Konami was 2012's Metal Gear Solid: HD Collection. High definition re-releases have been ample on the PS3, and the collection featuring Metal Gear Solid 2, 3, & Peace Walker, is one of the best. Replaying Sons Of Liberty and Snake Eater at 60FPS on my big widescreen TV was an absolute joy, as was the ability to play Peace Walker without developing carpal tunnel syndrome due to the PSP's obtuse control scheme. But while HD collections have (somewhat unfairly) been lamented for their double-dip nature, Konami is treading into uncharted territory with the recently released Metal Gear Solid: The Legacy Collection, which is essentially a double-dip of a double-dip.
To be fair, there is some substantial difference between the two. For $50, you get the previously released titles from the original HD collection, as well as the first Metal Gear Solid, the Metal Gear Solid: VR Missions standalone PS1 game, Metal Gear solid 4: Guns Of The Patriots, a nice little art book, and the digital graphic novels of MGS1 & 2 from the PSP, the second of which is making it's western debut in this collection. The box also mentions the inclusion of the original Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2 from the MSX days, but they're really just bonuses that were included in Metal Gear Solid 3, which means they're in the old HD Collection as well.
This being the Legacy Collection (whatever that means), and the fact that Konami is billing this as the be-all end-all, only big box of Metal Gear you would ever need, I think it's important to point out what isn't
included. You don't get Metal Gear Solid: Ghost Babel, which was one of the best Game Boy Color games ever released, but given this is a PS3 game, that's somewhat understandable. You also don't get Metal Gear Ac!d or Metal Gear Ac!d 2 from the PSP, but they're not officially cannon so, once again, understandable.
However Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops on PSP is cannon, and upgrading it to be played with two analog sticks like Peace Walker would've been a nice treat. Some people would've liked to have seen them include the 2004 GameCube remake of MGS1, titled Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes, but that game is a poorly acted, poorly directed, poorly implemented pile of garbage, so I'm not mad over its absence. So Portable Ops not being there is a bummer, and the Uber Metal Gear fan in me wishes the bizarre and informative PS2 interactive...thing known as The Documents Of Metal Gear Solid 2 was included, but this set pretty much has all of the Metal Gear games you'd probably want in a Metal Gear collection.
Now then, the following series of complaints can very easily be written off as nitpicking, but being that this is the fifth or so time I've bought all of these games, I think I’m entitled to a little complaining, as I envisioned this set being perfect. It's not. Big complaint #1 is the packaging. For reference, here's a picture of the American Legacy collection (Left) and the Japanese version (right) side by side.
Now that Japanese version, that's a nice box set. Notice I said box, as the American version comes in a cheap paper sleeve that fits over the game and book vertically, meaning its contents are in danger of falling out any time you decide to pick it up. Given this is supposed to be a celebration of 25 years worth of Metal Gear, it would've been nice to receive the premium packaging the Japanese got. The book itself is somewhat neat in that 'disposable video game art book' kind of way, and is mostly a collection of promotional material and posters for the various games in the series. However, it's nowhere near as beautiful as the large, hardcover Metal Gear art book that came with the Limited Edition of the previous Metal Gear HD Collection.
It feels cheap, which is also how I would describe the presentation of the games themselves. First off, Metal Gear Solid 1 and the VR Missions aren't actually on the discs. There's a download code to pluck them off the PlayStation Network, which cheapens the worth of the overall package. Once again, I envisioned this set being the only Metal Gear package one would ever need, and if 10-15 years from now I want to play the first Metal Gear Solid (which is something I absolutely envision myself doing), I'm guessing those digital copies aren't going to be viable. Sure, I have three physical copies of MGS1 (I may have a problem...), but not everyone does.
Don't expect much new from the discs themselves either. Disc 2, which houses everything except MGS4, is just the previous HD collection. It doesn't even call itself the Legacy Collection in the main menu. The only difference is the Digital Graphic Novels, which are just video files you access from the XMB. They're still quite cool, as the illustrations from Ashley Wood are still superb, and they're now fully voiced by the original cast, but all of the interactivity from the original PSP releases are gone, as they're now strictly movies. Furthermore, they're not exactly blu-ray quality, as there's some compression problems throughout.
Disc 1 is Metal Gear Solid 4 (shouldn't the disc numbers be swapped?), and that's hardly a bad thing given it's one of the very best games released this console generation. It still looks, sounds, and plays magnificently, but the servers for Metal Gear Online, it's supremely underrated multiplayer component, went down last year, so the multiplayer option is fundamentally useless. It would have been great if Konami dusted off its servers to let MGO live again through this re-release, but instead this strange take on online shooters will continue to stay dead.
Once again, these problems are marginal at best, and the last six paragraphs of complaining is patently absurd given I'm bitching about a box set that contains five of my favorite games of all time and dozens of hours worth of amazing entertainment, but I just wanted more than an art book and two re-painted discs that I already have in a cheap case.
See that? That's
a fuckin' box set. It's the Rush: Sectors box set my father bought me two years ago for my birthday. Rush is my favorite band, and that three part, 18 disc, beautifully crafted chest encompassing their first 15 albums is one of my prized possessions. I'm looking at it right now and thinking about blasting Grace Under Pressure
. I will own that box for the rest of my life, and it serves as a wonderful tribute to Rush. Metal Gear deserves
a box like that. And, given that this is the third
Metal Gear compilation they have released stateside, I had hopes that The Legacy Collection would at least stand out a little more. It doesn't
So there's three potential markets for Metal Gear Solid: The Legacy Collection: People who've never played a Metal Gear game before, fans of the series, and the superfans (IE: the suckers). If you're a sucker, then this is the most pointless article you have ever read because you already ran out and bought this collection day one just like me because, dammit, it had the words “Metal Gear” on the box. If you're not quite a sucker, then my recommendation on a purchase hinges entirely on if you already own the original HD collection and/or a copy of MGS4. If that's the case, I'm not sure a code for a $6 PS1 game, a paperback book, and the Digital Graphic Novels are going to be worth the $50 asking price.
But, somewhere out there, there are people with a PS3 who have never touched this series. Who never fed on tree frogs. Who never experienced the greatest and most infuriating switcharoo in videogame history. Who never pondered if love can bloom, even on a battlefield. If you're one of these people, believe me when I say that whatever complaints I have about this box set are completely irrelevant to you, and I have a hard time imagining a situation in which you spend a better $50 on a video game related product this year than on Metal Gear Solid: The Legacy Collection. There's never been a better time to jump into Metal Gear, but if you already have, you may find the pool to be a little shallow.