Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol. 1 (Switch) Review
There have been Metal Gear Solid collections in the past, and they’ll likely be collections again, but Metal Gear Solid Master Collection Vol. 1 is likely the best we’ll have for a long while. However, the Switch version of the collection suffers a bit, but it’s not at the fault of the games contained within. To this day, they are still brilliant games, if not just a bit weird and dated. But that’s all part of the charm.
My history with Metal Gear Solid is complicated – mainly because it never came to Nintendo systems. I had to borrow a mate’s PlayStation and play it with the console upside down because he had a bad disc drive. For the second game, I played the PC port, which was terrible, and I played it with some janky early 2000s PC controller. Then, I played Snake Eater as Kojima intended on the PlayStation 2 and again on the 3DS at launch. Throw in the contentious Twin Snakes somewhere in there, and there’s a decade and a half of enjoying a series in almost the completely weirdest ways possible. It’s now nice to have all the games, plus a bunch of bonus material, all in one place – all brought up to some sort of standardisation. The games are still older, and each has its unique quirks.
The original Metal Gear Solid is the oldest and has understandably aged the worst, and the Master Collection does nothing to remedy this. At launch, the original game looked wrong, too, with poor image quality. Now, there’s a patch out stopping this madness, and you can turn image smoothing off, adjust the aspect ratio and even turn on a CRT filter. The game will still look like its original self, but at least it’s authentic. It does beg the question, why can’t we just have Twin Snakes instead? Please don’t hit me.
Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty fairs much better; it took many systems from the original game and made them easier to use. The game seems even more prophetic now in the age of disinformation and AI. It’s still wild that Snake is not the main character for most of the game. I’m sorry if that’s a spoiler. It’s still a Metal Gear Solid game under Raiden’s blonde surfer hair. The Big Shell isn’t the most exciting setting for the game, with environments often feeling repeated. This port is the same version released for the HD Collection in the 2000s; it even has the same logos from that collection. We never got that collection on Nintendo systems, so it’s new to Nintendo, but if it isn’t broken…
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater also has as much work done to it as Sons of Liberty, and that’s a good thing because there’s not too much you need to do with Snake Eater to make it that much better. Sure, there’s another remake of it in the works, which will probably make the game even better – but for 2004, Snake Eater is pretty solid (Sorry). Now for the bad news: the Switch version of this collection suffers from being on the Switch; while the first game is presented as it was, the second and third games miss out on 60FPS. It’s not a deal breaker, but it is weird to see the parts of the second game run at spurts of 60FPS when getting into a locker, for example, so it’s at least partially possible. If we’re taking these collections as they are, to be how they were released, we should have gotten 60FPS, especially when the Switch only outputs 1080p. Otherwise, the collections run as well as you would hope, sounds as good as you would expect, and yeah, the antiquated controls are here as you remember them.
The rest of the included content in the Master Collection is also pretty neat. The biggest is four more Metal Gear games, two from the MSX and the fairly average NES games. It’s nice that they’re here, but out of them all, you’ll only want to play Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake as many events in that game are referenced in Metal Gear Solid – however, it’s not compulsory. The rest of the collection is rounded out with books and screenplays in each game’s app. There are also graphic novels and soundtracks in a separate app containing the MSX and NES games. More artwork from Yoji Shinkawa is always a good thing, but having the collection split via so many apps is weird and makes the physical version of this collection an incomplete pain for the future. At least this does mean if you’re only interested in one game, you can purchase them separately.
It’s great that all of the original Metal Gear and Metal Gear Solid games can be repurchased, all in the same place. The Switch is a perfectly fine play to play them, but you’ll be playing Sons of Liberty and Snake Eater at 30FPS, unlike the original releases and on the other consoles. The world of Metal Gear Solid isn’t for everyone, with a lot of highfalutin prose to get through, but you can now at least give it a go and see if it hooks you in.
An earlier version of this review had the positive points in the negative, apologies.
+ A fascinating, sometimes convoluted story for the ages
+ Hours of content over several games
+ Packed full of bonuses for the Metal Gear Solid nuts
+ Harry Gregson-Williams' score
- Lack of 60FPS in Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3 on Switch
- Doesn't all come on the card in physical form
- Games have aged, so you'll have to accept them as they are