For most of Peace Walker's development, and even in early US promotional material, this 2010 PSP title had a grander designation - Metal Gear Solid 5: Peace Walker. The absence of a number on the final product can be put down to a hundred things: simple rejection of a 'main' entry being a portable title; the PSP itself entering its final years; perhaps a concern that series fans would revolt at the radical departure from Metal Gear Solid 4. Whatever it was, that number's existence says one thing about Kojima Productions' mindset with Peace Walker. This is no spin-off.
The reason I don't own a Playstation Vita is because some things can never be forgiven. In greener days I had a crap job, and saved up for months to buy a premium PSP pack at launch - loads of accessories, a few games, a fat £300. Man was I hyped. Fool me once, Sony, and it's shame on you.
Revered by many as some of the greatest games ever made, Konami's PS2 and PSP era Metal Gear Solid titles have returned, remastered - or rather, ported - to run on newer, more technologically advanced consoles. Sons of Liberty, Snake Eater and Peace Walker are available in pristine high definition versions for both Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, while the Nintendo 3DS version gets its own stereoscopic version of Metal Gear Solid 3.
In this article we'll be looking at all three products, cross-referencing them with the original versions as they appeared on PlayStation 2 and PSP, discussing their technical make-up and the quality of the ports onto the current-gen platforms. Have these classics been well-handled in their transitions across to new hardware? And from a Digital Foundry Face-Off perspective, which HD Collection is the one to buy?
Let's kick off with the compilation high-def remix for the Xbox 360 and PS3 - an intriguing release that sees accomplished HD remastering house Bluepoint Games (God of War Collection/ICO and Shadow of the Colossus) take on the task of porting across MGS2 and its sequel, while Japanese developer Genki tackles the unenviable task of bringing PSP Peace Walker to the HD consoles.
Metal Gear Solid as a series is the most perfect satire of the videogame that has ever been made, and I'm still not absolutely sure it's intentional. The consistency would suggest that its juxtaposition of super-serious military posturing and absolute unadulterated nonsense is the product of considered genius, but then it could just be the inspired direct-feed of a brilliantly deluded mind. MGS is one of the only series' left in the word that's largely the product of a single creator's vision rather than the filtrate of layers of ideas panels, concept meetings and corporate approval. Whatever you think of them as actual videogames, they're certainly "important".
Whether you love or hate Metal Gear Solid, there's no denying that it's an exciting spectacle - in the game and on the internet, where more than a few people are properly crazy about it (2318 at the last count). But poor old Hideo Kojima just can't get shot of it. After so many last games, he's still at it, working directly on PSP title Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, overseeing development of Metal Gear Solid: Rising, and no doubt thinking hard about other ways to keep the wheels turning.