Portable Perks: Metal Gear Solid 3 HD Vita
I've been a very big fan of Snake and his misadventures. I could proudly say that I finished Metal Gear Solid 1,2 and 4. I’m also ashamed to say that I never finished 3. I know I know, it is really inexcusable that such a self-proclaimed fan of the series was never able to know and learn how the Metal Gear Solid saga started. Fortunately, the Vita has given me that opportunity to finally get back into the shoes of the Big Boss once again.
I still can’t believe this game came out almost 10 years ago and fortunately, Hideo Kojima’s design team always pushed the PS2’s capabilities when they made their games. Seeing the visuals and listening to the audio helps you forget that this game came out in 2004. Of course with the help with the updated textures and visuals that the “HD” remake added, the game can easily hide its age like a hot soccer mom with heavy plastic surgery. Unfortunately, no matter how you make an old game look good, the control scheme and combat are still clunky as ever compared to modern games of today.
Snake is still very awkward to control, especially when he is crawling around the ground or into tall grass. Shooting in MGS3 is still a complex combination of button presses and this is not helped by the fact that the Vita version incorporates the rear touchpad which my fingers unintentionally glide over sometimes. This would cause Snake to lean left or right, depending on the direction of the swipe of my finger, and this would throw off my aim and cause me to let go of a loud groan. And speaking of shooting, aiming in first person mode is even more difficult with the analog sticks of the Vita. I think Bluepoint Games (the US team that did the port) failed to realize that the game is being played on a smaller screen. It feels like the analog sticks are way too sensitive. It’s very hard to dial in a good headshot with that kind of level of control. I would miss a lot and this again would cause major frustration because everyone gets alerted and it’s so difficult to find a good hiding spot in the jungle.
With the screen size of the Vita, I’m also having a very hard time spotting enemies. I don’t know if it’s just my aging eyesight or I lack the patience I had 9 years ago, but I would always run into enemies unknowingly and cause another frantic alert. Using the sensors that you start with are not much help either since the white dots on the radar-like screen are way too small to see. They’re so small that I sometimes don’t see them and get caught again by the guards, or would be paranoid that there’s a white dot close to my proximity, just to find out it was only a spec of dirt stuck to that part of my screen.
It’s too bad the game is just not jiving with me, since I’m a big fan of the series. I’m on the verge of actually giving up on the game because it feels like I need to put a lot of effort just to play it. And it really feels like that the game keeps slapping my hand and causing me to do things that I don’t want to. It’s such a struggle that always ends my gaming session with frustration. Having it on the Vita was a good idea on paper: the flexibility and portability of a handheld while playing a console-quality game anytime and anywhere. And most especially if you’re in a middle of the notoriously long cutscenes and you need to something else, you can simply put the Vita to sleep and pick it up whenever you’re free. Sadly, the controls killed the whole experience for me. I hope the PS3 version of the game could address the issue of control and screen size, since it was originally made for console, rather than a handheld.
Metal Gear Solid 3 HD is available on the PSN store both for the Vita and for the PS3.