The Metal Gear Solid Master Collection is here, bringing Metal Gear Solid 3 (the best one) to PC for the first time in a package that also contains MGS 1 and 2 plus the original MSX Metal Gear games. It's a day I've been hotly anticipating for literal years: The Metal Gear games are some of my favourites ever made, and to have the classics finally start trickling over to PC should be great.
Except, ah, these ports leave something to be desired. A few hours out from release, all three Metal Gear Solid games have grim beige "Mixed" ratings on Steam, and players have drawn up a long litany of complaints about Konami's work. Having played a little of the collection myself I can't help but agree.
Let's start with MGS 3, given that the Master Collection marks the game's PC debut. Ol' Snake Eater currently has 42% positive reviews on Steam, with players reserving particular ire for the game's visuals, controls, and general lack of options. "Game itself is great but this port is extremely lazy," reads a highly rated review by a Steam user named Aninefivesiix, "If I can find a way to modify the config file to allow me to run at 1440p I'll not refund but this 'remaster' is essentially a rushed port of the PS3 and Xbox 360 remasters by BluePoint (which you can emulate!)."
That's pretty representative of the reviews in general. Another, from a user named Owlet VII, does a good job of summarising the complaints that are currently littering the game's user score section: "Locked at 720p. 'Mouse support' is just emulating the right analogue stick. Keyboard controls are nonsensical and can't be edited. Selected button prompts get reset to the default Xbox ones every time. The manuals are web pages that aren't even aware of the above option."
Given that the Master Collection versions of MGS 2 and 3 seem to be very direct ports of the Xbox 360 Bluepoint remasters, pretty much all the complaints people have about 3 also apply to 2: no options, bad keyboard controls, muddy graphics, the works. The review that currently sits at the top of the pile on MGS 2's Steam page is by Howard Heyman, and reads in part, "This release is absolutely poor and not worth its asking price in any capacity. Upon purchase, you'll find that the Metal Gear Solid Master Collection releases have no options of any kind for PC players.
"No way to switch between windowed and full-screen (this feature will reportedly be added on a future update), no way to switch resolutions, no way to change audio settings, no way to change the size or aspect ratio of the screen, no way to change audio settings, no way to exit back to the menu while in-game, and so on. Even the most mediocre of remasters offer the bare minimum I have just listed here."
MGS 1 is a different, but still disappointing, kettle of fish. Unlike MGS 2 and 3, the first Metal Gear Solid game never got a razzle-dazzle Bluepoint remaster for Konami to port over, so the version currently squatting on Steam is just an emulated version of the original game (which, to add to the confusion, did get a proper PC port in 2000 that Konami didn't use for the Master Collection). To be fair, it's gone down a little better with players: it's the only Metal Gear Solid game in the collection to have more than 50% positive reviews, and 62% of them are positive at time of writing. Nevertheless, there are plenty of complaints, and the response is still "Mixed".
"They really did MGS1 dirty," reads a review from user Pughausen, describing the game as "literally just the iso file with a really bad emulator. No resolution options, no aspect ratio options. Nothing." Instead of Konami's version, they recommend firing up the game on Duckstation (a PlayStation emulator) "you'll get a significantly better experience".
Another user, Grasping1, describes the sum total of the MGS 1 Master Collection version's offering as " A switch between full screen or windowed, changing the dumbass side bars instead of being able to remove them and have the game in [1920x1080], the option to choose Metal Gear Solid, VR Missions, Integral and Special Mode (Just another VR mission mode)," and notes that "for Integral and Special Mode you have to download the Japanese and Europe voice pack which are NOT listed on Steam? So you can't even play them."
Metal Gear 1 and 2, meanwhile, have 80% positive reviews (from 20 users). So hey, that's something.
So not exactly a standing ovation for the Metal Gear series' long-awaited debut on Steam, and the complaints reflect my own experience. The emulated version of MGS 1 runs dreadfully on my PC equipped with a 3700x, RTX 4080, and 16GB of RAM, and players aren't remiss when they say some parts of the game are inaccessible because the downloadable languages are, bafflingly, currently unavailable on Steam. As for 2 and 3? They're muddy and messy, and the only reason I'm still glad they're available is because I don't doubt modders will make them into what they should be sooner or later.
But every one of these ports is less than this series deserves. It's an absurdity that in the wake of this "Master Collection" release, I'm still much better off using my GOG copies of MGS 1 and 2 if I want to play those games. They're both bad ports (though at least they are ports in the case of 1), but they've been around for long enough that modders have polished them to a sheen.
Konami's said that patches are forthcoming for the games, so perhaps some of these problems will be fixed soon, but I'm not getting my hopes up that the company is going to do the work necessary to turn these ports into something worthy of the Metal Gear name. I suppose we're gonna be kept waiting a little longer.