Sneaking through Metal Gear Solid 3 again made me realize something painfully obvious: no matter what platform you throw this beloved title on, it will always be a fantastic game. I hold MGS3 on the most coveted of pedestals so I wasn’t worried that Armature, the folks behind this specific release, would tamper with this classic too much and ruin anything. Porting the port of a port of a port onto a new, portable platform doesn’t seem like too arduous a task and the final product reflects that. Metal Gear Solid 3 HD on the Vita isn’t definitively the best version, but the novelty and strength of the core game make it worth picking up for almost anyone.
If you are looking for a complete review of Metal Gear Solid 3 HD, this won’t serve you as much as my full review of the console version will, as this is fundamentally the same game. The emotional, deep, and involving narrative remains delightfully in tact along with the fantastic visual style and immensely gratifying stealth gameplay. It is worth mentioning that this game doesn’t carry anything over (like the Peace Walker-style aiming system) from Snake Eater 3D on the 3DS.
However, the Vita does bring forth some new features worth describing. Lacking pressure sensitive buttons, a couple shoulder buttons, and clickable sticks, this handheld compensates with both of its touch screens. Selecting equipment functions by touching and holding the respective item box in the corner and sliding until the desired gear is highlighted. Quickly tapping the box is analogous to the quick on and off feature in the console version. These touch mechanics work as advertised and seem to be at an ideal sensitivity. I even preferred it to the normal system found in the other versions once I got acclimated to it.
Sorting through your materials will be the most frequently used touch screen utility, but other systems have found a way to jump on these screens. While in intrusion view, leaning and propping yourself on your elbows is a vital tactic on higher difficulties and has been translated to the back touch pad. Like most of these changes, it took an hour or so to adjust, but swiping my fingers on the back pad became natural and key part in my sneaking strategy. Interrogating the poor Soviet guards now activates when the back touch pad is tapped in one area and slitting a throat now occurs when sliding horizontally along the rear touch pad. I wasn’t as keen on these features because they were either too sensitive or not sensitive enough (respectively), but I never cursed them and became angered at their inclusion. All of these new control methods were put in because of the absence of functions and nothing was thrown in there for the sake of it a la Uncharted: Golden Abyss. Rest assured, you will not be tapping the screen for CQC or wiping the blood off Snake’s gear.
Touch controls were expected in this port, but not longer load times. While they are never too long and dreadful, load times are noticeably lengthier than the HD version it so closely mimics. Loading into some areas can take many seconds longer than usual, even showing the loading logo in the corner as if to show its embarrassment. Even the pause menu takes slightly longer to pop up. This isn’t a deal breaker by a long shot and, to be fair, has average load times at best, but the fact that they are worse is worth throwing out there.
Some people may not even view this as a standalone game, but more as a companion piece to the PS3 version. Even though it could have been (and sounds) like a mistranslated phrase, Transfarring between the PS3 and Vita versions has now come to fruition with this release. Basically this means that your saves (after you have patched the PS3 version) can be carried between each platform and you can continue your progress whenever you want to (as long as you have Wi-Fi). Whether you link saves through the cloud (which does not require Playstation Plus) or transfer them while both systems are in the same room, your advancements can be continued on the other platform as long as you have signed into PSN at the load screen for identification. This is perfect for those who want to chase the elusive platinum trophy because of how it syncs the trophies. Signing into PSN while Transfarring shows the proper certification to unlock trophies in both versions (as long as you’ve created the save after the PS3 version was patched). I don’t factor in trophies or achievements to my thoughts of the game, but this case reinforces how much the PS3 and Vita versions can talk to each other. This feels like a first step into a feature that we might see a bit more often.
Let’s not beat around the bush: the Vita rendition isn’t the best version of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. Although that doesn’t stop it from being a worthy version of a timeless game. Load times might have taken a slight hit and the touch screen might not rub everyone the right way, but those are such tiny, minuscule bumps on the grand scheme of the entire game. Metal Gear Solid 3 is one of the best no matter which way you slice it and having a portable game that can talk to its big brother is something that makes this package worth getting. This is the third time I’ve bought Metal Gear Solid 3 and I haven’t regretted it.
+Still the same fantastic game at its core with the same strengths
+Most touch screen controls work well enough
+Transfarring is a useful tool for those wanting to carry saves over
-Load times are a little more lengthy
Final Score: 9.5/10