Sam Fisher's splintery escapades have deservedly made him the enduring, craggy face of Xbox stealth. Next to Solid Snake, though, he's nothing more than a nocturnal pansy. Where the gravel-voiced pensioner needs expensive gadgets to creep past baddies, Snake can get his sneak on with nothing but a cardboard box.
This is only the second time Hideo Kojima's eccentric series has appeared on Xbox. The first was in 2002, with the quasi director's cut of Metal Gear Solid 2, which makes up a third of this newly polished HD bundle. The other two titles are the previously PS2 exclusive MGS3: Snake Eater and PSP's Peace Walker.
There are a few key things you should know if you've never sampled the Gear's barmy take on espionage action. One: it's insane. Like 'pitting you against an army of nuclear-armed robots the size of King Kong' insane. Two: they handle nothing like Splinter Cell. You'll find no cowering in shadows to avoid detection here. And three: there are enough hugely talky cutscenes to make Return of the King's horribly indulgent ending seem succinct.
Not that you should let that last point put you off. While the plots on display here are madder than a convention of randy howler monkeys, the core stealth is brilliant. Unlike Sam's deadly serious Tom Clancy-inspired sneakery, the MGS games would rather pit you in an hour-long boss battle with an ancient sniper - who looks like a homicidal Captain Birdseye - than have you buggering about with lockpicks.
Admittedly, the action isn't as slick or cinematic as last year's Splinter Cell: Conviction (give Snake a break, two of these games are over half a decade old). But there's more imagination in their setpieces than almost any recent Xbox 360 title.
Starting with MGS2, though, there's no ignoring the HD update is only partially successful. Despite brilliant sequences that see you infiltrate a rainswept tanker in New York or a bit where you eavesdrop on a guard's dodgy bowel movements, the ace invention on show is let down by ten-year-old textures that even a 1080p sheen can't doll up. Thankfully, the minimalistic art design at least helps the ageing tech, with the game sporting a clean look that's surprisingly similar to Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Still, with fixed camera angles, the daft - though sometimes methodical - action can be hard to adjust to alongside more modern camera systems.
Its sequel Snake Eater (which semi-confusingly also acts as its prequel) has aged like fine, boozy grape juice. With full camera control on the right stick, there's little danger of getting rumbled by out-of-view terrorists. Transferring the action from MGS2's modern-day oil tanker to steamy Russian jungles during the Cold War also proves a metallic masterstroke.
With much more open, complex environments and the removal of the previous game's on-screen radar, MGS3 forces you to play around with your surroundings to avoid enemies. Ooh, is that a beehive we see innocently hanging in that tree above a pesky Ruskie evil-doer?Well, we'll just shoot it down to make him and any other guard in the area flee in insect-stung panic.
The game's boss battles are also truly brilliant. From a tense underground battle with a flamethrower-wielding astronaut (you heard us) to an unsettling slog through a river where a spirit forces you to avoid the ghosts of any enemies you've previously killed, each encounter is hugely memorable. After being mostly starved of decent boss scraps in recent years, it's so refreshing to see them done so gloriously right.