Review by JustinW303
"A game that will keep you busy for a while!"
After beating Metal Gear Solid over and over until our hands were burning, it became obvious that we wanted just a little bit more of that stealth action. While VR Missions was far from a sequel to MGS, it was just enough to hold us over until the sequel was released. The game may not be revolutionary, but it is definitely worth a purchase for the MGS fan. While it may only take you 1 or 2 rentals to beat, it’s still worthy of you game library.
The gameplay in VR Missions is solid, but is almost the exact same as MGS, take away the harsh Alaskan environment and the setting/story. This is very good for a number of reasons, mainly because the gameplay in MGS was pure genius! The objective in VR Missions is simple, yet hard: Beat all 300 virtual training stages in the game. While this may seem straight-forward, and it is, when you get to about 80% things become much harder. Only about 20% to 25% of the game is actually stealth, but that doesn't mean the rest is all guns and ammo. As the game progresses, you’ll unlock many special modes such as variety and mystery, in which you’re required to accomplish such tasks as dragging an enemy soldier 30 feet and then tossing him into a pit, or simply figuring out who killed one of the enemy soldiers. These fun little missions help to add replay value to the game as you’re constantly trying to unlock new ones. The weaponry hasn't changed a bit from MGS, which does disappoint slightly because of the limited choice given to you in MGS.
The controls, like the the gameplay, haven't changed a bit from the first game. Square still fires your weapon, L2 and R2 still allow you to select weapons, and you can still throw down a Tekken style combo with the circle button. The configuration provides for quick weapon selection, and effortless sneaking. Plus, you can configure the controls you whatever you happen to favor. Gone is the Codec, obviously, but other than that anything you could do before, you can do now.
The game just has an amazing atmosphere! Few games at the time could present such a live-or-die feeling while playing, and while not quite as dramatic in VR Missions, you really do get the feeling your working towards something. It's enough to make you sweat, and you often will when faced with the many stealth based missions the game has to offer. Never before had gameplay this intense been introduced, and this game capitalizes on the core elements that gave Metal Gear Solid its reputation for excellent and addicting gameplay.
In the game's main area , VR Training, you are given 4 different modes to play in. Stealth(60 levels), Weapon(80 levels), Advanced(80 levels), and Special(80 levels) mode.
In Sneaking Mode, you have two options as to how you want to sneak. With a Socom, or with no weapon. In each option you have to complete 15 Practice missions, and 15 Time Attack missions. The 15 practice levels and the 15 Time Attack levels are the exact same, except for the obvious fact that the Time Attack mission are timed, and the Practice missions are just preparation for the timed versions. In the No Weapon mode you basically have to sneak around soldiers and make it to a certain spot. In Socom mode, you have to do the same thing, but you have to shoot everyone in the back for the exit to appear. Overall I'd say this part of the game is pretty easy, with only a few hard areas.
In Weapon Mode, you are given 8 weapons to choose from and 5 levels of Practice/Time Attack per weapon. In each level you will go against virtual opponents. They come in all different shapes and sizes, from cubes and walls to diamonds and weird UFO-shaped things. The available weapons are: FA-MAS, Grenade, Claymore Mines, Nikita, PSG1, Stinger, Socom, and C4. Doing well in this mode will unlock Advanced Mode, which is about the same as weapon mode, except with different levels and human targets.
In Advanced Mode, you are given all the weapons from Weapon Mode and are to use them against human targets, and the levels are all new. Like in previous modes, you will have a Practice set of missions and a Time Attack set. There are still 5 missions in each, but the difficulty is increased due to the fact that the soldiers can also shoot back at you. Other than what's been mentioned, there's not much more difference, if any, between Advanced and Weapon Mode.
When you have beaten 50% of the game, Special mode becomes available to you. In Special Mode you have several different missions ans modes of play to choose from. You can go with the guns in 1 min. battle and vs. 12 battle, try to solve a few murder mysteries, figure out some puzzles, or play as the famous Cyborg Ninja. There a couple more missions available to you too like VR Mission and Variety. The number of levels per mode varies. For instance, in Mystery mode you have to solve 10 mysteries, but you only have 3 levels playing as the Ninja. Half of the levels don't have timers, but some rely heavily upon it.
Overall, the variety in VR missions is very extensive and covers every area in the training process of a future Solid Snake. The difficulty has a nice curve to it making it easy for new players, or ones of lesser skill, to adjust to. It's an overall enjoyable experience, executed perfectly thanks to the game's setup.
The graphics in the game aren't a huge jump over MGS at all. In, fact it looks as if the graphics weren't changed any. Solid Snake and the enemy soldiers still look exactly as they did in MGS, but you can't really blame the game because it is obvious that the Playstation has reached it's dead-end when it comes to graphics. The environment that you play in is simple. Just a bunch a colored lines. That's it, really. If you look past the colored lines and out into space you'll find a bunch of words and lines and other weird little things floating around the place. While the graphics may be scarce, what you do see is still very nice for a Playstation game.
Sound in this game, like the graphics, remains unchanged from MGS. You can still hear Snake knocking on a wall to get a guard's attention, and the crisp sounds of your weapons, but other than that there really isn't too much sound in the game at all. No dialogue, no music. Just sound effects. Don't expect much.
There's not too much replay to this game. You beat it once, forget about it for a while, then maybe someday you dig it up and beat it again. But I can say one thing about this game: it's just plain addicting, and a real challenge to beat. While there are no special rewards for beating the game, there is a real feeling of accomplishment when you finally do beat it. There are a few movies that can be unlocked, but nothing else. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention the fact that as you get closer to beating the game, a special photo session opens where you get the chance to photograph Naomi or Mei Ling typing on a lap-top or standing up. No, she’s not naked, and it seems pretty pointless to even have this mode in the game. It takes 2 memory card blocks to save each picture for later use, but why would you even want to?
Overall, I say you should get this game if you can find it for a good price. I wouldn't pay full price for it simply because it seems more like an add-on that should have came with the game, instead of a game all by itself sold for full price. You may want to rent first, but you will most likely want to buy this game just for extra challenges. If you already have MGS 2, then it may not seem as necessary, but if you still don’t have a PS2, this is a pretty good investment.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 12/31/01, Updated 11/30/02
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