Review by afterglo

"Action Game Realty: Enquire within."

After the initial hassle of being forced to switch to one of the original game's discs and then back again, Metal Gear Solid: Special Missions fast becomes a challenging and, later on, charming game.

The exploits of Konami's Solid Snake are no doubt familiar to you (a mandatory experience if this add-on disc is to be enjoyed). Special Missions carries on from where the full game's training mode left off: Snake is placed in a virtual world - replete with shimmering, holographic tiles and streams of green text floating around the black background - to partake in some weapons training.

Unfortunately for Special Missions all the really good stuff is right at the back and, unfortunately for the player, the stuff at the front is as much fabulous Metal Gear fare as it is driftwood. Too often are the mission rosters bogged down with babyish chores, such as eliminating floating targets with homing missiles. Yet each bland objective is counterbalanced threefold with intelligent and though-provoking set-pieces, such as working a guided missile through a maze (eventually into a soldier's head) or tossing grenades through ceiling cracks with precision accuracy, are a far more pleasing use of the game mechanics.

The game's last hurrah sees the creative juices rise to a new echelon. Missions specific to the Ninja may seem like a fan-quencher but the engaging jump-and-slash dynamic warrants the accolade of three-dimensional Strider. And if the game's solve-a-mystery scenarios - harkening back to producer Hideo Kojima's earlier work experience - don't rise a chortle from your lungs, then shame on you.

The previous control set-up is still employed. Whether that's a curse or a blessing is entirely up to you but it is afterglo's opinion that the latter is a suitable description.

Further awards for a predictable constant go to the graphics, which remain as detailed as possible wherever the chance arises. Though the opportunity is scarce given the game's 'virtual' setting. Where the visuals go the music seems destined to follow, lending its hand to any of the aesthetically pleasing locations well, but maintaining the drab atmosphere of the mundane VR stages.

Special Missions isn't an essential purchase for those who enjoyed the full game. The basic gameplay element remains. However, it has been fragmented and sold of piece by piece and, as such, lacks the cohesion of the game proper (i.e. story), which was probably the big draw in the first instance. Mass-market cynicism aside those who welcome a return of Snake's antics sans plot to their PSOnes should look no further.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 01/07/02, Updated 01/07/02


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