Review by BoyLover X
""Easily the worst Metal Gear Solid game, but still not bad""
"Easily the worst Metal Gear Solid game, but still not bad"
What? An MGS game with a bad story? Kind of.
You resume the role of Naked Snake / Big Boss 6 years after the events of MGS3. He's been captured and brought to a peninsula in South America, where he teams up with a young, hippie version of Roy Campbell. Together, they must find out who is behind a recent revolt of the FOX unit, and stop them from launching nuclear missiles.
It sounds kind of like the other game's stories, but here's what's bad about this one. For one thing, the characters have very little development. Some characters are introduced and given pretty much no info on, and then never seen or heard from again. I was unattached to them, and there are very few cutscenes. The story also feels incomplete, as it leaves things open to be explained in MGS4, and also has a 6-year gap of time before the game's start. You don't know exactly what Snake has been up to since the events of MGS3, other than he was in some fight in Mozambique. This part is not explained.
At first glance, you might think this game looks the same as MGS3. Indeed, character models are all of high quality. However, after playing for a bit, you realize that the graphics just aren't as good. Nearly every texture in the game is either dirt or metal. There's way too much repetition with textures. Everything seems brown and gray.
Shoot an exploding barrel or blow up a truck and you'll see an ugly sprite with only a handful of animation frames, a far cry from the beautiful 3D explosions that lit up TV screens in MGS3.
I also have to lament what has happened to the cutscenes. They are messy, scribbled animated scenes by a very untalented artist named Ashley Wood, who also drew the graphic novels for MGS and MGS2. I can't imagine why Konami chose her over the official artist of the MGS series, Yoji Shinkawa, who drew beautiful artwork for the other games. I wish the cutscenes had simply been rendered in 3D.
The sound effects were all ripped straight from MGS3. They sound good to me. If it ain't broke, don't fix it I guess.
Music is similar in style to MGS3, which is a good thing since I loved that game's music. Soft music plays when you are sneaking, suspenseful music plays when enemies are aware of your presence, and louder more action sounding tracks play when the alarm is pulled and everyone's chasing you.
My only real gripe with audio in this game is the lack of full voice acting. Cutscenes have voice acting, but in-game dialogue and radio sequences (you talk with allies over a radio) only have text.
Portable Ops retains the same basic idea behind every Metal Gear: avoid combat when necessary, and elude the enemy. But instead of traveling through a series of areas that are all connected like the other MGS games, you choose a place to drive to. You can quickly exit an area at any time by pausing and choosing abort, so there's no tension of trying to escape from somewhere. Your goal is usually to simply sneak or fight your way from point A to point B, and your goal is usually marked on your map. Occasionally, you will fight a boss. Boss fights are pretty bland for an MGS game, and one boss is even recycled and used twice, with absolutely no difference between the two fights.
Another large flaw with this MGS is the level design. Sure, you have a lot of weapons and moves at your disposal, but they are so rarely used. Only right near the end of the game did the level design get interesting by putting in key cards and security cameras in one mission. All the other missions feel very uninspired and boring, usually pretty wide open areas where you just tranquilize a guard or two then run to the goal.
You can also capture enemy soldiers by dragging them back to your truck (the start point of a mission), which is kind of an inconvenience to do. Most are pretty weak, but you can use them to create new equipment and find ammo for you. You could also play as soldiers and blend into certain areas, but this just makes the game too easy.
Controls were surprisingly well converted to the PSP, although the lack of a second analog stick for camera control hurts a bit. Pressing L re-centers the camera to show where you are facing, but movement with the analog nub is kind of inaccurate so you can't always point to where you want to go. The d-pad rotates the camera accurately, but you have to take your thumb off of analog to use the d-pad, so you can't run while rotating the camera. All the other controls work just fine though.
Replay Value: 7/10
There are several side missions to complete. Even if they aren't all that exciting, they exist. Tracking down secret extra characters is a decent distraction too.
The biggest reason to pop this game in your PSP again is for online play. Since MGS3: Subsistence no longer has online servers, this is the only way to get your Metal Gear Online fix.
Final Score: 8/10
A disappointment for those who expect a portable MGS as good as the console games. Graphics lack the variety and detail of the console games, the story was ho-hum, and most importantly the game and level structure was simply not the same as the other MGS games.
Buy if you're a hardcore fan, or if you happen to have a PSP since this is pretty much the only original action-adventure game on the PSP that's above average.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.0 - Great
Originally Posted: 07/09/07
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