Review by Millers C

Reviewed: 08/23/06

Not as good as it should have been

Metal Gear Solid is a game that needs no introduction; a worldwide smash hit, groundbreaking title from the excellent director/writer Hideo Kojima. If you have followed the series, every title has seen an add-on pack released within a few years, and both Substance and Subsistence have added a lot to the series. Special Missions was Hideo Kojima’s first efforts at extending the experience of one of the greatest games in Playstation history.

First off, if you played the VR training section of Metal Gear Solid and didn’t like it, this game isn’t for you. Special Missions is an-add on pack for Metal Gear Solid where the main focus of the game is in the 200+ VR training missions which follow an identical format. Secondly, you need to have Metal Gear Solid as this game requires an unnecessary verification sequence as the game loads up while your PSX checks the disc. So from those two significant factors, Special Missions is only going to appeal to a certain type of people – those who own and thoroughly enjoyed Metal Gear Solid.

The VR training takes up such a large portion of the game, and it’s pleasing to note there is a wealth of different missions to try. You’ll begin with only a few unlocked and have to work your way through achieving a set percentage and of course the game tunes up the difficulty in the later stages as you finally get to play the more fun and interesting stages. You begin with weapons training in all weapons and move on to the variety, special and mystery training sequences. In some ways the game could be described as an arcade experience, as many missions last less than a few minutes and its tempting to go back and achieve higher scores.

One of the VR bonus games is the mode where you can finally get to play as the cyborg ninja. This feature will go down as one of the biggest letdowns in the game as you only get to play as the ninja in 3 short levels which are timed. Its strange Hideo didn’t expand on this feature more as I’m sure many people who played Metal Gear Solid and got this game were more excited about this feature than any other. It’s a shame, also as the missions although shortlived are very fun. The controls are much removed from those you use when playing as Snake, the opportunity to leap high into the air, fight with the katana and run around using the stealth camo make the ninja mini game very playable but its just too shortlived to really be a major selling point for this game. When there are some non Virtual reality rooms and stages, you’ll notice that things look a lot sharper. The textures look a lot crisper and clearer, while some of the close ups on a character’s face – particularly noticeable in the photo shoot mini game – reveal a lifelike face which is much more detailed than those which featured in Metal Gear Solid.

It seems like Special Missions is a missed opportunity in some ways. There are just far too many of these VR missions and not enough extras and Easter eggs which pertain to the main game. Having said that though, aside from the Ninja mini game, there are several other fun and Different modes from the usual weapons training. There is a unique and very fun mystery mode where Snake plays detective to find the murderer amongst a platoon of genome soldiers, a minigame where snake photographs Naomi Hunter, which isn’t as good as it sounds and an addictive mission where Snake punch and kicks his way through rotating spherical orbs to a set time limit., and One thing I liked about this game was that the ideas Hideo incorporate into Special Missions were firmly with tongue in cheek, when you see the Godzilla genome soldier, you’ll know what I mean.

Let’s face it, you are thinking of buying special missions because you loved Metal Gear Solid and you want to extend the experience of that game, and in some ways Special Missions delivers that. There are enough missions and variety in the type of game to keep it interesting and fresh and help it last a long time, but it just doesn’t offer enough away from the VR missions to extend the experience of the main game, unlike Integral which was released in Japan. Because of these limitations, Special Missions can only be described as an above average, but certainly not a special add on pack for Metal Gear Solid.

Rating:   3.5 - Good

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