Kojima brings stealth action out of the shadows
Please note, this review is based on the BETA version of Metal Gear Solid 4: Online currently available via the PSN. This means it is a free version that may well change before its final release.
10 second review sniplet: Should you buy this game? Yes and you might already plan to without knowing it, it comes free with Metal Gear Solid 4. So don’t complain about the few shortcomings and enjoy the free game. Fast based online Metal Gear Solid action what else can you ask for?
Should you buy this game? Yes and you might already plan to without knowing it, it comes free with Metal Gear Solid 4.
What can essentially be said about MGO? Its the ultimate Metal Gear Solid single player game, cleverly transformed and moulded into an online environment (you can quote me on that). As I’m sure most of you by now are acquainted with our good friend Solid Snake and the workings of his games, not to mention the master behind them all Mr.Kojima. But does this latest outing live up to the name that is Metal Gear Solid?
Its Metal Gear Solid, its familiar and its constant it works because we know it, but does sticking it online vs. other players change the core of it? The answer is yes and no. This isn’t our usual stealth/action game any more the animated soldiers running around aren’t controlled by AI patrolling set out paths or occasionally falling asleep, they are smarter than you dumber than you, faster than you, slower! Yup this is human intelligence incredibly unpredictable,smart or stupid who knows what the next enemy will do to you, or fail at. You can’t just hide around the corner and wait for the warning timer to go down, if someone sees you, they know where you are and that’s that. Is this a good thing? Yes because you might be a smart person, is it bad? Also yes because you might be too dumb to outsmart anyone. It is MGS ripped out of its comfort zone of stealth and placed in front of our crosshairs. Everything in this game is familiar the sounds the controls even the feeling of running around in a cardboard box while laughing at the little legs popping out the bottom, it all just feels natural.
My first try at the game was pushed back a day mainly because once downloading the demo it had to update. Twice. Since I have little patience for this I left it on over night as I snored happily in my PJ’s. I’d rather they would just let you download the updated version instead of the older one. Next comes the tedious sign up with Konami you have to do, after finally starting the game. Once you are through this and manage to get to your character creation you find it is quite limited. Being a beta this is forgiveable of course. Still it feels open despite only giving the choice of male characters with different skin tones and changing clothing, the clothing only seems to be silly things like equipment packs accessories, etc. Which I’m sure will be improved on in the full game. You can choose to start the game quickly on match making or go for some training, the training is extremely basic giving you command prompts beforehand telling you how to do certain movements and repeats while you play. It however does not explain certain things like looking around corners or feigning death which will hopefully be built on in the final release. The game so far has no dedicated servers leaving all the hosting up to the individual players which causes alot of annoyance especially when the host decides “Screw it” and just up and leaves, konami has added a ‘host rating’ function that allows you to rate the host between 0 and 5 stars, allowing future players of the host to see how they are rated.
When you start your first game, the first thing you see is the weapon select screen, where you can choose your primary and secondary weapon along with a support item (grenade, claymore, magazine etc)
Each weapon functions completely differently from the others in terms of rate of fire and accuracy the game has 3 aiming functions. First Person Aiming; You see what your character sees the crosshair of the gun pointed at the enemy. Third Person Aiming; Over the shoulder aiming seeing the back of the character. Finally, Auto-Aiming; Which automatically locks onto a target in front of you. In my opinion the aiming function of this game is the biggest let down. Auto-aim just sounds like a built in cheat to me and depending on what weapon you use depends on the distance between you and your target of when it will actually come into affect. Third person has a horrible crosshair that shows the possible area your bullets will hit, it feels very inaccurate. Finally first person is almost impossible to aim in since the gun covers a heavy part of the screen and violently shakes while shooting, which is of course expected but makes it extremely hard to aim at all. In my experience when I have the advantage of an enemy (meaning they can’t see me but I can see them) the easist way to take them out is to aim in first person and tap the fire button, this has seen the best results when trying to take off a foe’s head.
The objective of the game is simple, beat the other team. If you have to kill them, kill. If you have to capture points, capture. At its bare minimum its the same old game play with MGS pasted over. Does it work, yes it does. Why? Because Konami know what they are doing. The game has taken little from Call of Duty 4 and added a skill (perk) system the main difference is that these skills level up over time, little feature that COD4 should invest in. As your skills level up they improve or just give you new added skills on top wither it be improved CQC or better zooming with your weapon. You can also change your skills between matches. The matchmaking system works exactly as it should paring you with players of similar skill level instead of you fighting against guys in level 20 or so. Which would be hard to find seeing as this is a short lived Beta. Of course you can choose to join any game you wish or find a friend.
Despite the tedious sign up through Konami it provides excellent features, for example a built in friend and messaging system that allows you to communicate and add friends similar to that of the XMB. Highly adjustable controls and shortcuts including keyboard support and macros, not to mention the ability to change the shortcut functions of the built in com messages.
Do you ever pick up a game and play it, and it just ‘feels’ right? This game has this quality in my opinion. The graphics although slightly lagging behind in some areas look great and the character models flow well with the atmosphere of the game. The sound and music feels very at home in the MGS world including sound effects from previous games. The controls a
re traditional MGS style with added functions sometimes making the game alittle slow in areas but undeniable as a main function of the MGS style. The game play fast and action based breaking from the traditional stealth based but still providing enough ass kicking close combat to satisfy. The Overall product, since this is only a beta of the online world of Metal Gear Solid 4 it leaves me in high anticipation of the full polished game, providing just enough to draw me in and leave me wanting for more. Although the game will not cater to everyone’s taste it will appeal to the largest market in the gaming industry and without a doubt leave a mark on the online gaming community of the Playstation 3
The Bad: – Can be very choppy in some places.; – Hard to pick up for some.; – Graphics missing that “Wow” factor.; – Two separate updates after original download of the beta; – Unstable servers (lacks dedicated servers); – Can’t change certain character aspects