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Metal Gear Solid Noob Diaries #18: A disappointing MGS game?

Metal Gear Solid Noob Diaries #18: A disappointing MGS game?

Welcome to the Metal Gear Noob Diaries. This is the recounting of my experience through the MGS series from MGS2: Sons of Liberty all the way to MGSV: Ground Zeroes. I’ll be updating every so often with new thoughts on sections of the games and taking a look back at memorable and enjoyable moments. I’ve never played the series before, so for the fans out there it could be an amusing tale of one noob’s journey, while those as green as myself could well learn a little about the mad world of MGS. Enjoy!

I’ve now finished Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops. I know that it’s a bit of a jump, but like I said I’m on holiday so don’t have much time (or effort) for writing. Still, I wanted to say a few words about my overall thoughts on the game and diagnose the development of the story. I was quite surprised by just how much further the story was taken with Portable Ops. With The Phantom Pain focusing on Big Boss again, I imagine a lot of people will soon be visiting the two PSP games for the first time.

So, my concluding thoughts on the first PSP MGS title? It was OK. My opinion of the game never really changed all that much since my last entry - it’s a fun game that works fairly well on a portable device but never comes close enough to the fully fledged games to be properly enjoyable. My main issue was with the missions themselves that were generally pretty boring: lacking in challenge and the excellent pacing of MGS2 and 3. As a fan of linear games, the broken up missions weren’t really my cup of tea, especially when I had to ‘wait’ to uncover the next mission area.

MGS PO carry

The controls were also a bit of a nightmare. Largely, the issue was that I had to use the D-pad to control the camera and use the horrible little nub-thing to move the character and aim a weapon. That combination was both annoying and a little painful at times. I never got on with the infamous PSP nub, but Portable Ops displayed its inability to the max.

Those are my main complaints, but they were enough to dampen the whole experience a fair bit. Although I must say that I’m not a big fan of mobile gaming on the whole. I much prefer to be in my comfy chair at home playing for a couple of hours at a time than playing for 20 minutes on a bus (or in a random house in Devon). So my overall indifference is down to that really, not the game itself. You only have to take quick a look on metacritic to see that Portable Ops was something of a revelation on the PSP at the time. I still don’t think it’s aged all that well though, and I can see why they omitted it from the HD collection.

By this point, you’re probably wondering why I’m actually claiming indifference as opposed to outright dismissal. Well there were plenty of things I enjoyed! The story was probably the best part of the game. An interesting little tale that sets up a lot of the following MGS storyline. You’ve got ‘the perfect soldier’, a nation of soldiers, the first true Metal Gear and a few cool characters. Turns out Snake Eater scientist Sokolov is still alive and still developing killer weapons despite being against the whole idea - smart. A cool main baddy called Gene is one of the best elements of the story, he has a weird ability to strongly influence people with his smooth, smooth voice. Then there’s Elisa/Ursula, a schizophrenic woman who, like an increasing number of Kojima's characters, has ESP abilities. She’s a great part of the plot who, at the end of the game, foresees Boss’ children - claiming that one will end the world and another will save it.

MGS PO gene

Gene also plants the idea of an independent soldier’s nation into Snake’s mind, an idea that would later flourish into Outer Heaven, the setting for the original Metal Gear. The game also revealed that, linking back to MGS3, the American government always assumed that Volgin would launch the nuke into the USSR, thereby sending out the hit on The Boss. Plus by the end of the game, Ocelot, who’s lurking in the background the entire time, ends up with the whole Philosopher's Legacy and the identities of the remaining members of the Wiseman’s Committee. He wants to get Snake on side to help take down the Philosophers for good.

The ‘crew’ mechanic of the game grew on me a little, although it failed to make the individual soldiers anything worth really caring about. Recruiting people always felt like a necessity instead of a fun side-quest, and the implications it had on the story were actually more interesting than the gameplay itself, as Snake becomes an increasingly able commander of men. Hopefully the team system will be improved in Peace Walker, which I’ve read implements a similar mechanic.

MGS Ursa

Overall then, I’m glad I bought the game, but I am a little disappointed that I didn’t enjoy it anywhere near as much as Sons of Liberty or Snake Eater. Considering Peace Walker was also a PSP game, I’m hoping that it’s much better.

My next entry will arrive in a few days after I’m back from hols.

Metal Gear Solid Noob Diaries
Ryan Davies

Ryan Davies

Junior Editor

Budding, growing and morphing games journalist from the South. Known nowhere around the world as infamous wrestler Ryan "The Lion" Davies.

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