Metal gear Solid Noob Diaries #20: A modern 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!
Story time! Turns out the mystery army inhabiting Costa Rica belongs to the CIA, the sneaky bastards. They’re fronted by a guy known as...Hot Coldman. Ugh. Sometimes Kojima goes a little too far with the silly stuff. So the CIA are hiding out in Costa Rica while they develop a collection of AI-controlled robots including a nuclear-capable bipedal tank they call Peace Walker - you knew nukes had to be involved somehow right? They’re hoping that the Peace Walker will put an end to the deadlock of mutually assured nuclear destruction. There’s a long complicated reason that doesn’t really make much sense, so I’ll skip that.
I had a fun session today that really pulled me back into the fold. Peace Walker is a much better game than Portable Ops, for so very many reasons. The first, and most important, is the variation in settings. One problem I had with the original PSP title was the distinct lack of scenery, it was essentially one concrete jungle after another. Well thankfully Peace Walker makes a return to the actual jungle, with some landscaping that equals Snake Eater. The whole tone is also reminiscent of that wonderful, wonderful game. The camo index is even here!
The setting makes the gameplay much more enjoyable, that and my favourite control scheme yet in an MGS game. To my best knowledge it’s based on the MGS4 scheme, which has a clear modern influence. R1 is shoot! Yup, after three games of pressing square to take a shot, slowly but surely getting used to it, it’s back to the familiar old trigger button. There’s no direct reticule and a healthy hunk of auto-aim (blame the PSP original), but shooting feels very satisfying. Plus, I mentioned the improved CQC previously, but it really is a big improvement. It’s just much more predictable and therefore understandable and fun.
The other key improvement over Portable Ops is the team-building mechanic. Where in that game you led a mere rabble of troops, Peace Walker really convinces you that you’re the boss of a large military company. Mother Base is the name of MSF’s offshore platform (Big Shell anyone?) from which I can organise various aspects of ‘merc life’. Placing troops into certain areas like R&D, food and intel makes a return, but feels more substantial and important. There’s also an Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood-esque mission mechanic where I can send members of MSF off to unique missions.
It all helps to make the game feel like a sort of PMC management simulator, with added Snake-ness. Crucially, it’s now possible to recruit new members to MSF simply by attaching them to a Fulton recovery system balloon. They’re whisked up directly from the battlefield to Mother Base, a much better mechanic compared to the drag-to-a-truck system of Portable Ops. In hindsight, that might have been the sole reason I wasn’t behind the team-building stuff in that game.
So lots of neat gameplay changes and a story that’s building up nicely. I’ll get into a little more detail on the characters in the next edition, which should be round soon.