Review: Metal Gear Online (PS3)

Metal Gear Online for the Playstation 3 is in fact the second installment of the MGO franchise… if there will ever be one in the eyes of the mainstream market. It features the same features that were found in the first Metal Gear Online that shipped with Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistance, a “Director’s Cut” version of the original Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater game. 

If this is the sequel, then why isn’t it called Metal Gear Online 2? Support for the first Metal Gear Online ended in 2007 after a year and a half of service. At first, Subsistance itself was a bit hard to find in stores due to the lack of sales. However, Subsistance was later re-released in an Essential Collection set with the first Metal Gear Solid game for the Playstation and the Sons of Liberty update, Substance, ala Subsistance. But since the MGO 1 service ended, there was no need to put the second disc that included it in the Essential Collection.

The new Metal Gear Online, which comes with Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots in North America and Europe (sold separately in Japan, as shown above), is an improvement of the first, along with new maps and a few extras. In the eyes of Hideo Kojima, it’s not much of an improvement (read: not a masterpiece), but just a revision using the MGS4 engine.

Gameplay (3/5)

As in the first MGO, you can create your very own character-not one based off of an existing character as many people have been wishing for (seeing 16 Solid Snakes, ability-wise, let alone random players named after him, would be a little irritating). Your character can be customized with skills based on your playing style: Assault, Sniper, Close Quarters Combat Specialist (CQC), and any mixture of skills to create the ultimate soldier. 

MGO offers several game modes for players to enjoy: Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Sneaking, Team Sneaking (both Sneaking modes which feature Old Snake), Base, Rescue, Capture, and a recently added mode, Race. In MGS4/MGO, new maps have been added based on the MGS4 universe. For those who missed out on MGO1, Groznyj Grad from MGS3 returns. If the selection of maps included bores you already, you can explore more of the MGS4 universe with additional expansion packs, for a fee: GENE, MEME, and SCENE.

As an added bonus, many of Metal Gear Solid 4’s lovable (or hateable) cast of characters can be played depending on the expansion packs purchased: Meryl, Johnny (Akiba) (GENE), Mei Ling, Liquid Ocelot (MEME), Vamp, Raiden (SCENE)  and Old (Solid) Snake (In both Sneaking modes without the expansions and in the SCENE expansion). Special characters also cannot be played at will and can only be played randomly if the room’s host has the Special Character feature activated. The special characters are controlled differently than normal player-created characters, so don’t be embarrassed if you mess up (ie: controlling Mei Ling and Vamp), especially if you do not get to play as that character as often.

In regards of base female characters, they are only available in the GENE expansion pack. But if you’re a female player (like myself), is (was) reluctant to purchase the expansions, and refuse to pay $7 for a character expansion in addition to your existing character that you’ve worked so hard leveling up, then you would have to think for a moment whether $15 is worth it to get all the expansions (getting only GENE is useless nowadays) just for that one female character without wasting a slot.

But the older the game gets, the more players that will have all three expansion packs, making the game more fun than it is without them—and leaving older players in the dust. But a lot of players still play the original maps (sans the special characters), so it won’t be an issue getting through the first 7 (or more) levels.

Controls (3/5)

The controls are completely based off of <i>Guns of the Patriots</i> itself. If you have played MGS4 prior to play this, then it is no problem getting used to the environment. But the controls are a bit hard to explain here (in other words: a tad difficult to handle right away) for those who just want to play Metal Gear Online. However, I can say this: O is for Cancel and X is for Accept, whereas the buttons were inverted from the Japanese (and US) versions of the previous MGS games.

Graphics (5/5)

Like the controls, the character designs and environment are just as awesome as GotP. Although you won’t find any jaw dropping cutscenes as in the original game (who needs a storyline in an online shooter?) 

Sound (5/5)

For the sound effects, nothing has changed from Metal Gear Solid 4. Metal Gear Online retains the game SFX from it’s predecessor (MGS4), which has tactical benefits; you can hear who is approaching around the corner, where shots are coming from, and have the enemy come to you in the case of being trigger happy.

My favorite part about Metal Gear Online’s music is that you can change the music from the default MGO track (which is a little similar to MGS4’s music) to Konami’s library of Metal Gear, Policenauts, and Zone of the Enders (or anything that Kojima was involved with). It is important to add that if you completed MGS4 from beginning to end, you can listen to the music from Guns of the Patriots as well. However, you cannot listen to the iPod tracks found in MGS4, which is a little disappointing, but it’s not a very big deal.

Community (2/5)

I am going all out of how the community aspect of Metal Gear Online is compared to any other Online Game, so bare with me. There are good and bad things about the community, so I will begin with the bad first… 

The Bad: If you’re new to MGO all together, you will find other players, including yourself, who are willing to learn from other players. But there are the ones who like to go off on their own and read dirty magazines while you keep getting killed. The community is a mixed bag depending on the time of day you play or the way you play. Even if you play either at day or night and you happen to be decent at the game, you have been warned. 

Let’s say if your Kill/Death Ratio (KDR) in every match is, let’s say: 11K/4D, then you risk getting kicked from the room by a player who has a KDR of 3 Kills and 16 Deaths, simply because you’re better than they are. While this seems to be an unfortunate example of how anyone in any online shooter behaves, it’s horrible when it comes to Metal Gear Online.

Players are often judged (and I mean often) by their Ping Bar that determines their ability to play with a good or bad Internet connection. Metal Gear Online is not entirely run off of Konami’s own servers, so the player is responsible for providing a quality connection for other players to get the most out of their fun.

But even if the room’s host has a good connection, there will always be a player or two that has a red bar, but it only lasts a moment. If a player has a red ping constantly during a battle, it’s still possible to play–as long as it doesn’t affect yourself or other players by “skipping” (lagging) when you or the others run or shoot.

If your very own connection is great, the room host’s connection may have an affect with others if the room’s capacity holds the maximum of 16 players, hosting with a DSL connection. Though it may not bother anyone else, this is where the bad player (in skill and respect) has the opportunity to get rid of a player who happens to be very good (and respectful) and has only 2 green bars. Sadly, I have been a victim of getting kicked for simply being a skilled and polite player.

When connection isn’t a problem, there’s the overall sportsmanship of the game. Even when someone gets attacked from behind with CQC, a player is likely to complain (and attempts to remove the player) just because he keeps getting knocked unconscious by letting his guard down. Another major flaw with the spirit of MGO is that the player on the opposite team can have a player on the other team removed, which can ruin the balance of the game, not to mention if that one player happens to be excellent at the game.

The Good: As I previously stated, there are some players who are willing to learn—and even willing to teach others how to play MGO, especially when it comes to CQC. Seasoned players setup a normal room designed just for CQC training and skill leveling. Not just for CQC, but for Grenades, Knifes, Boxes, Handguns, and many other skills. A nice way to give back to the community. 

Not everyone in MGO is a sneaky player. As with any online shooters, there is bound to be a player who happens to be a sore loser, but there are those who praise and become friends with others for saving them in team situations, or just from having a good time in general.

Summary

In the end, Metal Gear Online is far from perfect. Enjoying Metal Gear Solid 4, it is a nice way to break the cycle of withdrawal after witnessing the conclusion of Solid Snake’s final mission. If you’re new to online shooters, MGO is perfect to get into the grind of the MMOS, especially on game consoles. 

Everything else about Metal Gear Online is fine, but not precise. There is plenty of room for improvement, including the “fairness” of the players involved due to the game’s broken community organization. If you’re lucky to join a group of friends or belong to a clan that believes in “teamwork” (a bad word in the eyes in the majority of the MGO community), then you’re good to go. As with the first MGO, MGO2 may not be around for very long, at least until MGO3 comes around with Rising… Maybe.

Score: 2.5 out of 5

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