The Metal Gear Solid Online Beta will wrap up soon, marking the last time most gamers will have with one of the PS3’s must-have titles of 2008. Metal Gear Solid represents the first of the stealth/action genre, a series that rewards you for sneaking around enemies rather then engaging them. This gameplay gave birth to a whole new way of looking at action games, and it’s been in constant use ever since. The series has also always been on the cutting edge of graphics, and although the storytelling is a little “out there” and complex, two things seem constant: you will play (or think you’re playing) Snake, and you’ll be facing off against some model of the Metal Gear weapon platform. So with this latest chapter due soon on PS3, we found ourselves asking: “Has the Metal Gear Solid Online Beta lived up to the hype?”
The Beta itself involved a few hurdles, including creating two new gamer IDs that couldn’t match our PlayStation Network one, then logging-in with the new ID and creating yet another name that could match our PSN ID. Was this confusing? Let’s just say we never had the chance to play the Beta with any of our friends who had access to it. After creating our character, we selected his skills a la Call of Duty 4’s perks system, with options such as faster reloading times, less recoil for the selected weapon, faster movement, etc. All of these started at Level 1 and provided a slight advantage, but their leveling-up took a fair bit time, and those new to the Metal Gear series may not appreciate how the skills function in the game.
The level design pretty much complements how you want to play, with the maps not as large area-wise as they are depth-wise (all three maps in the Beta had multiple stories). Each level was well detailed, and the lighting was excellent. The online play on these levels was smooth as well, with nary any lag to be found, even playing via WiFi.
The gameplay itself is a different spin on the typical first-person shooter, and as such, it controls differently than you might think. If you’re a fan of Metal control scheme, it should come pretty naturally, but players should run through some training levels first just to be safe. The matches provide a mix of slow and frantic gameplay scenarios, although when you get in a full lobby, the game types generally devolve into the same-old shooter gametypes you’ve played a million times (Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Capture The Flag, Territories, etc.). When you set up a private room, and there’s just four or five of you, you can experience a bit more of the Metal Gear Solid “feel.”
Metal Gear Solid Online supports DualShock 3, and while that’s a nice touch, the actual game itself certainly isn’t going to overtake COD4 anytime soon. In fact, if it were a stand-alone game, it’s not something we would purchase. But, as an addition to a AAA single-player game, it shows far greater depth than a simple “tacked on” addition at the end of the development cycle. Konami’s use of the term “starter pack” for this online portion should signal some red flags, as this is going to be a “pay to play” experience in terms of content and maps down the line. However, what’s here for the time being was fun, although we doubt it’s something we’ll play everyday once the full game ships.
— Phillip Vollmer