Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops

John Fox - Staff Reviewer

Content at a glance:

GAME TECH INFO

Computer Platform: Playstation Portable (PSP)
Produced by: Konami
Price Range: $21-30
Learning curve time: 31-60 min.
Age level: Teens
ESRB Rating: M (Mature)

Reviewed By: John Fox
VOLUNTEER GUEST REVIEWER

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆
Genre: Action
Christian Rating: 3 of 5 (average)
Gameplay: 4 of 5 (good)
Violence: 3 of 5 (mild)
Adult Content: 2 of 5 (heavy)


Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops.  Illustration copyrighted.


*Note this review does not cover any of the content in Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops Plus, a standalone expansion pack with a different single player experience*

Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops for the Playstation Portable, published by Konami and created by Hideo Kojima, is a direct sequel to Metal Gear Solid 3, taking place 7 years after operation Snake Eater; PO places you once again in the shoes of Naked Snake. Unlike the previous games, MGS:PO combines sneaking with character recruitment and a mission based formula.

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The year is 1971, after retiring from FOXHOUND Snake finds him self captured and interrogated by a man named Cunningham who wants to know where the other half of the famed Philosopher’s Legacy is. After Snake is thrown back into Prison he meets another prisoner, a young Roy Campbell. Campbell tells Snake that FOXHOUND commander Gene has started a rebellion and plans on taking over the government of The San Hieronymo Peninsula, where they are located. Soon after Snake and Campbell escape and hatch a plot to stop Gene’s plans. Like most MGS games Gene is more than meets the eye and the game shares the series usual twists and government conspiracies. The game also explores the events leading up to Metal Gear 1 and the reason for the creation of Outer Heaver. I found the story to be pretty good but not as deep as MGS 2 or 3. Thankfully though, unlike the previous PSP MGS game Metal Gear Acid, the story is cannon, meaning that it officially happens in the series timeline. My only big complaint is the way Campbell is portrayed. Gone is the mature and military like man from the previous games. Young Campbell is a little immature, annoying and a bit of a womanizer. I don’t know why the writers made him the way he is, but he is nothing like the previous games. Also he has no character development in the game, another big disappointment.

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Gameplay is a little different than MGS 3, gone are the camo, food and medical systems of the previous game. Now Snake sneaks around using a new system almost based entirely on sound. You have a radar in the corner of the screen and can see sound waves both you and the enemy make. Enemies have a very short viewing range, so sound is the main key factor in sneaking. The game is broken down into short missions, good for pickup and play sessions. Controls are set up similar to MGS 3, besides the notable absence of the right analog stick, making it generally harder to control the camera. Camera is over the shoulder like in MGS 3: S and MGS 4 rather that over head of the previous games. PO marks the first time in the series where you can create your own squad. During the game Snake can capture enemies by knocking them out and hauling them back to the truck. After a while the character will join your team. Each character has a variety of different skills and abilities to help Snake and you even can play as them. They can also be placed in a medical unit to create medical supplies, a tech unit to create weapons and objects or even a spy unit to find data about various places. Characters from MGS 3 and MGA such as Major Zero, Ocelot and Raikov can also be recruited by using passwords or if various requirements are met. Most of these characters have little to no impact in the story however and are just for fun. Allies can also be recruited by scanning access points (like a wireless router) or by using the optional PSP GPS device.

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Character and weapon graphics are nice and crisp thanks to high resolution textures. Background textures are ugly however and the game frequently looks blurry. There are also some instances of texture tearing throughout the game. Cutscenes are done animated comic book style and fully voiced, returning characters such as Snake are voiced by their MGS 3 actors. The new characters are pretty well acted, but are not as good as the past games. Music and sound is similar to MGS 3.

MGS:PO also has a free online component in which you can take your squad to fight other people in a variety of maps. At time of writing I found at least from 15-30 people online on average and never had too much problems finding a match. The game is not very balanced however since a headshot is an instant kill and there is an trick to getting easy headshots.

Violence:
The game is much less violent than the other MGS games. Snake and company use a variety of guns, knifes and explosives but there is no blood present in the gameplay. A couple of cutscenes have a little blood, but from what I remember the blood is black in color. Your characters can threaten enemies at knife point, knock them out or toss them to the ground using CQC, however unlike MGS 3 you CANNOT kill them by slitting their throats. There are also a couple of more tense parts during cutscenes; such as early on when Snake is being beaten up for information about the Philosopher’s Legacy. There are also some talk of torture and once Snake finds people who committed suicide. Finally there is a part where Gene uses his mind influencing abilities to make soldiers kill each other. Overall these parts are stylishly done and are not very detailed.

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Language:
D*mn, h*ll, a*ss are used semi-often by Campbell, who does the most talking in the game and once in a while by the other characters. B*stard and P*issed are used a couple times. Son if a b*tch is used once. Everyone time someone dies (who is not Snake) Campbell say d*mn it. Online in matches people cannot communicate to each in match except for pre-set messages. I don’t know if there is a filter for in game descriptions or private messages, but I myself have only run into d*mn once.

Adult Content:
Once during the game Snake touches a girls chest to see her uniform underneath, he gets slapped for this but he did not mean anything by it. Once Snake is captured and is presumably naked and while a woman is talking to him (the camera is following her gaze) she accidentally looks at his crotch, though the game itself shadows out all private part. She gets in by saying how she “she longs for a strong man” to the guard (who thinks she is up to something dirty) but this is just a ploy to help snake, she hugs snake and communicates to him using her psychic powers. When she is done she says “ I guess I got a little too into it” and that “:This is our little secret, okay? Don't tell anybody.” But this is all a ploy to trick the guard. Your tech team can develop erotic (dirty) magazines “for the long lonely nights on the field” that distract guards like in the other games. When used it just shows a woman in her underwear (though it is not very detailed) on the cover and a picture of Eva is inside with her outfit unzipped showering her bra and cleavage. You can also unlock and play as Eva, both of these things are optional however. They can both can be used online. Finally Campbell is a bit of a womanizer and once asks Snake if he found the “babe of the month centerfold”.

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Spiritual Content:
Some of the characters in the game have psychic powers, Gene can use his voice to influence people’s thoughts.

Overall Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops does a great job bridging MGS 3 to Metal Gear 1 and MGS 1. It is more of a side story and I defiantly recommend playing MGS 3 first, as some parts of the story of MGS 3 will be ruined by playing this game. It defiantly has its flaws and is not quite as polished as the previous MGS series games, but it is well worth your time.

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Year of Release — 2006

[tags] 4 stars, Action, Playstation Portable (PSP), M (Mature), Konami [/tags]

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this Spotlight review are those of the reviewer (both ratings and recommendations), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Eden Communications or the Christian Answers Network.

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