Detailed Impressions: Metal Gear Online

May 9, 2008 at 1:31 pm | Posted in Latest Addictions | Leave a comment

Thanks to the Golden Week holiday me and my friends managed to put a significant amount of time into the MGO beta. God this game makes me giggle in happiness over and over. It is one of the freshest multiplayer experiences I have had in a long time. The SOP system when properly utilized is amazing and really adds a lot of incentive to proper teamwork. I am just going to do my normal thing and go over some of the various aspects that have put a smile on my face so far in the beta.

I am really happy with how the skill system is implemented as it is extremely balanced but still has a wide variety of specialization available from the start. As a result it allows for an extremely wide range of play styles. This is one thing that the majority of shooters fall short on. You are usually just limited to variety as far as being a sniper or shotgun user. Or the guy that throws flashbangs, but really outside of a few exceptions shooters are lacking in real character specialization. Luckily for us, the world of Metal Gear really lends itself well to unique play styles.

The skill system is pretty easy to break down, and the beauty is in the various combinations you can do. There are numerous skills to choose from and every skill has three ranks. Often times the third rank will give a special ability, such as the ability to cut enemy throats with Knife mastery or disarm opponents with CQC mastery. They have managed to balance this by making it is impossible to have more than one lvl 3 skill because each separate rank takes up a skill slot. The mastered skills are very powerful but you definitely have the sacrifice to obtain them. A good example is the rank 3 knife mastery which gives you the ability to kill enemies from behind by slitting their throat. In this case however, not only do you need lvl 3 knife mastery but you also need CQC specialization in order to get them in the proper situation. I am currently torn between going with this setup or sticking with my knife mastery and fast movement specialization. The cut throat ability is very cool but it is harder to approach with the knife without fast movement. This is just one example of the cost/benefit system that they have put in place.

Thanks to the great character specialization present me and my other friends who play all have drastically different play styles. I tend to rely on fast movement and my knife, often times laying in wait inside a cardboard box for someone to pass by. One of my other friends just runs in with a submachine gun and auto-lock, strafing the enemy and pumping a steady stream of lead into their chest. The third friend that we play with has started running around with a shotgun. He switches between auto-lock and manual aiming, since manual aiming has the added ability of knocking enemies down. He basically aims to knock them down and then finish them off while they are on the ground. Both of them have the enemy exposure skill so that they can paint targets for the rest of the team. They are pretty standard styles but it is interesting to watch all three of us switch off and see how varied our strategies actually are. I have gone entire rounds without firing off a shot and just assassinating people with the knife. There have been other people online that have specialized completely in setting the porno magazines down in prime areas, which can be a big advantage if used right.

The sound design is another aspect that has continued to impress me the more I play. The grenade and gunshot effects really sound great especially when things get really hectic. I also practically fell off my couch the first time I heard the classic exclamation point sound effect pop up behind me when a teammate discovered snake. The game really works well with full 5.1 surround because of effects like this. Of course there are other great sound effects such as the hilarity resulting from getting trapped by a magazine. It’s hard not to laugh at yourself as your character drools over the magazine.

The graphics are impressive and stay at a steady frame rate no matter how crazy things get. Some of the effects such as the debris filter(not sure how else to name it) when hit by a grenade are just amazing. It basically looks like dirt and dust are blown onto your screen right after a close explosion. It is this level of detail that has always made Metal Gear so special. Even in this beta there are bottles and such all over the place that can be broken, along with all the windows. I had one great shootout where I finished someone off by firing into a rack with bottles, shattering all of them and the enemy’s skull in one spray. One more detail that has saved me many times is the fact that hiding in a cardboard box will save you from stun grenades. I had to use this to my advantage against one particularly grenade happy team.

That is all for the first part of my impressions. I plan to at least one more that goes into detail about the exciting Sneaking Mission mode that was added a few days into the beta. It is a great mode that actually gives a look into how the single player will play in MGS4 thanks to the addition of a playable Snake.

So see you then, and watch out for porn on the floor! 


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