“ Manufacturer: Konami / Genre: Adventures & Role-playing „
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After the meteoric success of Metal Gear Solid in 1998 and 1999, Konami released an expansion pack of sorts, called VR Missions, which tested the mettle of MGS fans by placing them in various hypothetical training scenarios which increased in difficulty each time. Although it won't do much for the casual fan, it is a lot of fun if you're a militant MGS buff even if it adds nothing to the story whatsoever.
The game begins very simply, with you traipsing around a green grid-like environment while just evading guards and not doing anything too hard; occasionally using your SOCOM pistol and mostly just not getting caught. Anyone who has played the MGS games won't have a problem with these, and slowly, over the 300-ish missions the game offers, you'll get more and more challenged, until you have to take on gigantic bosses, such as a huge UFO, and later on you'll even have to try your hand at some investigation. The main selling point of the game in many ways was the abiliy to play as the awesome Cyborg Ninja from MGS, but I imagine many will be let down that you have to play a LONG time to get to him, although in my opinion it is totally worth it.
Visually, it doesn't really add or change anything from the original game, although the grid-like environment does get a bit boring after a while and I would have appreciated a little more variation which doesn't come along until a lot later in the game. However, it looks good, and the soundtrack really helps add a lot of tension and suspense to the challenges.
It's often frustrating, but will be a fun challenge to fans of MGS.
Metal Gear Solid: VR Missions is an expansion to the original game, focusing on training Snake in the techniques he needs to complete missions. It follows no story and is, in essence, a large collection of mini games based on the VR Missions available in the original title. In order to play this game, the original 2 disc game is needed, as the game cannot boot without it. That's not a bad thing though, as it not oly encourages you to purchase both games but if you have VR missions, it's likely you're a Metal Gear fan.
Throughout most of the game you play as Solid Snake completing missions set in a virtual environment. These missions range from target ranges using the various available weapons, to sneaking missions where one must sneak through an environment past guards, cameras and traps without being caught, to a mystery mode, where one must solve a murder with the clues given.
Extra missions and mission modes are unlocked by completing a certain percentage of the game, which is displayed on the menu screens. Also unlockable are trailers for Metal Gear Solid shown at various game conventions around the time of development and photo shoot mode, which is exactly what it says it is. Two female characters in the game are availbale to photograph, and the more of the game you complete, the closer you can get to take photographs while the character models pose. This is a rather an odd feature, it has no purpose, no goal, just a time limit, a model and a camera. Photos can be saved on your memory card for later viewing or some minor editing. Trust the Japanese, eh?
The game truly is expansive though, there is so much to do and 100% completion is very difficult. There are many mission types and many levels within each, making it a lengthy experience. In my oppinion, it is of such a length, that after completion all memory is easily deleted and the game can be played over again within a couple of months, as by this time you will have forgotten how to complete some of the many levels. There's a defnite a replay value here, and I can make that point with confidence.
Another brilliant feature is the short but sweet, Ninja missions. In these missions you take control of Gray Fox (or Frank Jaeger, or Cyborg Ninja, or Null or whatever other name you enjoy using). Need I say more? Gray Fox! The mysterious Ninja must run around a small environment destroying targets or finding Snake hiding amongst the various soldiers utilising his famous Katana and stealth capabilities in order to do so. There is one really negative point about this section of the game, there's not enough of it! Personally, Gray Fox has always been my favourite Metal Gear character, and it's great to play as him for once, but it's just a small glimpse of his world and capabilities. I would love to see more of him, but I'll take what I can get as every second is worth it.
Most of the games you play take place in a virtual environment, often dominated by colourful lines outlining the floored areas, walls and targets. It's nothing to shout about, but when you do enter an environment that looks different its a refreshing change. For example, in the last level of the mystery missions, you enter a rather lavish office. Of course, this game is 10 years old, so the graphics are what you would expect from a PSX game, grainy and not terribly clear, but at the time, these were good graphics.
Now, the mystery missions! These are by far my favouite portion of the game. I've always been into puzzles and this aspect of the game really fed into that. You start out next to a body and are asked to discover the murdered with a small clue. For example, in one mission the clue you are given is a small ice lolly stick next to the victim and that it was the murderers ice lolly. From this, you must walk up to the three suspects and stareat their breath. The one who doesn't breathe out condensation is your man as his mouth is a lower temperature than the others. It's this outiside the box thinking that appeals to me, and it's quite fun to try and work out how to solve each crime.
Most of the other missions involve sneaking through environments, destroying targets with a given weapon and taking out live targets. There are some quirky variety missions that don't make a lot of sense but provide humour to lighten the atmosphere.
The soundtrack is mostly ripped from the original game and there's not a lot of voice acting to talk about here excet the occasional word from Sanke, the Colonel or Naomi.
The game is fun, and designed for players of the original game, it's lengthy and doesn't rely on you simply shooting and blowing things up, it also makes you use your head now and then, which is a bonus in these types of game. It lives up to what it should and there's not a hell of a lot of negative points about it except for tha fact that a non-Metal Gear fan will have no interest in it, but if you ARE an MGS fan, this is a must buy.
Remember back to two years ago when you finally had Metal Gear Solid held tightly in your grasp, and you were so turned on to it from all the hype you had heard? Remember how much fun it was to sit alone in a dark room until the wee hours of the morning while you played with a Solid Snake? Of course you do, and quite well at that! Konami reinvented an ingenious series when Metal Gear Solid landed in gaming history, and sales certainly don't prove otherwise. But like all of the Marios, Pokemons, Crash Bandicoots, and other games that manage to sell extremely well, Metal Gear's gone "spin-off." With Metal Gear Solid: VR Missions, things are much different than they were the last time around. Instead of communicating through CODEC, waging war against a man with the same code name as you, and picking through a twisting plot, gameplay takes a different turn. VR Missions is based solely on using weapons and stealth to see yourself to the end of more than 300 missions, which are spread unevenly into several categories, and each requires a new set of rules to which you must abide. In short, what VR Missions has in common with its big brother isn't much, aside from firearms and tools, but it does have plenty to keep die-hard and not-so-die-hard fans of the series interested. Gameplay Expecting a twist on a fabulous game? You've got it. VR Missions is so much different from whence it came that it almost deserves to be placed in a genre of its own. The first Metal Gear for PS contained a few virtual reality training missions that enabled players to get a feel for how things worked. But VR Missions has a lot to keep you hooked right off the bat -- slam that sucker in your 'Station, and you'll be glued to the set for hours on end, plowing through enemy soldiers with Nikitas, Stingers, and your trusty SOCOM. The more you play, the more you're allowed to do. At the beginning, your stage pickings are very limited, and you are una
ble to do much more than basic training. Sure, you'll want to hack through Liquid's army with the ninja, and you'll want to blow the 50-foot soldier to smithereens, but you'll have to earn it with sharp gaming skills and a 12-pack of Pepsi. The first and only mode you can play in at the beginning, Sneaking Mode, is very much like the training missions included in the original Metal Gear Solid. It contains two different variations: go through without a weapon, or with a SOCOM. Although you can choose any of the two, you'll want to play them both before you proceed. And as it is with most other missions, there are PRACTICE and TIME levels. In PRACTICE, your only goal is to make it through without getting caught, dying, or whatever a particular mission may require. TIME is just like PRACTICE, except it demands you to pass the level within a certain amount of seconds. The faster you are, the better your placement. The next mode available, Weapon Mode, requires you to annihilate all kinds of targets with a vast array of weaponry. Each available weapon has a separate set of missions for you to complete, including your semi-automatic SOCOM, FA-MAS assault rifle, C4 plastic explosives, Claymore mines, PSG1 sniper rifle, hand grenades, Stinger missile launcher, and the always-fun, remote-controlled Nikita. The Advanced Mode is extremely similar to the Weapon Mode in almost every way, except for its difficulty level, which often requires you to rethink your strategy. The most detailed method of play is the Special Mode, which is VR Missions' core of innovation. Although each included choice located herein is relatively short, there's no particular lack of variety, and you'll find yourself coming back several times to see if you're able to play as the Ninja just yet. This mode is where gamers will find themselves having the most fun, because it takes a different viewpoint on Metal Gear gaming. With "Whodunnit?!" myst
eries (which are downright nuts) to some strangely taxing puzzles, the word I can use to best describe the Special Mode is "creative." Similarly creative is the Extra option, found in the title screen, where gamers can do one of several things, such as view movies previously taken of Metal Gear Solid at key expo events, photograph Naomi, or view and edit pictures saved to their memory card. The photography inclusion literally screams "Japanese," because I don't know many males (let alone females) around here who are just itching to take pictures of the lady who lets you save your game through CODEC in MGS while she either stands, or sits typing at her desk. Yeah, it's damn weird, but hey -- some people might (OK, will) eat it up. While you crawl, run, or just plain sneak your way through the stages of VR Missions, the controls are exactly the same as they were before. The problem with this is that it may be a little difficult for people who haven't played Metal Gear Solid to pick up a controller and know what they're doing. That fact practically makes the spin-off game a novelty item for huge fans of last year's blockbuster, and means that it won't appeal to everyone. For people interested in whipping out a FA-MAS and forcing enemies to eat a nutritious meal of lead while they crawl and hide themselves to safety, VR Missions is a winner -- for a little while. Although 300 missions seems to be overwhelming at first, it really doesn't have enough to keep people from finding other things to do after a weekend or so of play. Once a level is beaten, that's it. Kaputski. Sure, you could return to try and get a first-place time, but some weird guy saying "Excellent, Snake!" doesn't make for much of a reward in a world where games are laden with cutscenes in turn for a job well-done. What Konami should have done was include a multiplayer mode of sorts. If they had made it possible for frie
nds to chase each other down with Nikitas, or randomly lay Claymore mines on the ground in hopes that their buddies would be blown into next week, everything else would be forgiven. Unfortunately, this is not the case, and a lack of lasting fun is the result. C'est la vi, no? Graphics I have to admit that Metal Gear Solid is the best-looking PlayStation game I've ever gawked at. It had brilliantly-directed cutscenes, amazing textures, phenomenal special effects, and just about anything else to make your pants fill with a foreign substance as your eyes stare in amazement towards your TV screen. So why does VR Missions appear to be so damn bland in comparison? When I think of Metal Gear by this generation's gaming standards, I think of something that blows me away with eye-popping visuals and unparalleled beauty. Now my paradigm of thought is altered. Unlike before, each stage here recycles the same enemies, basic designs, textures, backgrounds, and overall feel. Solid Snake looks like Solid Snake, and everything else looks just like they did in the first set of training missions, but that doesn't make it awe-inspiring. The graphics are by no means terrible, but my expectations from Konami regarding this series are extremely high, and I'm disappointed to see something that boasts the name "Metal Gear," but doesn't have a shiny gloss like I've come to know. The explosions, soldiers, weapons, and everything else within look good, but it's nowhere near as impressive as it was beforehand, and that may make some fans shake their heads in question. The menus are designed nicely and have a very similar feel to the way they were before, but it's certainly not becoming enough to shake out the blandness of the other areas. The characters' animation is great, framerates are perfect, and there's about as much pop-in in this game as there is sex, but there could have been a more exciting overall appearance.
Sound The sound effects are espionage-eriffic, but the music could stand to undergo a bit of refinement. The tunes are average at best, and the limited score is highly repetitive with only few changes in between modes. It fits the bill, but doesn't make or break the game, meaning you probably won't give a flip about what kind of "sneaky melody" is playing while you're busy controlling a Nikita missile. The sound effects are better than the music, and it certainly shows. No matter whether multiple explosions are bellowing through the arena or the death throes of your rivals are echoing down long chambers toward you, it all hits right-on. If you pick up the controller and play for a few hours, you'll be hearing "There he is!" and "S'just a box..." over and over again while you're trying to fall asleep. It may not have hours on end of incredible voice acting, but the sounds it has really do the job. Comments VR Missions was a fun game to play once I got into it, no ifs, ands, or buts. But after several hours, I realized that there wasn't a gargantuan amount of variety, and once I got through it, I got through it. The end. Finish. Bada bing, bada boom. It's come to my attention that Konami seems to be the king of making fun, yet short adventures. For some reason most every game I've played by them in the past two years, and this includes multiple platforms, has been extremely enjoyable, but extremely short. And this one follows the same guidelines as the others. Metal Gear Solid: VR Missions is perfect for a weekend rental, but is really too short to be long-lived as an active title. If anything, Konami should pack this game in a special, three-disc edition of the original Metal Gear Solid, because as a stand-alone game, it could use some crutches.