When I woke up yesterday morning I was pretty disappointed to discover that it was the last day of Metal Gear Online, and I wouldn’t have enough time to get back into it for one last game. I’d intended to for months but couldn’t find the time, and now all I can do is sit back and reflect on one of my favorite online games. Even now I find it so difficult to describe – a game that really was its own beast in a world of congruent multiplayer shooters.
I played the hell out of the multiplayer in Metal Gear Solid 3 Subsistence on the PS2, I think right up until they shut that down. Having to track down a wireless bridge and a headset for my PS2 for the combined price of $60 was absolutely worth it for that one game. Maybe it was because I didn’t own an Xbox and thus couldn’t play Halo, and didn’t have access to Counter-Strike or what have you, but MGO definitely didn’t feel like a poor man’s version of any of that.
I think the underlying difference with MGO is that it’s almost the only sincere Japanese effort at an online versus shooter in the western sense. The best way I can describe it to fans of other shooters who never played it is to call MGO sort of a mix between the structure of western tactical shooter multiplayer (SOCOM, Ghost Recon), and the feel of classic Japanese arcade shooters. On the PS2 the controls were janky as hell, but that almost didn’t matter given the nature of the combat.
My proudest moment was during the MGO PS3 beta when team coordination and Metal Gear’s stealth mechanics came together and allowed me to steal a guy’s sniping spot. A couple of teammates warned me that an enemy sniper was posted in the nearby tower, and I managed to get to the rear of the tower without him seeing me. I climbed up, crept up behind the sniper and got him in a non-lethal knockout. I took his rifle the same way Snake would loot a downed guard, finished him off, and proceeded to snipe from that spot for a couple minutes. I could not possibly imagine that situation happening in Call of Duty or Halo.
MGO was a game where you could be chasing a guy, lose him around a bend, and he’d pop out from an alley, judo you to the ground, and finish you off with a deft knife strike or silenced pistol to the head. It was a game where tactics had a more visible effect on the battlefield than use of weapons.
Compared to other shooters I spent relatively little time in MGO firing my weapon and more time either trying to find the enemy or set up an ambush. The way the game utilized cardboard boxes I think promoted ambush tactics more than most online shooters today. Instead of a game about more skillfully using weapons, MGO was a game about getting the drop on the other guy.
The big question is: where does it go from here, if MGO ever returns? There’s already a call out for the fanbase to move on to the online mode in Peace Walker HD that, while fundamentally different, probably still retains some of MGO’s soul. What I, and probably a lot of other people want though is MGO2.
Mainly I’d want Konami to do what they did with MGO, but, y’know, not attach it to their independent online infrastructure. Konami ID – having to log into two separate ID’s, is really what crippled MGO on the PS3 right out of the gate. If the game managed to stay popular for this long under Konami ID, just imagine what it could’ve been using PSN’s standard infrastructure, or even Xbox Live.
They’ve gotta at least be thinking about releasing a new multiplayer game on the new FOX engine or something. Ideally it’d be multiplatform this time around, maybe even a PC version with dedicated servers, but I’m just daydreaming at this point. Man at this point I’d even accept a free-to-play version.
Just like Splinter Cell multiplayer (which was even more of its own thing), MGO is a game that I, and a lot of other people really don’t want to see die. Whenever another action game comes out with multiplayer these days I just roll my eyes because I know it’s not gonna be anything special, but somehow MGO crossed that threshold and became something people think is worth preserving.
- What is it with PC versions of games being 20+ Gigabytes these days? I have hard drive space and data download caps to worry about here.
- Shin Megami Tensei II just hit iOS… if you can read Japanese: http://t.co/xC5sftqH
- Any chance of there being an iPad Mini any time soon? Looks like my iPad 1’s days are numbered and I’m still hesitant to get the latest one until I know everything.
- I really hope iOS 6 doesn’t run like total crap on my iPhone 4. I don’t want a repeat of what happened to my iPhone 3G when I installed iOS4 on it.
- Another kickstarter for a real tactical shooter: http://t.co/EMUZQPjd