Like many others around the world, I picked up my copy of MGS4 on the day it came out and have been transfixed by the single player campaign for a good 8 hours now and am only just in to the 3rd act; I know how many acts there are and lets just say I am not near the end yet. So as such I had not even looked at the online aspect of the game, MGO, so I decided to take a look and see if the new game transfered well to multi-player.
INTERFACE AND CHARACTER CUSTOMIZATION
Right off the bat I was not having a good time, in addition to having a PSN ID and password, for this game you must also travel to the KONAMI website and obtain not one, but two more separate IDs and passwords! A game ID and a Konami ID. Is this really necessary? I have no idea, but it sure is irritating knowing that you need multiple accounts to manage one game.
After you get yourself a username and log in, you are treated to 1 free character to customize and call your own; the rest of your characters, the game tells me, will have to be purchased, along with more enhanced equipment and uniforms. You start off with a basic set of options for uniforms, packs, belts and head gear. You then choose 4 skills to help your character during combat, some of which are hacking, CQC mastery, enhanced lock-on and speed enhancement, all of which can be upgraded and mixed and matched in between battles in the character customization menu.
The customization menu also allows you to alter your characters voice, adding just a little more personality to your characters. On top of all of this your soldier has the ability to earn rankings, like medals, for being adept at certain things; you can earn an award for using the stun knife a set amount of times, or being really good at injecting enemies with nano-machines etc
After you get through this you are shoved in to the main multi-player screen where you can start a game by either making one yourself, letting the game matchmake for you to find a suitable game, or you can choose to look through the lobbies yourself; I found it much faster to simply find your own match, it takes about 10 seconds. All of the lobbies are named after Metal Gear Solid characters, beginner lobbies clearly marked with a "Beginner" tag on them, but I didn't find the other lobbies any more difficult. Once you choose a lobby, you simply find a game and hit X.
GAMEPLAY AND WEAPONS
You are dropped in to the game and are given a selection of rifles, semi-automatics, sidearms and grenades. Depending on the game type you can even earn Drebin points to unlock, buy and upgrade weapons either after each time you are killed or are at your teams starting target where its safe to switch weapons. Accuracy is balanced fairly well between all the weapons and grenades are not totally useless which is +1 win; the only thing I noticed that annoys me is that I've played a large number of games now and have still only seen the same set of weapons in each one.
Your character moves exactly as Snake does in single player; only, tapping the R2 and L2 buttons cycles your items/weapons instead of putting them away. If the lag isn't too horrible you can even use CQC, although I have never had a game with low enough latency to try it out. Stupid Australia.
The lack of various guns was more than made up for in terms of level design and game modes. DM, TDM, Capture Mission(CTF), Rescue Mission, Base Mission(KotH) and Sneaking Mission's are the games modes; most of them are pretty self-explanatory. Rescue is like CTF only 1 team sits and protects the flag, rather than going to get the other teams flag. Sneaking missions are fun, it has Snake and MKII within a Team Deathmatch battle; 1 person is spawned as MKII and the other as Snake, everyone else is on a team as normal. So as you can see, there are plenty of different styles of gameplay for whatever mood you are in.
Obviously one of the best pieces of transportation equipment ever made, the "Manapult", as I've come to call it, is used to launch your character half way across the map in a few seconds; this is perfect for getting straight in to the action as well as looking totally awesome. The only downside being that you can't position it in any direction, there are designated landing spots for each machine, but it still saves time and is hilarious.
CO-OP MISSIONS NOW PLEASE! I just don't get it. They have set up MGO so that you can customize your character, you can play as a team by sharing information and creating strategies to tackle missions, yet they only give us PvP! I've wanted to tackle stealth missions with friends for so long, I guess all I can hope for is for them to release an expansion which introduces a mission mode or something similar.
Create your own team. If you are going to charge people for the extra characters, at least make it worth while. Have a team creating option where people can go up against other teams made up of actual players; just like in MGSPO/+, you would be able to switch between any character at any point. Again, all of the framework is there for them to do it, they just haven't.
More customization. I wanted to really get personal with my soldier, but wasn't really given the chance with the limited selection of gear available to people who don't want to spend money on 3D assets. More beanies, more hats, more glasses, goggles, face masks, armor etc etc, it could be so much more fun. Maybe you could unlock assets by winning games/scoring kills/whatever.
The inclusion of playable Geckos; they can do it with MKII, so they can do it with Geckos dammit! Imagine 2-3 on a team of Gecko, and 6-7 people who have to take them down. It would be one epic firefight. Triangle would moo instead of saluting.
Items and corpse looting. There should be items like rations and benzos scattered throughout the levels, and you should be able to loot your fallen enemies and friends for ammo and rations; it just seems like a feature that would add a touch of randomness to the battlefield.
It's a standard 3rd person shooter affair when you take off the coat of Metal Gear paint, but that coat of Metal Gear is what makes it so fun to play. It's the fact that you are in a PMC battle in the Metal Gear universe that separates it from other 3rd person shooters. I'm not going to lie, if you are not a Metal Gear fan then you will more than likely not like Metal Gear Online. For those that do like it, it's solid, fast paced, fun and has a ton of different modes, definitely worth investing some time in to if you are a fan of the series; I haven't been able to stop playing it since I tore myself away from the single player campaign. As a free addition to MGS4, it was a real treat, but I wouldn't buy MGO for more than AU$50/US$25.
I'm hoping more thought is put in to this game, and that it isn't left as is. Not that it isn't great fun at the moment, but it could be so much more, and the engine is all there ready for them to tack stuff on to it. Co-op missions, team creation, playable Gecko and more could all be so easily implemented and add double the play time of this great online 3rd person shooter.