Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops Plus Review

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Title: Metal Gear Solid Portable Ops Plus
Developer: Kojima Productions
Platform: PlayStation Vita
Game Type: PSP
Download: 639 MB
NA Availability: Digital Download
EU Availability: Digital Download
PSTV Support: Yes

Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops. I reviewed that not long ago. It was the first full-on console style Metal Gear game in the handheld world. Portable Ops opened a lot of doors, offering MGS3 gameplay on the PSP. It also introduced the artistic cut scene style later used in Peace Walker, said to be one of the better games of the series.

Another thing Portable Ops did was enough to success to warrant a standalone expansion pack that offered more in-depth gameplay as well as more in-depth multiplayer options. Along with Metal Gear Online with MGS4, handheld fans had a way for doing Metal Gear online multiplayer as well as key story characters in playable form, like Old Snake from MGS4.

To complete the Metal Gear retro reviews, I am back with a new review. Here is my coverage for the PSP expansion, Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops Plus!

Story

Due to this game having no story, this section shall remain blank.

Gameplay

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Same ops style, but more Old Snake

Portable Ops Plus plays much like what it is an expansion of. During missions, you will be sneaking past enemies, fighting enemies, and moving around environments. It is a 3D action-stealth game with TPS and FPS elements thrown in as well as unit management.

While Portable Ops had a Story Mode to drive you through it, Plus focuses more on gameplay and multiplayer. It has multiplayer missions, and the story campaign is replaced by the Infinite Mission mode, which is the biggest single player experience in the game.

When you first start the game, though, you can import all of your data from Portable Ops, and you can still use this feature on the PS Vita. All of your recruits and soldiers from the original game can be imported and used, including the special story recruits like Para-Medic, Major Zero, and Ocelot. The only thing is that the special characters cannot be upgraded like others can, which I’ll mention in a moment.

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Different costumes and other customization options for multiplayer

Infinite Mission is basically as it sounds. You go through a gauntlet of missions with your chosen party of recruits with various objectives, like reaching target points, capturing enemies, or duking it out with a group of enemies. There are three difficulties that offer different lengths, all leading up to the last that is literally infinite missions until you eventually fail.

The idea of these mission gauntlets is the idea of starting from scratch. When you go in, you have no items and must find everything you need, from weapons to fight enemies to rations to recover your ever-depleting Stamina. That’s another thing. You can’t set this to Easy Mode. So, you always have rapid-depleting Stamina.

Upon using recruits in and completing these missions, you will not only unlock new characters to use (Story-specific for difficulties like Raiden from MGS2 and Old Snake from MGS4 as well as recruits based off of all the different enemy types from MGS1 and MGS2) but you will enhance and upgrade your used recruits. Story-based characters are an exclusion, but all other recruits actually have their stats increase like leveling in an RPG. Use your favorite recruits and their strength, health, etc will increase, netting you better stats and making missions easier with them.

One thing to note is that the method of recruiting is still tedious. While they did add balancing changes, letting some character drag characters a lot faster than you ever could in Portable Ops, dragging someone slightly faster across a huge stage is still dragging a character across a giant stage.

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Very faithful reincarnation of the REX Hangar and arguably the best part of the game

All of this is pretty engaging and all for unlocking items and characters, but the focus of this game was the multiplayer modes. Online Multiplayer was a huge thing with Plus and all of the maps were expanded. Plus had maps for a lot of environments from MGS3 and my personal favorite, a remade version of the Rex Hangar from MGS1 with my favorite remix of MGS1’s Encounter theme music. (Which I’m salty that this game isn’t PSTV Compatible because I really want to use that music in a video review)

The biggest downer about playing this game now is the fact that the Online Multiplayer is no longer up. The servers were taken down a long while back so Ad Hoc is your only multiplayer option. Why is it bad? Well, you have to think. How useful is a multiplayer game that doesn’t have multiplayer? It’s a huge inconvenience and turns this into a single player game that wasn’t meant to be a single player game.

That doesn’t really affect the overall single player length, though. That is all up to the Infinite Mission mode available. Each run of the first couple difficulties shouldn’t take much longer than 10-20 minutes, while a run of Infinite Mode can based on skill. You could run for 10 minutes or run for an hour. Regardless, it’s not very long if you solely play it for Single Player, which is the only thing you can play it for now.

Controls

If you’ve played Portable Ops, you know the controls of this game very well. First of all, no PSTV support, so you can’t play the game on a big TV. The Official Metal Gear Twitter channel keeps claiming they’re working with Sony on it, but after all this time, don’t expect it anytime soon. (Update: As of January 4th, 2017, this has been made compatible with the PlayStation TV)

The default control scheme, once again. The Left Analog Stick is used to move and the D-Pad/Right Analog is used for moving the camera. Note that this requires you to go into Settings and redirect the D-Pad controls to the camera. The L trigger is for the lock-on and R trigger is for firing your weapon. Then, face buttons. X can be used for rolling, Square for CQC/Physical attacks, Circle for item-switching, and Triangle for wall-hugging.

Presentation

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Not as flawless as he is on the PS3, but Old Snake looks great in this game

Visually, it’s the same as Portable Ops, which was pretty good for a PSP game. There’s lots of details in the character models, and I could actively compare it with the visuals of Metal Gear Solid 3’s port to the 3DS. Lots of good stuff here, for the hardware it was made for.

Nothing else big about the performance. Load times are nice and short, no lag or frame issues. All around a well-optimized experience.

 

Summary

Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops Plus was the standalone expansion that added new online multiplayer for handheld gamers. In today’s world, though, a multiplayer game without multiplayer starts to lose its value. Despite this and the return of repetitive drag-recruiting makes this is still an enjoyable experience, if only to be able to play around in that Rex Hangar stage. But just remember, this is a multiplayer-focused expansion that no longer has multiplayer.

7/10

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