Metal Gear Online is going to be a tough sell for the typical online shooter crowd. From my brief time with the game, it was clear that it was from a Japanese developer emulating Western shooters without straying too far from Japanese sensibilities. It may have been the demo environment, which consisted of two team deathmatch rounds. There are a ton of ways to play MGO, including a “Solid Snake vs. Everyone Else” mode that honestly sounds really fun. However, if what was on display at Comic Con is an indication of the core gameplay, I’m not sure how much MGO will offer for those weaned on Team Fortress 2 and Halo.
While games like Halo slowed down the pace for console players, Metal Gear brings it to a grinding halt. It’s telling that the game has an autoaim option, yet I was continually caught with my pants down. Switching equipment requires you to bring up the standard Metal Gear wheel menus, which in the single player games paused the action, but here just leaves you completely vulnerable. Throwing grenades, hopping in your cardboard box, or using the stun knife all require you to stand still and flip through a menu. While it’s true that everyone in the matches are limited by these constraints, fairness does not always equal fun.
For a few rounds I tried my hand at free aiming, and found the movement of the analog stick to be far too sensitive and drifty, while still limited to the turning ability of a tank. Auto-aim worked a little better, but the best players will probably want to avoid it so they can get those quick headshots.
For Metal Gear fans and Japanese gamers, MGO may be the perfect complement to MGS4. It’s certainly faithful to the series, and the controls hold true to many of the Japanese conventions that many of us over here just don’t understand. While the shooter market on 360 is oversaturated, the PS3 market is somewhat lacking. MGO may have an audience on the PS3, even over here, but PC or Xbox 360 owners aren’t going to find much here for them.