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A game this shady has no business being this good, and yet…

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    Metal Gear Survive

    Rating: 3.0 – Fair

    A game this shady has no business being this good, and yet…

    Metal Gear Survive is very much a frankengame, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing. It has a single player campaign and a multiplayer element, which are quite different in style, yet let you share resources, something more games should do. The single player campaign, which plays a lot like an extended tutorial, is a stealth/survival game in an open world. I’m sure you can hear the complainers saying that hunger/thirst increases too quickly and you’re forced to run around madly in search of animals and drink dirty water, but what good is a survival game if you don’t have to make difficult choices? Besides, that’s just the first few hours: as soon as your base is set up, you’ll never worry about food and drink again, which seems like a missed opportunity to me. What’s more original about the game is that you can just plop defenses like turrets and fences anywhere in the world, which leads to interesting tactical opportunities. While the world is small, exploration is rewarded nicely with recipes for new items/buildings, new fast-travel points and hidden crates that unlock color/camo patterns for your gear and music tapes from various Konami properties. The main gripe I have against the campaign is that you get most of the cool toys after you finish it, so you don’t much use out of them in single player.

    The multiplayer element is a player-versus-environment horde mode where your team of four builds and defends your base from waves of zombies. It throws a lot of secondary objectives at you, like extra resources, optional bosses, another objective to defend and more dangerous zombies you have to prioritize. You might need to “jungleâ€?and good communication is a plus for an efficient team. It’s good, hectic multiplayer fun.

    Survive also has the obligatory crafting, loot upgrading and base building. The base building, on the other hand, is particularly nice. You can grow crops, raise captured livestock and actually place buildings wherever you want. With its 30 crew and size smaller than a football field, Survive’s Mother Base ends up having more personality than Phantom Pain’s hundreds of crew and enormous offshore platforms. Hey, the game lets you blare NES Castlevania music from your home base. How is that not cool? So Metal Gear Survive is a mix of, well, Metal Gear, Left for Dead, Long Dark and Fortnite (the horde mode with building, not the battle royale part that has become more addictive than crack). Somehow, it works.

    Survive’s greatest asset is its engine, the Fox Engine. It’s just a great engine for a third-person shooter: you can go from shooting to melee very quickly and the melee part has been expanded upon nicely. Throwing yourself into the prone position to avoid attacks, sneaking around and melee-dodging never gets old. The UI is clear and well-made, if a little bit cluttered, but it’s understandable when you can switch between 5 weapons and 10 grenades/gadgets/buildings, plus eat food and apply first aid. The non-lethal approach has been eliminated, however. It doesn’t quite make sense to keep it in a zombie game, but some humans enemies added to the mix would have been nice. In general, it feels much nicer than most FPS games where all you are is a gun taped to a camera

    How about the graphics and the world? Oh boy. Well, they just went for recycling every area from Metal Gear V – The Phantom Pain. It’s annoying. I really wish they’d went whole hog and actually made new content. They reshuffled areas a bit and put everything in a gray mist because it’s an alternate zombie-infested Earth, y’know, but still… Clearly, it doesn’t take a genius to make a game where everything is gray dust and it’s hard to be really impressed with the result. The Dust, which is very reminiscent of Stephen King’s The Mist, is nonetheless very effective. It’s disorienting, cannot be traveled inside long because that requires oxygen and the poor visibility makes zombies more threatening. The sounds and visuals make it seem like you are trapped underwater. It’s an interesting idea. Plus, seeing the mist from the few safe areas of the world as an oppressive wave of gray is a very impressive spectacle. The zombies themselves have pointy red crystals for heads, which I don’t mind, but it does make scoring headshots harder than it should be.

    The story is, eh, serviceable. It’s an okay sci-fi plot with a few plot twists, kinda verbose without being excruciatingly so. It doesn’t have the Kojima touch at all, but honestly I really don’t care. I’d like to point out that I’ve long been a fan of Metal Gear because of its innovative contributions to the stealth genre, but I’ve never cared much for Kojima’s stories, which I’d describe as inspired idiocy.

    Now I know you guys want to hear about microtransactions. Yes, they’re everywhere, but they’re kind of on the margins. There are some cosmetic items and lots of ways to boost resources and save some time, but you can complete the single player campaign without even thinking about it once. Konami almost deserves a medal for corporate evil for stuffing a game with this many microtransactions opportunities without any of them getting in the way at all. I guess it’s for the whales only? On the other hand, I’ve seen very few games this generous about giving away their premium currency, which are SV coins. The only thing that seems egregious and unfair is the boost to BP, which are the points that can be spent during limited-time events for some equally time-limited items. AND YEESS, asking for premium currency for another save file is shady. It sucks. We know. Don’t buy one, or just create another PS profile, or use chapter replay, whatever. If it changes anything for you, those extra save files share resources, which almost no game allows, and that permits some interesting tricks to benefit from. For what it’s worth, I’m well on my way to getting the platinum trophy without giving the game a single extra cent in microtransactions.

    I was tempted to give the game 4 stars, but the one thing that’s holding me back are the mediocre updates. A game like this with an important multiplayer aspect needs frequent updates/events to keep things fresh. While they do update the game roughly every two weeks, a lot of the stuff that was added to the game should have been there since day one and the actual new things/events aren’t quite enough to keep most players interested for the long haul. As it is, you can still get a solid 40 hours or more of fun before moving on to something else.

    I’m really looking forward to some kind of Metal Gear Survive 2. I hope they get off their lazy bums and make new guns, gear and especially new areas. This is recycling of game assets on a ridiculous level. I think they lost a large part of their team when Kojima left and the end result feels rushed. But despite all odds and also despite what some may say, they made a really solid base game. Now I want them to expand upon it. In a way, it’s some of the best praise you can give a game.

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