METAL GEAR SOLID: PORTABLE OPS / Konami / Sony PSP
 
 
Portable Ops does an awful lot well. It's a direct sequel to MGS3 - generally the most beloved of the series - and clearly had a high budget and the 1st stringers of Fox Team on production. It has an interesting "army building" core concept not before seen in the series, fusing in character switching and strategy as well as non-linear replayable levels. And it brings PS2-caliber Metal Gear action to the PSP, about as capably as technically possible at least.

There's a critical flaw, however: no 2nd analog stick. On the PS2, the right stick handles camera and first-person perspective; on the PSP that duty is relegated to the digital pad instead, meaning you can't simultaneously move and shift the camera. We're still in 1970 here in terms of story, so you're also stuck with the cranchety and near-useless "sound monitor" for help; if ever a game would NOT be broken by Soliton Radar, this is the one, but it's nowhere to be found. Given all this, simply moving about the game world is a big pain.

I played Peace Walker about a year before this one and got used to the oddball control style there; Portable Ops, however, doesn't seem as well-planned around its technical limitations as its follow-up was. For example, a big part of the game is buidling yourself a small mercenary army, mostly by nabbing enemy soldiers from the levels. The biggest problem is the "capture" system; unlike Peace Walker's elegant Fulton Recovery, Portable Ops forces you to manually drag new "recruits" back to a truck at the start of each level. And yes, this can take Christing forever. There's also a Stamina bar in this one a la MGS3; unfortunately, unlike MGS3, it isn't replenished by eating. The only way is to have a character rest for the equivalent of several game days. And then you start out with only one Mk. 22 tranq gun to go around, so for the longest basically anyone who is Not Snake has to rely on the game's janky rear choke for "recruiting" and stealth approaches (unless Snake is in the midst of the 4 day nap it takes to replenish all his stamina, then someone else can borrow it for a while.)

Again, it's a neat idea with a lot of good qualities, but too much of the gameplay is just a tedious pain in the end. Peace Walker fixed *some* of these problems ... not all though
 
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