Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops Review / Preview for the PlayStation Portable (PSP)

Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops Review / Preview for the PlayStation Portable (PSP)

“Is that a Snake in your pocket or are you just happy to kill me?”

Snake is back and smaller than ever. But whatever this game lacks in (physical) size it more than makes up for in action. The MGS series translates incredibly well to the portable PSP with a game specifically designed for the system. The developers recognized the need for a great looking game that can be played on the go. The missions are plentiful but they are short and to the point. It can take you a few days of continuous play just to complete the main single-player mode, and when you’re done that you can access the various multi-player options. Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops is loaded with streamlined action and a full bevy of features that would make Baskin-Robbins jealous.

 Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops screenshot

It’s 1970. Disco has not yet originated. It’s a good time to be alive, and that’s one of your main objectives, if not the main objective. The missions are very clear even if the story isn’t. They are short and sweet. Get in and get out. Mission accomplished. There is an open-ended quality to the game that gives you lots of freedom. The design is not linear in nature due to the premise set up by the storyline which is fully integrated into the gameplay. You’re not quite sure what you are looking for all of the time. There’s a great deal of mystery surrounding everything. But as you plod along you’ll gain new information and access to new areas which will in turn allow you to gather more information with which to piece the story together. Told through black and white animated storyboards, the story is filled with plot twists as central characters cross and double cross each other. Just when you think that you’ve got it all figured out, you’ll have to figure it all out again. An unpredictable, yet engrossing storyline is a rarity these days so savor this one while it lasts – and it lasts a good long time.

In a remote section of Columbia is a secret Soviet base. Naked Snake has been captured by members of his own agency for nefarious reasons. The base is run by a powerful and dangerous man named Gene, who has created an army backed with the nuclear equipped tank-like machine called Metal Gear. With the help of Roy Campbell, a Green Beret, Naked Snake escapes and together the team goes into action trying to figure out what’s going on and how to stop him. They set up a portable command center in South America and carry out their various missions with the aid of recruits. These recruits are captured enemy soldiers that Snake charms, as only Snake can, into working for his cause. There’s lots of references to loyalty and betrayal in the story which foreshadows events in which you learn that it’s not always easy to trust people in this business.

Elements of stealth, puzzle-solving, collecting and shooting comprise the bulk of the gameplay. Collecting comes in the form of captured enemy soldiers. It’s kind of like Pokemon but on a more sophisticated level. Using stealth, you sneak up on the enemy and render them unconscious. Use of non-lethal force is paramount so that you can get these guys to work for you. Then you give them to another recruit for processing, or just toss them in the truck. Once they have “seen the light” they will assist you with various missions throughout South America.

 Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops screenshot

There are four main squads where you will send these recruits depending on their special skills. There is a stealth, medic, technical and spy squad. You can actually play as any member of the stealth squad so you’re not just confined to Snake. Some of the members are better with certain weapons such as a sniper rifle but for the most part they handle pretty much the same. One great advantage is that you can play as a former enemy and gain access to his base as long as his colleagues don’t suspect he’s a turncoat. Medics will assist with healing between missions and will develop various health potions. In James Bond fashion the techs will create and provide you with useful gadgets to use in the field. The spies will gather intelligence which in turn will allow you to unlock new areas and missions in an effort to piece together more information to further the storyline. These recruits can be used online so you’ll want to “collect-‘em-all.”

Shooting can be performed in first person or third person. For the most part the choice is yours. There is plenty of shooting throughout the missions. The AI reacts very realistically, especially the bosses, which favor shooting over puzzle solving techniques. These boss battles can be quite tough. Fortunately the weapons are accurate thanks to the lock-on system. As in Splinter Cell, they’re definitely a gameplay feature that you look forward to using. Movement is controlled with the nub and the camera is controlled by the D-pad. The camera isn’t perfect and at times it will interfere with your shooting. There are less menus to worry about regarding stats, health, ammo and weapons. You have a four-slot inventory which is quick and easy to access. You won’t be bogged down by the interface but the control system may take newbies a long time to get comfortable with.

 Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops screenshot

There are lots of moves to learn and unless you’ve played a MGS game before, it can be quite a challenge in itself since some of these moves have to be performed instantly. You’ll usually have enough time during stealth segments to practice the various moves such as crouching, ducking, peeking around corners, sneaking and putting your back to the wall. More aggressive moves such as rolls and hand-to-hand combat need to be executed with precision since it will usually involve equally aggressive and deadly AI. You’ll also have access to various gadgets and weapons such as grenades and porno mags.

Online and ad hock wireless multi-player modes are available and they are great. Up to six players can engage in Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and Capture the Flag modes. You can even opt to play a “real” form of combat in which you get to keep your competition’s soldiers as you kill them. You can also trade collected soldiers with your friends. The online mode has to be unlocked which is a good thing since it will give you time to acquire some skills. You’re going to need them.

 Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops screenshot

Graphically the game is amazing for a handheld system. The environments look realistic and the animation of the characters is smooth. The enemy soldiers look generic and there is some clipping but overall the game is technically sound. And speaking of sound, the music is a thematic masterpiece that would make James Bond proud. The voiceacting is also convincing as David Hayter returns as the gruff but loveable Snake. The enemies speak with less clichés and actually have distinct personalities. The experience is not unlike being in a big-budget Hollywood movie.

Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops is one great reason to own a PSP.


  • Refining the gameplay of the online multiplayer mode from Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence, Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops lets players engage in online skirmishes through the PSP system’s wireless infrastructure functionality.
  • Players will be able to use their squadron from the single-player portion of the game as well as recruiting new members and trading with other players, unleashing their distinctive abilities and wreaking havoc across the game’s numerous multiplayer levels.
  • Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops also introduces a new “White Flag” system to the game’s multiplayer modes, letting players choose to surrender and live to fight again in each round or fight to the death until the next game begins.
  • Placing emphasis on stealth gameplay, the White Flag System further evolves online play for the Metal Gear series and creates a bond between the player and their team as they work together to achieve their objectives.

    Rating out of 5 Rating Description


    This game looks great on the PSP. It’s like a big-budget Hollywood movie.


    The controls can be daunting but the payoff is the variety of moves and techniques at your disposal.


    Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
    Excellent music, sound effects and convincing voiceovers.


    Play Value
    This game is loaded with replay value including six-person multi-player modes both online and ad-hoc.


    Overall Rating Must Buy
    Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
  • Preview

    May 12, 2006 – Forget the card games grandpa, Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops for the PSP is loaded with real-time action, the kind that has made this title an instant console classic.

    Sure, this isn’t the first time that Metal Gear Solid has appeared on the PSP. It was released in the form or Metal Gear Solid: Acid, which was a strategic card game. Basically a big disappointment for fans of the series, but well received with fans looking for something a little different. Well, you can forget that ever happened because from the looks of Portable Ops, this will be counted as the first MGS game for the PSP that will really matter to fans of the traditional MGS vibe.

    Taking place a number of years after MGS 3: Snake Eater, Snake has now become Big Boss but there’s some dissention among the ranks. The FOX organization has falsely accused Snake of illegal activity. He’s been set up and must find some friends to help clear his name while he hunts down those responsible for framing him.

    The ability to recruit non-playable characters provides a new twist to the gameplay. You will be able to exploit each character’s attributes and skills for different purposes. Some of the characters that you’ll encounter in Portable Ops include Para-Medic, Eva, Ocelot, Major Zero, and Sigint – in addition to the old Big Boss who has formed his own questionable organization Outer Heaven.

    There will be plenty of stealth and full-scale combat as you sneak through the FOX compound while attempting to avoid hostile, rogue guards and various security systems.

    According to the trailer, there will be a lot of questions answered in this game – but not here. We’ll find out what the Big Boss’s tragedy is and what is the most revered and feared weapon that must be destroyed. Could it be the Metal Gear itself? Nah….

    A multi-player mode will be included and although it wasn’t demonstrated it’s purported to be a Deathmatch-style of gameplay similar to Subsistence. In this version you will have access to a white flag so that you may surrender. So far all we can tell is that it saves you from being killed. Is there is a possibility of escape or defection? We’ll have to wait and see. The game ships late 06 or early 07.

    More details and official screens to follow.

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