Metal Gear Online Beta

BY Phil Harris  //  May 28, 2008

No lag, features aplenty; a delight to play.


ans of the long time running Metal Gear Solid series will finally be able to get their hands on the final chapter when Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots is released on June 12th. I was one of the selected players who got an early look at the new title's multiplayer online beta. The beta didn't get off without a hitch, starting a week later than scheduled due to a high number of participants. However, once it finally began, it proved to be worth the added wait. Metal Gear Solid Online β ended two weeks ago, offering users a great example of what's to come.

For those of you who are familiar with the Metal Gear Solid series, you'll be happy to know that the multiplayer stays true to the single-player aspect of the game. The controls may take a little getting used to for newcomers, but aren't anything that can't be mastered in a short period of time. The beta featured a vast number of player options, which should give the game a real, lasting appeal.

The beta excelled in
its variety of game types.
Metal Gear Online features a thorough character creation process for online play. Players will be able create multiple custom character profiles — each with different skills, custom gear, and the ability to rank up with continued progression. Macros and keyboard commands are also available with full customization, and added privacy settings. The beta also provided some other unique features including clan support. Players can manage their own clans, including clan emblems, a detailed roster, and included ranked support for leader boards and online competitions. The game also allows tracking of players' overall stats, individual game types, personal scores, and player history (which can be used to help locate friends and other players). In-game users will have many different weapons at their disposal, and some other fun tools to get the job done. Who doesn't love running around in a cardboard box?

The beta also provided a chance to try out three of the game's upcoming maps — Blood Bath, Midtown Maelstrom, and Groznyj Grad. The maps seem very well designed and balanced. Blood Bath is a smaller map designed for close combat; taking place in a training facility made up of underground tunnels, buildings, and other obstacles for protection on the surface. Midtown Maelstrom is a Middle Eastern battleground, with a wide boulevard and alleyways surrounding the area. Groznyj Grad is also another impressive place to battle it out. Based in and around an arms factory, this map contains broad open spaces with indoor and outdoor combat.

You're given the tools
to get the job done.
The other aspect in which Metal Gear Online β really excelled was the variety of game types. The game features everything from deathmatch, team deathmatch, capture missions, sneaking missions, and base matches. We're all pretty familiar with deathmatch game types — those game types stayed true here as well. The capture mission was also another common game type for most multiplayer games, splitting players into two teams, each trying to take targets and defend them. Base missions worked much like the capture type, where teams compete to conquer the most bases to win.

And then there's sneaking mission. This had to be one of my favorites. It's another team-based game type, but works like a VIP match from Halo. One player is selected to play as Snake, complete with active Octo-Camo. The idea here was fun and simple: protect your Snake and eliminate the other team's Snake.

So how does this all work? you ask. Well, Metal Gear Online β featured a very detailed set of match configurations and game lobbies. With Automatching (no, not Matchmaking) players can create and join games with those close in rank, for the most balanced competition. However, this wasn't always the fastest way to get into a match (yes, kind of like Matchmaking), but worked best at keeping things fair. Players also had the option of free battles and training. Free battles allowed players to find or create custom matches, including preset maps, rules, and passwords for private matches. Training was also a nice touch, where players could practice gameplay, controls, and learn about all of the game's features.

This beta was a delight to play. With an almost flawless frame rate, I suffered virtually no lag; and players were generally fun to game with. This should be a great addition to the final chapter of the Metal Gear Solid series, and another reason to watch what is sure to be the next PlayStation 3 blockbuster.

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