Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops +
A stand-alone expansion to the original MGS : Portable Ops, Portable Ops + is effectively a rehash of Solid Snake's first outing on the PSP with a few added features. Well, in theory. But as I did not play the original, let's assess the game as what it really is - another standalone outing for Solid Snake on Sony's portable console.
The core gameplay is streamlined and stealth-based. Each mission is based around sneaking around to reach a certain point and then another point and then... well, you get the picture. Of course, there are likely to be some bad guys in the way and you need to dispatch them as quickly and silently as possible. Alternatively, you can convert the odd one to your cause, and use their skills in future missions.
To get to your objective, a sort of sonar system is used. Luckily everything that Snake needs to find makes some sort of audible noise (even briefcases and the like) so he can always pinpoint where he needs to go. Of course there may be walls in the way or it may be on a different floor but these signals are apparently loud enough to render such issues irrelevant. The noise is shown on the radar in the top-left corner, and a sort of radar effect will indicate which way you need to go.
Each mission can be blasted through in a matter of minutes if needs be, which is of course very suitable for playing on-the-road. However, if you take a bit more time you can find the collectibles and the equipment which can be used in the next mission.
With MGS's background, some people may be surprised to learn that the plot in this outing is non-existent. This is of course a missed opportunity, particularly as the series is known for its exciting storylines. And so the single-player mode is basically a bunch of missions strung together, with no real differences to speak about and no real reason for you to be doing them.
The alternative to the standard single-player mode is the Infinity Mission mode. This mode takes the single-player missions and switches up the objectives and circumstances. For example, the entire enemy force is on high alert, or you may need to neutralise all enemies within a certain time limit. You can take different teams along based on NPCs that you have recruited previously. I understand that if you were to have played the original game, you could also use these minions that you had gained previously. You can have up to 200 team members in your posse, although you only have up to four in the actual level. The others provide backup, such as extra intelligence or upgrades.
Every team that takes part in a mission then gains experience and after a while will have significantly better skills. So if a certain mission is too hard you can go back, level your guys up on an easier one, and return to wipe the floor with the baddies. And I mean really wipe the floor. Sometimes, it is too easy and too tempting to power-level your chaps, and then the game is just no longer challenging. So you may wish to try your hand at the multiplayer portion, instead...
There are two different modes that you can play online - a fairly standard shoot-out mode (two squads fighting it out to the death) or a target practise mode, where you need to hit a target to switch it your team colour (think Graffiti in Tony Hawk's Pro Skater). Unfortunately, if you come up against an opponent who has levelled his team up ridiculously, it is pretty much game over. Also, if any of your guys die they are gone from your team for good, with no hospital or anything. Hey, that's war kiddo.
Overall, the game is good for a quick blast of stealth action on the go, but the game is not really deep enough for anything much more. Also, as with many of the PSPs titles, the load-times are prohibitive and the actual gameplay is not necessarily worth waiting so long for. This is only really one for those who really like stealth games. Possibly even die-hard MGS fans will want to steer clear as there is none of the exciting story that the series is known for. Having said that, all these problems are addressed in the budget price, so it may be worth a look if you're out for a cheap thrill.
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