Metal Gear Survive was already tried and executed by the general public in advance. Cleverly, Konami has not tackled it all. By doing something with the series after the fight with Metal Gear’s spiritual father Hideo Kojima, but also by presenting the game mainly as an apparently hollow multiplayer game in which you hit on zombies. Deadly sin, because in practice this is not a Metal Gear game and multiplayer is only a side issue. However, Metal Gear Survive is a very nice game.
- Mechanics for survival
- Much tension
- Keeps you sharp
- Slow introduction
- ‘Shopping rounds’
- Becomes routinely
Metal Gear Survive
- Developer: Konami
- Price: € 39.99
- Genre: Action-adventure, survival
- Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
To discover this, you not only have to put aside all cynicism and expectations but also have a good dose of patience. Metal Gear Survive starts with great difficulty. The story starts so childishly simple that it smells like fanfiction, yet Konami is performing it, perhaps in an attempt to keep Metal Gear traditions up, to explain the lines with lengthy films and static dialogues. That while it can be summed up so easily: after Mother Base is destroyed at the end of Ground Zeroes, you land as an unnamed mercenary from Snake’s private army in another dimension in which zombies – sorry, Wanderers – rule and you can do nothing but survive.
You learn to survive by falling, standing up and surrendering a lot. Surviving does not only mean that you have to pay attention to your health bar because you also get hungry and thirsty. Hunger affects your maximum number of life points, thirst is connected to your stamina in a similar way. It is therefore wise to eat and drink regularly, but then you have to find something to eat and drink. For that, you first have to map the folder – literally. Your map is filled in little by little by actually walking around somewhere. Only when you return to your home base will the route you just traveled be visible on the map and you can indicate with stamps where, for example, you have found a water source or animals.
In the beginning, you drink gratefully polluted water or you eat raw goat, which then comes out just as hard. After which you get every minute again suffer from oesophageal ulcers until you have found a medicine or are automatically cured after a while. That does not only sound particularly distasteful but is also dangerous if you are just caught up to heels by a horde of Wanderers. Metal Gear Survive knows no mercy. Death is dead. Did you just find another goat and slaughtered, or found material to fabricate a spear, but are you unable to return to your base? Too bad, start again. And the newly explored areas on the map are also lost again. The game saves only on your base, not in the field.
Oppressive expeditions in the Dust
That makes the first few hours of Metal Gear Survive laborious and sometimes frustrating, but also exciting. Especially when you enter the Dust. The majority of the card is shrouded in mysterious mists. Here you should not only pay attention to your hunger and thirst, but also to your oxygen supply. Moreover, the visibility here is severely hampered. Often you are on no more appropriate than your compass, some light beacons on the horizon and your own sense of direction. Missions in the Dust really feel like a dangerous expedition.
As soon as the emphasis is more on undertaking these kinds of adventures, it becomes clear how cleverly Metal Gear Survive is put together. Wanderers, for example, respond to noise, which makes sneaking often sensible. Squatting or crawling, however, costs stamina again and is also slow. As you crawl and see your oxygen meter drop, you see hunger and thirst increase. And with a lot of thirsts, you cannot sneak well again. Do you have enough stamina to put it on a run? Or do you actually have to stab the Wanderer, because they leave Kuban Energy with which you can replenish your oxygen? And do you have to eat something before you look up the confrontation?
All facets of Metal Gear Survive are related at such a moment. If you would flee without finding new raw materials, blueprints for a stronger weapon or a fast travel station, you would not consume food and drinks for nothing. But how much further do you dare and can you? The Dust has provided us with the necessary panic situations. More than once it happened that we went to the target on purpose, to miss the target and hopelessly get lost. If you then feel completely in the dark about where you are and how you in the world will ever return, while you see all the meters worrying, Metal Gear Survive is extremely oppressive and absolutely at its best.
Keeps you sharp
Because of this strict regime, you are also forced to learn how to fight with the Wanderers. You learn quickly with a straight leg in the confrontation. Wanderers are strong, fast and call their friends to beat you together. Even if you survive, there is a good chance that you are seriously injured and your chances of survival are significantly reduced.
Fortunately, the Wanderers are not very smart. For example, they like to hang stubbornly in a fence with chicken wire, instead of walking around it. Then you can safely poke them from behind the fence with a spear or shoot with a bow and arrow. Stupid and predictable? Yes, but it makes the game playable. Moreover, this tactic works flawlessly for the first few hours, but later Wanderers require a different approach.
This way Metal Gear Survive keeps you sharp. Every time you think you know the game, the game will kick you back. When you are used to hunger and thirst, the game introduces oxygen. When you know how certain Wanderers behave, you are faced with new enemies. And when you finally think you have enough food and drinks and slowly start building a base with workshops to make weapons, or even water tanks and plantations, the game will somehow get you out of that just-found balance.
Yet Metal Gear Survive is not perfect. Hunger and thirst, especially in the first few hours, simply play a too big role. ‘Shopping rounds’ in which you purely and solely go out to find some food or a lost goat are therefore inevitable, while there is no ball at all. Also, the missions are very repetitive as soon as you know the rules a bit. Although in some missions you have to rescue someone or pull a Memory Board out of a computer, in most missions you are mainly concerned with defending a machine while waves Wanderers are coming at you. Also, in the co-op missions that is actually the only thing you do, even though these missions are simply a chaotic challenge by just more players and correspondingly more Wanderers. But when you’re a bit further in the game,
Metal Gear Survive does not stay exciting till the end. Funnily enough, in the end, the story suddenly squints somewhat unexpectedly close to the ‘real’ Metal Gear Solid games. Loyal fans who have come this far will get a bit of a patch on the wound. Real Metal Gear is not this game. It creeps, but it is not a tactical espionage action. Wanderers quickly give up searches, there are no alarm phases and hardly any bosses. Narrative Metal Gear Survive knows no emotional highlights, but no incomprehensible plot twists and dialogues. Well then, maybe, in the end, a bit.
Only at the most exciting moments, when we try to survive with a bruised ankle and a grinding stomach in the undiscovered territory, does Metal Gear Survive think of Metal Gear Solid 3. Since that is the favorite Metal Gear of yours, it’s a big compliment. In spite of this, Konami with the name ‘Metal Gear’ has been particularly distressed. An automatic dislike of everyone who has Kojima on a pedestal, but also wrong expectations. Probably Metal Gear Survive had done better as a stand-alone game. Unfairly, because Metal Gear Survive turns out to be a great game for anyone who can see beyond the name and the ‘Sins of the Father’.
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Metal Gear Survive is now available on PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4. For this review, the game was played on a PS4 Pro.