Metal Gear Survive finds itself in a sea of controversy and interest. The controversy comes from the whole Konami / Kojima scenario that occurred over the past few years, something I really don’t have much insight on or truthfully any interest in, I just don’t want to turn sour on an entire publisher due to the actions of perhaps a few people. The interest of course comes in from the fact that this is a Metal Gear game, but with a different approach.
Instead of the typical tactical espionage action game fans have become accustomed to, you have a tactical survival game. A bit of a change but certainly one that is well suited to the Fox Engine and the established gameplay styling of the series. At its core, there is something solid to grasp onto but amongst all the negativity, can it survive?
The story is something that personally, I haven’t seen before, set in the same universe as the main series titles, but with a twist. Wormholes have allowed transportation to a desolate wasteland called Dite (Dee-tay) which is said to be in a different dimension. It is in Dite where the player will spend their time, trying to scavenge resources, craft useful items and above all fight off hunger, thirst and the wanderers.
These enemies can be thought of as zombies, they were once humans that have been infected by a virus and then eventually turned into these quite horrifying humanoids. They’re fast moving, very alert and are deadly in numbers. I love the urgency that comes across when you fight anything, the longer the battle the more foes that will potentially be drawn in by the sound of the encounter. It is here where the stealth comes back into things, sneak your way around the environment and take-down these creatures as quietly as possible. If you don’t, survival is in doubt, and that is what this genre is all about.
Enemy variety prevents the action from turning stale and you are introduced to new types as you progress. I remember the first time I turned a corner and saw this big ball of absolute nope just standing still in a room, I almost ruined a perfectly good pair of underwear. It was thrown in at the right time, just as I was getting too comfortable dealing with the normal zombie like creatures.
The character creation suite is way too limited than I expected, it’s very basic with only a few options to choose from for each setting. I feel that why did they bother having players create a character if they cannot create the one they truly want to, or at least provide enough variety to choose from. I got as close to what my general ideal created avatar looks like and moved on swiftly. In hindsight it’s nice not to have to spend a ton of time meticulously crafting a character, however, I had no connection to who I was supposed to be playing as.
You’re a soldier from Mother Base which was left destroyed by the XOF. Presumed dead and about to be buried at sea with your fellow comrades, that’s when Goodluck comes in and decides he wants your body. A couple of minutes later and you are alive but not exactly all there, your mind is understandably muddled and cloudy. Before your even warm again, you get sent on a mission by your saviour to Dite in order to retrieve important information, rescue survivors and stay alive. It’s odd but I dig it. I feel this is an unorthodox and yet clever way to introduce a new story in an already established universe and event.
I found myself surprisingly taken with the repeating gameplay loop, keep an eye on your bodily requirements, obtain resources, go on a mission and then come back to base. At the bottom level, this is what you do, and you do it a lot. In execution however, it’s so much more and gets quite complex. Not only do you look after yourself but your comrades too. Base building is very much appreciated, being able to produce facilities and defences whilst in between all of the exploring is refreshing and provides plenty to do.
It’s a tough and harsh world, enemies pack a hefty punch and force you to adopt a more tactical approach. The controls are fine but nothing that shines out as particularly great or even good, issues I have would be the complicated weapon switching system, making use of the d-pad and bumper buttons. When in the middle of a conflict it’s easy to stumble over yourself whilst trying to get to that vital piece of equipment that could be the difference in staying alive or cutting to black. With melee weapons, the aim and swing feels clunky and frequently doesn’t seem to want to hit correctly. I advise players to just expect death in an outnumbered situation even slightly so, it is that brutal and unforgiving.
Levelling up is interesting, you can upgrade your class by using Kuban Energy (KUB), a resource which you can acquire by harvesting it from dead wanderers or from metallic plant looking things scattered throughout Dite. This currency is used for pretty much everything, levelling up, replenishing oxygen and crafting items. What I don’t like about this is just how much it feels like it’s unnecessary padding which may act as a wall to some players who want to get to the end game faster. It forces players to make a choice which is too restrictive.
Now, you’re probably thinking, replenish oxygen? Yes, but don’t worry it’s not a constant thing to be wary of. When travelling through the world, there are areas covered in dust which is just too toxic for humans, thus an oxygen tank needs to be taken with you. The oxygen level decreases the longer you are in the dust, but using your precious KUB you can get more of the essential O2. Each time you need to use this feature, the more expensive it becomes and it even damages your tank. The overall idea is fine, in fact I love the thought, but the oxygen just drains way too fast compared to the time you spend doing one mission in the dust, which then becomes a drain on both your currency and equipment.
I have to bring up the mind-boggling feature of having to pay for additional save slots. Yes, you read that correctly. If you want another character separate from your first, then be prepared to pay up real-life money for the ability to do so. If you play enough of the game however and play each day to get the log in bonus SV coins, then you could rack up enough to pay for the new save without using your money, but the fact this is a thing anyway is kind of disgusting.
The engine of the fox delivers a highly distinguishable aesthetic, one that fans of the games will recognise from a screenshot and say, that’s Metal Gear. It’s a good looking game, but by no means anything special, instead, it looks a little dated like it could have come from the beginning of this generation or even late last generation. This is due to a mix of factors, not just one root cause, the level of detail is nice but not amazing, there seems to be a filter over the world which obscures various views, backgrounds look terrible and blurred etc. That being said, the overall look is great, not in detail but just in design.
Dite is barren and far from enticing, exactly how it should look, nobody should want to spend their time there. The enemies range from creepy to downright intimidating, they succeeded in producing a menacing enemy that instils some sort of unease and fear in you.
While generally moving around, there isn’t much going on in terms of sound design, which is actually to the games credit. There is an underlying tune that’s playing very quietly in the background, other than that it’s all effects, from character movement to the wind. It solidifies the fact that you are in a vast seemingly empty place that is filled with danger. It’s tension building more than anything. When you enter a fight, the music picks up and becomes hectic. Clever sound design that is used to great effect in amplifying the atmosphere.
Metal Gear Survive is plagued by things outside of its control as well as having many minor gameplay issues that I personally found with the game. It’s ridiculously harsh not just in combat but in general meaning many players may be turned away. But for those who choose to stay will enjoy the crazy lifestyle that comes with living in Dite. It certainly is survival of the fittest, or those with more patience, time and maybe even money available.
OVERALL: 7/10 – GOOD
Reviewed by Rhys Baldwin.
(Disclaimer: CONQUEST received a review copy of Metal Gear Survive, however this does not in any way affect the scoring of a game or our thoughts on the game itself. We believe in total honesty and being transparent with you.)