MGS Portable Ops

Now I’m into the swing of this game, I’m actually enjoying it quite a lot. It’s great for just a short burst of gameplay between tasks or when relaxing.

So I’m playing this on the Vita and as enlightened by @NightFox you can remap the camera controls to the right stick! Which instantly makes this game far more enjoyable.

One thing I do think is a bit janky is the stamina mechanic in this game, with a lack of natural resources in abundance like MGS3, I’m finding it just such an inconvenience to be running low occasionally on stamina, anybody else have this problem? The wait function helps a lot but man, I cba to click through three times!

2 Likes

I’m actually working on my review of MPO right now, since I played it on emulator.

Back in the day, I had a strange relationship with this game. I went from loving it to hating it since it was around the time of my accident and the nerve damage in my arm made playing with such a clunky, busy control scheme physically painful.

I greatly disliked the stamina in every MGS game and especially in MPO because, with how limited the inventory was per player, it was such an inconvenience to have to reserve a slot for rations during something like a boss fight.

There’s a lot about the game I don’t like, but after replaying it twice on emulator, I realized I like it a lot more than I ever gave it credit for.

I love the idea of having levels segmented off the way it is. Because you get a lot of variety and cut out all the chaff. It’s basically what everyone was saying they wanted after GZ; a bunch of isolated levels with no interconnected open world. I’d have adored getting a game like this with console memory and budget.

What I found was that this was a case where combat was a lot more satisfying than stealth. Running and gunning has a good feel to it but bypassing guards with magazines is fun too.

The boss fights with Null and Python are some of my favorites in the series though. They’re exactly the kinda bosses I wish this series had more of, because it’s just you against this powerful enemy in a massive boss arena with plenty of hiding spots and options for getting the drop on them. But if you don’t wanna do that, then direct combat / indirect combat still works too. Both fights had an excellent cat & mouse vibe to 'em, especially Null’s fights.

I just wish the rest of the bosses had that same design philosophy. Cunningham’s fight would’ve been spectacular if he was actually on the ground of that silo towards the end armed with his bunch of weapons and given the same boss format. But Gene and RAXA are still pretty tight despite the less open design.

1 Like

The PSP and the games suffered GREATLY because of the single analogue. Playing Monster Hunter properly you had to put your hand in to what was lovingly called “the claw” in order to control the camera properly. MPO was similar.

MPO is my favourite Big Boss game because he doesn’t cry like a bitch about The Boss constantly. Also no tapes for the story is always gravy to me.

MPO online was legitimately good as were the maps. I loved Town and Silo. MPO+ was OK, more maps was good but the new modes were eeeeh. Just gimme 3vs3 TDM please. No RPG SVD spam.

3 Likes

Spooky!

I’ve had very similar situations with games, or games which I now look back on in a relatively melancholy tone not knowing how to process what I feel in regards to it. It’s really interesting what trauma can do to your perception of a product you may otherwise love/hate, also very interesting to see what revisiting that game in a different perspective and post-trauma may do for you. Also especially interesting with a series like MGS I think, where one of the principal points of the narrative is post-trauma and retaliation/reflection on it.

Yes! I think this is why I’m enjoying it so much. I’m playing it alongside MGSV (both for the first time) and I’m finding myself really enjoying them for entirely different reason. As I said in my opening post, the level design is very good and if I could make an amalgamation of this and GZ (GZ still remaining one of my favourite MGS games of all time out of the ones I’ve played (which are all of them to completion not including this or Peace Walker) then I would HAPPILY take it.

1 Like

Funny you say this, Portable Ops and Ground Zeroes are the only MGS games I really like outside of the original trilogy. They both tapped into something really promising, that was quickly squandered (IMO) by the following game. PO really owned the fact that it was a ‘Portable’ MGS, instead of trying desperately to ape a console experience. It didn’t give a shit that you needed claw grip to play it, or that it had no cutscenes, even the level design and bosses managed to be good despite being very simple. It felt like MGS.

4 Likes

This is exactly what I thought when playing it this morning. It doesn’t matter that the elements in the level are simple or your cover is just a truck or big box of cargo, it’s just placed really well and in a satisfying way which gives you good challenge and opportunity to manoeuvre around in your own way.

That was another big thing when I jumped back in. I maintain that V has the best level design in the series from a functional perspective because you have tons of structural and environmental cover and environmental advantages like fuel drums, turret guns, etc. I remember MPO being way too open the first time I played it, but that was almost 15 years ago. Replaying it now, it does feel like there’s a mostly strong blend of structural cover going on. Sometimes, you gotta use walls to wait, or there are cargo / trucks nearby and even pillars you can navigate behind to bypass guards.

And that works wonders in levels like the Guest House. Like playing full on action in the Guest House mission feels like a million bucks for me, covering behind pillars in the estate then turning a corner and blasting the bad guys.

Some levels still did have too much that was structurally barren, like the Rail Bridge, Prison or the Supply Depot. But most of the levels not only have a wide array of cover to keep you hidden or to use in combat, but there’s also a verticality to MPO that you don’t get in most MGS games. You have guards on rooftops and watch towers or higher elevations that require you to stay low or use good timing to get past 'em.

It’s a game where it may try to do too much (hence my literal physical agony in 2006), but the end result does feel mechanically robust like a conventional MGS game. And to me, MPO is textbook proof that MGS doesn’t need Kojima to thrive.

Hell, I had more fun replaying MPO on emulator than half the canon MGS games.

Again, there’s a lot I didn’t like a lot that could’ve been really delved further into, but the core of the game is just rock solid, classic Metal Gear fun.

Honestly, whilst Kojima was making GZ/MGSV it’s a shame we didn’t get a Vita entry in the same vein as MPO. I honestly think the front and rear touch pad/screen would’ve provided some potentially very cool mechanics for an MGS game.

I got to admit, i didn’t know, or atleast didnt remember MPO having fans like this. I was like 18 when this was released and i put alot of time into it. I wish it had the same impact for meas you guys, at the time though I enjoyed it and accepted it for what it was, a mgs game on the psp vita system of all things. I will admit i do really like heaven’s divide. Atleast the boss fights were actual people and not mechs.

1 Like

Heaven’s Divide was Piss Water and that game suuuucked.

You couldn’t even crawl in PW. Couldn’t crawl. You know what crawls? Snakes.

3 Likes

I means calling to the night, chalk it up to old age lol

Calling to the Night is the best Metal Gear song with lyrics.

2 Likes

Shockingly, I’ve grown to really like that game. I used to hate it for a lot of the same reasons too. But I just really enjoy a lot of the missions and can have fun with the combat with the right weapons.

I gotta avoid using certain items and weapons or it becomes a joke, like the Mk22. But honestly, looking back, that’s kind of every MGS game for me now. Even in MPO, I preferred to knock guys out with porn and CQC.

The boss fights in MPW suck and too many of the extra ops are tanks but I mostly enjoy the rest of the game and the more objective-focused extra ops. The accessibility to the missions, the gratifying feeling of zero trace runs or going hog wild on generic army guys.

I have a great new appreciation for both these games that I just didn’t when they first came out.

2 Likes

This was the first MGS game I played besides an MGS3 demo (which I hated because I kept jumping off the cliff right at the start instead of walking forward into the dense jungle…) and I was such a mug that I kept restarting the game and trying to avoid touching the item box that gives you the sneaking suit because I wanted to play the game with Big Boss just in his fatigue bottoms. It obviously did not work but I tried so many times lmao

I also didn’t enjoy the game for ages and very nearly gave up with it altogether because I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why Big Boss would just die randomly. It was only when I impale my foot on a plug socket IRL and was confined to bed for a week with only my PSP that I realised I was dying (in a very pained way as if I’d been shot) because I was running out of stamina. It was like a moment of revelation only rivalled by me realising when I was 3 that you had to pay attention to video games if you didn’t want to die in them.

So yeah the stamina feature very nearly made me give up with MGS games because I was a dumb dumb child.

3 Likes

I dont even remember the Stamina thing in portable ops, that’s actually sad and hilarious. But I mean you guys still like this game even after knowing Strangelove was back…somehow? or did i miss something where this was his twin?

You mean Sokolov being Ghost? I didn’t care one way or the other. Liquid came back as an arm and there were two Big Bosses so Dr. Sokovia being beaten to death by Volgin and surviving that might as well happen.

For me, the stories never factor into how much I like or dislike any given game in this series. I enjoy most of MPO’s gameplay a good amount and liked the general feel of it, even if the pacing of this game is horrible, often stunting you so you can find an intel report instead of just letting you carry on from mission to mission the way Peace Walker does. It generally feels fun enough to play that it becomes pretty addictive with the right loadouts and gameplay approach, despite its many flaws.

You know, I wonder if emulates acan make this game run at 60 frames now. id be really curious to see how it looks now with some bells and whistles on.

In terms of sokolov, listening to that scene again, of Volgin beating sokolov to a pulp. Atleast sound devise wise it sounded like he popped the dude’s head, but IDK could just be 2004 sound effects. i couldn’t get over him surviving unscathed.

I’d say almost definitely, but it won’t look great. Idk if you’ve ever played a game animated to only 20 frames on like, PS2 or what not, but when they have frame jumps to 60 it just looks so horrible and unnatural, like it’s skipping a lot of motions to speed up the body. It’s just weird!

I would love to see this with some HD retextures and lighting (lighting especially) though. The lighting in this game is, objectively, total dogshit.

1 Like

PPSSPP uses the advanced textures and has a slightly faster frame rate. The game looks and feels a lot better than the PSP version but the downside is there’s draw distance issues where textures will momentarily bit frequently dip until you get closer. Still looks great though.

2 Likes

Yeah i’ve had to resort to emulation since my PSP battery packed on a few pounds over lockdown. Portable Ops and every other title i’ve tried work fine on PPSSPP. Insanely good emulator as well, native pad support, good performance on my laptop. If only Steam worked half as well.