Metal Gear Survive Review – Survive the Disappointment
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One (reviewed)
Release: 22nd February 2018
Konami had the chance to deliver a great game here, well, they had to. After throwing out Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima, the announcement of Metal Gear Survive was everything except pleasant for fans. Now after releasing the game a few days ago, it became certain, just how bad the Japanese publisher managed to shame one of the biggest video game series to date.
After Motherbase was attacked at the end of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, the soldiers didn´t just vanish. Of course, a giant wormhole suddenly opened, after Big Boss left his beloved base behind, and sucked nearly the whole base in another world. Unfortunately, the new dimension is inhabited by zombie-like monsters and completely destroyed. Only the player will be able to save both worlds from this threat.
Unfortunately, except the initial opening scenes, Metal Gear Survive is pretty light on the story side. Packing a boring tale about a soldier having to save humanity. While the fact he´s actually infected with the zombie virus as well was an interesting concept, the effect lasted around a few minutes, quickly forgotten and never brought up again. There simply isn´t a lot going on, neither anything else than a selfish government hoping to get their problems resolved by some soldiers.
During interviews, the director often mentioned how it´s all about seeing the “tiny man” struggle but at the end, some of the cast may die, yet never being characterized enough to make me care. It´s nothing more than a generic story with generic characters and a lacklustre use of many Metal Gear Solid related cutscenes. Honestly, anyone expecting much more than a typical zombie vs nameless soldiers experience will be utterly disappointed, especially since it carries such a heavy name.
All other departments are hopelessly lacking as well, focusing on a standard survival experience in a bland world. Since zombies are inhabiting the giant desert, food is rare among other means necessary to survive. A perfect excuse to implement hunger, thirst and all other bars known from the genre. Yet, at no point are those things actually fun to maintain as every single bar is depleting in a surprisingly fast way. Often I found myself having to worry about finding food again just a few minutes after having eaten, letting the experience not only become an aboring recreation of an overused genre but a redundant annoying one as well. Especially because looting, the most important thing in this game, feels so slow, forcing you to pick up every single thing by itself in crates, resulting in second long grabbing animations. Not to speak of the stamina meter, depleting in seconds when running or climbing, slowing down the whole game in an utterly pointless way. They tried to create a survival system without ever understanding the ore aspect that has to be achieved: Fun.
The other problem is Metal gear Survive´s combat, basically consisting of hitting zombies with a stick. Circulating around crafting stuff and better weapons, the game quickly forgets how unbalanced the weapons on themselves are. While guns never have nearly enough ammo to be useful at any point, the more advanced melee weapons too can´t justify their existence. When the spear can kill zombies through fences, the defence structures, but nothing else can, why bother with slow hammers? Upgrading the spear is just the only effective way to go about here, destroying the whole crafting and advancing through different weapon tiers and with it, one of the most important aspects of the genre.
Most of the time though will be spent defending bases, when you´re not scavenging the wilds. Besides the option to team up with friends and repel the zombie forces, once again, there´s not much to it. Building fences, occasional turrets and doing a lot by yourself, those sequences remind more of a stripped down Sanctum than a compelling experience, only delivering fun for those with incredible funny friends.
During story missions, Metal gear Survive also tries to work in stealth aspects, which get lost in a world where a stick and a rock can be the solution to everything. Drawing heavily from the amazing foundation the Fox Engine lays for sneaking, it works pretty damn good here as well. Sadly, zombies are a much more boring enemy to hide from than intelligent soldiers. In the end, the execution is pretty much the same as in MGSV, just with way fewer gadgets and tension. Considering it basically copies the engines’ strength straight into another scenario, while easily creating the best gameplay mechanic the game has to offer, it doesn´t feel like a praisable thing.
On the other hand, the Fox Engine never delivered truly great looking environments, even in 2015. So, Metal Gear Survive´s copied map design and visuals can neither impress nor deliver a satisfying fresh feeling. Except for the zombies, bases and actually good looking cutscenes, the world remains a bland, mushy desert with occasional mediocre looking bases. It feels more like a copy-cat than a unique game.
Honestly, Metal Gear Survive isn´t really good, taking a bad survival gameplay, transporting it into the Fox Engine and relying on the already established groundwork of Kojima and his team. If both the stealth mechanics and overall gameplay base would be removed, there really wouldn´t be anything else than a generic survival indie.
[Review Code was provided by Konami]