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Metal Gear Solid Special Missions
"On first glance this seems to be a total rip-off... but after continuous play MGS Special Missions possibly offers as much gameplay as the original." Image Loading...
Developer: Konami
Distributor: Konami
Game Type: Strategy
Review Date: Nov 99
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Setting the Scene:
      What's this... a sequel to the brilliant Metal Gear Solid... already? Not quite!

You see MGS Special Missions is an add-on-disc for the original game, but don't expect to experience the realistic scenic settings from last years stealth classic because all you get is more of the VR Missions that were originally used as a practice mode. I say 'all' with tongue in cheek because there are an almighty 300 mini stages and scenarios to play through.

IMPORTANT. To play this game you MUST have access to a copy of the original as both discs are required to load up the game.

      More tactical espionage action from the team that gave us Metal Gear Solid. The is an add-on-disc containing the original MGS VR Training Missions and hundreds more like them.
Sound and Vision:
Image Loading...      If you haven't cast eyes over the original MGS I'd have to be totally honest and say that Special Missions takes on the guise of an unfinished game. Imagine the early stages of development when the realistic motion-captured characters are put through their paces on a featureless wire-frame set. Well that's what this finished product actually looks like... scenery stripped of all detail... unfinished.

Each level has been designed using black or gold virtual reality boxes to create the framework of a mini-maze that is suspended in darkest space. In fact if you have ever played Intelligence Cube (or Kurushi on PAL format) the memories will come flooding back. The darkness of the background is disturbed by a constantly moving graphical image of what looks like a hazy circuit board. Opting for this style of visuals may not look pretty but allows essential locations to be easily spotted so you can concentrate solely on the task in hand.

Image Loading... Most missions involve moving targets that must be avoided or destroyed to complete a level. These range from shifting shapes to patrolling enemy guards. The shapes take on the wire-frame form with coloring determining how they will react when destroyed. Blue diamonds shatter into a thousand pieces on impact, while orange crystals explode into a ball of flame setting off a chain reaction. On the other hand the enemy guards are amazing. Dressed in brilliant white combat snowsuits with faces covered by matching hoods their mannerisms and movement are incredibly life-like. Studying them on duty they pace back and forth, stop to stretch out their arms, yawn aloud with the sheer boredom of it all, and even catch a few zzz's. When alerted to your presence they run around like startled chickens, while 'taking them out' exhibits a splattering of blood before slumping to the floor and disappearing .

Snake himself almost seems alive, as his breath is clearly visible in the cold air of the night. His motions are very realistic but non-more so than when he drops to the floor and crawls along the ground. He sports a bandana, combat suit and occasionally smokes a cigarette... for mission purposes obviously.

Explosions and other weapon effects are loud and crisp while the guards, when alerted to your presence, call out to the other troops with a sense of urgency in their voices. The music is exactly the same as the original game adding further to the overall experience.
      Konami's original Metal Gear Solid is a spy action thriller that involves covert activities and tons of weapons and communication gear. Rather than using the usual shoot-em-up format of charging into the base with guns-a-blazing, MGS involves an element of stealth. Sneaking past the enemy guards, setting a string of explosives and 'get the hell out of there before the shit hits the fan' is the more strategic approach that is required.

These special missions are basically a training guide involving the same tactics used to prepare for the main game. They were to Metal Gear Solid what the driving licenses were to Gran Turismo and now they appear in a game of their own. In effect had Sony released an add-on disc with extra driving licenses to attain then would you rush out and buy it? Hmmm, me thinks not!

Loading in the Special Mission disc results in a request to insert the original game so dust it down and slot it in. After a few more disc swaps the new game boots up and VR Training mode is initially all that is available to play. Gradually more and more game modes will be unveiled but to begin with you must trudge through many of the original tests. I couldn't understand the inclusion of these because the player must have the original disc to access this game...!!! Strange decision Konami... or are you just filling out disc space?

You begin with 15 simple tests of your stealth ability during SNEAKING MODE. In Practice you must learn to sneak past a few guards without being seen and make it to a designated finish point. Sometimes you may need to patiently lie still until the patrolling guard walks past before carefully sneaking behind him unnoticed. Other times you must time a run perfectly just as the guard turns his back to either scan another direction, or simply light up a cigarette. Should you make it to the finish undetected then you will advance onto the next stage. Raise the alarm and its back to the start.

Image Loading... On completion of Practice Mode you will open up Time Attack Mode. This time you must cover the same 15 missions against the clock. This seems fairly simple at first and seems to be a waste of time. However you quickly realize that extra guards have been posted and alternative routes are being patrolled.

Socom Mode is the next step in your training. Armed with a standard pistol you will again retrace the same 15 missions, but now you must assassinate all of the guards in the level to open up the finish point. What makes matters a little trickier is that you only have a certain number of bullets to fire... so no wild shots! These same missions are then played again in Time Attack Mode.

Now we're getting down to the new stuff. WEAPON MODE offers five fresh challenges in both time attack and practice modes for each of the eight weapons that were used in the main game. That's 40 in total covering the Nikita, Claymore, Grenade, Fa-mas, C4, Socom, Stinger and PSG1.

On completion of the above further modes begin to open up. ADVANCED MODE is similar to the Weapon mode... only... err... more advanced I suppose. SPECIAL MODE includes 8 One Minute Battles where the target must be achieved in... you guessed it... under 60 seconds. Vs, 12 Battle involves a further 8 missions where the elimination of 12 enemy soldiers must be achieved within 12 minutes using limited weapons. Other special modes include solving ten murder Mysteries where a crime has been committed and the player must use detective skills to find the guilty guard. There are also 10 Puzzles to solve, 13 Variety tasks and a massive VR Mission using all of the skills learned in previous scenarios. Finally 3 Ninja and 8 N-G Selections offer the ultimate challenge against the toughest enemy Ninjas who can hear all and see all.

Image Loading... The control system may be configured to suite your personal taste but goes something like this: One of the face buttons is used to shoot a weapon or throw a grenade. When Snake is not armed the same button allows him to grab an enemy from behind and hold him as a human shield. By tapping the same button rhythmically Snake will begin to strangle the life out of the guard. Powerful button, that one! There is a face button that switches the view to first person perspective. Another button sets Snake into combat mode where he can throw punches and kick out at enemies. The final face button drops him to ground level so that he can crawl around and squeeze under obstacles. The shoulder buttons act as his left and right hands in which he can select and use various weapons and handy gadgets.

Many gadgets from the original game make an occasional appearance including the best of the lot... a cardboard box! Yes, you read that correctly. When all other means are exasperated Snake pulls out a large cardboard box and climbs inside. Amazing.

Image Loading...Attention all perverts! By completing more and more of the game a special Photography mode opens up. Armed with your trusty camera and zoom lens Mei Ling and Dr Naomi will pose for you in the studio. Watch out for the famous 'Sharon Stone' leg-crossing pose. All photographs may be stored on a memory card and used for your own personal entertainment.
Game Options:
      This is a 1 disk game for 1 Player requiring the original copy of Metal Gear Solid in order to play. It is compatible with the standard (digital) joypad and the analog stick controls of the dual shock joypad. Games can be saved via memory card (1 block per save).

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Staff Opinions  
Martin: "I cursed at the inclusion of many original VR tasks.

I warmed to being allowed access to Snakes wonderful range of weapons (especially the telescopic PSG1). I marvelled at the wide range of missions.

I was finally converted when opening up the splendid Special Mode.

On first glance this seems to be a total rip-off... but after continuous play MGS Special Missions possibly offers as much gameplay as the original, but without the pretty wrapping paper."
Graphics: 12/20
Playability: 47/50
Sound: 6/10
Lastability: 17/20
Overall: 82%
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