Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops Update: Mission Parameters Revealed

Kojima Productions spills the beans on a few more single-player details from its first PSP entry in the core MGS series.

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Konami's annual summer barbecue at San Francisco's Fort Mason center yielded a host of new details about Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops, Kojima Productions' debut of the wildly popular core MGS series set to hit the PlayStation Portable. After showing us the new trailer that's just debuted at the Leipzig Games Convention, the company's own Ryan Payton filled us in on some of the story's particulars, detailed the new strategic comrade system, and updated us on how the game's presentation and localization have been coming together. From the looks of things, anyone who's doubted this will be a full-fledged Metal Gear Solid game up to now has misplaced their skepticism--there's a lot to this one.

Payton started off by setting up the beginning of Portable Ops' story mode, which will be set six years after Snake Eater and will detail the further exploits of Big Boss before he became the big bad guy and founded the mercenary state of Outer Heaven. The PSP game begins with Boss (as Naked Snake) awakening in a South American prison and realizing that the Fox unit has stolen nuclear warheads from the CIA and is attempting to start an international incident by pointing them at the Soviet Union. Serendipitously, Boss then meets none other than a young Roy Campbell in the cell next to him, and the future Colonel helps Big Boss formulate a plan for escape and a subsequent recruitment plan to gain allies and take down the Fox unit and its nefarious scheme.

Allies? Snake--any version of Snake--works alone, right? Not this time. The odds are stacked so high against Big Boss that he'll have to capture enemies and interrogate them at a secret location to gain information and, more importantly, convert them to his cause. Once you've brought an enemy over to your side, you can have him accompany you in subsequent missions, and you'll be able to have up to three such characters with you at once. Allies will fill a number of different roles--you'll have spies, engineers, medics, snipers, and more at your disposal--and you'll get to position them strategically around a given level and then switch between all four characters at will with the select button. Naturally, this will let you set up a multitude of different strategic approaches to a given situation. We wanted to know what the other three characters will be up to at a given moment, since you'll only be controlling one character at a time, but Payton only said they'd be "hidden" in a unique fashion and promised we'd find out more at the upcoming Tokyo Game Show.

The new trailer you'll find linked at the beginning of this article contains a number of graphic novel-style narrative sequences, and we asked Payton if these would be replacing the traditional real-time cinematics that we're used to in the Metal Gear Solid series. Indeed they will, as the Kojima Productions staff is very fond of artist Ashley Wood's prior work on the Metal Gear Solid comic series. If you're feeling a nostalgic twinge at this change, at least take heart that Payton confirmed for us the return of all the principal voice actors you'd expect to see. David Hayter, of course, returns as Snake, and other characters like Major Zero, Sigint, and Para-medic will also be voiced by their respective actors from Snake Eater.

Who knows what mix of new and old characters will show up in Portable Ops? Anything is possible.
Who knows what mix of new and old characters will show up in Portable Ops? Anything is possible.

Most tantalizingly, Payton said any other characters we've seen in past MGS games will be reprised by their original actors. (But who else from the series is in this game?! Our silly fanboy pulses quicken.) Regardless of who's involved in the story this time around, we were interested to hear Payton note that he feels this is the most solid writing yet in a Metal Gear Solid game. Hayter apparently even remarked after his voice sessions that Portable Ops had the best script he's done yet for the series, which is certainly good news for MGS fans.

Konami had a multiplayer demo of Portable Ops set up featuring the same content we tried back at the Electronic Entertainment Expo. A few spots of polish were evident in this new demo--Eva has now been included as a playable character, and the new weapon-switching pop-up now features nicely stylized artwork. Payton dropped one interesting new detail about multiplayer: You'll be able to take MGS: Portable Ops to various Wi-Fi hot spots scattered around the country (world?) and access new characters. Some will be randomly generated based on data provided by the hot spot you've found, while others will be story-related characters that you can potentially only get from that one particular outlet. You'll be able to trade characters online, though, so perhaps globetrotting players will be able to use these special bonuses as bartering tools in online trading. We'll be interested to find out more about how this unique feature will work when Konami releases more details.

Alas, Mr. Payton wasn't able to clarify all of our questions, such as how many players will be supported online (the team is waffling between six and eight); how the game will make use of its just-unveiled support for the PSP GPS add-on; and most importantly, when we'll be able to get our hands on the final game (this year or next). He told us to wait till TGS for most of these answers, and when we've got them, you'll know where to find them.

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