We were sent a couple of codes for this, so thanks to Xbox and the PR company who sent those!

Can Metal Gear Survive?

The cards were stacked against this game from the start, it's incredibly niche for one. It falls into that bracket of Survival Game that cashes in on the current run of things like Ark: Survival Evolved, and 7 Days to Die. It attempts to add in the beloved Metal Gear name to boost sales (It hasn't worked) and throws in zombie-like bad guys called Wanderers.

There are some nods here and there in the game's 30 or so hours of story, told through the Kojima-like cut-scenes (which don't quite capture the style of the man's unique direction) and expansive (mostly cliched) dialogue, to Metal Gear Solid V: the Phantom Pain, only they don't really matter since it's been said that the game's story and place in the Metal Gear verse is basically non-canon.

I admit, I'm a bit of a Metal Gear fan. I'm also a fan of Kojima, I met him once. However, my issues with the game don't stem from the fact that Konami pulled the worst bullshit across him and his team and created a game that pretty much none of the Metal Gear fans wanted. This is a review about Metal Gear Survive, and not the game that I wanted it to be. Which would have been a game that leveraged the Fox Engine and Metal Gear franchise to the fullest.

Metal Gear Flop?

Let me preface all of this by saying, it's not a BAD game, not as bad as some folks have made it out to be - however - it isn't a Metal Gear game by any stretch and no matter what the game's defenders will have you believe, there's a lot of lazy game design here that points to a rush job in an attempt to cash in on the fading star that was one Metal Gear.

It's just OK, it's a game that's only going to appeal to a percentage of folks who dig survival style games and so far, honestly, it's sold abysmally here in the UK.

Just see: Metro UK for the skinny on that.

Metal Gear Photocopy

The game reuses a ton of assets for a start, including map assets, structures, animations, designs, and a bunch of other things. It's a copy-paste job that comes across as plain as day when you get to play it. If you can look past it, there's some genuine fun to be hand, and it is kind of 'budget' priced if paying $40 in the US and £29.99 here. Still, to reuse assets like this wholesale and without much thought is just one of the problems I have with the game.

Blurred Vision

The issue I have with it, which has largely been eliminated now after playing through hours and hours of the painful early moments of the game. The survival side of MG:S is brutal for a first time player, someone who isn't fond of survival games is going to have a heck of a hard time with MG:S out of the gate. The thirst and hunger meters, which drain way too quickly in my opinion, are going to be the biggest obstacle in regards to the first few hours that you play. It's a matter of minutes before they're dropping down, and since they're tied into health and stamina in a big way you're going to end up with less of those if you can't secure a source of food and water quickly.

There's clean water, yay, but not much of it. So you're forced to drink dirty water, which can give you stomach issues etc. It's also quite a while for the average non-Survival game focused player to spend on the back foot and I can see a lot of folks just quitting and returning the game because of it.

It could have been mitigated by a difficulty setting, or some options that ease the water/food requirements for non-hardcore Survival Game players.

There's also another issue, the fact that once the meters get as low as about 25% or so. Which can happen very early on if you're not ontop of the food/drink requirements, you'll get an irksome blur effect and some painful laboured breathing as your avatar slips closer and closer to death.

Great for Survival Game fans, not so good for everyone else who mostly regards things like this as bloody annoying.

Who are You, What's the Story?

Long story short, you're a male or female custom character, who was a Mother Base soldier at the end of Ground Zeroes when Mother Base was attacked. You're infected with some form of bad thing and it's slowly killing you. You get sent to a place on the other side of the Wormhole that opened up and sucked everything in from the original Mother Base barring a few platforms. Dite, the other world, the world on the opposite side of the portal.

A harsh and unforgiving land, made up of reused assets from MGS V: TPP.

It's a generic kind of plot, but it's decent enough, since the meat of the game is really about exploring Dite and doing missions that advance the story.

You're going to want to play the story too, because otherwise you'll have nothing to throw at the game's multiplayer co-op wave-horde based component and you'll be ripped to shreds whilst other more experienced bad-asses tout their advanced weapons and gear.

So yeah, stick with the story and round out your character because that's honestly where the game kind-of shines.

Warning, if you're looking for decent voice acting in this game, like say MGS V, you're going to be disappointed -- this is some of the most lack-lustre VA I've heard in a title for a long while. Even the original Resident Evil sounds better.

Metal Gear Crafty

How many times can I get Metal Gear into the headings I wonder, well, we'll see. The cornerstone of the game is in the robust, and quite fiddly (until you get the hang of it) crafting system that's one of the highlights of the game. Everything can be crafted and you'll need a steady supply of materials to be able to upgrade, design, make and support new gear, weapons, equipment, upgrades, and a fully functioning (well defended) HQ as well.

You'll be making deployable fences and other gear quite quickly, especially fences, because these things are going to save your life (barring you can keep that hunger/thirst meter full).

To do this you'll be scavenging the heck out of the surrounding area, using your map, placing markers and getting as much material as humanly possible. Food and water will be scarce to begin with until you can get a farm running and some decent water source unlocked.

To do all this, you're going to have to explore further and further out.

Wandering in the Dite Dimension

I've mentioned zombie-like enemies before, they have strange red glowing crystal horns that come out of their braincases. They remind me of horrific zombie unicorn people, so from hereon out I'm going to call the Wanderers: Zombiecorns. They're scattered about the various places, sometimes inert and sometimes just wandering to and fro doing their zombiecorn thing.

Their A.I. varies from being as dumb as rocks, when they won't even climb up a tiny waist-high wall to get you, to quite clever where they'll stack up against a fence and climb each other World War Z style to get at your avatar.

To help you out on your wandering, you've got melee weapons, like the spear. Ranged weapons, like the bow, and stealth. Only stealth isn't half as fun as messing with the human A.I. in Phantom Pain. Here, if a Wanderer spots you, it alerts the hive mind of its friends to your location and you get swarmed fast.

You can stealth kill Wanderers who aren't aware of you, but make one mistake and you'll need to leg it.

Or drop some fences and poke at the zombiecorns behind them mercilessly. Melee combat is the way to go in this, it conserves ammo and ensures that ranged weapons are a last and powerful resort. I can't really praise the combat, barring to say that once the A.I. works well, it's decent enough.

Metal Gear Stupid

Exploiting the A.I. can be pretty easy, and you can lure the enemies into areas where they can't get at you, and they all funnel in to be murder-stabbed pretty easily. They might get one or two hits in, but it's nothing compared to being surrounded and beaten to death by a swarm of them.

There are tons of videos online of the various A.I. hiccups, and I experienced one where the A.I. actually phased through a solid bridge to come and get me when it got stuck.

The Dust

Early area explorations are fairly safe, barring the zombiecorns. If you want better stuff you're going to have to explore deeper into the game's world.

There's a huge toxic mist-cloud that surrounds your HQ. It has the best rewards, loot, materials and abundant sources of everything you'll need. You have to have an oxygen tank to explore it, and the game will reward you with what you need if you just stick with the story. It's here that the game shines again, taking a bunch of familiar areas and shrouding them in a Silent Hill style fog. Visibility is poor, sound is altered and your expansive iDroid driven map is offline.

You'll need to rely on scant visual markers, a sense of direction and the lights that appear against the fog to guide you. As you explore the Dust you'll find nastier things, more resources and some surprises. This is where MG:S actually comes alive, the exploration aspect of the game is great and well worth sticking with if you're a fan of Survival Horror or just games like Ark in general.

You'll also need to be on the lookout for Kuban Energy (KUB) to use as currency, as well as refilling your oxygen tank as you explore the Dust. It can be found in crystal form, or harvested from dead Wanderers in smaller amounts.

You'll also find survivors in the Dust, people who can help you.

Getting Better

As time goes on (and the story) the game gets better, your avatar can learn new abilities and upgrade various aspects of the character and their equipment. More and more aspects of the game unlock, including the ability to customise and build your HQ to your liking with new and upgraded facilities. You're going to need new weapons, new tools, new defences to keep you and your fledgling crew of characters safe.

Metal Gear Transactions

The ugly side of MG:S shows itself through Microtransactions, the usual rubbish, XP boosters and the like are thrown into the mix. Alongside the need to pay for more storage, weapon loadout slots and the biggest sin of all.

Pay to Save

You get one character slot for free, and if you're like me, and you like to experiment with different styles and builds of character. Or just approach a game from another direction, you need to pay $10 to get enough SV Coins (the game's bullshit currency) to buy a second save slot for that new character.

Now Capcom are no saints when it comes to content being locked behind paywalls, but at least they gave us 3 character slots in Monster Hunter World and an obscene amount of storage/loadouts for our characters etc. There are no Microtransactions in MHW and there's just the usual faff of extra gestures and so on.

I will stress that there's no real need to spend a single dime or penny on these MG:S boosters to be able to enjoy or finish the game. There's just going to be more grind for you if you don't.

We just have to say something about these predatory DLC and Microtransaction practises, because honestly, it's bullshit to have to pay for a save slot.

Always Online

MG:S is a game that requires a constant internet connection and a good ISP. If you lose connection, or have a spotty connection, avoid this game like the plague because it's going to be an exercise in frustration. Konami say it's this way because of the interconnected features, like seamless co-op play.

Metal Gear With Friends

Or randoms, in the survive lobby, which you shouldn't even consider until you're high enough level and you've completed the story. Anyone who does play in that lobby who hasn't completed the story is either really good, or boosted through real world cash. The online component (so far) is wave based, vs. Bad guys and really quite laborious to play. I dipped in briefly at the end, and went off to play something else online.

I got bored quickly.

Sure, you can bring back a load of rewards into your single player game. Honestly though, after a certain event happened in the story that undid a lot of my hard work - I just couldn't be bothered going back.

Metal Gear Tarnished

If you look at this as a Metal Gear game, you're going to get mad quickly, hate it and probably pull it off your hard drive after a few hours. It's nothing like a Metal Gear game, it is a zombie Survival Game with some great survival and crafting mechanics if you can make it past the long intro investment and the horrible fast-draining hunger/thirst meters.

The addition of the pay for save slots, and other predatory Microtransaction practises seems to be Konami testing the waters of what they can get away with. I'm also not the first person to say this, other folks in the industry, other gamers and plenty of folks have mentioned this in articles, reviews, blogs, videos, and so on.

It didn't need this, and honestly, the game industry didn't need a Metal Gear themed zombie Survival Game either.

To sum up, it's fun enough, niche and basically OK once you get into it. But that's all, it's not the Metal Gear game we wanted, needed, or deserved.

At this point, I don't think we'll see another decent Metal Gear game.

Or if we do, Konami are going to have to ensure it's better than the Phantom Pain and that's a pretty tall order.