Saturday, November 06, 2010

Preview: Metal Gear Solid: Lunacy of Legion

Title: Metal Gear Solid: Lunacy of Legion
Developer: Zephyr
Genre: Stealth'Em Up
Program: RPGMaker 2003
      
When I first saw this game, I subscribed almost immediately; I couldn't resist the temptation of playing a Metal Gear fan-game created with SNES-era Zelda graphics. The strange thing is that it wasn't just the novelty of this idea that caught my attention, it was the thought that the two styles might actually work well together. I'm not going to deny that the two styles seem like an awkward mix at first, but the more and more I thought about it the more and more it seemed like this was a combination that would work. Why? Because the first two Metal Gear games actually have gameplay that's quite similar to the SNES-era Zelda games. You wander around, look for key(card)s, find items that let you progress and then fight a gimmicky boss; rinse and repeat. Obviously, there are some differences to consider because Metal Gear has enemies that are smarter and has its trademark stealth sequences, not forgetting the difference in tone between the two franchises, but it didn't seem like such a stretch to create a fun Metal Gear experience with Zelda-style graphics. I was pretty excited about the whole thing!

Unfortunately, it doesn't quite work as well as I would've hoped, though it's nothing to do with the combination of styles present in this game. The Zelda-styled character sprites created for Snake and company work well when placed over the top of the Zelda chipsets and the chipsets are also good from a gameplay point of view because the top-down viewpoint works well with the stealth sequences present in this game.

The blend of graphical styles looks good, no doubt about it.

On the face of it, the stealth elements are well-worked too. Despite the lack of a minimap showing you where the enemy's field of visions falls, ala. Metal Gear Solid on the PSX, you'll never feel that the enemy's scope of view is ridiculous. If you rush around too much then they'll catch you out, which is what you'd expect, but they can never see you from off-screen so you'll never accidently stumble into one of them if you pay enough attention to what you're doing. Also, because their routes are set-up in such a way that they check obvious hiding spots and frequently stop to have a look over their shoulder, they generally pose a decent challenge. At first, I was pretty impressed with the stealth elements in this game, but problems arise when you have to do anything other than sneak around the guards.

The most obvious problem is Snake's inability to execute guards using "stealth kills". This definitely hurts the gameplay because "stealth kills" are pretty important in a game like this; you don't want to alert all the other guards to your presence everytime you have to attack someone and you don't want to waste time sneaking past the same guard over and over when you could've just stuffed them in a locker the first time around.

However, as big an omission as this is in a Metal Gear-oriented game, it is only a small problem compared to the other problem I had with the stealth elements in this game: Snake's inability to hide once he has alerted the guards. No matter what you do once the enemies are alerted, they will always be able to see you; their well-thought out fields of view get thrown out of the window and they can suddenly see through everything. Stand behind barrels, hide behind trees, move behind a big rock, it doesn't matter what you do because the guards can still see you and, not only can they see you, they can shoot you through those obstacles too! Frankly, this is ridiculous and it ruined the game for me. As soon as you get spotted you may as well re-load the game because you've got very little chance of getting out alive.

I wanna slit this guy's throat and stuff him in the locker, but I can't!

The problems with the stealth-system are only made worse by the problems I had with the combat system. Your character, Snake, follows the mechanics you'd expect from Zelda-style combat; his projectiles fire in a straight line and he swings his sword combat knife one tile in front of him. This is all well and good and I have no problem with this. However, the enemies do not follow these rules. They do not fire their projectiles in a straight line and are instead able to hit you whenever you're in their field of view, meaning that while you're lining up your shot they're blasting away at you. Even with the implementation of a strafing system to make aiming easier, this game makes fighting enemies a near-impossible task. If you end up fighting more than three/four enemies in a row without finding a health pack then you're pretty much dead and if you end up fighting more than one enemy at once (which happens quite often if you alert the enemies to your presence) then you're definitely dead. Like I already said; as soon as you get spotted you may as well re-load the game because you've got very little chance of getting out alive.

Basically, in this game, the computer is a cheating bastard.

Zephyr isn't joking: You're going to see this screen a lot!

It's a shame that the gameplay is broken because the dialogue and characters actually manage to be quite amusing throughout the game (throughout the portion of the game I played before I could no longer take seeing the game-over screen, at least). The dialogue and storyline is a lot more light-hearted than your usual Metal Gear outing - they did get a bit melodramatic towards the end of that series, didn't they? - but you won't get a chance to enjoy it because you'll be dead. Dead, dead, dead, dead, dead.

An interesting concept that would've worked if it wasn't for several broken gameplay mechanics. If the combat was fixed up then it would probably be a decent game, but in its current state it's fairly unplayable. 2/10.
 

50 comments:

  1. Lol damn if it was good I would have tried it out!

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  2. Hey, Zephyr here.
    I'm sorry you thought such about my game.
    Considering it's rm2k3, the concept of range being blocked by obstacles is a pretty hard (if not impossible) fix. However, if discovered, you're not totally doomed. It's set so you need to exit the area without any enemies around. I guess this is one of those things that need to be explained better.

    Otherwise, the game might be out but the project is not closed. I'm still working things over and am open for ideas to improve it.
    With this in mind, I'm hoping you won't totally throw this away.

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  3. Hehe looks very old-school, great post

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  4. looks like a cool concept hope you figure out what the game lacks i would love to play it

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  5. Great find mate! I can't wait to try it!

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  6. This looks awesome, I love stuff like this so I will follow you. Follow me back?

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  7. Kewl story, bra! waiting for updates from you

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  8. awesome review, i love your blog btw. props on the colour scheme and layout

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  9. Very informative post, looking forward to more.

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  10. Shame about the detection system, and the lack of stealth executions. Sounds like this game had great potential ;_;

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  11. cant wait 'til your next post!

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  12. Holy crap that looks fricken amazing. Great idea for the graphics.

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  13. oh yea you only got a knife available so

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  14. even though the graphics are so old, it still looks quite fun

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  15. aw.. it sounded really awesome,but that's a HUGE flaw. This is a pretty tight blog, you get a new follower.

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  16. I hate that the computer cheats.

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  17. Good to see some original content on a video game. Great post.

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  18. yeah, i hate the cheating computer too lol

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