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Metal Gear Solid VR Missions makes you think

November 1, 1999
Web posted at: 9:04 a.m. EST (1404 GMT)

by Dpad Destroyer, GamePro

Metal Gear Solid

(IDG) -- About this time last year, the gaming world was on fire for Metal Gear Solid, an ambitious and successful game of espionage and intrigue.

This year, Konami brings you the VR Missions, a sort of stripped-down Metal Gear Solid that concentrates more on tactics and problem solving than on saving the world.

VR troopers

To ease gamers weaned on Quake into a world where shooting even once might mean your death, Konami used one of the most complete and challenging training modes known to man. Metal Gear Solid's VR Training mode placed you into a number of tight little battle games, where your object was to complete the singular objective, using the objects and obstacles you were given, by any means necessary.

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VR Missions is a game made completely of that training mode. You advance by completing certain objectives, from simply sneaking from A to B in early missions to much more complex simulations later in the game.

The idea behind VR Missions is that you are using your tactical skills to solve puzzles, not to infiltrate a terrorist stronghold and save the world. It's your human brain versus the computer's superior technology and weapons. But as hard as it looks, there's always a way to win.

Grid runner

All the VR Missions take place on a Star Trek Holodeck-style grid, with walls, tunnels, stairs and other obstacles built in. Solid Snake appears to be trying to infiltrate the set of American Gladiators, instead of a terrorist base. Other than the variation of the level layouts themselves, there's little to no graphic diversity anywhere.

VR Missions carries on Metal Gear Solid's unique brand of sonic presentation. You'll listen for sound cues like footsteps or yawning guards to figure out what to do next. Guards will exclaim in confusion when they hear another guard fall to the ground dead or when they spot your footprints in the snow.

When you get caught by a surveillance camera, there's a loud shriek of music and a voice announcing your presence over the loudspeaker. More often than not, you'll hear your own heart pounding through the silences as you anticipate that single musical strike of alarm.

VR Missions will make you use every skill and move you learned in Metal Gear Solid and then some. There are a lot of things to learn, but once you get a handle on the basic controls, you'll find that you're concentrating a lot more on whether that guard is sleeping on duty than whether or not you press the Square button to shoot. After a few hours with this game, you'll find that your Metal Gear Solid skills have increased sharply as well.

Solid as a snake

Metal Gear Solid VR Missions isn't more of the Metal Gear you know and love. It's a tactical trainer, not an interactive movie. It's a puzzle game for the Special Forces. Play it to enjoy its challenges, and you'll hardly miss the storyline and the witty banter with Headquarters. Just be careful - you might learn something.

Pro tips

  • If you keep getting caught and can't figure out why, check for cigarettes in your inventory. Smoke will make laser sensors visible so you can evade them. Warning: cigarette smoking may be bad for your health...

  • Creep up behind a foe unarmed and press Square to grab your enemy, then rapidly bang on Square until you hear his neck crack and he falls. If you do it right he'll never notice you were there, and you can get around some of the tougher mission objectives by taking out the guys you're supposed to sneak around.

  • There's a blind spot directly under a surveillance camera. If you stand there while you wait for the camera to sweep by, it won't spot you.

  • Press and hold Square when you have your gun armed, and you'll see a laser sight. If you hold down Square you'll auto-aim at nearby enemies. Releasing the button will fire the shot. This way you can take out enemies that you can see on radar but not on screen.

  • Crawling on your belly doesn't create tracks in the snow, and it also doesn't make noise on loud floor tiles.

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