Metal Gear Solid Digital Graphic Novel PSP Review
Considering how long it takes for Konami to release a full-fledged and original Metal Gear adventure, the company's done a wonderful job supplying PSP owners with content in a very short amount of the time, and its latest creation is Metal Gear Solid: Digital Graphic Novel, an interactive comic that details the events behind the famous Shadow Moses Island incident from the original PSOne adventure. Loaded with excellent art work and sound effects, Digital Graphic Novel shines, even if it's "mini game" is more trouble than it's worth.
Drawn in a similar style to IDW Publishing's Metal Gear Solid comics, DGN features excellently drawn artwork by artist Ashley Wood, whose inconsistent style makes the comic wonderfully unique. Wood brings the original MGS alive with varying degrees of detail, often drawing characters differently frame by frame, and to compliment this, the developers instilled the game with some classic comic book style, so expect to see the word BANG (among other words) when someone fires a shot. And what's even sweeter are the brief animations that play that really speed along the action. It's definitely an intense experience, one that'll take roughly two hours to complete.
So there are three modes to mess around with here. The first, and most important, is the VR Simulation Mode. This is essentially the meat of the game, the actual comic. But to spice things up, Konami decided to hide hundreds of memory elements within the frames. These objects, taken from the Metal Gear universe, can be searched for by pressing the square button, whereupon which you'll be transported to Mental Search Mode, and what's really cool about this is that you can actually zoom in and out of the frames. The way it's been designed, the frames have been placed on top of one another, so if you're at a scene with Snake and Ocelot, for example, zooming in will cause Snake to move past the camera but Ocelot will still be in view. Digital Graphic Novel does not contain any 3D elements, but this trick does give it a pseudo 3D feel that's fun to mess around with.
As for locating these memory elements, as soon as you press square you're given control of this cursor, which you'll use to scan the "environments". It works well enough from far away, but the damn thing just moves all over the place when the camera zooms in all the way. It makes finding these things difficult, especially since it's not always obvious where they are. It's a neat idea that I like, but it does make DGN quite tedious, especially since you cannot find all of them the first time through. Having to re-explore the same old pages gets boring fast.
Thankfully, there is a reason for collecting all of this stuff. Upon entering Memory Building Simulation Mode, you can link some of these memories together to produce additional content that fills in some of the story's blanks. It's good stuff, a reward for the hours upon hours of sifting, but even that's an exercise in frustration. I like putting them together except for when I screw up and have to figure out what's wrong. All I keep thinking about are the actual games that I should be playing.
Seeing as how it's $20, MGS:DGN is one of those "what the hell" purchases. Even if you're not a Metal Gear fan it's worth checking out, if for nothing else than to admire the slick art work and check out a confusing story that you might have missed. It's also great to have if you never played PSOne MGS and don't want to play through it in order to know some of the back story, though Kojima's confusing plotlines may confound more than educate.
What's Hot: Very unique & compelling artstyle
What's Not: Uncovering all the story elements can be a pain