Posted 2003-09-16 20:37:42 by
Since I just got a Playstation 2 recently, I'm catching up on some of the more respected titles. I've recently played “Metal Gear Solid 2,” “Ico,” and “Amplitude,” and here are my reviews for them. Also, I figured I'd throw in a quickie for the PC version of “Splinter Cell,” even though what I have to say probably won't help you decide whether or not you want to play the PS2 version.
“Metal Gear Solid 2”
The sneaking-around parts are excellent. The interface is great for that; the radar provides a no-bullshit overview of the exact puzzle I'm supposed to be solving. These parts are purportedly the core of the game, but I'd call it at closer to fifty percent. This is unfortunate, because everything else is not-so-great.
The interface is clearly not meant for action sequences, yet there are probably ten action sequences you're forced into during the course of the game. The interface is so not meant for platforming sequences. There was only one of those, but I'd rate it as possibly my worst gaming experience of the year.
The story is not bad, but the cut scenes are long and boring. Feel free to skip them -- the best parts of the story happen in-game.
Play this game! Buy a TV if you have to (or a VGA box). This is the first game in years that I wouldn't trade the existence of for an expansion pack for Super Mario 64.
Go read Andrew Plotkin's Review if you need convincing; I end up paraphrasing him whenever I try to explain this game to people anyways.
And don't skip the cut scenes!
The graphics are better than Frequency, the gameplay is slightly worse. The music is far worse; because Harmonix needed Amplitude to be more popular than Frequency (game designers gotta eat too, you know?), they went by the pop charts rather than by their opinions when selecting songs to include. Not every song in Frequency was a masterpiece, but they were all at least a little compelling. And none were actively irritating. If you're a Papa Roach fan, feel free to take this review as a personal insult.
I feel the gameplay is worse mainly because there were many instances where I lost my streak and it wasn't at all clear what I could've done to avoid it. If the playfield was mapped to the inside of a cylinder, as it was in Frequency, you could skip from the “last” track right back to the “first” with one move. As it is, unless you have a measure of leeway, you have no chance of making it all the way back across the playfield before the next measure starts. On top of that, the playfield now curves outward instead of inward, which to an extent conceals the upcoming notes in adjacent tracks. Not fun.
One further problem, though one that's probably idiosyncratic to me, is that if you're doing well in Amplitude, the whole song is playing at once. You never get the chance to become acquainted with the individual tracks unless you fuck up. I imagine that hearing the whole song is a nice reward for most people, but as a musician, I want to hear the tracks by themselves. I want to hear how the music is constructed.
Well, not all the music.
This is the PC version, actually. After talking to a friend at work about “Metal Gear Solid 2,” he lent me his copy.
The training mission pointed to fun. The controls feel like a platformer's -- and for me, that's a good thing. The first actual mission was pretty fun for a while too. Then I realized that A. if I have my gun out, I can't interact with the environment in any way other than shooting, and B. I can't figure out how to put away my gun. Plonk.