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Posted by: Matt Vella on February 04
The Good: Core gameplay is fun; camera phone integration; stellar graphics; makes waiting for MGS4 slightly easier.
The Bad: This snack only makes you more hungry.
The Bottom Line: A tech bombshell that happens to be a lot of fun too.
It’s been nearly four years since publisher Konami (KNM) established its mobile games division, re-releasing Frogger as its first title. Oh, how far things have come since. The company stopped by last week to show off its newest triple-A cell phone-based title, Metal Gear Solid Mobile. The game is the first fully 3D Metal Gear title with graphics that come mind-blowingly close to Playstation 2 quality. It’s due out towards the end of Feb. and will be exclusive to Verizon’s (VZ) on-demand download service for three months before becoming available on other carriers.
With the Metal Gear series’ reputation for in-depth, cinematic story telling and long, tense gameplay sessions, the idea of adapting the franchise to the more “snack” oriented type of gameplay available on mobile phones seems counter-intuitive. But, Kojima Productions has managed to more or less pull it off, with simpler missions that can be enjoyed on a quick subway ride that still manage to recreate the ambience and gameplay experience of console titles. A bevy of smartly designed features such as an automatic targeting lock and an optional first-person perspective make playing on a phone surprisingly enjoyable. It’s even possible to use a phone’s built-in camera (on supported models) to snap pictures of colors around you that can then act as camouflage in the game. It’s a gimmick, yes, but a fun one that nicely dovetails with the whole “mysterious secret agent with lots of gadgets” thing. The graphics, meanwhile, are impressive, especially on the demo phone I used, an LG (LGERF) VX9400, which has a flip screen that creates a widescreen-like image. (See screen shots after the jump.)
Overall, Metal Gear Solid Mobile is an impressive technical feat that shows how quickly mobile titles are becoming more sophisticated. Konami took a year to develop this game. By comparison, the team behind the company’s mobile version of Contra 4 took about half the time. While it certainly won’t replace the console experience or match its depth, all in all, the end product is an impressive – and fun – new benchmark for mobile gaming. Not to mention, a welcome snack in anticipation of the upcoming Metal Gear Solid 4.
No longer child's play, the booming global games market is worth billions of dollars. In Games, Inc., BusinessWeek Innovation writer Matt Vella and Tokyo correspondent Kenji Hall analyze emerging business trends in video games and interactive entertainment. They’ll examine everything from button-mashing, chart-topping, console games to serious games commissioned by big corporations to train staff. They’ll also map the evolution of expansive virtual worlds and go behind the strategies at companies that are turning play into big business.