Metal Gear Solid: VR Missions

   With all the excitement over Final Fantasy Anthology, Thousand Arms, and Suikoden II, many people forgot about the relatively quiet release of Metal Gear Solid: VR Missions. VR Missions actually is the stand-alone third disc of Metal Gear Solid Integral, the Japan-only enhanced version of Metal Gear Solid. Since many of the modifications to Metal Gear Solid itself, such as varying difficulty levels, had already been implemented in the original American release of MGS, Konami of America decided to release simply the third disc and its 300 or so new VR training missions. The result is essentially an overpriced add-on pack, but nevertheless a very well-done game.

   If you want to get a taste of the basic gameplay of VR Missions, you need look no further than your copy of Metal Gear Solid. The majority of the game is exactly like the VR simulator in MGS, unfortunately including the ray-traced arenas and the weird backgrounds. Although they can get a bit annoying, you get used to them quickly enough.

 VR training
300 new missions

   The missions come in several varieties: sneaking missions where getting spotted gives you a game over, weapon sneaking stages where you must kill all the guards without bring spotted before the exit will appear, weapons proficiency courses where a certain number of targets must be destroyed with a number of different weapons, and a number of special stages. Of these, all but the special stages are available in both regular and time attack modes, which are identical except the time attack makes you race against the clock.

   The special missions are numerous and quite inspired. One mode lets you take on twelve genome soldiers at a time with a diverse array of weaponry but limited ammo. Another lets you solve puzzles usually involving domino reactions with grenades and genome soldiers. One of the most interesting modes lets you solve a number of murder mysteries, which are all quite clever. To say more would be to spoil the fun, but you'll probably get a few laughs from it. Finally, the one you've all been waiting for, the final mode that you can unlock lets you play as Cyborg Ninja on three different missions. Unfortunately they all take place in the same area, but nevertheless, it's worth the time spent to unlock.

Say "Fuzzy pickles!"

   In addition to honing your skills, as you beat more missions, you unlock more and more special features, ranging from new missions to movies to being able to get better pictures of Naomi Hunter. The more missions you clear, the closer you can get to one of two models of Naomi, and then take pictures which you can record to a memory card just as in the original MGS. As for the movies, there are three in all that can be unlocked. Two are promo movies for MGS originally shown at the 1998 Tokyo Game Show and the third comes from the 1997 E3. In addition to showing some sweet gameplay, they also let you glimpse early beta-versions of MGS and include two short FMV clips of Revolver Ocelot and Cyborg Ninja that never appeared in the game.

   All in all, VR Missions is very well done game. It's pretty much guaranteed to improve your skills in Metal Gear Solid, and includes a number of well-executed extras. Even though VR Missions really doesn't warrant being sold as a stand-alone game for full price, if you have some extra cash or just want more MGS gameplay, it's a worthwhile, though pricey, purchase.

Review by Arpad Korossy, GIA
Metal Gear Solid: VR Missions
Developer Konami
Publisher Konami
Genre Puzzle
Medium CD (1)
Platform Sony PlayStation
Release Date  06.24.99
E3: Metal Gear Solid: VR Missions impressions
4 E3 screenshots
North American box art