Metal Gear Sur­vive

trades tac­ti­cal es­pi­onage ac­tion for zom­bies and sur­vival, with mixed re­sults.

PC GAMER (US) - - CONTENTS - By Andy Kelly

On the edge of my base camp is a vast wall of poi­sonous dust. Stretch­ing for miles into the sky, this gray, churn­ing cloud will kill me if I set foot in it. But when I build an air tank, jury-rigged from a bro­ken one car­ried by a less for­tu­nate sur­vivor, I’m fi­nally able to ven­ture in­side. I could stay out here in the sun­shine, but in there I’ll find rare ma­te­ri­als and blue­prints for bet­ter weapons and gad­gets. It’s a risk worth tak­ing. As I cross into the dust, the sun dis­ap­pears and I’m sur­rounded on all sides by an op­pres­sive grey fog. And through the gloom I can see the tell­tale red glow of wan­der­ers— ag­gres­sive zom­bies with glow­ing crys­tals where their heads used to be. Th­ese are the most com­mon en­emy in Dite (pro­nounced dee-tay), and they’re a con­stant threat, lurch­ing out of the dust to at­tack any reck­less sur­vivor who both­ers them.

Jour­neys into the dust are when Metal Gear Sur­vive comes alive. Get­ting in and find­ing some­thing use­ful is only half the bat­tle; you also have to find your way out with­out be­ing mauled by en­e­mies or get­ting lost and dy­ing of thirst or hunger. It’s an or­deal made more stress­ful by the fact that your char­ac­ter has to eat and drink pretty much con­stantly.

Sur­vive kicks off im­me­di­ately af­ter the events of Ground Zeroes. As Big Boss es­capes in a chop­per, a reg­u­lar grunt in his army (that’s you) is left be­hind on ru­ins of Mother Base, only to be sucked into a worm­hole and trans­ported to an­other di­men­sion. That di­men­sion is the afore­men­tioned Dite, which is a desert lit­tered with rub­ble, wrecked cars, ru­ined out­posts, and en­e­mies.

As ex­cit­ing as for­ays into the dust can be, Metal Gear Sur­vive’s world is unin­spir­ing. Com­pared to the lively, col­or­ful ocean of Sub­nau­tica or The Long Dark’s haunt­ing Cana­dian wilder­ness, it’s a shit-brown sea of sand and rocks that I never once felt com­pelled to ex­plore. And when you do find some­thing, it’s usu­ally just a scat­ter­ing of rusty old shipping crates or a grey mil­i­tary out­post.

In its fa­vor, the en­vi­ron­ment does feel danger­ous. When­ever I leave my base be­hind and head deep into the desert, I get ner­vous about what lies ahead. But mainly be­cause I know that if I die out there, I’ll lose ev­ery­thing I picked up and have to do it all over again. It’s frus­trat­ing pretty much all of the time, but if you like gru­el­ing sur­vival games, you might en­joy how lit­tle the game cares about en­ter­tain­ing you.

Fash­ion­able PC sur­vival games pro­vide the tem­plate for Metal Gear Sur­vive, which means gather­ing ma­te­ri­als, killing an­i­mals for meat, and craft­ing gear. You’ll start out hunt­ing sheep with a rusty spike, but later you’ll have an an­i­mal pen in your base and a se­lec­tion of guns. It’s a tried-and-tested core loop, but ren­dered in­suf­fer­able by how mis­er­ably slow ev­ery­thing is.

Your char­ac­ter runs like he’s wad­ing through trea­cle, and runs out of breath af­ter about five sec­onds. Har­vest­ing Kuban en­ergy from fallen en­e­mies—an im­por­tant in-game cur­rency that’s used for ev­ery­thing from craft­ing to re­fill­ing your air tank—takes ages.

On the Fence

I do like its will­ing­ness to be silly, how­ever, which is when it feels the most like a Metal Gear Solid game— al­beit su­per­fi­cially. I love be­ing able to craft ob­jects dur­ing com­bat, throw­ing up a fence to stop a group of charg­ing zom­bies, then pok­ing them through the mesh with my spear. And I’ll never tire of sprint­ing to­wards a sheep or deer and knock­ing it out with a wild punch.

But just as I’m be­ing charmed by th­ese glim­mers of per­son­al­ity, they’re smoth­ered by tire­some busy­work and a con­fus­ing mess of a UI. There are a dozen bet­ter (and cheaper) sur­vival games on PC that do al­most ev­ery­thing Sur­vive does, and bet­ter.

The in­evitable pres­ence of mi­cro­trans­ac­tions, in­clud­ing paid-for ad­di­tional char­ac­ter slots, also means the en­deav­our reeks of cyn­i­cism. More than any­thing, Sur­vive feels like a busi­ness de­ci­sion to me. An at­tempt to cash in on the sur­vival game craze us­ing a fa­mil­iar name to lure fans in. Don’t be fooled.

In its fa­vor, the en­vi­ron­ment does feel danger­ous

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