So, now that the beta for Metal Gear Online has been up and running for a couple of days, has anyone had a go with it? (the_miker, I saw you online a few times; what do you think?)
I'll admit, it was absurdly difficult for me to get re-accustomed to the control scheme - particularly the camera that's based off of Subsistence. And then they throw in all the new MGS4 elements, which at first felt frustrating, because it's so familiar yet so foreign at the same time. I made the initial mistake of just jumping into matches before stopping by at training first. It took a great amount of tweaking for me to get comfortable with the camera movement settings, the speed of the over-the-shoulder and first-person aiming, and the weapon switching options. (For the record, I like having the aforementioned options set at lower speeds; anything higher than level three feels a bit too twitchy for me. And I changed the L2 and R2 buttons back to the fast equip/de-equip function, rather than the new 'cycling' one.) This bevy of options tweaking is something I hope carries into MGS4.
The online play itself is..... well, I'm not digging it a whole lot. Maybe it's because I'm coming off of the fast, action-paced, and dare I say NIGH-UNBEATABLE Call of Duty 4 online experience, but MGO feels sluggish and a little less refined than what I'd like it to be. Even for a title who's concept is supposed to be about stealth, coordination, and deliberately-slower gameplay, it's something I'm finding a tad boring. The hit collision looks like it could use a touch of work, too; I'm still unsure how some of these players are constantly mowing me down, when I KNOW I'm taking clear and concise shots at them. On the other hand, I see massive potential for all this to work; the teamwork concept, such as the SOP system and waking or helping down teammates could all result in a very cool experience. I just hope Konami can polish things up for a tighter experience once the game actually hits.
Now, people are probably just beginning to realize that Konami's added a new mode on their server called "Sneaking," which actually allows you to play as Snake - and from what it looks like, it's his fully functional build in MGS4. This, to me, is the most awesome thing about the beta, as it gives one a true hands-on look and feel at how MGS4 is going to play. Snake plays quite a bit better than the online characters; he moves faster, for one thing, and he has more grip resulting in less recoil on weapons. Plus, he's got access to integral features like the octo-cam and the Solid Eye. Drop him in the Midtown Maelstrom area, the Middle East stage we've been seeing all along, and you practically have a genuine MGS4 trial version.
One more thing to note is that MGO is currently fluctuating between 30fps and 60fps in terms of graphics - particularly in the Midtown Maelstrom stage. The moments when it's moving at 60 are very rare, but it's telling that the final game could end up running as such - which would be really nice indeed.