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"Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops" 

The classic espionage series goes handheld

"Solid" translation

The Metal Gear Solid series of games has long been cherished by gamers for its deep, involving story, and is generally credited as being one of the first iterations of the "stealth action" genre. Such a classic series now has a canon version of it, Portable Ops, on Sony's struggling PlayStation Portable in the hopes of revitalizing the platform. Is it good enough to warrant purchasing a PSP to play the game? Maybe not, but it's at least good enough for existing PSP owners to give Portable Ops a shot, even if it does have its frustrating moments.

Portable Ops takes place six years after the events of the Cold War-based Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, and finds Naked Snake, the precursor to Solid Snake, imprisoned in a secret Soviet base taken over by rogue American and Soviet troops. In order to survive and escape, Snake must convince the soldiers on the base to fight alongside him, and find out what's really going on. To this end, Portable Ops deviates radically from the Metal Gear Solid formula, as the player is tasked with assembling a whole squad of soldiers, and assigning them to various roles, from the playable sneaking missions to support roles such as spy, medic, or arms technician. This new system combines with a more open-ended story to create a whole realm of tactical possibilities, giving Portable Ops much of its fun factor.

The main problem with Portable Ops is the controls --- even with several options to tweak them, they are clunky and vexing, which hampers the immersion factor and makes the sneaking seem less like sneaking. However, the tactics involved in assembling your squad and support, as well as the compelling, well-written story, givePortable Ops enough fun to counter its shortcomings. Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops is a PSP exclusive, and is rated M for Mature.

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