Thursday, July 20, 2006

VG/COMIC REVIEW: Metal Gear Solid: Digital Graphic Novel

When PlayStation Portable debuted last year, Sony swore up and down that the portable console would not only play games, but offer new ways to watch movies, view images and listen to music.

Sadly, aside from some movie releases, that aspect of the machine was quickly ignored by most developers, leaving PSP underutilized.

Now, Konami has stepped up to the plate with "Metal Gear Solid: Digital Graphic Novel," an interactive comic that, according to the official press release, "pushes the boundaries of video games and traditional comics." It doesn't do anything of the sort, of course, but it does suggest ways you might be able to do so.

This "digital graphic novel" is basically a multimedia version ofMetal Gear Solid comics published by IDW in 2004 and drawn byAshley Wood. As such, it recaps the main storyline from theoriginal "Metal Gear Solid " game.

It all looks pretty, but it's not comics. At least, not as it's presented here. Comics (to my way of thinking) involve following a sequence of words and pictures. Images need to be juxtaposed, on paper or a computer monitor, and flow in some sort of readable order to be called comics.

What we have here is basically an animated film. It's one with word balloons and very limited motion, but the end result is still closer to film than it is to comics.

Wood's art is nice but highly derivative of the work of Bill Sienkiewicz ("Elektra: Assassin," "Stray Toasters"). The main problem is the storyline, which was rather convoluted to begin with.

Konami attempts to add a level of interactivity by allowing you to search individual images for "memory elements." These consist of factoids concerning the main characters that can be mapped out in a matrix-like mode. It's a cute feature but far from essential, and it has the nasty habit of pulling you out of the story.

Why not allow players to stage the scenes themselves, moving the characters, text and backgrounds around as they see fit, like electronic Colorforms? Why not use the basic "Metal Gear" story as a building block for players to create their own Solid Snake tales?

"Metal Gear Solid: Digital Graphic Novel" is inoffensive but anemicand somewhat dull. If nothing else, it got me thinking about intriguing and better ways to present this sort of material.

Copyright The Patriot-News, 2006


At 8:26 PM, Blogger Jonh Q said...

The PSP was suppose to be one of the greatest portable systems ever. I think it is but the full potential isn't realized!
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