home > review > Metal Gear Solid: Digital Graphic Novel Review
GamesFirst! Online since 1995
ups: great concept, digital comics, innovative interface
downs: poor interface, cumbersome interface,

View Image Gallery || Get Prices

Metal Gear Solid: Digital Graphic Novel Review
game: Metal Gear Solid: Digital Graphic Novel
three star
posted by: Laurie Taylor
publisher: Konami
developer: Konami
view related website
date posted: 07:36 PM Mon Jul 10th, 2006
last revision: 07:37 PM Mon Jul 10th, 2006

Unlimited Game Rentals Delivered - Free Trial

Click to read.The Metal Gear Solid Digital Graphic Novel repackages the Metal Gear Solid comic published by IDW. The concept of digital graphic novels on the PSP is a brilliant idea. However, thus far, the comics - including the Metal Gear Solid Digital Graphic Novel - have not delivered on their enormous potential. Like the comics in The Silent Hill Experience, the Metal Gear Solid Digital Graphic Novel offers a comic, and then adds motion, audio, and a failed interface.

The Metal Gear Solid Digital Graphic Novel focuses on the same story as the IDW comic, that of the story surrounding the Shadow Moses Island event. The story and the art are good. The problem comes in the transition from print to digital. The Metal Gear Solid Digital Graphic Novel adds sound and limited animation, which can be interesting but neither help nor hurt the comic. The main changes are that each panel is presented alone and then word balloons pop in while music plays in the background. The Digital Graphic Novel also adds a more interactive interface that could be beneficial if it worked well and didn\'t become cumbersome.

The interactive interface serves as the basis for Metal Gear Solid: Digital Graphic Novel\'s three modes. The \"VR Simulation Mode\" is just the Digital Graphic Novel itself, which offers a digital - yet not necessarily improved - reading experience. The \"Mental Search Mode\" is a quest mode that requires players to search the comic panels, or the \"data space,\" for memory elements by zooming in up to 300% and moving the view to find hidden elements. The third mode is the \"Memory Building Simulation Mode\" where players can connect memory elements to reconstruct memories.

Mental Search Mode requires you to push the square button while on different panels and to then zoom in and around to find the memory elements. This random searching and collecting is tedious and adds little enhancement for the digital graphic novel. This could be extremely interesting as a new genre that is neither text nor game. Instead, it seems tacked on and awkward. Then, the Memory Building Simulation Mode is also tedious, requiring players to connect the found memories in the proper sequence to unlock other hidden elements in the main text. The addition of two modes on top of the VR Simulation, or normal reading, mode is a great concept. Unfortunately, it doesn\'t manage to work as well as it needs to.

Metal Gear Solid: Digital Graphic Novel\'s style uses Ashley Wood\'s art style. Wood\'s art has been used for the Metal Gear games and follows Ben Templesmith\'s style popularized in the non-digital graphic novel 30 Days of Night. The PSP\'s Silent Hill Experience UMD with selections from the Silent Hill comics uses the same art style, which makes sense because one of the Silent Hill graphic novels is illustrated by Ben Templesmith. While Templesmith\'s and Wood\'s art styles are excellent and suitably abstract for many narratives, they aren\'t necessarily the styles most suitable for Metal Gear Solid. That said, many comics use art styles that are more or less fitting. However, this overall art style is fairly abstract, often disrupting standard panel and gutter layouts. This is a positive for printed comics, but for Metal Gear Solid\'s Digital Graphic Novel, it means the panel and page flow are disrupted and dissected for the digital presentation. While the overall flow and style could be improved, the art itself is excellent and the flow does work well enough for the comic. Fans of the Metal Gear series will certainly appreciate the additional information in Metal Gear Solid: Digital Graphic Novel.

Metal Gear Solid: Digital Graphic Novel\'s interface is the real reason why this isn\'t a better text because the interface requires players to interact in an uninteresting manner in order to access more data about the digital graphic novel\'s story. Requiring players to play video games in order to see cutscenes and advance the narrative makes sense because gameplay is an essential component of games. Play - especially frustrating, undirected play - is not normally a part of reading comics. The comic itself is good, but it\'s weighed down by its presentation.

In all, Metal Gear Solid: Digital Graphic Novel shows that while gaming is progressing and creating innovative new experiences, the new forms that aren\'t games are still being burdened with gaming conventions. For those who have played Yourself!Fitness, Metal Gear Solid: Digital Graphic Novel has the same type of problems. Yourself!Fitness requires players to \"play,\" meaning workout, a set amount of hours before new backgrounds are open for players. This makes sense from a gaming standpoint where additional play/work opens new options. However, from a fitness standpoint in a country where obesity rates keep climbing, this is a poor idea because it creates unnecessary and unproductive barriers to the real point of the game, which is fitness and not extended gameplay. Metal Gear Solid Digital Graphic Novel similarly requires players to search for and find more data, when the point isn\'t to search/play/work, but to read/watch the graphic novel.

As more innovative titles are released gaming\'s prior conventions should be used as reference points which are evaluated, and then used or not used based on the needs of the new text/game. Games and new hybrid genres need evolving interfaces and methods of interaction so that games and affiliate media can be best implemented.

Where small-screen animations have been successful, small-screen comics can be as well. Despite its failings, the concept still holds a great deal of promise, and fans of the Metal Gear series will likely find the Metal Gear Solid Digital Graphic Novel interesting enough to overlook the problems in presentation. Comics\' fans will also want to pay attention to new digital graphic novels because the potential is so rich. Hopefully, later PSP digital graphic novels will learn from the problems of the Metal Gear Solid Digital Graphic Novel and offer a useful and interesting method for presenting graphic novels. Right now, the rich potential and promise for digital graphic novels still remains unrealized.

See a sample of the Metal Gear Solid comic, which is remade into the Digital Graphic Novel, here: http://www.konami.jp/gs/game/mgs_dgn/index_en.html

Click images for larger version

Click for larger. Click for larger. Click for larger. Click for larger. Click for larger.