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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Fans have resurrected the PS3’s quirky, beloved Metal Gear Online 2 on PC

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Hiding in a box to trick a willfully ignorant AI guard is cute. But pulling that trick on another human—that’s the good stuff. Konami made the ultimate multiplayer shame kill possible way back in 2005 with a multiplayer add-on to Metal Gear Solid 3 called Metal Gear Online. Buying a network adapter to get online on the PlayStation 2 was a lot of work, so MGO didn’t last long: servers were dead by 2007. But Metal Gear Online 2 was different. It launched with the PlayStation 3’s Metal Gear Solid 4, and people loved it. I still occasionally see posts about MGO2 being ahead of its time, and fans certainly gave it a big sendoff when the servers shut down in 2012. Or did they?

Okay, they did. Konami shut it down. MGO2 was dead for a long time. But in PC gaming, nothing has to stay dead forever, and a heroic team of developers have brought the game back to life with a custom version of the PS3 emulator RPCS3. It’s been reborn, as you can see in the trailer above, as MGO2PC.

As the MGO2PC website explains, PS3 emulation requires some serious CPU muscle. Ideally you’ll have an 8-core, 16-thread CPU to run the game at full speed, like a modern Ryzen 3700X or i7-10700K.  But what they’ve been able to bring back online here is seriously impressive. It’s not just a limited version of the multiplayer. It’s the full deal, including all the game’s cosmetic items and even stat tracking.

The wild thing is you can even play on a PS3 using custom firmware to bypass PSN. Sony demands extra money from developers to support crossplay in PlayStation games, but the fan developers of MGO2PC have enabled crossplay between PCs and a 15-year-old console just for the hell of it.

This isn’t actually MGO2’s first revival; it’s been playable on the PS3 for several years thanks to a fan-made custom firmware. But the PC version has the advantages of running at a higher resolution and framerate thanks to emulation. The online mode launched with Metal Gear Solid 5 isn’t nearly as beloved, partially due to hacking issues, but MGO2 is especially praised for the variety of team compositions you could put together and how effectively it combined classic Metal Gear stealth with goofy online antics.

I’m sure MGO2 has its clunky elements today—and probably did even a decade ago—but I think it’s fair to say there’s no other multiplayer you can play on PC today that’s quite like it. And MGO2 had some features that we expect from multiplayer games today that were rare in 2008, including player-hosted and dedicated servers, a cosmetic shop based on in-game currency, and a server browser in an era where most console games were all-in on matchmaking.

While MGO2PC’s playerbase seems small so far, the Discord is lively and there are definitely players hungry for matches. If you want to give it a shot yourself, a new copy of MGS4 is easy to get for about $25.

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