fnord's Metal Gear Acid (PlayStation Portable) review

Metal Gear Blotter Acid

One of the more unique games released for the PSP at its initial release was the latest installment in the highly popular Metal Gear series, Metal Gear Acid. Once again created by Hideo Kojima, whose name has practically become a household word since the release of Metal Gear Solid was released back in '98. However the Metal Gear series exists much further back than that, with Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2 being released back in '87 and '90, respectively. This game seems to be Kojima's love letter to his series, all the way back to the beginning.

To start off with, this is nothing like the other Metal Gear games which have been released. If anything, I would actually call this more Metal Gear RPG than anything else. What you have heard is true, this game is a turn-based game, based upon cards you collect in the game. While a little difficult to get used to, no RPG fan should be too bothered by the system, and it does seem to be quite the welcome change for those of us who enjoy some variety in our gameplay.

The game takes place a few years after Metal Gear Solid 2, and you, once again, play Solid Snake, the hero of most of the previous games in the series. The plot involves a hijacked jet with a presidential candidate, and a military force taking over a base where the hijacker's only demand is kept, some research by the name of "Pythagoras". It's your job as Snake to infiltrate the base, neutralize any hostiles, rescue the main researcher of the lab, and obtain that research data. One of the things that Snake didn't count on, however, was a member of the Hostage Rescue Team which was sent in before him surviving, and tagging along. In the game, you also play as a young woman named Teliko, who is along for the mission whether Snake likes it or not.

The plot is normally told through RPG-like dialog boxes and cut scenes. Unfortunately there is no voice acting in the game, but after 3 previous games, you can practically hear David Hayter's gravely voice reading the lines to you. Instead of standard codex screens, you also get dialog boxes, with the character art of each character showing up. This is what gives the game the standard RPG feel; however the dialogs are normally not too long, so you don't have the standard five minute diatribe, such as in the previous games in the series. It also helps to better set the pacing of the game, where everything is slow and deliberate.

The card battling system is quite unique, but easily picked up by anyone who has ever played a collectible card game in the past. You have a series of cards that you build into a deck, and you can use that deck to perform actions, move, shoot guards, etc. The concept, once you get the hang of it, is fairly easy to use. There are rare times when you will find yourself searching for a specific card through your deck to get past a specific door or enemy, or situation. Normally these situations are few, and far between, and there seems to always be at least two or three different ways to get past any particular obstacle in your way.

Now, for an in-depth into the card battling system - The cards in the game are divided into different kinds, use types and equip types. Use type cards are cards which operate immediately, and can be used to do anything from shoot people, to heal up, etc. Then there are equip type cards, which are actual equipment, which you must put on your character. These cards can vary from equipment such as weapons, armor, mine detectors, all the way down to your standard cardboard box, or the ability to evade attacks. There are also cards which can upgrade your weapons functions, such as scopes, silencers, etc.

Another type of card which has a lot of uses is the character card. These are characters from Metal Gear, Metal Gear 2, Metal Gear Solid, Metal Gear Solid 2, Metal Gear Solid 3, and some of Kojima's other games, such as Snatcher, Policenauts, and Zone of Enders. You'll get character cards such as Grey Fox, Solid Snake, Meryl Silverburgh, the Cyborg Ninja, Machinegun Kid, etc. Any time you use one of these cards, you'll get a short film clip of the first time you are introduced to this character in any of the games, or a moment which defines that character. It's fun to see all of these references to Kojima's earlier games, and gave me one of those “Oh yeah, he did make that game!” moments. A lot of the characters from the earlier Metal Gear games give older gamers like myself a nice little nostalgic moment, as well as showing us how far games have come in 15 years.

Back to the subject at hand, though. Cards can be used either in their standard way, as either use or equip types, or they can be used to move your character. Most cards allow you to move 3 spaces; some allow you to move 4. Because of this, the pacing of the game is not nearly as fast as various action games. Snake has the ability to play two cards per turn, which means he can move at most 8 spaces. Teliko can use three cards per turn, however only draws two cards at the beginning of each round, so constantly using her ability to move faster than Snake will leave her unable to use items for a few turns. In addition, there is also the Cost to consider.

Cost is the game's way of tracking how much time it takes to use a specific technique or weapon. Basically, every card has a cost on it, and once you play it, your cost counter goes up, and it won't be your turn again till that cost reaches zero again. There are various cards out there which will reduce your cost, and allow you to move again sooner, if you have them in your deck, and you have them to use.

All in all, the methods provided in this game give you a lot of tactical decisions to make, and a lot of choices in actions you can use to your advantage. The game can be difficult in some places, but nothing particularly bad. I have been able to play without getting too frustrated at the game for quite a while, and for a turn-based strategy game, that's saying a lot for me. If you're a fan of RPGs, and are a fan of the Metal Gear series, this game is definitely worth a look. If you prefer more action-based gaming, this may not be the game for you. I would say that this is a very good deviation from the mainstream of the Metal Gear universe, in terms of gameplay, and can be a lot of fun.

Rating: 4 cards out of 5

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