Review: Metal Gear AC!D
Konami Computer Entertainment Japan
Konami Computer Entertainment
March 22nd, 2005
Metal Gear Acid is a very unique and very obscure entry into Hideo Kojima's popular game series. Not directed by Kojima himself the game has been both slammed and lauded by longtime fans for its unique card based tactics system. Although the system itself is done incredibly well games like these usually don't attract the same kind of attention as other games.
In Metal Gear Acid the player takes the role of the legendary hero Solid Snake, however it's certainly not the same Snake we remember. Taking place in an alternate universe this Snake is asked by Colonel Roy Campbell's long time friend CIA operative Roger McCoy to obtain information to prevent the terrorist bombing of a plane in mid-flight. Of course in true Metal Gear fashion things are nowhere near this simple. The player must navigate a labyrinth of espionage beset on all sides by supernatural villains, double agents, and of course a new Metal Gear.
The style of Metal Gear Acid retains many similarities to the graphics in Metal Gear Solid (thankfully) updated to utilize the PSP system's hardware. The main downfall with this however is Metal Gear Solid was such a dark game and that style on a PSP creates a lot of difficulty seeing at times without the brightness level on the PSP being turned way up. Compared with other games on the system the graphics certainly aren't terrible but are nothing spectacular when compared to later games like God of War: Ghost of Sparta. Of course because this was released at the PSP's launch it should be noted the full potential of the system had really yet to be explored.
The game also features many conversations represented by 2-D line art used in a manner very similar to Japanese RPGs. These are drawn beautifully and similar full screen art helps take the place of video cutscenes in which Snake is not present. As disappointing as this is there are ironically several movies on the game that play when certain cards are used. Most of them are taken directly from several of the Metal Gear games including the most recent title at the time, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater.
The music is for the most part very fitting of the mood in the game. The player can make their journey through the game's complex story amidst dark and ominous tones, short orchestrations and heart pumping alert music.
The sound effects are quite a treat as they are the same trademark sound effects that have gained popularity since the Metal Gear Solid series debuted on the Playstation console in 1998. Anyone who has played any of these can tell you the "!" noise NEVER gets old!
Metal Gear Acid features an excellently designed card based spin on the tactical espionage action of other games with similar themes. In the game players will build decks of cards to be drawn at random allowing your characters to move, perform normal actions, fight, or use items. The game of course gives the player their first deck and does a good job of explaining how customization works. And don't worry Metal Gear fans, the trademark knock, cardboard box items and stealth feel of the game all remain.
Basic turn layouts are simple: the player chooses a card to use or may discard a card to move. Two or more cards can be played a turn and each card used adds a "cost" to that character. Accumulated costs for all characters count down simultaneously and any character (enemy or otherwise) whose cost value hits 0 gets to take another turn. This cycle repeats of course until the mission's objective is reached.
Objectives can range from activating certain objects to simply reaching certain spots on the map. Once an objective is completed you are given a score based on the total cost it took, how many times you were discovered by enemies and how many kills were made. Higher scores yield level-specific bonuses such as cards and points. Most missions can also be repeated in order to score higher or obtain more points.
Points can be used in between missions to purchase additional cards from the card shop. Cards are based around characters and items through out the Metal Gear series and this alone makes obtaining new cards a treat for Metal Gear fans. Of course after certain missions are completed the player gains bonuses to health or the maximum number of cards than can be used in your deck, giving a wide variety of options to the player.
In addition to the normal game mode there is also the Link Battle option. Via wireless, you and a friend (with his own copy of Metal Gear Acid) can go head to head against each other to compete for exclusive cards. Both players are tasked with collecting information disks scattered across the map with a limited line of sight. Unfortunately this is really the only multiplayer mode, making the Link Battles repetitive after a time.
Konami games usually aren't known for anything but a new game+ feature and this title is no exception. Starting a new game allows several cards to be added to the pool of cards you can obtain through your next play through although that's basically it. If you aren't a player known to play games over for story alone then this will probably not see much replay.
While this game is very good in its own right I feel its downfall lies entirely in its genre. Many people simply don't like card based systems in game which makes the player base for this sort of game a narrow one. This game features the most fluid card based system I've ever played and is certainly worth a try for fans of the genre or Metal Gear fans in general.