Okay, maybe that's an unfair assumption.
But how else could you explain his twisted and brilliant
plotlines for the acclaimed Metal Gear series? How could
you explain putting a solar sensor in a GBA cart for Boktai?
And now, Kojima defies logic by taking his beloved game
series and turning it into a card game. However, it would
be more accurate to describe Kojima as something of a mad
scientist… Though his ideas
may be strange and extraordinary, the product is always a
spectacle to behold in its completed stage. For Metal Gear
Acid, Kojima took it to the slab. He took Metal Gear, gave
it the brain of Final Fantasy Tactics, stuck it with some
cards, and gave the whole thing a thousand volts of stealth
and strategy, and the end result is one of the most enjoyable
games on the PSP to date.
Yes, those five little syllables from MGS2 cemented the feeling
of "What the hell is going on?" for the entire
Metal Gear fan base. This franchise has been known not
only for the incredible stealth-action gameplay it serves
up in spades, but for the confusing plotlines it establishes
along the way. Thankfully, Metal Gear Acid picks up from
another point in time altogether, so there's no need to
bone up on the Metal Gear anthology before booting up this
game. The story itself is worth noting, and will leave
you guessing to the very end… At which point the
whole game is turned on its head, and leaves you with more
questions than answers, and strangely, a sense of closure.
Kojima has once again crafted a masterful story that requires
replays to fully grasp.
Most people may shrug this off once they hear that it's
a card battle game, but it's not a Yu-Gi-Oh clone. Not even
close. You won't be playing your Colonel Volgin in attack
mode with 3000 points. Rather, cards are simply used to dictate
your action in classic Metal Gear format. The interface of
the game is almost like that of a board game. You start with
Snake (and later, a second character) at the beginning of
a stage, and you have some kind of goal to accomplish, usually
getting to a certain point or defeating enemies. You are
then dealt six cards from your deck of 30 cards (and as you
progress, 35 and 40). Many of these cards are modeled after
people and things in other Metal Gears, and thus have a lot
of different functions based on their original representation.
You can use almost every card in two ways: You can use them
to move, or for their particular function. For instance,
if you have a Ration card, which heals 150 points of health,
you can either wait for the right time and heal up, or use
the card to move a number of spaces. You discard it either
way. After you run out of cards, your deck is reshuffled,
and you go through it all over again. You can win new cards
either by buying packs of three (or singles) with points
you win from a mission, or pick up cards over the course
of the mission itself (or as a reward for playing very well).
Each card also has a certain COST value. The higher the cost
value of a card, the longer you'll have to wait for your
next turn to play it. For instance, if you have 5 cost, and
an opponent has 10 cost, that means that playing a card with
4 cost or below will allow you to get another turn before
he does, but a card that will turn you cost to 10 or above
will make sure he goes next.
There is also an equip system, in
which there are two blank boxes in the corner of the screen
(which, by the use of certain cards, can become 4 or even
9 squares). There are spaces where you can equip certain
items for use later in the game. You can equip armor to
reduce damage, accessories to boost skills, and - yes -
boxes to sneak around under. There is also an option to
equip certain weapons, allowing them to be used for counterattacks,
or to be "loaded" with
a weapon of the same ammo type (by equipping the other weapon
on top of it) and fired like a normal gun card. This allows
customization in your styles of gunplay, as you can also
use cards to increase that weapon's effectiveness once it
is equipped. Cards can even have certain stat-boosting "interference" effects
on the cards surrounding it on the equip grid.
Most cards, when used for movement, will move you only three
spaces. However, some cards may be better used by saving
it for the appropriate moment, and some cards are meant for
movement specifically, allowing you to move beyond the normal
three spaces. You can hug walls like in other metal gear
games, as well as knock to draw a guard's attention. You
can also punch if you are next to and facing an enemy, and
crawl under laser detectors and through ducts. This helps
add to the strategic depth the gameplay plays off of for
the entire experience, and the fact that you can use up to
four cards a turn helps to expand the options of how to go
about using cards in certain orders.
Has you head exploded yet? If not, good. These rules and
styles are often very hard to understand unless you see it
in action. The card styles and consequences give a deep number
of options to weigh when going through the game. Will you
use your Grenade card to move around that corner and hug
the wall so the guard doesn't see you? Or maybe try and lob
it at him and hope the cost timer wears out before he moves.
Or maybe you want to use another card to hide behind the
wall and wait to get a gun card so you can shoot the grenade
outright once thrown. Or perhaps you want to discard the
card and hope you get a movement-specific card so you can
round another corner while his back is turned, circumventing
the whole confrontation? But wait, there's a camera there.
Maybe you'll have to use a Choke card and knock him out from
the back, and then take your time. The options and style-based
choices are limitless.
The interface is clean and simple. When not engaging in
a mission, you are brought to a screen where you can save
your game, return to the title screen, choose your map, change
your options, enter link battle via the options menu (once
you unlock it), and change your deck. Deck editing is done
in the format of simply scrolling through a complete list
of cards and choosing how many of what cards are in your
deck. Unfortunately, you cannot save your deck configuration.
This presents a problem with multiplayer. If you're on your
first play-through, Rambo-ing your way through the game is
the way to go. But when playing again and trying a new strategy,
like stealth, whenever you want to enter a multiplayer game,
you need to reconfigure your deck from scratch to a multiplayer-suited
deck. You can save in different slots with different decks,
but once you get a card that you need for multiplayer during
your main game, you must remake your deck. This can get a
bit tedious on a second run through the game. However, this
format is still good for what it is made to do, and allows
you to make interesting theme decks that can fit your play
style. And the best part of all this?
Load times are practically nonexistent. Nada. Zip. I have
never had a load time for this game beyond four seconds.
This guarantees a seamless experience that hardly ever takes
you out of the action.
Acid's multiplayer is possibly the best head-to-head multiplayer
on the PSP as an alternative to racing games like Wipeout, Twisted
Metal and Ridge Racers. It consists of you and a friend controlling
two characters in a VR environment like those found in MGS2: Substance
(though not quite as dark). Using line-of-sight rules that compliment
the stealth nature of the game, players must either collect three
disks from dead guards and enter the points spawned upon their
collection, or kill the other players twice. The limited sight
balances the game and injects a new sense of strategy, and different
decks can be tested against each other. This is also a great source
of points to buy cards with. While simultaneously trying to kill
guards and opponents, the trash-talking is ever present and fun,
and the game itself is action-packed and requires a good deal of
insight and knowledge about your opponent. It is a true display
of skill and smarts, and is highly enjoyable. Though not as deep
as co-op games like Untold Legends, the multiplayer in and of itself,
as a head-to-head game, is extremely engaging. I just wish they
could have included single-player co-op as two people controlled
The controls in this game are easy to navigate. Being a card battle
game, there is no real-time element to the game outside of the
cost. The controls are meant to make your experience in navigating
the game much easier, and it definitely accomplishes this. Most
navigation is done by way of the d-pad, with the shoulder buttons
rotating the screen. The analog stick shifts the camera to give
you a better view of the area. Circle selects things, X is to cancel,
triangle gives you a free-roaming view of the area, and square
brings up card descriptions. This simple yet intuitive design allows
you to navigate the game menus with minimal difficulty, and there
are really no sore spots as far as controls go. Simple, easy, and
fun to work with. What more can I say?
The graphics in this game, while not quite PS2 quality, are gorgeous.
The problem is that during gameplay, you're zoomed out during movements.
If you're a fan of long cutscenes, there are plenty of those, and
they allow you to really see the detail of the character models.
There is no blur, no grain, and smooth moves. The animations are
plentiful and diverse, and really add to the graphical aspect of
the game. What really drove this home for me was the final battle.
The detail and looks of the final boss are just so jaw-droppingly
gorgeous for the PSP; it is reason enough to beat the game. However,
it's no Wipeout or Ridge Racer, and never really gives you a sense
of movement like those games do. Instead, it supplies atmospheric
tension. Still, the graphics are beautiful and a plus for the franchise.
Metal Gear Acid has a varied and eclectic sound catalog to work
with. The soundtrack helps to evoke a dual feeling of tension-infused
stealth and pulse-pounding action. The music in most stages starts
off calm and evocative of a stealth mission, but when confronted,
turns into an action track. The seamless transition between the
two elements is a nice touch. The sound effects are varied and
unique. Different guns can have different shot effects, explosions
sound realistic, and little details are put in to really draw you
into the game. There is sadly no voice work in the game, but given
the incredible amount of dialogue, and the oft-ridiculous nature
thereof, the choice of leaving out the voices was a wise one. The
sound slowly seeps in during the course of the related gameplay,
and helps to drive the feelings expressed in the missions. The
sound is just short of greatness.
Still turned off by the decision to turn Metal Gear into a card
game? Look at some videos, check out some reviews, and try the
game out on a friend's system. It is definitely not everyone's
cup of tea, in that it is more of a thinking man's game than previous
installments of the Metal Gear series. The dynamic combination
of the elements of both card battling and stealth gameplay is genius
in the sheer execution. Kojima has always had a knack for taking
far-fetched ideas and making them work, and Metal Gear Acid is
the greatest testimony to this trait. It is a great title if you
are willing to try it, and it is one of the greatest games on the
PSP to date.
Playing Hints and Tips
- Set the PSP to Hold mode during cutscenes so as not to accidentally
skip it. Most cutscenes are relevant to the plot.
- Try using cost reducer cards to prolong the effects of time-effect
- Enter the following codes in the password menu to receive these
o Viper = Viper #173
o Mika = Mika Slayton #178
o Karen = Karen Hojo #182
o Jehuty = Jehuty #184
o Xmeight = XM8 #199
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Beautiful. The graphics are rich and
detailed, and I just wish there was some kind of zoom function
in the main game for when you're not navigating the map. You
can even see your night-vision goggles when you equip them!
Not a grand and beautiful score, but
the soundtrack is extremely immersive.
This is an extremely fun game. The multiplayer
and single player aspects are cohesive and addictive.
I've lost some long tracks of time to
this game, and I'm sure you will too. It's just so hard to