Metal Gear Ac!d
Game Info
Platform(s)
PSP
Publisher
Konami
Developer
KCEJ
Genre
Strategy/Action
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Blood, Language, Suggestive Themes, Violence
 
Grade
The Good

• Looks great
• Card-based strategy is a nice change in genre
• Lots of cards to collect
• Challenging, yet fun

The Bad

• Story and presentation is a bit odd at times
• Card-based theme sure to turn some off

 
Grade
A-

Let me get this out of the way: Metal Gear Ac!d is NOT a stealth action game. It's not a Hideo Kojima game that fits into the Solid series timeline. It is, though, an interestingly deep turn-based strategy title that uses a card-based means to provide some excellent action. And before you get too upset, the card-based strategy manages to work well within the stealth action that Solid Snake has always been famous for. After some time with this title, you will be pleased with how Konami has implemented this "side story".

Since this title obviously falls outside the main story arc, it does seem to take some odd liberties. Instead of being told with action-oriented cutscenes, the story is given to the player in still illustrations with text boxes and character portraits. Codec sequences often just show Snake's model kneeling while these text boxes/portraits play out. The story itself proves to have a standard set-up: terrorists have taken over a research facility on Lobito Island and are using a hijacked plane as a bargaining tool for a military project called Pythagoras. Snake is sent in with the aid of a psychic and eventually runs into a female partner. Once the setup is established, expect tons of turns and twists and more than a few odd plot angles that are sure to come out of left field (like the fact that the plane is hijacked by murderous

Metal Gear Ac!d presents each level in a turn-based grid-oriented strategy, where the player is given a certain goal or location to reach. While the game is presented more like a strategy RPG, it certainly retains it's stealth mechanics. Enemies have a certain line of sight and Snake has the ability to crawl or flatter against a wall and knock to draw attention. Using the Triangle Button will allow you an overhead shot complete with enemy stats and their line of sight.

While the game looks like your standard turn-based strategy, the introduction of a deck of card will quickly present you with a whole series of new mechanics to get used to. Snake has a deck of cards, comprised of weapons, actions, characters and other assorted themes, which can be used to move, equip (weapons, equipment and special effects). At the beginning of a mission, six cards are dealt to the player, who must start planning how they use their cards. After using a certain number of cards, the player ends their turn and nearby enemies get their turns. When the player uses all the cards in their deck, the deck automatically reloads, given the player additional Cost. Cost is like wear and tear on the body. The more you get during a turn, the longer it will take for your next turn to come up, so it's in your best interest to watch you Cost as the game progresses.

As you progress in the game, you'll earn new cards, or be able to buy them from the Card Shop at the intermission. Most levels will have card packs or weapon cards that can be found in the level. If you score well be remaining stealthy, you can earn more cards. While gamers who like to collect will enjoy this part, it proves to be beneficial as the more cards you get, the better your deck becomes. Also, you will earn Key Cards that allow you access to locked areas of previous areas.

Cards come in all types. Equipment can be equipped for added effects to actions. Weapons come in two types: ones that can be immediately used and discarded and ones that can be equipped a reloaded when you want to use them. Both have their uses and successful planning will keep you well prepared for combat when the time arises. There are character cards featuring characters from previous titles (Ninja, Sniper Wolf, Olga, etc.) who have some extraordinary effects and attacks. These come with their own small cutscene pulled from the original game.

Even though the game slowly shows you new aspects to it even a few hours in, there is a good bit of challenge at being stealthy. Players will really have to think with their heads to build a good deck and use the cards to their best effect. If not, things may get to be a seriously pain in the ass. Each level can take some time to complete, especially since most are multi-staged. Fortunately, the game features in-mission saving, so you can continue when you have the time.

Along with the main story is an unlockable multiplayer mode than can be played wirelessly. In this mode, you are set in a VR setting and given the task to acquire Pythagoras discs, which will open up tasks once you've acquired three of the discs. Players can win this mode by finishing the goals, killing enough of the opponent's characters or just having more discs at the end of the time limit. Since what the player can see is based on line of sight, multiplayer proves to be more challenging than the single player is on many fronts.

Visually, Metal Gear Ac!d is a shining gem that manages to look better than most strategy RPGs that have shown up on the PS2. Konami has made sure to take their Metal Gear Solid style and pack it into this title. Areas and character models both look excellent and act in a manner that fits with the series. The card and character art is fantastic and the cut-scenes you get from certain cards add a nice touch to the gameplay. In fact, I am completely amazed at how many effects and details Konami managed to get onto this handheld. Sure, the PSP can't push out the high-end details that Konami achieved with Snake Eater, but what they've managed to get here still looks great and is sure to be a benchmark for the competition.

Audiowise, Ac!d borrows from the series' standard catalogue of effects and music. It won't take long for players to become familiar with their surroundings in a aural sense of the phrase. This time around, though, there are no voice-overs for the cutscenes. In fact, the only time there is voicework is for the oddly inappropriate advertisements for the Card Shop.

While most of the gameplay core is solid and really doesn't need much in the way of revision, there are a few elements that still keep this title from greatness. The camera, when not overhead, can be hard to place in certain tight locations. Also, by the nature of the game being card-based, you are going to find yourself begging your deck to cough up a needed card. Hopefully, you won't be in the heat of battle when this occurs.

If you're a fan of turn-based strategy, Metal Gear Ac!d is well worth your time to play. The play mechanics are well realized and thankfully add something new the to genre. If you're a Metal Gear fan, the card collection aspect alone will make it worth you time for nostalgia's sake. While I know this title won't be for everyone, the people who do pick up on it will get their money's worth.

- - Vane

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