Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Metal Gear Ac!d

Genre: Action, Spy / Espionage, Shooter
Platform: PSP
2004 Konami Corporation. Screenshots and images courtesy of Amazon.Com.

Metal Gear Acid Games
Metal Gear Acid Strategy Guides/Art
Original Soundtrack
Toys and Accessories
Everything Metal Gear
Amazon.Com Product Description:
The legendary Metal Gear series comes to the PSP in METAL GEAR ACID. Experience a whole new gameplay system that focuses on deep tactical strategy with an entirely new Metal Gear storyline. As the role of top-secret agent, Solid Snake, players will make calculated decisions to plan out their infiltration strategy and accomplish the mission in a turn-based style of game. Through the use of strategic battle cards, players are given different abilities and stealth tactics to achieve the mission objectives. METAL GEAR ACID delivers the trademark stealth-action experience in a completely new game for the portable gaming audience to enjoy.

One Amazing Ac!d Trip >>> by Voldemort

Although the PSP is chock full of ports of PS2 games made to be played on the go, but don’t let the Metal Gear franchise fool you: Metal Gear Ac!d is not a port of any existing Metal Gear game in any other system. In fact, unlike the other Metal Gear games, Metal Gear Ac!d, one of the launch titles of the PSP, is definitely an innovative addition to the celebrated franchise in its own right.

Metal Gear Ac!d picks up on the story of Solid Snake in the year 2016, which is nowhere indicative of when in the Metal Gear Solid series this game actually takes place. Regardless of the continuity considerations, Ac!d departs from the traditional Metal Gear gameplay by instead employing a card game system that completely changes the complexion of the game.

Story: A+ (10)

I can’t outline the story in detail without giving away some unwanted spoilers, but the summary is that while in the middle of a mountain climbing expedition, Snake gets called in by a CIA agent named Roger to help track down a scientist in Lobito Island of the Moloni Republic in Southern Africa. This scientist apparently holds the key to a top-secret research program known only as Pythagoras.

The Pythagoras program is necessary because it is one of the demands of whoever it was that has hijacked Jumbo Jet flight 326, holding 517 passengers hostage, including Senator Viggo Hach, a presidential favorite come the next U.S. elections.

Snake has his work cut out for him, though, as the Moloni Republic doesn’t want to cooperate, so not only does he have to go find Pythagoras himself, he also has to contend with mercenaries in the Republic who are after the same thing as well.

While that is the story in a nutshell, there are going to be plenty of twists and turns along the way. Nobody in the story may actually turn out to be what they seem, and that includes Snake himself.

The story is engaging, and had me on the edge of my seat after I completed each mission. I was eager to know more about the story as it unraveled before my very eyes, and it’s hard not to love the very gripping storyline that covers everything from betrayal to intrigue to conspiracy to mistaken identity.

In talking about the story, it is inevitable to mention that you will find a lot of endearing characters in the game as well. Solid Snake is a given, but look out for names like Alice, Leone, Minnette, and Teliko, as these are just a few of the other characters who have definitely made the game all that more fun to run through for me.

Gameplay: B+ (8)

While the gameplay of Ac!d is definitely revolutionary, the learning curve is extremely high. This is the main thing that keeps Ac!d from getting a perfect mark in this category.

Ac!d’s gameplay is all about the battle system, primarily. What really makes it good is the fact that it seamlessly weaves together a turn-based strategy approach with playing cards, effectively combining luck of the draw with strategic skill for a very impressive package.

With each turn, you are allowed to play at least two cards. For each card you play, you have any of three options: USE, MOVE, and EQUIP. When you use a card, you simply do what its text indicates, be it shooting, attacking, or other assorted actions. When you move with a card, you simply move a given number of spaces with the card in question instead of using its ability. Equipping a card, on the other hand, puts the item in question in your equipment box, and effects for it vary.

The Equipment part is what makes the game a bit complicated. You see, the best weapons are equip-type weapons, and it’s unclear how to actually shoot with them, as the tutorial says you need to use the appropriate ammo when using such weapons. Oddly, there are no ammo cards. Apparently, your “ammo” would be weapons that actually have the same ammo type as the weapon you currently have equipped, such that a PSG-1 Sniper’s “ammo” would be another PSG-1 Sniper, or maybe a Dragunov Sniper.

Each card you employ has a corresponding COST, which is a measure of how much time you consume in using the card in question. You cannot take another turn until your total COST approaches 0 after you’ve used all your remaining moves for the turn. Therefore, it is a good idea to watch your COST lest you end up being stuck while your opponents take turns in rapid succession and find you or kill you before you even get another one.

The gameplay is very solid in this department, and in fact, addictive. The fact that the cards in your hand determine what actions you can perform means that you would want to get powerful cards to enhance your deck, and thus the desire to collect the best cards would result in playing and replaying lots of missions just to have the appropriate amount of points to purchase the cards in question. I’ve literally spent ten hours more than I should’ve in gameplay just to have enough points to buy booster packs to make my deck better, and the fact that the cards you get per pack are random makes the addictiveness factor of finding certain cards all the more exciting.

Graphics: B+ (8)

The cel-shaded graphics of Metal Gear Ac!d are definitely attractive, but is nowhere near the current level of graphics that we know the PSP can actually achieve.

This fact, however, does not give Ac!d a free pass to anything beyond a B+, as while the graphics are pretty good, they’re nothing spectacular, when contrasted to fellow launch titles like Burnout and Ridge Racer.

Music & Sound: B (7)

The music and sound is pretty appropriate for the game, although the lack of voice-overs definitely takes away from making the game topnotch in this department. The sound effects are standard fare for the Metal Gear series, and the Music tracks, while limited, capture the feel of what is happening onscreen: slow when sneaking around, fast-paced when on the run.

The music and sound are there, and are good enough for what they’re supposed to do. Beyond that, there really isn’t much here, as this isn’t the game’s strongest suit at all.

Replayability: B+ (8)

Ac!d is a game you’d still play even if you finished it already. This is because upon completion of the game, you get a card you can only get from completing the game, and the same thing happens upon completing it a second time: you get a different card again.

At the same time, there are a lot of cinematics from using certain cards, including shots of hot Japanese models in bikinis, so you might want to try doing that as well, aside from completing your collection of all 204 cards, which will keep you busy for a long while as you continue to play the game in an effort to fine-tune your deck.

Furthermore, as a heads-up to those who plan to get the sequel, 1/100th of your remaining points and any one card from your collection can be transferred via save file to Metal Gear Ac!d 2 at the start of a new game, so there’s even more incentive to go ahead and buffer your save file.

Overall: B+ (8)

Metal Gear Ac!d is a very fun and engaging game that’s hard to ever get enough of. From the amazing storyline to the innovative gameplay system, this game is definitely one of the bright spots of the PSP.

This game is highly recommended to anyone who enjoys turn-based strategy games, collectible card games, Metal Gear fans, and anyone who wants to go on a fun Ac!d trip.

RATINGS: Gameplay 8; Battle 8; Story 10; Visuals 8; Characters 10; Sounds 7; Replay Value 8

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