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Platform

PSP


Genre

Turn-based Strategy

 

Publisher

Konami

 

Developer

Konami

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

Q2 2006

 

 

- Excellent graphical makeover

- Lots of card abilities

- Plenty of fan service

 

 

- Card-based action system is still awkward and annoying

- Early parts of the game can get tedious

- No voiced dialogue

 

 

Review: SOCOM: Fireteam Bravo (PSP)

Review: Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (PS2)

Review: Age of Empires: Age of Kings (DS)

 

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Metal Gear Acid 2

Score: 7.0 / 10

 

Longtime fans were confused when the original Metal Gear Acid for the PSP was released. Changing it into a turn-based strategy game was weird enough, but adding a card-based battle system was even more questionable. Although it was an interesting game, it suffered from many clunky design decisions, and disappointed players who wanted a traditional stealth-action experience. Now, barely a year after the original Metal Gear Acid was released, Konami has released a sequel that gives the game a complete graphical makeover, but keeps the same bizarre gameplay as before.

 

metal gear acid 2 review         metal gear acid 2 review

 

You need to get in a certain mindset to enjoy Metal Gear Acid 2, because if you play it like a standard Metal Gear game, youíre going to get frustrated very quickly. Many stages simply involve getting from one point to another. In the console games, youíd run, duck, crawl, dodge, or maybe shoot your way to the exit. Itís quick, and easy, and if you get discovered, you either try to kill the bad guys or run like hell.

 

Now, since MG Acid is turn-based, you move Snake a few squares, wait as all of the enemies take their turns, move another couple squares, wait again for the computer, and continue. If youíre impatient, the stop-go feeling of the game feels a bit tedious, and it gets worse once you alert an enemy. Itís hard to find places to hide, so if you donít have the means to kill them, all you can do is run and hope they eventually lose track of you. Although itís to your advantage to keep out of their sights, there are more than a few instances where youíre forced into combat, and this is where the card battle system comes into play.

 

You can have a maximum of six cards in your deck, each of which has a variety of attack, defense, or supplemental abilities. Additionally, you must sacrifice a card if you want to move your character. Like many card games, much of your strategy is dictated by whatever cards have been drawn, which in turn is influenced by the deck youíve constructed. Naturally, if youíre not careful with this, it can cause all 

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kinds of problems. Itís possible to end up right next to an enemy without any weapon cards, leaving you with only your weak close combat attacks to fend off enemies. And sometimes, itís simply much easier to sit around and waste time until one of your trump cards gets drawn, which feels pretty cheap. At the beginning of the game, itís hard to customize your deck, because decent cards are difficult to come by.

 

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Other than getting them as bonuses in battle, the only way to get new cards is to spend Battle Points in the store. The selection of single cards is pretty limited, so you need to draw random cards from one of the three decks, each based on one of the three Metal Gear Solid games. There are over 500 cards in Metal Gear Acid 2, ranging from standard weaponry to special attacks. There are also several kinds of bonus cards -- equippable items to reduce damage or enhance accuracy, ďlinkĒ cards which enhance attacks, or the ability to gain an extra move per turn. Thereís a huge variety of options to explore, and many of them are based off of items and characters from other MGS games. Thereís a whole lot of fan service, especially for Kojima fans -- youíll even find a few cards based off of Snatcher and Policenauts, as well as the upcoming Metal Gear Solid 4, and even Rumble Roses.

Unfortunately, while the collection aspect can get addicting, the randomization leads to a game thatís less about strategy than chance.

 

There have been little tweaks that make the system less annoying, like the ability to pick up items without losing a turn, but for the most part, itís mostly identical to itís predecessor. But while the original Acid seemed to emulate the look and feel of the first two Metal Gear Solid games, Acid 2 goes off on an entirely different route, offering colorful, cell-shaded characters against (mostly) bright backgrounds. Itís a drastic change in look and tone for the series, and while many may find it a bit too cartoony, it creates a much more attractive game overall.

 

As can be expected from a Metal Gear game, thereís a bizarre plot to tie everything together. At the beginning, Snake has amnesia, and is blackmailed by an ex-FBI agent to infiltrate a military installation. Shortly thereafter, the operation is taken over by a suspicious looking guy named the ďWisemanĒ, who again blackmails Snake into digging further into the base. At one point, you meet up with a sexy secret agent named Venus, who joins Snake in his mission.

 

metal gear acid 2 review          metal gear acid 2 review

 

Naturally, thereís a huge conspiracy involving strange scientific experiments and child smuggling, with lots of double-crossing and intrigue. There are also a few incredibly ridiculous boss fights, including a run-in with ďSecurity Chief VinceĒ, a hulking behemoth with a face mask, a German war helmet and flowing blond hair. Unfortunately, none of the dialogue is voiced, which gives the whole game a cheap feeling compared to itís console brethren. However, the rest of the soundtrack holds up nicely, with the usual array of low-key stealth and fast paced action music.

 

Metal Gear Acid 2's big gimmick is the Solid Eye glasses, which are included in the game case. Itís basically a cheap pair of 3D glasses, although it uses a special kind of lens to create these images without the old red/blue trick. The entire game can be played with them, but the game also includes several bonus scenes specifically for the Solid Eye. Most of these are cutscene videos from Metal Gear Solid 3, but a few are bizarre idol videos of Japanese girls in bikinis, sitting around and holding guns. I guess this shouldnít be surprising, given Kojimaís tendency to stick posters of scantily clad women in his games, but it does feel a bit creepy. If you have MGS3 Substinence for the PS2, you can download pictures onto your PSP and view them in the Solid Eye Theater. Itís a neat addition, but theyíre pretty flimsy, and itís hard to keep steady on the screen when youíre playing. Plus it makes you look like a huge dork.

 

There are only twelve maps  in the game, although most of them are fairly large. Youíll need to backtrack to certain stages, usually to complete the level with different goals, which feels a little bit cheap. As such, the game isnít too long, although there are plenty of extra missions to gain extra battle points so you can buy more cards. On the Easy difficulty level, your heroes are granted a huge amount of health, so even if youíre pretty awful in sneaking past them, you can take quite a bit of damage before getting wiped out.

 

Given the mixed response to the original Metal Gear Acid, youíd think Konami wouldíve changed up the game a bit. The card-based battle system is conceptually flawed, and itís unlikely to draw any fans of either stealth games or strategy games. Furthermore, the beginning stages of the game are pretty dull, at least until you build up a sizable deck and are given control over the second character. At this point, the game becomes significantly more enjoyable. However, as a whole, it seems to be more a welcome mat for the upcoming Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops. Still, as long as you can put up with the awkward system, Metal Gear Acid 2 is a worth checking out.

 

- Kurt Kalata

(June 19, 2006)

 

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