Review by thirtyninesteps
This is just not working
I've always liked Metal Gear games. I remember playing this series on my old NES way back in the day. Talk about fun. This was the only game I knew where the hero carried a pack of cigarettes around (well, Golgo 13 had a feature where you can actually take a drag, but that's another review). The one thing I remember was that you can actually kill hostages in that game. Imagine my confusion as a wee child wondering why I couldn't advance when I had killed everything on screen. Fact was, this was a great game with more mature themes on a console which was then considered a family entertainment system. Several equally fun iterations on various platforms later we arrive to this, the PSP debut of Snake and while the characters, look, and feel of the game are well-represented, what happened to the gameplay?
The best thing about this game is its graphics and sound. Fans of the series will be right at home here. Backgrounds mostly share the same drab warehouse look of previous games. Sound effects consist of your standard pistol shots and the ever popular exclamation (!) sound you get when an enemy soldier spots Snake. Not really much else to say, I'd have liked it more if they had more CGs and a better variety of music, but I really can't complain too much otherwise.
Play Control 6/10
This game relies on the use of menus. Unlike previous incarnations of Metal Gear, you can't actually control the action as it happens on-screen. For that reason, one would imagine that it'd be really hard for the developers to mess this up and for the most part it is ok. But it does get annoying when you can't move Snake to one location then turn him around - he always faces in the direction he was walking in. You also can't have Snake turn around or press against the wall while standing in his current location. You'll have to move away and back. Definitely not good, but for a game of this caliber, not quite as bad as I would have expected. One area where this game definitely fails in though is the lack of good camera control. When viewing the map, you can only view it overhead. The d-pad controls what part of the map you see. You can rotate the map using the shoulder buttons and the analog gives you very limited up and down movement. The analog stick is virtually useless in zooming in on locations you'd like to get a better look at though. Given that previous games have had far better camera controls, this is just unacceptable.
Metal Gear games have in my opinion have had some of the best stories and story-telling mechanisms out of any game on any system. On this go around, we've got a pair of demented rejects from Toy Story hijacking a plane by releasing a poisonous toxin and activating a bomb. On board the plane we have a political dignitary as well as his assistant and a young girl who gets more than she bargained for when a psychic contacts her telepathically to foil the terrorists. Dollars to dimes that girl will be in therapy for years to come. Anyway, Snake's role in all this is to "infiltrate" (I use that term loosely) enemy quarters to obtain something called Pythagoras which the terrorists demand. Quite the hodge-podge of Metal-Gear-ish elements to say the least and overall not too shabby. Problem is, this is nothing original for a Metal Gear game and we've seen it all done several times better in the past. The characters in this game pale in comparison to their counterparts from previous games. No new ground is broken here, but that's where hopefully the gameplay will make up for the lack of an original story.
What utter nonsense! That's what I thought a lot of times while playing this game. Unlike previous Metal Gears, this one's not an action game, but a card game. It's a really clunky system and here's how it [sic] "doesn't work". You start off by picking out individual cards to form your deck. Initially, you've got few choices, but as you progress you get more cards with different uses. When a stage begins 6 cards are *randomly* chosen from your deck. The randomness is one of the most annoying things about this game because a lot of times I found myself needing a specific card (like a mine detector for example) and I keep getting garbage. Quite often, you'll be wasting turns and discarding many cards until you find what you need. Even more annoying is when you're in a fight and you need weapon cards, but only get cards like the mine detector...pfft...what utter nonsense! This really prevents you from forming working strategies since stages become more a luck of the draw than real planning. But let's set that aside for now since you know I've got more complaints coming up. Stages in MGA are turn-based. Each turn you have the opportunity to perform usually only 2 actions. Actions are performed by using cards. Use a card and its cost gets added to your wait time. Once your turn is over, you must wait for your wait total to trickle down to zero. In the meantime, enemy soldiers take their turns. It is so easy to stack up your cost total in this game, that it's not at all surprising when the enemy gets like 5 turns before you're able to act again. It's actually quite comical when enemies fire at Snake and he does the poopy dance. But overall, I just can't help but think: what utter nonsense! When you do have the chance to fight back, now that's where the game really annoys. A large majority of the weapons in MGA must be equipped before use. This wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for the fact that equipping counts as a single action! That ain't the worst of it though. Equip a weapon and you still can't use it until you get a card that represents the ammo you need. Not surprisingly, unless you're lucky to draw 2 cards (one for the weapon and one for its ammo), attacking is at least a 2 turn prospect. In the meantime, enjoy watching Snake play hopscotch under enemy fire. What utter nonsense! I'm not done yet though. If you do have the opportunity to get off a shot, your enemy must first be in range. Sounds reasonable right? Problem is that even if an enemy is, oh let's say standing right next to Snake's side, you can't shoot them! You must first turn, face the enemy, and then fire and of course turning counts as a single action. Another thing is, you can be in point-blank range and still miss an enemy continuously and I'm not talking about enemies that have special abilities that help them dodge bullets, I'm referring to your standard run-of-the-mill genome soldier. What utter nonsense! The final insult in this game is when an enemy counters a counter. No you did not read wrong, if your character counter-attacks an enemy (which in most games is a good thing) the enemy also has a chance to counter that counter-attack. This works both ways, but unfortunately since for the most part you are outnumbered in this game, this means the enemy gets two chances to have Snake give his best impression of Michael J. Fox doing the moonwalk in Back to the Future III. What utter nonsense!
Final Score 6/10
It was only because I was a fan of the series that I was able to get through this game. You've got a decent story and recognizable elements from previous Metal Gears so at least you'll get that here. Nevertheless, that's definitely not enough to make it good. I liken this game to taking a delicious donut and dipping it into a batch of turd. No matter how good that donut was, it's still covered in turd. Not recommended.
Rating: 3.0 - Fair
Product Release: Metal Gear Acid (US, 03/22/05)
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