"Forget your prejudice against card games, Acid is well worth playing"

Admit it. When someone says "card game" in the same sentence as an already well respected video game series, 95% of us will cringe, including myself. "I want a real video game, not YuGiOh," we think to ourselves, and most of the time we hold to this opinion, wisely, and miss numerous horrible card based games. This time, however, the Metal Gear series is taking a stab at card based play, and it shatters all preconceptions about card based games.

Let it first be understood that Hideo Kojima is not directly responsible for this game, and the game itself does not follow the same storyline as the games in the Metal Gear Solid series. That said, Acid still stays true to it's Metal Gear roots, with Solid Snake still the main character and the stealth element of the game still intact. Sort of. Instead of being given free roam of stages and unlimited movement in real time, Acid makes the element of stealth turn-based on a grid, of sorts, giving you a set number of moves to make to certain squares or attack certain enemies without enemy movement, and then the enemy time to move and attack without your movement, much like, say, Fire Emblem or Final Fantasy Tactics. Where the cards fit in is that you are dealt a hand of cards from a deck (which starts out having capacity for 30 cards, no more, no less), and one MUST use those cards to move, open doors that require card keys, or attack. Every last item in the game becomes a card, and at no point in the game are you free from the clutch of the card based form of combat. This can either be really great when you pull the right cards for the situation you're in and allowed a relatively trouble free exit from a room, or really really annoying when you need a lvl 2 keycard to make its way from the bottom of your deck into your hand when you can only discard 2 cards at a time. Fortunately, the latter doesn't happen very often.

As for the more basic elements of the game, the graphics are quite good, better than would be expected on a PlayStation, but not quite as good as a PS2's. Despite a lack of voicings for the game, save for the grunts and death noises of the enemies you will face, the cutscenes are still rather nice, and the game maintains the feel of the Metal Gear Solid games during cutscenes. Loading times aren't terribly frequent or long, and the gameplay is always smooth. There is no complaint to be had with any of the audio or video presented in Acid.

The cards themselves come in the form of weapons, equipment, rations, and characters from prior games, each with their own unique attributes. Tons of characters are present, all of which have special abilities, ranging from the sheer destructive power of Metal Gear Rex to the status boosting effects of Otacon and Sniper Wolf, to name a few. Unfortunately, only a handful of the 200+ cards available to you in the game are actually useful, and the deck building feature can relatively clunky and difficult to use to make an effective deck.

Difficulty-wise, this game poses a moderate challenge in the early stages of the game while you are just learning to use the card-battling system, and tapers off to relative ease/sheer time consumption later on. It's not like it's not fun to play, it's just not especially difficult once you figure out how things work and exactly what the hell you're doing at any given moment in a level. All stages after the first couple can be replayed with random mission objectives ranging from going in guns blazing and killing everybody to sneaking by in your cardboard box to avoid being seen until you reach a point that is ungodly far away. All your efforts contribute to points totalled up at the end of the mission that can be used to buy more cards. Aside from that, there's not much replay value, but I have yet to try out the multiplayer mode that is made available after you get a little more than 1/3rd of the way through the game.

Overall, Metal Gear Acid is definitely an impressive foray into a new style of gameplay for the stealth combat genre, and despite the occasional difficulties one may have with certain, more time consuming stages and the deck editing function it is a must-have for any strategy-game fan with a PSP. It's not a vile little YuGiOh spin-off with Solid Snake in it, it's an excellent game and a wonderful addition to the Metal Gear legacy.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 03/29/05

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