2 Gamers Review one Game

Friday, February 03, 2006

Metal Gear Acid Review

Metal Gear Acid – Review – PickyPants – PSP

I don’t know why Harshly is out to get the DS. I don’t know why he continues to laud the PSP like it’s an Epic drop from Molten Core. The PSP has been a serious disappointment for gamers since its inception. A lack of quality software exists seemingly due to Sony’s obsession with converting movies to UMD format and charging $24.99 a pop. Outside of the homebrew opportunities, the PSP is the clunky wet fish of the videogaming world.

That is not to say it does not have its moments. Metal Gear Acid is one of the best launch titles released since Mario 64. When I originally purchased MGA from GameStop, the “employee” stated empirically,

“Dude I wouldn’t buy this if I were you, you’re going to hate it!”

Now I am all for a GameStop employee stating his opinion, but to make such a statement infuriated me. I mean, not all gamers like racing games and fratball. I asked him why he thought that, to which he responded,

“It’s not what you think it is. It’s a CARD game!”

He gave such a disgusted focus on the word “card” it sounded as if a “card game” had raped and murded his dog.

I then jammed my hand all the way into his chest, ripped his still-beating heart out and smashed a giant Xbox controller into it over and over again.

Ok so I thanked him for his advice and bought the game. I am such a pussy sometimes.

To the game!

Metal Gear has been a hit and miss franchise for me. While I enjoy espionage action as much as the next fat anti-social Dorito choker, I have found the games a little bombastic. I like to enjoy a story, get some character information, and have the mood set in the form of brisk, well paced cut scenes, not hear an 85 minute dissertation on the detriments of Nuclear War. Still, one would be hard pressed to find a game that draws you in so completely by the end, Snake’s relationship with “the boss” in Metal Gear Solid 3 for example, so I always forgive the tumescent nature of the games by their completion.

Metal Gear Acid is no exception. After turning it on, you don’t necessarily “play” the game for a good 30 minutes. During that time you watch snake talk to people and politicians talk to each other (evily!). It’s all incredibly insipid and sets the stage for what is possibly the strangest game plot ever. Some truly bizarre things happen in this game, some of which are awesome, most of which are headscratchers. I won’t spend any more time on the plot when there are so many good things to focus on, suffice is to say, it is tedious, long-winded, and irksome.

After suffering through 30 minutes of boring text and a few awesome seconds of murderous puppets hijacking an airplane, you finally control Snake in all his glory. This is where you begin to see a glimmer of hope. Snake’s movement and actions are controlled by cards you play. That’s this game’s “thing.” There are a lot of cards in this game. There’s one for just about anything snake would do, from shooting someone with a FAMAS machine gun to putting a hentai comic book on the ground for GENOME soldiers to pick up and read. The interface is incredibly clunky on the onset, and even the first few missions can be frustrating and challenging, but as steep as the learning curve is initially, it soon becomes a matter of pure instinct.

The missions are all battlefields or office buildings, minefields or bridges, basically any location from any MGS game in the past. Snake and all the guards/cameras/sentry guns are on the map, and in turn based action, you play cards that tell snake what to do. Each card has a cost to it, which essentially tells you when you get to go again, so while the Soviet AK-47 does more damage than the FAMAS, it costs more to use, so Snake will take longer to recover.

Anyone with a history in Magic the Gathering will dominate this game. There are so many cards in the game, and so few you can put in your deck, deck construction becomes the most important thing in the game. This is why the first few missions are so brutal, because you haven’t the card selection to do anything meaningful. As you progress through missions, you get points which can be spent at the “card shop” to buy packs of cards. Just like MTG, you get a serious feeling of “pack crack,” as you meticulously save your points up only to blow them all in 15 seconds opening packs and giggling like a wild beast.

One wonderful thing you can do in MGA, is play through the maps you’ve already beaten for extra points. Each time you re-enter a mission, you are given one of two mission objectives, either “Destroy all enemies” or “Get to the finish without being seen.” Since you don’t know which one you’re gonna get, you have to plan for both, and build your deck accordingly. The amount extra points are contingent on how good of job you do. You also get free cards if you do super well. Hallelujah! I haven’t enjoyed “xp’ing” out of mission like this since Final Fantasy Tactics (PSX version).

One humorous aspect of the game is the “Auto-Deck Builder” tool. I think this function is designed to give you the worst possible combination of cards in the game. Seriously, the computer deck building AI is so f’ing bad, you would swear it was added as a practical joke or something. To use an MTG reference, The Auto-Deck Builder will give you (out of a 30 card deck) 26 shitty enchantments, 2 creatures (not even your best ones) and 2 lands. Actually, the cards are so similar to MTG sometimes, you would swear you are playing some futuristic MTG mod instead of a Metal Gear game.

In fact, if you are an experienced MTG player, you will snicker at some things in this game. First of all, every so often you get an “upgrade” that “allows” you to increase your deck size. That’s pretty funny. Also the super-duper rare cards are often these ridiculously high cost cards that do all kinds of damage and no good player will ever have one in their deck. Lord of the Pit?

The game does feel like you’re playing old school MTG, not the new namby-pamby Magic where all the cards combo off of each other and each turn takes 25 hours. This is like “Forest/Mox Emerald/Black Lotus/Channel/Fireball” shit here! Well… More like “Taiga/Kird Ape.” If that made sense to you, go buy this game right now.

Every so often in this game, a new set of cards opens up to you in the card shop. Each set is based on an older MGS game. This gives you a reason to play new missions and move forward rather than rack up an ungodly amount of points on one stage to buy every card in the game. In fact, once you start to feel like your Snake is invincible and the rest of the game is a cakewalk, you are given a second player. Now you have two characters on the battlefield, which means you need to build two decks. The inclusion of Telico (the second character) is perfectly timed, and maxing out her deck takes you almost to the finish of the game.

If I had any problem with this game it would be its challenge. (Sorry Harshly) This game is too easy. And playing it on the “EXTREME!” mode doesn’t make it harder, it makes it take longer to win. Once the initial challenges are overcome, you get to the point where your deck is so good, the enemies are a cakewalk. Don’t get me wrong, the missions are still exciting, and sometimes your heart is pounding hoping you draw a weapon card as you find yourself pinned in a corner with three guards closing in. It just seems like that is much less likely to happen the further you get in the game.

I am of a mixed mind when it comes to the length of the game. My initial response was that it was WAY too short. Then again, the more I think about it, there was nowhere else the game could really go. So much of this game is setup, and rightfully so, as it can be a beast getting into, but by the time you get to the end, you’ve kind of seen and done it all. Brief but gloriously fun.

Even if this game were on the DS, which (in my opinion) has so many quality titles, it would still be a must play. If you own a PSP, I am sorry. If you own a PSP and don’t have this game, I am really sorry.

-PickyPants 2/3/06

Metal Gear Acid – Review – harshly_von_smokenstein - PSP

There seems to be this trend lately of Picky and myself reviewing handheld games. This seems like a very interesting opening line for a review, but upon completion of typing it, I have realized that is all I have to say about that. On to the game!

Metal Gear Acid.

This is the type of game that I really wish I could have gotten more involved with. I play my handheld games primarily at work. My job involves waiting approximately an hour or two in the beginning of the shift for a call to waiting approximately 5 hours for the shift to end. Lots of free time in other words. So I got me a DS and PSP. I mostly play Gameboy Advance games on the DS as the line-up currently for the platform doesn't excite me. But the PSP is a different story.

Metal Gear Acid has been out for a while. Long enough to be difficult to find at the game store in the Mall (Game Stop) or Wal-Mart. I finally found it for sale Used at Game Stop. Lug it to work, plug it in.

Hmm. This game is pretty fucking hard. Well, difficult in that I cannot devote a lot of time at once into it. I wanted to be able to stealth my way through the game on the first try but with the new card based action built into the system of control...the learning curve does not lend itself to immediate greatness. I fucking respect this. If you want to master a game within 5 minutes, buy any one of the Gauntlet Legends games.

I found myself wanting to slam a child's hand in a car door on many occassions from the sheer frustration of -knowing- that it was possible to sneak by that guard, but everytime I restart I still end up shooting him in the face as a last resort. Its like my mind can subconsciously see the solution, but it refuses to share this intelligence with the part of my brain pushing the buttons.

But this sort of masochistic frustration does not lend itself well to the work environment whose emphasis lies in customer service.

So, honestly, I didn't get as far as I would have liked.

"But Harsh, why didn't you just play it during free time?".

"Well, Curious George, I am addicted to MMOs and a Warcraft III mod called Defense of the Ancients. Crippling addiction.".


The gameplay itself does become instinctual. The menus are fairly easy to navigate once you play that one mission with the mine field three times in a row only to die at the end because, for the third time in a row, you forgot there WAS A FUCKING MINE! I really enjoyed the fact that packs of cards are scattered about, making your decisions even more ludicrous. For example.

"Hmm. I could easily sneak by this lone guard, but I can see 3 cards that may or may not be an improvement to my deck over there underneath no less than 3 cameras and 4 patrols. Oh, sweet, there is also a robotic patrol that is nearly impervious to normal fire. Fuck, I switched my Otto card out for another Box. Fuck it. Lets go Snake. Knock on that fuckin' wall!".

One thing I did not enjoy was the constant barrage of "helpful intermission advise" everytime I loaded the main screen. Perhaps the average gamer needs to be reminded how to access and operate the Deck Editor program five times in a row despite the fact that your deck consists of exactly 30 cards.

One guess as to the amount of cards you take into the early missions.

I can't comment too much on the sound as I'm not allowed to operate my handhelds with any audio at work. The only place I play them. I did catch a bit of it during breaks when I turn the fucker up. But I don't know enough about it to really state an opinion on it.

By the way, as a sidenote of no importance to Metal Gear Acid, some of my text gets sandwiched together likethis when Picky posts it. I want to assure you that I'm not some fuckin' moron who doesn't know how to use the space bar. Its because he probably just cuts and pastes the shit from the email I send without proof reading it for format errors like that. (He’s right – PickyPants)

Anyway, back to the game. My final opinion of Acid is a suggestion. Only
purchase this game if you are prepared to invest some solid time into it. This isn't going to be your "casual play on the bus to work" type game. This will require real effort, real thought.

Finally, I would like to make a formal request to those that might have some sway in game development:

Please make a PSP title that is based solely on the card game featured in Final Fantasy VIII. That shit was some of the most addictive gaming I've encountered off the PC. Thanks.

-Harshly_Von_Smokenstein 2/1/2006


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