Well, the PSP is here. With the release of the PSP, of course, comes a slew of new titles and sequels targeted at the portable market. There are a few titles out there that are brand new or differ from the norm, but one in particular takes the cake: Metal Gear Acid.
Metal Gear isn't exactly an underground franchise so with the release of the PSP and the name Metal Gear appearing on one of the packages, I imagine it sold really well. However, I don't imagine that people realized that it's a card game that's reminiscent of Magic: The Gathering mixed with X-Com on a Metal Gear base. Therefore, the confusion must have been spectacular.
Metal Gear Acid puts Snake into yet another sticky situation. There's a hijacked plane that has been armed with a bomb that will explode if it flies too low. This plane, of course, has a high ranking official on board. Oh, also, it has been filled with a debilitating gas that renders most people immobile. To top all of that off, Snake has been dropped near a secret base that has been attacked by a fringe military group after a secret weapon referred to as Pythagoras. Just another day on the job for Solid Snake.
So, there you are infiltrating this base and you notice that instead of the normal options afforded to the Snakerino, you have a handful of cards. These cards are very reminiscent of many CCGs out there today, as in there's a cost at the top of the card and they each have special abilities and effects. The cards are divided into five different categories: Weapon, Support, Character, Item and Action. Another similarity is that each card has a rarity assigned to it so the odds of getting a super good card is lower than getting another copy of a card that you already have a million of.
Now, getting cards is the easy part. Each mission that you take apart of will give you points and a letter grade. After a few of the early missions, a part of the game menu will open up revealing that you have access to a card shop. This card shop sells booster packs that are separated into the different games. The first pack you can buy is the MGS1 pack and contains cards based on the different items and characters used in that game. Later in the missions more packs open up for purchase at a higher price as well as the option to purchase singles.
So, once you have a nice library of cards built up, you can start editing your deck to make it more personalized. Deck editing is a simple process. At the beginning you're limited to a minimum and maximum amount of cards in your deck set at thirty, but after a while the cap starts rising. There's also a limit to the amount of duplicates you can have in your deck at one time set at four. It's a simple enough system that people who have never played Magic or Pokemon will get the hang of after a short while, whereas people who have played those games before should be basically familiar with the workings of deck building.
Ok, so back to the game itself. These cards are what you use to move your character around and, well, basically do everything else as well. The card layout is fairly simple: in the top right corner is a number that represents action points, under the portrait is the text of the card that tells exactly what it does and under that is a rarity ranking. The number in the top right corner is how many points you will take when you use that card. The higher the number, the longer it takes to get to your next turn. You can use most (but not all) cards to move instead of for their actual purpose, but you will be assigned the point cost at the top of the card and not a set figure for movement.
Well, that's the basics of game play. The game does a pretty good job of explaining the card features and breaking in the card system slowly as to not overwhelm newcomers, so it's not as bad as it may sound at first. It's quite the opposite actually, it's really well thought out and very addictive. The levels are all fairly complex and most can be tackled in several different ways depending on your personal preference of play style. There are many, many hours of play involved in this title, and there's even more if you want to go back to earlier stages to replay them trying to get a higher score. One other option is multiplayer via WiFi. Unfortunately there isn't any Internet play so you'll either have to know someone that has the game to play against or happen in to someone on the subway.
Metal Gear Acid is a very nice looking game, and there's no denying it. The animations that accompany the different card types look like a cross between MGS 1 and 2 in terms of animation and graphic effects. The sound is also pretty fantastic though there isn't really a speech track. The music and sound effects are very nice indeed.
So, the real rub about Metal Gear Acid is that it definitely won't appeal to all players. It's not particularly action packed in the classic sense of the phrase; you won't find yourself frantically slamming any buttons unless you just really want to. The levels can take anywhere from fifteen minutes to well over an hour each, but thankfully you can save mid-mission and continue from that point later. It's also probably not the game for anyone who doesn't like long storyline conversations or cut-scenes.
If you love card games or are a fanatic for Metal Gear, and you're fairly patient, then this could easily be the game for you. It's a really great implementation of new technology as well as being very ambitious. It's always a good thing when a game company tries something new and this time it works, but it's definitely not a game for everyone. Make sure you read up on the game before purchasing, otherwise you may be disappointed.