Metal Gear ACID 2 Review
Don't get me wrong, Metal Gear Acid 2 does a great job of expanding upon the design that made its predecessor such a compelling and intellectually stimulating strategy game. Once again, players have to manipulate Snake's movements and attacks within the three-dimensional environment by using cards that are randomly drawn from a custom deck. Different cards allow Snake to move, make attack, use items, set traps, and wear equipment. Any cards you play increase the amount of time that you have to wait between turns. The same goes for any enemy soldiers in the environment. It's a chess match, basically, in that you have to put together a deck of useful cards and then play them so that you don't end up stuck waiting for your next turn while a group of enemy soldiers tears into Snake with their rifles. Anyone that played the original game will appreciate that Snake can now crawl, stand up, hang, knock, and punch at any time while moving, as opposed to only being able to do so only at the end of a turn. Furthermore, there are more than 500 unique cards to use this time around, and many of them can be upgraded to dole out more damage or to extend the length of time they remain active.
It was sweet how the first Metal Gear Acid still managed to feel like a Metal Gear Solid game, despite the card-oriented turn-based design. That's also true of Metal Gear Acid 2. You can hide in cardboard boxes, take aim with lethal and non-lethal guns, and sneak up on soldiers and take them out with brutal martial arts moves. It's a good idea to avoid face-to-face confrontations, though, and you definitely should hide out when spotted. Those are pretty much the same strategies you'd use when playing any of the action-oriented Metal Gear games on the PS2 or Xbox. All of the cards in the game are based on characters, items, and objects drawn from the half-dozen or so Metal Gear games that have come out through the years. It's particularly notable that a fair number of the 300 additional cards in Acid 2 incorporate status ailments and CQC attacks taken right out of Metal Gear Solid 3. Also, while the environments in the first Metal Gear Acid were fairly generic, many of the structures and characters in this new game bear a striking resemblance to the places and people found in Metal Gear Solid 2 and Metal Gear Solid 3.
- Practically speaking, every aspect that could have been improved from the first game was improved in this new game. Some other improvements include:
- They increased the number of campaign missions (30-something), but shortened the average length of each mission to be more portable-friendly.
- Every mission has three optional EX missions you can play (stealth, "kill everything," and trial). Trial missions saddle you with pre-set decks and turn limits.
- CPU A.I. is smarter. If they "see" a grenade land in front of them, they'll move away from it.
- You can fight any of the game's bosses, as well as a number of characters from the Metal Gear Solid series, in the standalone arena mode.
- Local WiFi multiplayer mode features more arenas and settings.
- Comes with 3D glasses. Silly gimmick, but it's tolerable in small doses.
- Can download photos taken in MGS3: Subsistence for the PS2 into MG Acid 2 on the PSP, and view them with the 3D glasses.
- Graphics are more colorful. Texture-work is better. They put black lines around everything to give the game a cel-shaded look, but, overall, the game looks quite a bit like Metal Gear Solid 2 (and in some spots, MGS3).
- Lots more visual effects: more bullets, bigger explosions, flamier flames, and so on.
- The story incorporates governmental conspiracies, international espionage, and illegal genetic experiments, and sheds more light on Snake's background, but doesn't get all metaphysically insane like the previous game's story did.
About the only thing they didn't upgrade was the audio. Story scenes are conveyed through text, background paintings, and Manga style character portraits. Although some people like this comic book method of presentation, it's quite scaled back from the full-motion voice-acted scenes we're used to seeing in the console Metal Gear Solid installments. Otherwise, the sound effects and music are pretty much straight lifted from the three Metal Gear Solid games.
Audio notwithstanding, Metal Gear Acid 2 is superior to its predecessor in every way.
And yet, for some wacky reason, I didn't enjoy it as much as I did the first game. Perhaps it was because the concept of a strategy-based Metal Gear was no longer new to me. Perhaps it was because the levels were shorter. Perhaps it was because there are too many cards and too many options to pick from this time around. I admit, with the shorter levels and smarter A.I., there were a few occasions where I wanted to just move Snake around in real-time instead of selecting cards and confirming each move. I can't quite put my finger on it.
In any event, Metal Gear Acid 2 is a great strategy game and you probably should play it. There's a slim chance one or two people out there will have the same less-than-enthusiastic experience I did, but everybody else in their right mind should fall in love with what Konami has fashioned together here.
4/28/2006 Frank Provo