Release Date: 03/22/2005
Available Exclusively On
I’m not the biggest Metal Gear fan. I’ve played most of them all the way through, but it takes a certain kind of patience to finish an MGS game. Whether it’s the stealth trial and error or the sometimes nearly hour-long cut scenes and convoluted story, MGS is an acquired taste. I hesitated on Acid for years and years because it was a slower-paced strategy game set in the MGS universe. Normally this would be okay as plenty of action games adopted strategy gameplay and it worked. Acid also uses a card-based system that determines what moves you can make and this is the bullet in the foot for the game.
The story is pretty basic MGS stuff. Nothing really interesting, but you do play as Snake who is trying to rescue a US Senator who is aboard a plane that has been taken over by a terrorist. A typical weird MGS villain. It’s nothing as deep as the console games but it’s there. Once you get based on the first cut scene (there is no voice acting here) you are introduced to the game’s tutorial. You move on a tile-based system and you will be dealt a random set of cards. These cards have actions like healing, guns, grenades, melee attacks, camo, a box, etc. However, the first major flaw is you must sacrifice a card for a move turn. Each card has a move option and once the move is complete the card is gone. Why? This makes no sense. Why can’t I keep my cards for strategic actions, but now I have to throw away cards I could be using later on and this happens all the time. You get a deck refresh after all your Cost points are depleted.
Once you move you can pick a direction to face and whether to stay in the current position, crawl, or flatten against a wall so you can knock on it and distract a guard. The second biggest issue is not being able to tell what the guard patterns are or being able to move around the map and see what’s ahead so you can plan. The whole point of a strategy game is to plan, but Kojima wants you to do things on the fly with a turned-based card system What? Most of the time I restarted levels over and over because I got stuck in a situation in which I was spotted, the alarm sounded, and I had too many enemies on me and not enough fighting cards. The alarm runs down three phases at 15 seconds each and it takes around three turns to get to the next phase. You’re in alarm mode for about nine turns! What?!
A lot of times you can’t see an enemy make a move on their turn unless they are in view which is so dumb. I will just walk into a hallway or around a corner and there’s a guard there. I either have to kill him or run away before his turn. You usually get two moves per turn and that’s it. The same goes for cameras. I walked down hallways just to get spotted by a camera I didn’t see or couldn’t do anything about because I ran out of moves. Not being able to see what’s ahead is a serious detriment to this game. I wish I could at least bank cards I want to keep until the next turn and not sacrifice them for moves. The enemies also seem to have random times when they turn around and move. Sometimes they would take three whole turns before moving, then the next guard would do it every other turn, then some guards alert the whole area right away and some don’t. You either have to go full strategy with this or don’t bother.
The game looks good. The game is sharp and looks like MGS2 and that’s about it. There’s nothing special here, and while finishing missions gives you new cards for your 30 card deck, I just set the thing to auto. The game is also very long-winded and can take you 20 hours or more to finish if you end up restarting a lot, and that’s just too damn long for a handheld game. As a launch title it was fine, but not the strongest. We didn’t get much of a choice and it was the only strategy title for the longest time until Field Commander blew it out of the water. Acid just doesn’t mesh MGS action with card strategy. It’s a dull, dry, and downright boring game that only the most diehard MGS fans will want to play. Even strategy fans won’t want to bother at all here. Clearly, Kojima didn’t want to part with conventional MGS gameplay elements like knocking on walls as an actual move, being able to see ahead, shortening the alarm stages, etc. These all could have just been cards dealt by the enemy. Real-time actions don’t mesh well with a pure strategy like this and it shows.