One of the more bizarre games to launch with the PSP, Metal Gear Acid pits Solid Snake against a base full of soldiers with only one weapon: a...deck of cards? A tactical espionage card game does sound unusual, but Metal Gear mastermind Hideo Kojima has gone on record stating that the PSP isn’t a suitable platform for an action title, hence his decision to shift away from the franchises trademark action to a slower paced, turn based experience.
The idea of a Metal Gear card game has had many fans of the series in shock, wondering if this could mark a low point for our stealthy hero. The story takes place outside of the normal Metal Gear ‘universe’, with the only links to previous Metal Gear titles being Solid Snake himself and some of the character cards. Once again Snake is called out of retirement to diffuse a volatile situation with the fate of the world on his shoulders - the usual, everyday routine for Snake. The cast of characters range from the standard commanding officer type to the down right bizarre (a couple of weird looking puppet things). The story feels a little immaterial and disjointed, though the focus is more on gameplay than drama (although it would seem that Kojima secretly wants to become a movie director).
There is an undeniable depth to the gameplay engine, with its subtleties, nuances and flaws. Once you have created a deck and started a mission, you are presented with a hand of six cards, which are the actions you can take in your turn. Most cards can be used as a basic ‘move’ command, while others have special effects such as equipping a weapon or restoring health. Once you’ve played your cards and ended your turn, the bad guys take their turn - this is essentially the core mechanic of Metal Gear Acid.
Now I will say that this game is unforgiving - it is quite possible even on an early mission to make one error and promptly become worm food, forcing you back to the start of the mission to try again. It is also quite possible to be forced to stand there, cycling through your cards, until you happen to draw the special card you need in order to progress. It is worthy of note that the typically high production values of the Metal Gear series is back for Acid. All the dialogue is presented in text, with very little speech which diminishes the cinematic feel of its home console siblings. The music is classic Metal Gear, and it does a great job of adding to the atmosphere as you stalk around military compounds, turn by turn.