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Metal Gear Acid 2 (PSP) artwork

Metal Gear Acid 2 (PSP) review


"That being said then, Konami's evolution was never going to address such concerns. Depth, Rebirth, and Solidity, are what they wanted, and Metal Gear Acid 2 has nailed its targets in turn. Those familiar with the original however, should feel right at home as the premise itself hasn't changed. You're still alternating rounds with the AI, moving Snake across the map via the use of cards which are randomly dealt from a fully customizable deck."



What did the original, Metal Gear Acid teach you? Was it that stealth action could work as a card based strategy? Or did it have something to do with how narrow minded fans can be? One could offer those bastards all the gameplay in the world, but if your latest masterpiece doesn't have animated cut scenes or voice acting, there'll be hell to pay. Luckily enough however, the PSP's debut stealth adventure sold extremely well without their support, and Konami soon commissioned a follow up. Evolving tactical espionage in three easy steps, Metal Gear Acid 2 has reinvented itself with a new look, and an awesome new challenge. As to the inclusion of semi naked Japanese women though, well... I'm just as puzzled as you.

Oh man, I can't ******* believe this. How can the same thing happen to the same guy twice?

Another year, another research facility. If John McClane thought he had it hard around Christmas time, he should spare a thought for Solid Snake. It's been two festive seasons in a row now, and gaming's favorite mercenary still can't get a break. Hot on the heels of last year's "Pythagoras" incident, Snake has recently been captured by the FBI and coaxed into infiltrating yet another one of those, mysterious facilities. What he doesn't realise however, is that the U.S. military is holding all the cards, and that his new partner Venus is somehow connected to the latest generation of Metal Gears. Yes sir, it's just another day at the office...

Of course that's just the tip of the iceberg, and as players progress through Acid 2's ten hour challenge, questions relating to Snake's troubled past slowly begin to emerge. That the lost memory cliche has to used again is a disappointment, though ultimately it justifies itself thanks to a few neat curve balls. And while the plot never reaches the same level of excellence established by its predecessor, it still manages to entertain in full. The only downside is an obvious lack of voice acting, but we know how important that is...

That being said then, Konami's evolution was never going to address such concerns. Depth, Rebirth, and Solidity, are what they wanted, and Metal Gear Acid 2 has nailed its targets in turn. Those familiar with the original however, should feel right at home as the premise itself hasn't changed. You're still alternating rounds with the AI, moving Snake across the map via the use of cards which are randomly dealt from a fully customizable deck. Only now you've got more options than ever before.

Game System: Depth
Redefining card tactics for a new generation. Increased level of intellectual stimulation will accelerate production of serotonin.
- Konami's words, not mine


By far the most involved of the three, Depth represents Konami's desire to broaden Acid 2's appeal through a combination of increased speed, and greater variety. Where the original gave you limited control over Solid Snake, players can now move his Badness in real time so long as they have the necessary action points available. Be it climbing ladders, crawling through ventilation shafts, or simply sliding up to a wall in order to remain unseen, this increased speed lends the action a greater sense of authenticity. Likewise, the context sensitive interface allows players to see exactly what actions are available to them and when. Something the nay-sayers might just appreciate.

But that's not to say Konami have forgotten the faithful either, as they've increased the line-up of cards to a staggering 500 flat. From Metal Gear Solid 3, to the Sons of Liberty, all the way back to the MSX classics, virtually every aspect of Snake's history has been funneled through this new, strategic mindset. Then there's the various additions to the line-up, most of which are incredibly, well thought out. Linkage cards reward players for holding them in their decks while trap cards work on specific areas of each map. And if you're still looking for some added bite, why not check out the upgrade function too? Here players can power-up their favorite cards, endowing them with bonus multipliers and added oommphh.

As compelling as all that is though, the real hook for disbelievers may come in Acid 2's Arena mode. Available once the main story has been completed, it serves as a training function for those interested in ad-hoc multiplayer, and a means by which fans are given more of what they want. By constructing a deck of cards, you're thrown into a series of familiar, Metal Gear Solid locations and asked to fight it out with a range of classic villains. Liquid Snake vs Solid Snake Redux? Bring it on! And while you're at it, prepare yourself for Revolver Ocelot, Vamp, The End, and many more besides. Arena is a fun diversion that extends Acid 2's appeal no end. That players can also use it to balance their decks before challenging other, like-minded individuals is a great bonus as well.

Graphic: Rebirth
Reaching new heights in graphic expression that incorporates a visual concept based on American comics. Dynamic gameplay will spark a dopamine rush of pleasure.
- oohhh, dopamine...


If you accept the company line, Acid 2 needed a new look in order for it to separate itself from the more established, Metal Gear Solid franchise. Personally though, I think Konami just wanted to show off. High in color and detail, Acid 2's cel-shaded visuals compliment the outlandish action nicely, pulling it away from serious espionage and into comic book thriller territory. Using a weapon card for example, elicits a series of speed lines as the camera snaps round, landing just above Snake's shoulder. The guard then takes three in the chest, and you're once more on the move, sliding up behind someone else with a CQC.

What impresses the most however, is the way Konami have fine tuned the camera. With Snake still serving as its central point of focus, players can swivel their view left and right through a full, 360 degree field of movement. And though the basic principle remains the same, the difference this time is that it actually works. You won't have to worry about losing Shake behind a badly placed, background object, nor will it give you any trouble when dealing with Acid 2's varied boss encounters. The biggest compliment I have is that it feels right, something the original couldn't boast.

Three Dimensional: Solidity
Bundled with SOL!D EYE TOBIDAC!D (tentative product name), a 3D image viewing system. Realistic 3D Graphics Will Cause Noradrenaline Wonder to Rush through Your Body!
- The big one!


Alright, the SOL!D EYE is a gimmick, but it's an incredible one at that. Packed free with every copy of Acid 2, its light weight frame fits around the PSP, giving the unit a sweet new look. Using the device then renders the game in 3D, with the cards appearing to hover above the screen as each attack takes on a larger-than-life substance. The ingenuity Konami have shown in developing the SOL!D EYE is truly spectacular, though if the truth be told, it's terribly embarrassing to use. So why not keep it at home where no one's looking? Especially if you intend to visit the TOB!DACID theater.

For it's here that players will have the opportunity to indulge themselves in a bevy of hot Japanese babes, courtesy of local men's magazine Sabra. The AC!D girls as Konami like to call them, strut their stuff across the screen in full 3D, breathing heavily, pointing guns, and occasionally pouting for the player's personal enjoyment. Similarly, a range of modified Metal Gear Solid 3 sequences have been included, each freshly rendered to take full advantage of what the SOL!D EYE has to offer. And until you've experienced Snake's confrontation with the Shagahod in 3D, you simply don't know what you're missing.

Depth + Rebirth + Solidity = Metal Gear Acid 2

If there's one thing I want you to take away from this review, it's that Metal Gear Acid 2 is a complete experience. The soundtrack is of course excellent, as are the quick and easy training options that bring players up to speed at the beginning of the game. I could go on at length about how much fun Acid 2 is to connect with the recently released Subsistence, but right now, I'm left with a single message to deliver: it's as good as any Solid, and twice as surprising. If you missed out on the original Acid, you really need to take a look at what its sequel has to offer. After all, with evolution this complete, who knows what the future will bring...

Just once, I'd like a regular, normal Christmas. A little eggnog... a ******* Christmas tree... a little turkey. But, no. I gotta crawl around in this mother******* tin can.

... but you know he loved it.

Pros
----

* Acid 2 has 500 cards to collect and play with
* The new interface reminds players of what they can do and when
* Faster, more fluid gameplay
* New card types, deeper strategy, you do the math!
* Fighting Revolver Ocelot et al in Arena again is great fun
* Ad-hoc multiplayer support
* Improved graphics engine
* The camera finally works as it should
* Subsistence connectivity could prove time consuming
* The SOL!D EYE is a gimmick, but it's also fun!

Cons
----

* Acid 2 doesn't feel as long as the first
* The story isn't as engaging as it should be

Rating: 9/10

midwinter's avatar
Staff review by Michael Scott (December 22, 2005)

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