Metal Gear is a name that conjures images of apocalyptic giant robots and brooding men with cigarettes in the shadows. Well, you know at this point that some giant robot is being built somewhere, and Snake will be called on to stop it. Or is that the case here? At the outset, it doesn’t look that way, with Snake escaping from some South American country with some freedom fighters. Upon landing, they are arrested by the FBI and things go south from there. Let us see what has changed in the world of Metal Gear. The graphics were pretty detailed for a PSP title, but I was continually disturbed by several things. The primary thing that I found annoying was the use of color in the game. I’m not saying that the game should have been in black and white, but I find a game that uses such vivid colors, I had to make sure I wasn’t on an acid trip. The color palette makes use of every color in the rainbow, except grey from what I can tell. It took a little bit, and some of the colors still bug me because they are such vivid shades, but I am finally used to it. A small note on the character design The music in game varies from quiet themes used for the sneaking phases of the game, to the rock/techno theme used for the alert phase. The music is well chosen and works for the title, but I wish they had a few more tracks for music overall, as it really got old after several hours of play. The remainder of the sound effects were very appropriate and had the right feel, whether it was a gunshot or a claymore mine going off. Each class of gun seems to have its own sound effect, but I couldn’t quite tell if the various handguns had unique sounds versus a single sound effect.

I do often find myself wondering why I never hear any voices in the game. They’ve done such a good job recording for the PS2 games, and I believe that it is possible to use voicework, but it just isn’t there. I think that would have helped the atmosphere greatly. Control for this game was primarily through the d-pad, used to select various cards and move around the field. The major improvement to the basic control system from Ac!d 1 is how your character is moved. You can now change stance multiple times and the punch attack is built in to the move sequence. Facing changes are also directly built in. You can now move one square, face left, crawl under something, stand back up, and punch a nearby guard all in one move, as long as you have sufficent movement points. This is a definate improvement over the original controls which only allowed a single stance change at the end of the move, and punch attacks occured between moves.

An interesting side-note on the controls and how it interacts with the PSP – Ac!d uses the Circle button as the primary selection choice and X to cancel things. Well, when you use the home button to exit back to the PSP main menu, the selection options are changed there as well. I continually found it annoying to have to hit circle there when I was used to using the X button. Okay, I’ll admit it now. I’m not playing this game because it is a Metal Gear title. The use of Metal Gear as a setting for this game works really well and it is a tactical title, but I’m playing this game purely for the cards. My name is Tom, and I am a Collectable Card Game (CCG) addict. I personally find that the style of gameplay and the 600 or so cards that are available are pure genius. On top of that, it lets me satify my ‘Gotta buy one more pack for that rare card!’ syndrome without having to pay for much more than the game.

For those who haven’t picked up the previous title and played it, Metal Gear Ac!d 2 uses cards to plan out your individual actions in combat. Some cards represent guns, other represent special attacks or conditions. Almost all the cards can be used to move you, although move specific cards will always allow you to move further.) As you play cards on your turn, each card forces you to incur COST. For example, if I use my GRU+ (4 COST) card to move and a M4 (6 COST) card to shoot someone, I will incur a total of 10 COST in my two actions. Once my turn is done, that COST will slowly go down as the other people on the board act (and incur COST themselves). When my COST counter hits zero, I get to act again. So I can do alot and be stuck out in the open for a long time, or just a few actions and act more often. It affects how you build your deck.

The game itself advances through a series of maps with varying objectives. With the completion of said objectives, more story scenes are played out and new maps become available. There are many times where one map is used for multiple objectives which is okay, but I felt that I spent hours on the Research Block mapset (though I think it was only for three or four separate action and cutscene sequences). Between events, you can purchase more cards from the store, edit your deck of active cards and look at any bonus movies you have earned.

The card store has some new features over the original. On top of being able to buy packs of cards (more of which are added as the game advances) you can now buy single cards. Even better, you can sell cards back to the store for more points. This added functionality of the Card Store really adds to your ability to customize your decks.

The Deck builder is unchanged for the most part, only adding a function to Upgrade cards. Being able to upgrade a card will allow you to turn it into a new rare card with a related feature, or modify it to a + card (Such as GRU+ which goes from Move 5 The value of this game is in the customization and ability to replay maps with different scenario rules. Once you have cleared all the current story events from a location, you can go back and try one of several events on it. In the previous Ac!d game, it randomly chose whether you needed to sneak through the level or eliminate all the guards. Now you are able to pick once goal you want to attempt. Most levels also have one or more Skull objectives which require you to complete a specific situation with a set deck of cards. One mission required that I kill 8 guards standing in a square with no alerts. The only cards I had in my hand were Nikita missiles. They are challenges and require a lot of thought getting through them.

There are also two other modes, Link and Arena. Link allows you to take on another player on various maps to see who has the best deck design skills. Arena lets you take on a pair of opponents on varying maps as well, using your decks. Both should add a fair bit of replayability to the game.

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