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Metal Gear Acid 2 Hands-On With Story and Arena Modes

We delve deeper into Solid Snake's latest card-battling mission on the PSP with a look at a new mission and the nostalgic arena mode.


Metal Gear Acid was one of the more unique games to launch alongside the PSP earlier this year. Of course, the further adventures of Solid Snake are nothing new to hardcore gamers--but Acid's presentation of those adventures certainly was. The game put a new spin on tactical espionage action with a turn-based card-battle system that meshed surprisingly well with the tone of the Metal Gear series. Now Kojima Productions is hard at work on Metal Gear Acid 2, which will refine the strategy mechanics and interface from the first game, as well as put a new aesthetic spin on the action that will further differentiate it from the console Metal Gear games.

We got to take a look at one interesting new mission from Acid 2 that had Solid Snake and his companion Venus working their way up a tunnel filled with enemy soldiers. There was a big catch in this mission: Every 30 cost (which is Acid's measurement of time), a train would come roaring through the tunnel, dealing massive damage to anyone unfortunate enough to be caught on the tracks. Of course, side compartments were available at regular intervals down the tunnel, so we had to be mindful of the time to make sure we were safely out of the way every time the train showed up.

Aside from that little issue with the train, the game seems to play pretty much like the first Acid, with you assigning actions to both Snake and Venus based on the cards you have currently available. As we've mentioned previously, the designers are putting a lot of thought into streamlining the interface and the flow of the battles, which was evident while we played this mission. For instance, you won't select where to move by highlighting squares on the floor--you'll simply move your character to the desired location with the D pad. And when you want to back up against a wall or crouch, or use melee combat at the end of a turn, you don't have to slog through menus anymore--you can do it at the touch of a button.

Acid 2 will provide you with plenty of new cards to wreak havoc with...
Acid 2 will provide you with plenty of new cards to wreak havoc with...

As you'd expect, Acid 2 will introduce a whole bunch of new cards, character-based and otherwise, to the mix. The original Acid had a few MGS3 cards available--after you found them--but Acid 2 will be loaded with cards from the most recent Solid game (as well as the previous ones) right from the get-go. We noticed that a card for the End, the aging sniper from Snake Eater, was available in the demo deck, and presumably all the other notables from that game will be included as well. In keeping with the designers' attempts to streamline the action in Acid 2, it's worth noting that there are now no load times when you use a character card--the game will jump right into the animation for that card's effect, and then drop you right back into the action without delay.

Konami also gave us our first glimpse of Acid 2's new arena mode, which is a skirmish-style game type that lets you set up your deck and jump right into a battle. The gimmick here is that you won't just be fighting faceless enemies as you practice; you'll actually be doing battle against some familiar, nefarious faces from the various Metal Gear Solid games. In the example battle we saw, Snake had to take on both Liquid Snake from MGS and Vamp from MGS2 simultaneously, and as we found out when we tried to take them down, these boss characters are going to be hard. Luckily, you can set your difficulty before heading into an arena fight--but even on the easiest level, the special characters in this mode should give even skilled players a real workout.

The first Acid only had one rudimentary ad hoc multiplayer mode that had you try to collect a set number of key objects before your opponent did. We didn't get to see Acid 2's improved wireless mode during our demo, but Konami did fill us in with more details. The multiplayer will again be local wireless only (no Internet play, sadly), but this time around you'll be able to jump into head-to-head versus games that don't involve item collection, or anything else that gets in the way of the tactical turn-based combat. This sounds more in line with what we expected out of the original game's multiplayer; it ought to distill the strategy gameplay to its essence as you take on a thinking human opponent.

...which is fortunate, because some of those new boss characters look pretty gnarly.
...which is fortunate, because some of those new boss characters look pretty gnarly.

We also got to play with Acid 2's "solid eye" contraption, which is a cardboard construct that fits over the PSP and lets you look through a pair of goggles to give Acid 2 a shockingly realistic 3D effect. We're talking '50s-sci-fi-movie 3D here, where the image jumps off the screen at you. You'll be able to play through the entire game in 3D if you want, and you'll also be able to collect video cutscenes from MGS3 to play back in 3D. We were treated to another excellent little goody to be included in the final game: the entire lengthy Metal Gear Solid 4 demonstration from this year's Tokyo Game Show, formatted in 3D. Finally, you'll be able to collect short video clips of some rather attractive Japanese lasses (courtesy of the Japanese mens' magazine Sabra) as you play through the game, and these too can be viewed in 3D. The rarer the find, the more scantily clad the girl (but no nudity, you pervs).

Based on what we've seen so far, Metal Gear Acid 2 is shaping up to be a more-than-adequate sequel to the original, with improvements to every area of the game, from the refined gameplay and greater number of cards to the new multiplayer options and 3D goggles. The game's stylized aesthetic--which is more akin to a comic book than to the muted, industrial tones of the Solid series--has also been pleasing so far, though we'll have to see a lot more of the game to pass final judgment on that particular change. At any rate, the game is due out next spring, and we'll bring you more soon. For now, check out some new direct-feed movies of the game in action, and stay tuned.

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