First Impressions: Batteries not included? get it? Batteries? acid?? Just read the preview already.
I don't know about most people, but Metal Gear Acid was the first game on my list of PSP games to get last year. It was an obvious choice for the new system. After all, it was a Metal Gear title, and for those who don't already know, Metal Gear is synonymous with high quality gameplay and presentation. Ah, but the gameplay. That was something a little unique. When it was announced that Metal Gear Acid was going to be a mix Metal Gear Solid stealth action with card game mechanics, all the MG fans let out a collective sigh. Fortunately, the game's card system wasn't the disaster it looked like it was headed for. While the game was rough around the edges, Metal Gear series creator Hideo Kojima and his crew managed to put all the suspense of a Metal Gear title in a Strategy RPG. Now, a year later, Konami is about to release the sequel to last year's must have PSP title- a sequel that is out to fix all the mistakes of the original while adding loads of new innovations that only Kojima himself could think up.
To begin with, Metal Gear Acid 2 will feature a much larger set of cards to play from. Expect to find many more Metal Gear Solid 3 related cards than were featured in the first Metal Gear Acid. These cards will feature anything from character cards based on bosses from MGS3 to weapons from the game. Also added to the collection are cards that will unlock trailers and videos from MGS3 among other things (more on this later).
Players will be pleased to learn that the old archaic menu system found in MGA1 has been tamed quite a bit. Gone are the days when crawling, wall-flattening, and moving were all menu driven. In MGA2, actions like punching and crawling will be handled by pressing one designated face button on the PSP. When it comes to moving, players will actually be able to see Snake run to the positions as opposed to having to guess where and how Snake will make it to his destination, then if the player is satisfied with Snake's move, they can then confirm it. Little additions like these don't necessarily add to the gameplay, but they at least make the whole ordeal much more user friendly.
A sequel can always be expected to build upon the level designs of the original game. MGA2 does this in spades. Within the first few stages players can expect to find more interactive environments than in MGA1. One stage even involves the use of a giant train that drives through the field every 30 cost (MGA's time units). If the train hits someone, they immediately die. As Snake, players can use this to their advantage by throwing unsuspecting guards into the oncoming iron doom, but they had best be careful or else they could end up being the ones standing face to face with 10 tons of speeding whoop-ass.
A new gameplay mode is also being added to the series. Known as Arena mode, players choose their deck of cards, then fight in special matches featuring a plethora of enemies from Solid Snake's past. Expect to see characters like Liquid Snake and Vamp in Arena mode. The fights are very challenging, but there is a difficulty setting that should make things easier to the more casual MGA gamer.
Multiplayer has been toned down from the original. The multiplayer game no longer features the confusing item collecting of the original, but rather pits two players in a more traditional deathmatch setting. Unfortunately Konami didn't bother making the multiplayer outing an online affair. Players will still only be able to connect via a lan connection.
Saving the strangest feature for last, the Japanese release of MGA2 features a unique peripheral known as the Solid Eye. The Solid Eye, which is basically a glorified piece of cardboard with 3D glasses lenses, straps onto the PSP and makes the system look like a strange pair of goggles. To see the game in 3D, the player must set the game to 3D mode. This will crop and double the on-screen image so that when the player looks through the Solid Eye he or she will see the game in surprisingly good looking 3D. This 3D effect ties in with the unlockable videos that were mentioned earlier. Now players can see scenes from MGS3 in full 3D, and what's more, Konami has been kind enough to add the Tokyo Game Show preview of Metal Gear Solid 4 in full 3D as an unlockable video. If that weren't enough, all the guys out there will be excited when they find videos of Japanese models in 3D also added as unlockable videos. It's a strange feature for sure, but it's clear that Kojima likes his fan service. Also, as a bonus for people who have both MGA2 and the new Metal Gear Solid 3 Subsistence, the games will be connectable. The player can take pictures in MGS3 that will transfer to MGA using a USB linked PSP and allow him or her to view their pictures with the Solid Eye in 3D. As of writing this the Solid Eye hasn't been confirmed for the American release of the game, but it is very likely that the device will see our shores.
Where presentation is concerned, Metal Gear Acid will feature a new visual flair. The game's visuals look something like a comic, with a little hint of cel shading, all while keeping the gritty industrial look common to the Metal Gear Solid series. The effect looks rather bland in still images, but is very appealing when the game is in motion.