Metal Gear Ac!d has always been something of a pleasant surprise for me. After all, the Metal Gear franchise is one of the most well known in the world of video games - almost everyone knows who Solid Snake is. However, the majority of games have revolved around the whole stealth-action gameplay mechanic, while Ac!d was a game based around cards. Yes, cards. The stealth was still there, but everything was now turn-based and dependent on the card deck you were using. And having played a few different virtual card games in the past, I was really curious to see how Ac!d would turn out.
Needless to say, Metal Gear Ac!d is the reason I picked up a PlayStation Portable, and I think the game thoroughly vindicated my purchase. I know Metal Gear purists completely discount this game because it's non-canon, and the Solid Snake featured isn't the same Solid Snake as in the Metal Gear Solid series. But that doesn't make it any less of a "Metal Gear" story though. There are the classic "Metal Gear?!?!" and "Snake got played" moments, and many of the game's signature elements are still there - like hiding in a cardboard box.
What really appealed to me though, was the level of strategy that the game promoted due to the card-based system. You could choose what weapons you wanted to take into a fight, but you also had to be aware of what concessions you'd have to make too. For example, you had to use cards to move, so sometimes you might have to use a weapon for moving, instead of equipping. The game also had moments that were extremely frantic, as there was a "luck" based system implemented. You only told the game to shoot, and it would decide whether you hit or missed. So there were still those nervy moments when you've been spotted and you have to try and take out the guy before he brings in allies.
The game also had some epic boss battles. In these situations, you really had to worry about self preservation - using rations to the full, and making sure you stocked your guns up to the hilt. You couldn't just equip a gun and expect to use them, you had to then equip the gun with ammunition. And the type of ammunition you used, actually made quite a bit of difference.
One of the other thrills, was unlocking new cards. There was so much fan-service in the game it's not even funny. Every single major Metal Gear was represented in some way or another (yes, even Ghost Babel), with many past allies appearing as support characters. There were also throwbacks to some of Hideo Kojima's other works, like Policenauts.
Probably the best part of Ac!d though, was the multiplayer. It was only available for two players via local multiplayer, but it was still a thrilling experience. Because of the "fog of war", stealth gameplay was extremely prevalent, but you also had to make sure you selected the right cards for the situation. It also highlighted the depth of the system, as there were numerous combos that could be employed, and finer points which could be exploited to get victory. For example, stunning someone, so they had their turn removed.
I realise that Metal Gear Ac!d isn't a game for everyone, but as far as Metal Gear titles on the PSP go, it's only second to Peace Walker in my opinion. The gameplay was perfectly suited for the PSP, with there being absolutely no twich-based elements, and with so much fan service included... no fan of Metal Gear should snub it. It might not be a canon story, but that doesn't stop it from being a great addition to the Metal Gear franchise.