A full hand

April 15, 2005 by Tim

I want to start off by clarifying that even though I am poking fun at Metal Gear Acid today (and am considering doing so tomorrow as well), I really enjoy this game.

Basically what I am saying is that in concept this game is ridiculous, but in execution it is flawless.

I’ve always been pretty skeptical of “card” based games that weren’t actual card games. Even some of those (Pokemon, Yugi-crap) draw a raised eyebrow from me. But it wasn’t until Metal Gear Ac!d that I really found some appreciation for the idea. It may sound silly to play a game like Metal Gear in a turn-based format using randomly drawn cards from your hand. You would think it wouldn’t translate well, that you’d lose something from the experience. Quite the opposite, actually. MGA removes the need for twitch gaming, and replaces it with a need for thought and strategy. The result is pretty entertaining.

I wouldn’t say that one form of playing Metal Gear, turn-based or real time, is particularly more fun than the other. I find them both to be quite enjoyable, but by providing very different styles of play.

I didn’t have to make up the first panel of today’s comic. There is, swear on my life, a part in the tutorial portion of the game where Snake happens upon a ladder, and verbally says “There is a ladder…” in a manner that leaves no question that he has absolutely no fucking clue what to do with it. His supervisor then has to explain to him how to climb ladders.

This leads me into discussing my distaste for integrated tutorials. And by that I mean tutorials that are “teaching you how to play the game, while you’re playing the game, but trying to make it all part of the story”. It’s been done well on occasion, but for the most part they are awkward and unsuccessful. For instance when veteran soldier Solid Snake needs to be instructed how to climb a ladder, you can’t help but to feel sorry for the poor chap. It pulls you right out of the immersion, and if it doesn’t you’re forced to ask yourself why this grown man can’t figure this out on his own.

I prefer more straightforward, precursor tutorials that don’t try to attach themselves to the actual story being told. More of a “Ok, this is how you play the game. Got it? Good, go have fun” school of thought. Preferrably before the game even starts, a separate, quick rundown of how to do what. Perhaps even with unobtrusive reminders throughout the first level, and then whenever you gain a new move/skill/ability. But that’s just my preference. I’m just talking here.

So if you were ready to write off Metal Gear Acid just because it was turn-based with cards, you may want to look to borrow it from a friend and give it a try. You might find that you enjoy it.

And as a reminder, with this comic I make fun of the things I love just as much as I make fun of the things I hate, so never presume to know my stance on any given topic based solely on the fact that I made some jokes about it.

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