When Hideo Kojima first announced that he was bringing his beloved Metal Gear franchise to iPhoneI’m sure that most iPhone gamers, myself included, were rather excited at the prospect that a major games designer such as himself was weaving his magic on our very own iDevices.
Early screenshots, with no video available of the game actually running, were tantalisingly good… almost too good. Could MGS really work, and was the iPhone ready to pull off the 3D power required for such a game?
Well, the answer is a rather saddening and resounding… no! And to be honest we should have seen this coming! Metal Gear Solid Touch is a huge disappointment in every respect, and it’s hard to believe that Kojima really had his heart in this game at all, and more than likely it was the whispers of the money men ringing in his ears, chanting “Cuuurrr…ching!”
Let’s start with the presentation. Yes, it all looks very pretty, but fancy assets ripped straight from the PS3 version, does not guarantee a great game. Don’t be fooled by the in-game screenshots on this page, this isn’t running in 3D. The whole game features pre-rendered art with static environments, crudely animated enemies, which magically appear on the battlefield, and our hero Snake is reduced to nothing more than a cardboard cut-out of his former glory, uncharacteristically squatting behind a wall, taking pot-shots at his foes. Story elements are nothing more than still cut scenes and scrolling texts serving to fill the gaps from the gaping holes left by the brain dead gameplay.
To be fair, the concept of bringing the whole PS3 story over to the iPhone was an ambitious one, and in a way, a little foolish. It was never going to live up to the console version. Why Kojima couldn’t have brought something more fitting to the iPhone such as the PS1 original or the more suitable ACID series from the PSP is confusing. If he wanted a quick conversion, how about a retro re-imagining of the original 2D games from the NES era (and more recently the GameBoy colour)?
Instead we get a hugely watered down version of events, presented through a selection of shooting gallery style set pieces, much like ‘iSnipe’ or the recent ‘Shooter’ from Paramount… which incidentally is far superior to this game.
Each level presents you with a summary of the storyline from the PS3 edition, and then a quick briefing from Otacon about what’s coming up. These are certainly not up to par with the PS3 briefings which were events in on themselves! Then it’s into the action. Don’t expect any stealth which you might be used to with Snake, this is all out guns blazing. PMC soldiers will appear, and you must target and shoot them before they take aim and return fire. A circular counter appears above enemy heads and shows you how long you have to dispatch of them before they will fire back. Controls are handled by dragging your reticule around the screen, and then tapping to fire once you have the PMC swines in your sights. For enemies which appear out of range, you can pinch on the touch screen to bring up your sniping sites, and tap again to fire. Anytime your finger is not touching the screen, Snake will return to crouch behind his hiding place, and will receive little, if any, damage [depending on the foe]. Later levels see more hardy enemies, such as Haven troopers and Gekko. Boss battles later in the game also require more sharp shooting skill, but it’s still nothing compared to what you’d expect from an MGS game and it’s hero, even if he is getting on a bit.
Kojima recently announced in an interview that this game is bridge to new and non-gamers who have not experienced the series. This sounds like an excuse to me… and sadly I’d expect most people playing this version for the first time, would not be impressed enough to invest time in other games in the series or indeed the PS3 version. One can only hope that this game sells purely on the brand name, and encourages Kojima to develop a true iPhone MGS. However, as much as I’d like to see that happen, for the crazy price of $7.99, I really can’t recommend that you make the investment in what is essentially a webstyle/flash-game/licensed tie-in.
Presentation and Graphics
Yes it looks pretty, but I can’t give the team credit for essentially ripping the game art out of the PS3 version, and re-positioning it in 2D. The story elements are watered down and presented in an un-inspiring scroll text with no motion to speak of… why they couldn’t have included at least some of FMV cut scenes from the PS3 edition is anyone’s guess.
The music and sound is good, it’s probably the best thing about it. But where are the voice over’s, again some of it could have been brought over. It’s one of things that make an MGS game!
Unoriginal touch-based sniping gameplay, which isn’t even pulled off as well as cheaper gallery style shooters out there. Controls are ok, but the aiming is sluggish. The main problem is it just doesn’t feel like Metal Gear!
12 missions for $7.99 is a joke. You’ll breeze through them in under an hour. More levels are promised later, but unless something changes, expect more of the same shoot and hide gameplay.
If this was any other game, it may have scored a point more. But the premium price tag required for what is nothing more than a quick buck maker brings it down. But the real deal breaker is that a games designer as visionary as Hideo Kojima has put his backing behind the development of this iPhone title. Whether it’s for fans of the original, or new comers to the story of Snake, it’s simply not good enough.