Snake? Snake?! Snnnaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaake!!!
As a fan of the Metal Gear Solid series, I was interested in Metal Gear Solid Touch the moment that it was launched as an iPhone game. Kojima Productions has a reputation of cleverly exploiting the characteristics of the hardware that its games run on, so hopes were high.
Metal Gear Solid Touch hit the App Store on iTunes on March 18, slightly ahead of schedule. The download is 87.3 MB and costs $7.99. At that price, it’s hard to expect a full Metal Gear Solid experience, but fans of the series still might be a little disappointed.
The best way to describe MGST is that it’s a lot like a lightgun shooting game, like Time Crisis, or even going all the way back to Duck Hunt. Obviously due to control limitations, one can’t expect a console experience, but those looking for any gameplay depth will be disappointed in MGST.
According to Andriasang, Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima said in a magazine interview that MGST is "simple, but solidly playable."
MGST is a shooting gallery game, where players control the Solid Snake’s aim by moving a reticle about the screen. Instead of tapping precisely where Snake should aim, movements on the touch screen move the reticle; so it feels a lot like you’re adjusting your aim using a trackpad on a laptop. Tapping on the screen fires, with each tap equating to a single shot. Unlike the massive arsenal available to Snake in the console games, MGST only outfits our hero with an M4 assault rifle and an SVD sniper rifle, which can be toggled using pinching gestures.
The controls themselves work fine, as long as one has the patience to deal with aiming the reticle using a trackpad. Firing and switching weapons is responsive. The controls, as simple as they may be, aren’t what’s holding MGST back.
Given that the MGST isn’t on a PlayStation platform, I wasn’t expecting a full blown Metal Gear story. But the story here is just a summarized version of Metal Gear Solid 4, and for those who have experienced the big screen, big sound production on the PlayStation 3, this short take on the story just feels cheap. A better approach would be to take a side story, one that’s not critical to the overall Metal Gear universe, but at least one that’s of some additional value to fans.
Technically, MGST offers competent visuals that are lifted straight from the MGS4 style, but the graphics are laid on static backgrounds, making it basically a nicely-themed cardboard shooting gallery. The audio is very good, with music tracks of the modern Metal Gear variety, meaning that it’s very cinematic; and the sound effects are lifted from the console game too.
In the end, MGST feels like a very well-dressed iPhone game, and it’s competent at what it does. Kojima’s assessment of "simple, but solidly playable" isn’t off the mark, but MGST is a shallow experience given what the rest of the series has to offer.