Everyone was pleasantly surprised when Metal Gear Solid Touch [App Store] went online two days earlier than the supposed launch date.
We quickly downloaded it, and were pretty happy with our initial impressions. However, this morning the honeymoon is over and I’ve really been struggling to come up with the best way to review this game. So to start, let’s just ignore the price tag and look at Metal Gear Solid Touch the game.
While writing about my first impressions of the game, I discussed the controls in depth, and I’m happy to say they held up well throughout the entire campaign. Sliding your finger around to target, tapping to shoot, using the standard pinching gestures to switch between weapons and taking your finger off the screen to go back in to cover works great. Unlike a lot of iPhone games, you never feel like you’re being limited by the controls, even during frantic battles that require lots of switching between weapons.
Speaking of weapons, switching between the M4 assault rifle and SVG sniper rifle depending on the distance between you and your enemy is a really neat mechanic, and one of my favorite things about the game. While looking through your scope, you’re out of cover and have a limited viewpoint, so you need to time when to pick off far away enemies carefully to not get killed. Every enemy on screen comes complete with a targeting circle which shows their health in white segments, as well as an animated circle which slowly draws and turns red as they’re about to shoot. You’ll obviously want to be behind cover when you have bullets headed your way, which isn’t always as easy as it sounds.
In addition to your two standard weapons, you also can pick up a cloaking device that makes you invincible for a short period of time or a rocket launcher by shooting small green frogs that appear. Meanwhile, yellow ducks also randomly show up which you can shoot to regain health. Another method of healing yourself, which I feel does nothing but contribute to trivializing a game that is already pretty easy, is just staying behind cover. Health slowly regains over time, and as long as you’re not attempting any speed runs, you can cheese your way through any level by just hiding long enough to heal completely. Supposedly, the barrier providing your cover will eventually break with enough damage, but after playing through the whole game I never saw this happen.
Aside from the standard soldiers to shoot, friendly units to avoid, and power ups to collect, Metal Gear Solid Touch features two “mini boss” units which are pretty cool. The Gekko Metal Gear weapon from Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots makes several appearances, and there are a couple of levels where missile shooting helicopters attempt to rain on your parade. Any difficulty involved in taking down these two enemy types are completely negated by the hilariously obvious “tips” which you’re given before each mission telling you exactly what to do.
The loading screen of each level is accompanied by a short narrative in an attempt to create some kind of plot for the game. Part of what has made the Metal Gear series what it is today is character development, plot twists, and generally speaking, really good story telling. The “plot” of Metal Gear Solid Touch reads like mediocre fan fiction, and I’m really at a loss as to why they didn’t try to drive the story with Metal Gear Acid-like character conversations, interactive cut scenes, voice overs, or something other than just a blob of text.
Metal Gear Solid Touch is also unfaithful to the series in another blatant way. I’ve never played a Metal Gear game where Snake shoots so much. Firefight after firefight has never been what Metal Gear games are about, and what's more, Kojima’s first foray into iPhone development lacks stealth portions, as well. What you see in the screenshots is what you get. While I appreciate the action packed into this game and had a good time playing it, I’m left scratching my head as to why such a pivotal part of series is completely disregarded.
I think it’s about time we come back to reality and address what you get for your $7.99. Metal Gear Solid Touch comes loaded with 12 levels (two of which are simple boss fights), with an additional 8 promised through a future update. On a whim, I took a screenshot of every mission completion screen and added up the time each level took to complete. I played through the entire game from start to finish in only 21 minutes and 45 seconds.
I don’t really consider myself to be any more skilled than the average gamer, and other forum members have also reported beating the game in under a half hour. I find this unacceptable for a $7.99 title. Metal Gear Solid Touch carries a premium price in the App Store market, but the only “premium” feature it seems to include is the Metal Gear brand name. Beating the game once does unlock a special “survival” mode where your time, life, and other stats are carried over from level to level. While this will help replay value, it doesn’t justify the price point when you’re paying roughly 30 to 40 cents per game play minute for a bit of Metal Gear fan service.
This review was written by Eli Hodapp, a guest contributor at TouchArcade.