Metal Gear Touch

Metal Gear Touch - iOS (2009)

This entry is part 17 of 20 in the series Metal Gear

Console games and mobile games are often distinct experiences, and what works on one doesn’t necessarily work on another. A high flying big budget game like Metal Gear Solid 4, for instance, doesn’t really translate well to a small screen. In 2009, Kojima Productions put out Metal Gear Solid Touch, exclusively on iOS devices. It’s a rough approximation of the PS3 exclusive, becoming a shooting gallery rather than the stealth action the series is known for. Compared with some of the other mobile experiments from Konami at the time, it works as a pick up and play game, but ultimately ends up uninspired.

The game is essentially a light gun game with awkward touch controls. Snake hides behind a barrier and pops off at targets close & far. The player doesn’t have 1 to 1 control over where Snake shoots i.e. no point to shoot a target. Rather, Snake’s aim is changed by holding and moving your finger on the screen to move a crosshair around, with firing being a simple tap. Depending on the size of the device, your hand can obscure other targets on the screen. While aiming or shooting, Snake is vulnerable to enemy fire. The game helpfully gives you an indication on how soon they are likely to shoot along with their health. For enemies in the distance, the player has to pinch to zoom, giving a scoped view for sniper shots. Rubber ducks & Kero-tans show up in hard to reach or tricky places, bestowing health & a rocket launcher power up respectively. Each stage awards you Drebin Points based on performance. The points can be used to unlock promotional images, character portraits, and art from the series, making for good wallpaper fodder, but it is a grind to unlock all of them.

Metal Gear Solid Touch has a Flash game look to it, with pre-rendered assets from the PS3 game layered on for characters, Snake’s hiding place, and the like. It retells the story of the console game, told in still images from the game and text between stages. It comes across as stale and unexciting, but to its credit, it captures largely the same story beats, and there’s some unique adaptations of the original material, such as a blizzard that obscure the screen during the Shadow Moses Island revisit. By the end, however, it becomes tedious. Tiny enemies in the distance are hard to hit or can get easily obscured by larger ones closer in the foreground, and sometimes shots don’t connect, even when the crosshair is definitely hovering over an enemy. It’s definitely a game that plays better on a tablet, rather than a phone, where fingers and hands obscure the screen more easily.

Metal Gear Solid Touch is a decent experience. It plays well enough, despite the cumbersome controls, and it doesn’t try to be something that it isn’t. It would have been better remembered as a free tie-in promoting the console game it takes after, rather than arriving months later with a price tag attached. It was delisted in 2015, due to the depreciation of 32-bit apps on iOS, making it all the harder to play now. As far as mobile games go, Metal Gear Solid Touch is a serviceable waste of time, making it better than some of the company’s other efforts in the regard, but that’s hardly high praise.

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