We've been big fans of the Metal Gear Solid series on games consoles as you can see from our past reviews, but the same can't be said about the mobile version Metal Gear Solid Mobile. So we weren't expecting much from the company's latest iteration, Metal Gear Solid Touch, which turned out to be a remake of an antique arcade game with a fresh coat of paint.
Our first thought when we played Metal Gear Solid Touch was that we were playing a graphically updated version of the arcade classic Duck Hunt. But then we realised we were being a little harsh — Metal Gear Solid Touch has depth of field, so it's not Duck Hunt, it's the 1994 classic Virtua Cop.
We're not being facetious here; it really does play like the titles mentioned. In Metal Gear Solid Touch you shoot targets that pop up at random while cowering behind cover. Enemies (including "Gekko" unmanned walkers), private military contractors ("mercenaries") and helicopter gunships require you to swipe your finger across the screen to aim a reticle at them. To fire off a quick burst with your assault rifle, or a single shot with your sniper rifle or RPG launcher you tap the reticle. Except the ridiculously hard to kill boss characters (such as Laughing Octopus), enemies go down fairly fast, which is good as the controls are so finicky it takes a while to line up a shot (especially with your assault rifle). There are friendly support soldiers that unfortunately look very similar to enemy soldiers, so it is easy to accidentally shoot a friendly and lose health.
RPG launchers, health and camouflage appear as random objects to shoot, gifting you with rewards (more on that later). With the exception of the RPG, a weapon necessary for taking out helicopters in under a lifetime, neither of the pick ups appears particularly useful, as you're given a very generous amount of time before enemy soldiers start shooting. Ducking behind cover allows you to regenerate health, but unless you insist on standing in front of a firing helicopter gunship, you probably won't need to do that.
Completing levels awards you a score based on speed, accuracy and remaining health. A rank such as "lobster" is awarded to the less skilled amongst us, and "scorpion" at the top end. These scores can then be used as currency in Drebin's Shop, where you can purchase art and backgrounds for your iPhone, which gives you fair incentive to replay the game to grab that picture of Sunny that costs 100,000 points.
A large part of this game seems to be about marketing Konami's other products across all platforms, where players can read plot summaries of previous Metal Gear games (presumably to inspire them to purchase said games). Metal Gear Solid Touch also includes the ability to access Konami's iPhone web page via the unfortunately titled "Touch Konami" button, so you can purchase more iPhone games from the company.
It is in its presentation, however, where Metal Gear Solid Touch's production values truly shine through. The visuals are superb, looking less like an iPhone game and more like Guns of the Patriots' brilliance being played on a poor quality screen. Similarly, the soundtrack appears to have been ripped in parts from MGS4, and while people may object to the actual compositions, it'll be very hard to fault its sound quality.
Asking people to pay AU$7.99 for an iPhone remake of Virtua Cop could have swayed us, but asking the same price for a re-skin and claiming that Metal Gear Solid Touch is an entirely new game is not something we can get behind.