Like a snake shedding its skin, Metal Gear Solid adopts a new form on iPhone. Abandoning the stealth play of the main series so far, Metal Gear Solid Touch is all about the trigger finger. All-out action replaces tactical espionage in what plays more like Duck Hunt than Metal Gear Solid.
It's a dramatic departure for a franchise venerated as the progenitor of the stealth-action genre. The result is a game that fails to carry the spirit of the series, trading sophisticated gameplay for accessibility.
Reprising his role in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, Solid Snake returns as the distinguished Old Snake for one final mission against his nemesis Liquid Ocelot.
The first three acts of the saga are chronicled in Metal Gear Solid Touch beginning with an arrival in the Middle East and ending in a foggy European city. The game's 12 missions will be boosted by others released as a free update at a later date.
Instead of sneaking in the shadows, you control Snake in a series of gun-slinging stages. Swiping your finger across the screen pops Snake up from cover, moving the reticle on his M4 assault rifle.
When you have an enemy in your sights, a quick tap fires off a bullet. Distanced foes can be taken out using the SVD sniper rifle by zooming in. Sliding two fingers apart horizontally on the screen swaps Snake's M4 for the SVD, switching the view to that of a scope.
Private military contract soldiers join elite forces "Frogs" and bipedal mechanical Geckos in Snake's shootout. As you progress, enemies appear more frequently, require more shots to kill, and move with greater speed. There are also boss battles capping each act that have you square off against noted figures from Metal Gear Solid 4.
Aiding you are special GA-KO and Kerotan power-ups (read: rubber duckies and frogs) that replenish Snake's health, as well as equip him with a one-use RPG-7 and temporary stealth mode. You won't need the help, but honing in on the miniature figurines adds variety to otherwise repetitive stages.
There's nothing particularly creative about these Metal Gear Solid-themed shooting galleries. Enemies pop up in a predictable fashion, broken only by the occasional uninspired boss battle. More could have been done to capitalise on the bosses, especially considering the source material.
The duel with Laughing Octopus is especially disappointing and does little to play up her unique attributes. Giving the adversary in question extra health and speeding up their movement in comparison to regular enemies doesn't make these battles more exciting, just longer.
Metal Gear Solid Touch attempts to hide its banal battles behind slick graphics and a full set of features. The problem isn't in the shooting gallery gameplay, which works rather well; instead, it's the complete lack of creativity, the unwillingness to leverage the format to deliver a cutting edge shooter.
Someone needs to teach Old Snake a few new tricks because his iPhone ops is just barely solid.