Metal Gear Solid Touch

Developer: Konami
Price (as reviewed): £3.49 / $7.99 from the AppStore

Named after a Kurt Russell character, built like Jean Claude van Damme and given the grim lone wolf attitude of a Clint Eastwood cowboy drifter, Solid Snake is one of gaming’s most compelling characters. It’s a shame then that in Metal Gear Solid Touch he’s handicapped by having the mobility of the Statue of Liberty and has a range of skills as diverse as the speaking clock.

While the clock speaks the time, in MGS Touch Solid Snake shoots. Oh, how he shoots. Online japesters have already spent a good five minutes using Photoshop to merge MGS Touch with Duck Hunt. After playing MGS Touch for a few minutes, that seems unkind, because at least Duck Hunt came with a big orange light gun, and tapping people in the face just isn’t as satisfying as pulling a trigger.

iPhone and iPod Touch Games Round-up Metal Gear Solid Touch, Time Crisis Strike iPhone and iPod Touch Games Round-up Metal Gear Solid Touch, Time Crisis Strike

Each level sees Solid Snake gamely hiding out behind a wall or conveniently placed pile of sandbags and needing to kill a certain number of bad guys within a time limit. Only, because it’s a real Metal Gear Solid title developed by Kojima and co., they’re not just bad guys. They work for Private Military Companies (PMCs), and they’re lead by characters such as Liquid Ocelot, Laughing Octopus and possibly Sexual Harassment Panda. The plot, relayed by lots of text and lovely looking 3D stills is taken from Metal Gear Solid 4: Sons of the Patriots, so it’s not easy to follow for newcomers. It doesn’t benefit fans either, because while familiar characters such as Drebin and Otakon make appearances, the fact the plot isn’t brand new – and is related solely by text – means it makes little impact.

Borrowing from MGS 4 might mean the plot is stillborn, but the music is excellent, and the graphics aren’t too bad. They look lovely in stills as all the sprites and environments are pre-rendered. The problem comes with movement – there just isn’t a lot of it. Snake can pop up and down from behind where he hides, but once the bad guys appear, they don’t move, dodge or change positions. Being shot at doesn’t cause them to flinch. This makes shooting the requisite number is just a case of trooping your cursor round the screen and tap, tap, tapping until they’re all dead. There are some nice touches - headshots do count, and the screen gradually gets covered in debris and grit as you fight – but the whole thing feels very pedestrian and at £3.49 it’s about £3.00 too expensive.

Verdict: Time Crisis Strike is a better shooting gallery game, and the polish fails to disguise what must be Snake’s dullest outing yet.

Time Crisis Strike

Developer: Namco Bandai
Price (as reviewed): £3.49 / $5.99 from the AppStore

iPhone and iPod Touch Games Round-up Metal Gear Solid Touch, Time Crisis StrikeWhile some game developers seem oddly blinkered to the idea of bringing their classic games to the iPhone and iPod touch (*cough* LucasArts *cough*), Namco Bandai has wasted no time putting some of its best known brands onto the AppStore. The Time Crisis series of rails shooters have endured years of life in the arcade and on the PlayStation, each one casting you as a generic law enforcement agent who prefers to shoot first, shoot second, hide a bit and then shoot some more.

Time Crisis Strike brings the game to the iPhone and iPod. The signature Time Crisis mechanic of allowing you to hide in cover to reload and then pop up to shoot is present and correct, activated by tilting the iPhone (either towards or away from you, it’s your choice). Shooting is just a matter of tapping on a terrorist’s face. The controls work well – when they work. We found the game was much more responsive and accurate when played on a freshly rebooted iPhone.

Whereas Metal Gear Solid Touch is so static as to be dull, the fact you move through the levels in Time Crisis Strike (albeit on rails) adds drama and tension to proceedings. It's reasonably challenging too, only allowing you one continue and no save points. Just as in the arcade games, enemies are an entertainingly diverse bunch – you’ve got your run of the mill grunts who move in and out of cover, ninjas who leap all over the place and tanks that try and knock your head off by spinning their turrets around, which is the first time we’ve seen a military tactic inspired by Charlie Chaplin.

The problem is that there are only three levels and after a couple of attempts you’ll find you can sweep through these in a matter of minutes. Some alternative game modes setting you specific challenges attempt to draw it out but there's no hiding from the fact this is a painfully short game.

Verdict: Time Crisis Strike is an entertaining shooting game that successfully translates the arcade design to the iPhone. If only there were more levels.
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