When Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots was released on the PS3 last year it was as if Hideo Kojima wanted to give something back to the perennially loyal MGS fan base. It was a gift-wrapped present of epic storylines, surprise cameos and behemoth, film-like cutscenes that quickly placed it for many as a favourite in the series.
You would think that any sort of spin-off of MGS4 would further this fan service, and that’s really the problem with Metal Gear Solid Touch for the iPhone; it’s more of a game for casual gamers than devotees. There are no hidden niche Metal Gear references; there isn’t even a new storyline. MGS Touch is arguably more enjoyable if you have never even played a Metal Gear Solid game before.
All of this seems damning, but despite its obvious shunning of the franchise Metal Gear Solid Touch is actually quite a good game. Konami has focused on the shooting elements of Metal Gear Solid 4 (sadly there isn’t even a hint of stealth involved) and MGS Touch plays out a bit like Time Crisis with a focus on duck and cover style light gun gameplay.
An on-screen reticule is controlled via the touch screen with a simple tap firing Snake's weapon. Pinching the screen switches to a sniper rifle, while lifting a finger off the screen sends Snake crouching for cover. The controls are solid (no pun intended) and the game has a brilliant pace to it; enemies have a colour coded ring around them denoting when they are about to fire so your most pressing targets are always easily identifiable.
The graphics, while not 3D, are representative of the Metal Gear Solid series and the presentation is impressive. MGS Touch features an abridged version of the Guns of the Patriots story and, as a result, what was an already complex plot line becomes incoherent at times. That being said, an understanding of what’s going on really isn’t needed to enjoy the simplistic gameplay.
Your ability to enjoy Metal Gear Solid Touch will probably stem from how easily you can shake off your preconceptions about what a Metal Gear Solid game should be. It’s a shame there are no stealth elements, but what is on offer is a thoroughly enjoyable on-rails shooter that utilises the iPhone's touch screen to full effect.