Review – Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker

Metal Gear Solid is sneaking onto your PSP again, and you won’t be disappointed.

Peace Walker picks up where Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater and Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops left off:

Stories tell of a legendary solider who once waged war against the world. His name was Naked Snake, a.k.a. Big Boss, and the truth behind this legend will finally be told. The era is the 1970’s . Big Boss had stationed his “Soldiers Without Borders” in Colombia, South America, where he was approached by visitors from Costa Rica, a “nation without a military.” In the wake of the Cuban Missile Crisis, as Latin America became a key to maintaining the power balance between East and West, Costa Rica had miraculously managed to maintain its peace and neutrality. However, in various regions of the country, a mysterious armed force seemed to be engaging in suspicious activities. Now, to preserve peace in this nation without a military, the “Soldiers Without Borders” move into action. In time, they would be known as the founders of “Outer Heaven.”

The storyline is deep as always, but easier to follow this time around. Cut scenes play out in comic strip fashion, and most are interactive. Using your d-pad you can zoom in and out on most images, and zooming in on some allows you to look “under” clothes. Seeing a poor girls shattered leg bones helps you to understand the pain she’s in. Stat screens will show you what percentage of hidden things in these interactive cut scenes you’ve found, so make sure you explore them all for special surprises.

The Metal Gear Solid series has always been more about sneaking around then gunfights, and Peace Walker is no different. Tranquilizers and Close Quarter Combat (CQB) return, and knocking someone out allows you to use your Fulton system to send them back to your Mother Base and become part of your army, Militaires Sans Frontieres (MSF). Even half-dead soldiers can be sent back and placed in your sick-bay for future use. You can have up to 350 members at your disposal, and capturing them in a mission may become more of a goal than the mission itself. Keep your eyes peeled for hidden POW’s as they’ll usually have better stats then most captured enemy soldiers.

Snake with his Tranq Pistol

Once you have someone captured, they’ll be sent to Mother Base and once you return there, you’ll assign them to one of your teams, depending on their stats. The teams are Combat, R&D, Mess Hall, Medical, and Intel. Each team has an overall stat level and this level allows you to build better weapons and items as it increases. This may seem like a minute detail, but it should give you a better understanding of the depth of this game. You can also send your soldiers on missions that are only available for them, and you can’t personally do the mission yourself. Every time you return to Mother Base after a mission, you are presented with a summary screen that tells you what the R&D team have finished for you, how many soldiers have been added to your army, and other useful info.

The missions are designed for shorter game sessions, which work perfectly for the PSP. The Mission Selector is broken down into 3 main categories. Main Ops is for the main storyline. Extra Ops adds side missions for you to work on and are unlocked as you progress through the storyline. Co-ops allows you to join another game through ad-hoc networking. This mission selector is where the shorter play sessions come in. You may work your way into a compound, take out a few guys, and have your mission end right before you have to take out an APC or a tank, and the next mission will be the actual assault of that vehicle. This gives you the opportunity to save your progress and take a break and change your loadout at Mother Base.

Mother Base Starts Out Small

Mother Base Gets Bigger

Co-op adds another dimension to an already deep game, but is also a drawback due to the difficulty of the boss battles. Playing by yourself turns into a nearly impossible cursing session that makes the game almost impossible to beat by yourself. Even hardcore MGS veterans will have a hard time with it by themselves. While this isn’t something that ruins the game, it is a drawback to the overall experience. Having up to four players on a mission, is very fun. Working as a team is a must, and whatever one person collects or finds, all players in that group earn it. If five soldiers are captured, then every player gets those five soldiers. If items are picked up by one player, all players earn those items as well.

Co-op Is a Must for making Boss batlles easier

Multiplayer via ad-hoc is also available. You can play with up to six players in deathmatch, team deathmatch, capture and base defense. If you have a PS3 with Ad-hoc Party installed, you’ll be able to play with other users over the internet. Infrastructure multiplayer will be sorely missed with Peace Walker, but hopefully it’s something they can add down the road, as games such as Killzone Liberation had it added a long time after it released.

As you progress along your way, you’ll find different suits for Snake, and the clothes definitely make the man. You’ll find that some missions are better suited for specific suits, and blend in giving Snake a lower visibility. Some suits allow him to carry more items (Battle Suit) while others allow him to run and still not be seen (Sneaking Suit). The shorter missions are a plus here because you can use one suit for an entire mission, and then change suits for a major battle. Utilizing this feature is key to dominating this game.

The graphics for the game are phenomenal. The jungles are lush, the deserts are dry, and you may forget you are even playing on a PSP. Occasionally you may come across some areas that are a little blurry, but only if you look very hard and it won’t be something that matters.

Snake in the Grass

The audio is sharp and crisp, with tunes that fit the gameplay. Set off an alert and the music will step up the tempo, and getting the all clear from the enemy will slow it down. The music fits the game properly, and that is always to be expected in the MGS series.

The Metal Gear series has long been a staple in the Sony Playstation catalog, with every release being signed off on by Hideo Kojima himself. All have earned top honors for their storyline, gameplay, graphics, and overall experience. Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker proudly joins this family and carries the torch with honor and respect and fully lives up to the name that is Metal Gear Solid.

This is, hands down, the PSP Game of the Year.