Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker Review

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Thanks to E3, my copy of Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker arrived while I was flying west to Los Angeles. Still, we felt that this game was important enough (and doggone it, good enough) to warrant publishing the review a little late.

Set immediately after the events of Metal Gear Solid 3, Peace Walker continues the story of Naked Snake, also known as Big Boss. After killing the Boss, Snake forms his own militia, called Militaires Sans Frontieres (Soldiers Without Borders).

As is the case with many Metal Gear games, this one opens with a cutscene that borders on being onerously long. However, this one is vital to setting up the game, as Snake is asked to take his men into Costa Rica and run out the CIA. But in Snake’s world, even that job is not as simple as it seems.


Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker (PSP)
Developer: Kojima Productions
Publisher: Konami Digital Entertainment
Released: June 8, 2010
MSRP: $39.99

It turns out the man asking for Snake’s help is in fact part of the KGB, but he holds a tape that seems to prove that the Boss is still alive, and Snake seizes on that as his reason for accomplishing this mission. It’s almost as if he’s searching to prove that he didn’t complete his mission in MGS3.

Gameplay is all the Metal Gear staples you would expect, but there are a few new twists and features worth mentioning here. All of the action takes place in the traditional, third-person view that you’re used to from Metal Gear. However, it seems to me that the melee combat (called Close Quarters Combat or CQC) is a little smoother in this iteration.

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You can grab enemies, stun them with a taser-like stun rod, and toss them into walls or even other enemies. After you’ve knocked an enemy out, equip your handy Fulton Skyhook and they’ll be whisked away to your base (more on that in a minute) where you can make them a part of your team for use later.

Everyone you add to your team is important. You’ll split them into two teams: one that handles combat, and one that does your R&D. The better your teams are, the faster you’ll unlock new weapons, items, and goodies for your use in the field. Your combat team cam be tapped to complete missions instead of Snake.

All of this takes place at your new base, which you are constructing throughout Peace Walker. This base will eventually become Outer Heaven, the base you destroy as Solid Snake in the first Metal Gear Solid game.

Outside of all the behind the scenes stuff, I also liked the fact that the missions in Peace Walker seem much shorter than those in other MGS titles. You creep through the jungle, assault a camp, achieve your objective, and you’re done. It also allows you to use the large number of different suits you unlock to tailor your loadout to each specific mission.

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Another great feature is cooperative play. Grab a friend, and you can power through any of the levels in the game. One of the neatest features of this is both of you benefit from anything either of you accomplishes. For example, if you subdue 5 enemies, those enemies will show up at both of your bases, giving a nice incentive for players to work together.

It’s a good thing co-op is in the game, too. A couple of the bosses are so darn hard, you need a buddy to show up and help you fight through them. I’m sure they can be accomplished solo, but I don’t have anything like the kind of patience or perseverance required for that.

My one big complaint is the game is this: One thing that has returned from previous games that I could have passed on is the lengthy cutscenes. They aren’t as ridiculously extended as those in MGS 4, and they have added interactive quick-time events into the cutscenes, but they’re still far too long for a handheld game.

Although I have finished the story of the game, there are a ton of side missions, Outer Ops, and all the co-op stuff left to accomplish. Peace Walker is a game that will literally occupy tons and tons of your time, if you let it. While it’s not a perfect game (is there even such a thing?), it’s a damn good one.

All in all, Peace Walker one of the best games I’ve ever played on PSP, and is sure to be an example of everything that’s good about Sony’s handheld. It’s also one of the best Metal Gear games ever, regardless of platform. If you’re a fan of the platform, or of the series, you owe it to yourself to pick this one up. Just don’t make any plans once you do.

Pros:

  • Unbelievably deep – tons of gameplay of all types
  • Excellent melee combat
  • Shorter missions than is typical for Metal Gear
  • Fun cooperative play

Cons:

  • Difficulty curve varies wildly
  • Can be difficult to grasp due to lack of tutorials
  • Longish cutscenes

Overall Score: 95/100

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