'Metal Gear Solid’ returns to the PSP in the name of peace. It also returns with creator Hideo Kojima attached to the credits for the first time on the portable hardware. Labelled ‘Peace Walker,’ we are headed back to the 1970’s with the man they call Big Boss.
In standard 'Metal Gear Solid' (MGS) tradition, Konami’s latest ‘Metal Gear’ release rewinds the timeline to 1974, after the exploits in MGS3: Snake Eater (PS2/2004) and MGS: Portable Ops (PSP/2006). With creator Hideo Kojima stepping onboard the project, anything is possible... and for a MGS title, that could be scary. The truth is, ‘Peace Walker’ is one the most ambitious action titles ever released for the handheld, and although it might not be perfect, it is an outstanding testament to Kojima Productions and their love for the ‘Metal Gear Solid’ series.
Uh, I feel chronologically challenged
For the gamers who are not too familiar with the series; ‘Peace Walker’ might not be the best time to jump into the Metal Gear series. However, with a story this tangled, was their ever a good time? From the original release, to the last full out console release on the PS3, MGS has seen five decades of action, and to tell you the truth, I’m not sure what to make of the whole ordeal. Keep in mind that MGS also jumps around with its lead protagonist, so this Snake (Naked Snake/Big Boss) might not be the Snake you are familiar with. Neverless, the formula remains closely the same. So without further ranting, just know we are dealing with Naked Snake in the shadow of nuclear war, a precursor to the one that started it all.
If you are familiar with the series, ‘Peace Walker’ doesn’t let you down with more of the long drawn out storytelling you have come to expect out of a MGS title, along with solid stealth based action. In this respect nothing has changed and remembering ‘Portable Ops’ seems like a thing of the past as Peace Walker becomes the new MGS standard on the PSP.
Not for the Impatient
Gameplay wise, the 'Metal Gear Solid' games are not the best option for the impatient. The objectives are based around stealth as it is the main focus of the gameplay, and even though you can head in like gangbusters and shoot everyone down, MGS frowns on that approach. What that basically means, is that you will be doing a lot of hide-and-seeking as you watch your sonar screen to progress.
However, this formula isn’t airtight, and 'Peace Walker' is more glitchy and restrictive compared to something like ‘MGS4: Guns of the Patriots.’ Even with warnings like “careful snake, this is a stealth mission” I still gunned down everyone that moved running to the next fading load screen without penalty. Playing against the grain can host some interesting results, and highlight the occasional bug. Turning into Rambo won’t get you very far, but you might just be able to pass some levels you didn’t think where possible without turning into a chameleon.
Of course Boss Battles are different, and aside from them 'Peace Walker' encourages you to keep your actions on the down low. Snake has several gadgets available at his disposal to trick and take advantage of your adversaries. Believe it or not, this includes an “adult” magazine. Playing the way Kojima wants you will earn you more experience points and benifit your game in the long run.
Got the Creepy Crawlers
I’m not sure why I found ‘Peace Walker’ to be so buggy, but I kept having unpredictable experiences during all hoopla. In once instance I was actually playing the game properly, sneaking around and using my stun baton when a guard spotted me crouched down in a corner not moving. He then yelled for help saying “he was being shot at” when I didn’t even move from my crouched position, or have a gun equipped in my hand. This is a little alarming when the game is made up of 50% cut-scenes and 50% in-game action. buggy? broken? or unpredictable? MGS: Peace Walker might be more frustrating then intended. Keep in mind, these "occasional" bugs don't ruin the game and are more forehead crunching then anything.
Sony, Please Make the PSP 2.0
Controlling Snake in ‘Peace Walker’ is improved from ‘Portable Ops,’ but the PSP is still missing the use of another analog stick. Using the controls in default can still be a hassle and might detract more casual players from the action. I had the occasional frustrating moment dealing with the controls, but like anything, the more you do it, the better you get. For those who haven’t played a 3rd person action game on the PSP until now, the controls take some getting used to, however, they are designed the best they could be given the limitations of the device. Common Sony just make the PSP 2.0 already-- and give us that second nub!
No Crawl For You!
Corresponding with a limited device are limited movement options for Snake. Peace Walker limits your movement by taking away crawling, which means no more ducts. They have also removed the ability to hug a wall and move. Peaking yes, moving no. These restrictions aren’t so bad; however, it slightly feels like a step backwards for the series. In a step in the right direction is a fairly decent auto-aim feature that lets you quickly target and fire on your enemies. The downside, a loss of percision to mame or injure you intended target, but really... when I shoot, I shoot to kill.