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Alexandre Guimond

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker review.

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Two years ago, Hideo Kojima told us that Metal Gear Solid IV would be the last Metal Gear, in a very long time. And for good reasons as well; it was time for him to retire Solid Snake, and conclude the series epic story. But, like any dedicated video game creators, Kojima sensed the pressure coming from Konami to keep the franchise going, while still giving the fan-base what they wanted, more Metal Gears. So, he went to create several branching in the series (like Metal Gear Solid Touch and MGS: Rising), so he could focus on a more genuine title for the series. Kojima wanted to create something that would shake the lore a little bit, while maintaining the back-story intact.

Following the success of Guns of the Patriots on PlayStation 3, it’s hard to believe that Kojima's next project would be on Sony’s zombified console. There’s nothing wrong in developing a triple-A game for an undead platform; bashing the PSP’s qualities and library of games would be pretentious and superficial. But, after Portable Ops clumsily laid the ground for the Metal Gear Solid series on PSP, it’s quite surprising to see that, a full-ledged Metal Gear, would be made for Sony’s portable console again.

There’s a weird feeling you’ll get while playing Peace Walker; you’ll be questioning yourselves on how this game, isn’t on PlayStation 3, to begin with. Metal Gear Solid: PW might very well be a console game on its own, since it is so beautifully crafted. The game is massive; (requires an installation of 850mb), and the graphics are outstanding. It is packed with every loving bit of extra modes, artworks and story driven material.

The story is a lot more developed and faithful to the series timeline. It picks up 8 years after the events that took place in Snake Eater. The game’s position in the actual time-line is right between Portable Ops and Metal Gear on the NES. Peace Walker’s plot will guide you through the creation of Big Boss’s army, as well as reinforcing the importance of nuclear deterrence, ultimately leading to desperate measures, in order to prevent all-out nuclear war, between the United-States and the Soviet Union. Although the plot is quite gripping, it’s far from being the best aspect of Peace Walker. The gameplay actually steals the show in this one.

The jungle combat is awesome, considering it’s the same principle as in Metal Gear Solid 3. The environments are well detailed, and highly atmospheric; (There is little to no music in the sneaking parts, aside from the bird chants, and claustrophobic jungle noises). Peace Walker uses the same camouflage system as in Snake Eater’s however; you won’t have to rely on it, since you will be able to sneak up on guards and hidden foes quite easily. One other thing playing against the camouflage system is that you cannot crawl while lying down. It was an amazing feature in Guns of the Patriots, removing it from the controls makes it not very ergonomic.

Fortunately, the game controls shine through in the new CQC (Close-Quarter-Combat) system that Peace Walker is boasted with. You are now able to throw, (in any direction you want), your enemies, and you can now chain melee takedowns in between soldiers, by pressing a single button. This is an absolute god-send for any fans of the more stealthy approach. You can shoot your way up throughout the entire game but, sneaking up as it should be done, is now incredibly fluent and natural.

One of the new refreshing aspects in Peace Walker is the mother base menu screen. This infrastructure lets you train or recruit soldiers (that you pick up during missions or by trading them with other players). It also lets you capture enemy vehicles, as well as special weapons that you can use, in the Outer Ops mode. Every soldier you have in your army is unique, and will have certain advantages in different fields. (Unless of course, you are dedicated enough, to max the stats of all the soldiers).These fields will permit you to research more weapons, recovery items and so on. The more you put soldiers in a particular field, the more effective this aspect of your army will be.

As for the recruitment, you now have access to a balloon system, which prevents you from doing the tedious work, of carrying your captives to the beginning of the level in order, to add them to your army. This is an improvement to the most frustrating and useless aspect of Portable Ops.

As much as we would like to praise Peace Walker, there are few things that need to be discussed; those problems will probably be deal breakers for a lot of players. Is it no secret that, the camera on the PSP is downright awful. But, if you can get use to it, you might be able to dismiss this flaw entirely. The camera angles play against you in some cases, especially in boss fights. Normally you will have time to adjust the camera at your will, but with the PSP not having a second analog stick, it might be a turn-off for some players. The game does let you choose your control scheme, and is fairly customizable in order to fit your taste.

A new feature in Peace Walker is that, you can now play the entire story-line (and the Extra Ops) with other players. The mode is only available via Ad-Hoc, and cannot be played online. It is a nice feature however, in some instances; a lot of players might require an extra hand, to complete missions. The story-mode was not designed to be played with other players, (and it all falls back to your performance). So relying on other people is not necessary since the game can easily be done alone. But, having a helping hand is always welcomed.

Peace Walker is highly inspired by Capcom’s Monster Hunter games. Of course, without counting the bonus operatives you can partake with other players, (hunting the iconic monsters of the series). Peace Walker is a lot like Monster Hunter with guns. It adopts the same mission-based style, the crafting system is more or less similar as well. Also, Peace Walker's multiplayer is highly influenced by the Monster Hunter games. It’s not an entirely accurate way to describe the game's concept, but all those features work perfectly for once, as a portable Metal Gear Solid.

Luckily for all fans of the series, Peace Walker is far and beyond anything that has been released on the PSP, so far. Big Boss’s latest mission is probably the closest thing you’ll find to Snake Eater, on portable consoles. The game brings a refreshing take to the Portable Ops mechanics, while still maintaining its originality. The story is much more believable than the prior titles, as well as given it a direct connection to the series plot. The new CQC system compliments the game, with whole new possibilities in the way you can play. The game is fully packed with plenty of additional features. So much so that, Peace Walker is a bold and fully legitimate game, that any PSPs deserve to be powered-on for.

Buy Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker on Now:

Sony PSP - Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker
Price: $34.99 Ends: July 23, 2010 8:00:00 PM EDT

Alexandre Guimond
Assistant Editor

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Updated 06-09-10 at 07:39 by SteveSawyer

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