Review: Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker is probably the most hyped PSP game released in 2010. Helmed by Hideo Kojima, possibly for the last time in the main Metal Gear Solid timeline, the game is a sequel to both Snake Eater on the PS2, and Portable Ops, also released on PSP.

The game is set in 1974, ten years after the events of Snake Eater, in Central America. Naked Snake, since dubbed Big Boss, has abandoned America and has started a private military company for-hire along with colleague Kazuhira (McDonnell) Miller, known as Militaires Sans Frontières, or Soldiers Without Borders. They are contacted by a university professor from Costa Rica, claiming that an external military force has created a presence within the nation, and they need MSF’s help in removing them since Costa Rican law states that they cannot have an army. Big Boss initially refuses, but after being told of the possibility of linking up with a former comrade, he reluctantly accepts the mission. The story itself certainly feels like a Metal Gear story: simple if it wants to be, complicated if you want to read into it further. Thankfully for those that didn’t like its console brethren shoving information down your throat with 15 minute scenes, most of the un-necessary back story, and why this is happening, are tucked away in optional Briefing files, and you can listen to them at your leisure.

The controls are quite easy to get used to and the tutorial at the start re-tools itself based on which control set you use. There are 3 control schemes, Shooter (MGS4 style), Action (resembling Portable Ops), and Hunter (a bit like Capcom’s Monster Hunter). Being a fan of Monster Hunter on PSP as well, I opted for that control set, and found it really easy to get to grips with. Before the tie-in with Monster Hunter was announced, the Hunter control type wasn’t available, and, if you’ve been reading my personal blog before I migrated here, you’d know I felt the others to be a tad fiddly when I had the demo at the end of last year, so gladly the third scheme has been added and works better for me, although you might find it different. It’s down to personal preference really though.

The game is suited perfectly for PSP, and follows on the same structure as Portable Ops, with each part of the game split into short segments, perfect for quick bursts and travelling. As well as the main missions, there are dozens of Extra Ops for you to try your hand at, ranging from destroying and raiding enemy arsenals, boss fights with enemy vehicles, rescuing prisoners, and so on. There are tie-in missions with the Monster Hunter franchise, that sees the monsters Rathalos (pictured below) and Tigrex appear as optional bosses in Extra Ops, both offering up extra items for their defeat.

The game also has a Versus mode, with staple match rules, such as [Team] Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, and Base Capture. Unfortunately as I’ve not played either yet I can’t really comment on the matter, but I will update when i get a chance to do so.

The graphics are some of the best I’ve seen on the PSP, and it’s clear to see why it’s been often said that this game could have easily been ported to home consoles. Cut scenes are once again drawn by artist Ashley Wood, continuing his role from both the MGS graphic novels, as well as Portable Ops.

The single player also expands where Portable Ops started. You grow your army and expand your base by capturing soldiers on the battlefield, and freeing prisoners during missions. Each has their own skill set that you can utilise, such as research, intelligence scouting, culinary skills, or medicine, that can help earn you better equipment, making the tasks at hand a little more easier. It’s a lot easier this time to recover soldiers, as you just use Fulton recovery balloons instead of tediously dragging them back to a waiting truck, as in Portable Ops, so that it doesn’t waste any time during the mission, as well as make any noise to alert other nearby enemies.

Overall though, it’s definitely one of the best I’ve played in a while on PSP, and certainly one that I’d keep going back to. The sheer amount of things you can unlock, paired with the mission ranking system, gives you a great amount of replay value, as you keep pushing yourself on to see if you can get an S-rank in all of them.

Developer: Konami/Kojima Productions

Genre: Stealth Action (although you can go in all guns blazing if you want to, and it won’t punish you)

Time: While doing Extra Ops between the story missions, I took about 35 hours.

Gripes: The only gripe I really have with it, is that unlike Portable Ops, the Versus Ops are ad-hoc only and not natively Infrastructure. Other than that, if you haven’t played Portable Ops before (or even Monster Hunter) the controls can take a bit of getting used to.

Get it for the: Fantastic story, great cut-scene artwork, MGS3-style gameplay.

By James Henderson

James grew up with a Commodore 64 at the tender age of 3, and has practically had a controller of some description stapled to his hands ever since. He also enjoys watching sports in his spare time, which makes him PXOD's de facto sports guy. He's been with Press X Or Die since June 2010.