While some of the others have sounded off on their nominations for our Press X Or Die Game Of The Year, I find myself next up in the panel of judges. And while my choice of Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker will have some of you baffled, others will see that in a grander scheme of things, perhaps it makes sense to put it forward and shine some spotlight on it.
Peace Walker may be one of the best-presented handheld games I’ve played in a long time. The art-style in the cut-scenes is still amazing, the controls are remarkably workable, and the replay value is still really good, especially in comparison to not only other handheld titles, but other home console games too. Remarkably, I’ve still not truly finished the game and seen everything: while I’ve cleared the main story and most of the Extra Ops, I’ve not managed to obtain many S-Ranks. Hell, I’ve barely even played multi-player yet.
I could go back and just lift pieces out of the review I wrote way back towards the tail end of July, but to get the gist of the story, Snake and company are enlisted to drive out a military force that has occupied Costa Rica. It’s easily one of the best stories that I’ve played on a handheld console for quite a while, very well told, and wouldn’t be entirely out-of-place if it was treated as part of the main series of games. Mind you, Hideo Kojima’s always said that he could have called it MGS5 if he had wanted to, but opted not to, but if he did, I’m sure nobody would have minded one bit.
While Peace Walker was clearly designed with multi-player in mind, the game’s still extremely playable on your own, which is something that most games these days seem to lack. Granted, stealth missions are a lot easier when it’s just one person in the field rather than the 4 that it supports in Co-Ops, but while borrowing a page out of Monster Hunter – another hugely successful PSP franchise – boss battles are better played with more than one player, but victory is still very achievable when playing alone.
I could prattle on about how great the game looks on a portable device, there’s still a few obvious rough edges and bad textures, but only if you go through it with a fine-tooth comb. If you weren’t too worried about them you’d miss them easily, but what has been achieved is very impressive, and possibly the best we’ll see from the PSP this generation. Not only that, but the cut scenes being hand-drawn by artist Ashley Wood, reprising his role from the series’ graphic novels, and his previous work on preceding title Portable Ops, look astounding and really suit the game well, probably more so than if they opted for full character model scenes instead.
So, while you may be grumbling at why I’ve opted to go with a PSP game as my nomination for Game of the Year, I think it has enough merits of its own to hold up against the big dogs in the yard that it’s facing off against. After all, it must have done something right if people wanted it on home consoles, but its hindrance in being only available for an oft-misjudged hand-held device was probably its double-edged sword – while it was impressive and had lots wanting to play it, it wasn’t enough to make consumers invest in a PSP in order to play it, and poor sales to an already-small install base in the West hurt it.