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Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker Review

by Brian Leahy, Jun 30, 2010 6:00pm PDT

Once referred to as Metal Gear Solid 5, this PSP-entry in Hideo Kojima's franchise is very much a canonical part of the series. Players once again assume the role of Naked Snake (aka Big Boss) 10 years after the events of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater and 4 years after Portable Ops.

The shining aspect of Peace Walker is the story. While MGS3 did a great job of explaining the origin of Big Boss, the original antagonist of Metal Gear, it's great to have Big Boss' descent from hero to villain better developed. Of course, Kojima's classic themes of nuclear weaponry are present in this Cold War era game focusing on deterrence and the concept of mutually assured destruction. Hell, there's even a character named Dr. Strangelove!

What begins as a mission to repel an invading force in Costa Rica, which cannot maintain its own army, quickly turns into a dramatic tale when an audio tape featuring the voice of Big Boss' deceased mentor, The Boss, is played (in the opening cutscene). I won't spoil any more of the story, but fans of the series will not want to miss this entry.

On the surface, the gameplay is largely similar to that of Portable Ops: you'll move through zones eliminating, neutralizing, or capturing enemy soldiers to add them to your growing mercenary force. If you've played Portable Ops, you might be cringing, worried about control issues and slow gameplay, especially when it comes to capturing enemies. Fret not, Peace Walker plays much better than previous PSP entries.

Gameplay is much more streamlined with enhanced aiming controls, the ability to move while crouched, and instant capturing of enemy troops via a Fulton Recovery System balloon. The missions are varied enough to keep things interesting with plenty of boss battles scattered throughout. The design means for the game to be played in co-op over the ad-hoc network, but it is easily finished solo. Some of the boss battles will be more challenging, and ammo will be tight, but nothing in the game is impossible solo.

In addition to the story missions, there are 128 extra missions. Captured soldiers, which were mostly useless in Portable Ops, will generate money, research new items and weapons, and can go on non-story missions. Much of the game is spent managing your troops, making sure they are assigned to the best unit for their talents. There are even more missions for deployable forces of soldiers that are not played, but can lead to additional character development or items.

Even after the game is finished, there are a ton of extra missions, Monster Hunter crossover content, and versus multiplayer. The gameplay is extremely snackable and perfect for a portable title. It's a definite purchase for fans of the series, but those unfamiliar with Metal Gear Solid (and especially MGS3: Snake Eater) are probably better served by starting the series from the beginning.





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