By Sam Coles:
The Metal Gear Solid series is generally known for its outings on home consoles, but there were a few times where Kojima brought the tactical, espionage, action to the handheld systems the PSP especially. Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker was a PSP exclusive until it was rereleased on Xbox 360 and PS3 back in late 2011, this was Kojima’s attempt to bring a fully-fledged MGS game to the handheld and he succeeded.
You once again play as Big Boss and it has been 10 years since he killed the Boss during operation Snake Eater, he is now in charge of a PMC called the Militaries Sans Frontieres which means a military without borders. What Snake set out to do is to produce a military without a country and who fight for themselves and not for ideology or political statements.
They are given a contract by a professor who then turns out to be a KGB spy who wants Snake and his army to drive the CIA out of Costa Rica because that is a region that will let them have control of central America. The reason why decides to take the job is because he thinks The Boss is alive as a recording was taken in the region and The Boss’s voice is heard, but it is not possible as Snake killed her, it turns out it is an A.I with The Boss’s memories known as Peace Walker. The story is fairly straight forward for a Metal Gear Solid game and you won’t be confused if you have played MGS 3 as it does refer to that game a fair bit. The story does get emotional near the end when Snake finally let’s go of The Boss and moves on.
The gameplay is very different compared to other games in the series; for starters you have to manage your private army back at Mother Base which you build up throughout the game. This really empathises a non-lethal approach as you’ll need the man power back at base, you do this by knocking out guards and use the Fulton balloon system which never stops being funny when you see them rocket up into the sky. Then you can assign them to a specific role as they have particular skills in aspects like R & D, medical, food and just a general soldier. This is vital as the game does get very tricky later on when you come up against the massive A.I robots and they get very hard and somewhat frustrating.
Not to say that you won’t be doing your standard Metal Gear sneaking around and I must say it controls really well especially if you’re playing the HD version with the aid of an extra analogue stick. Snake can now crouch and walk which is a big help if you want to be extra sneaky however there is a baffling decision to remove the crawl and I don’t understand why they did this.
The more you level up your R & D team the more weapons you can unlock you start off with a standard M16 and a tranquilizer gun and then you unlock more extravagant weapons like rocket launchers to make the boss fights easier.
Graphically the game looks great for a PSP title the character model of Big Boss looks good, however some of the environments do look a bit baron, but these issues are smoothed out on the HD version. I love the art direction with the cutscenes where it is presented as a comic book with panels and speech bubbles it looks like the concept sketches from the first Metal Gear Solid which looks great.
The only problem I have with this game is that it becomes a real grind near the end to get the true ending it was the same problem I had with The Phantom Pain and you have to do the same boss fights on harder difficulties and it is a pain in the neck.
Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker is a great portable game and it is what The Phantom Pain should have been in terms of gameplay and story. This game is easy to find on PSP, PS3 and 360, but I would highly recommend getting the HD version as it comes with Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3 or if you really have some spare cash get the Legacy Collection on PS3.