Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker
Review by man0On0Fire
Hideo Kojima's new installment of the Metal Gear Solid franchise is out. You can insert the triumphant fanfare soon. I will tell you that I wanted to like the game and, well, I didn't like it.
I loved it.
Yes, it was billed as the first official sequel to Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, especially for the PSP.
Yes and no.
It is an official sequel to Snake Eater but it's not the first. It's the second but, hey, some people forget about Portable Ops' existence. It's another sequel, this time taking 10 years after the events of Snake Eater. Either way, seeing as how story is one of the merits, it would be the perfect time just go into the good and the bad right now.
Back to Sneaking
The story is great and it's presented in a way where it is just really addictive. The story starts off simply. An unknown force (the CIA and no this isn't a spoiler) puts armed forces into the peaceful nation of Costa Rica. A professor - more like KGB-operative (not a spoiler) - and a 16-year-old girl (appropriately named Paz, translates as Peace) show up at the doorstop of the MSF, your (Naked Snake/Big Boss's) mercenary company, with a request. The request is to find out what the armed forces are doing in the nation of Costa Rica and then force them out. That's the set up. So it's engaging right from the start.
The graphics are incredible. They look just as good as the graphics for Snake Eater and that was the high point for the PS2 graphics in the franchise. The graphics are an immense improvement from the graphics of Portable Ops.
The voice acting is great, especially for a handheld game. It helps make the characters more believable and that's quite a feat increasing believability with some characters.
metal gear solid peace walker
The story itself is told in a rather interesting way. Exposition is done with cutscenes (much like the PS1 to PS3 Metal Gears), however, it also throws in graphic novel style storytelling as well, which was brought up in Portable Ops. The drawing is considerably better, though.
It also features storytelling via an interactive (in the way of Heavy Rain or Indigo Prophecy) graphic novel. The mixture works pretty well. The graphic novel style, if you have the PSP-3000 (which has a more vibrant screen, ends up looks more like a comic on an e-reader than a game on a game system. It's beautiful.
There just so much in the game that works well. There's also the fact that there is always something to do. There's the main storyline where you're playing as Snake. There's the extra ops (some of which have a direct effect on some things in the main storyline). As you build up your army (by capture, recruitment or volunteer if you've been building up your heroism enough), you'll be assigning them to either combat, R&D (Research and Development), Mess Hall (Food), Medical and Intel teams. Once you've got a big enough group, you can break your combat team into specific squads and send them out on missions in other countries that will either get you more recruits or tech if you succeed. So the army building component of the game is considerably more interesting and active than it was in Portable Ops. Speaking of building, you also have the option of capturing vehicles in certain battles and sooner or later you will start building Metal Gear Zeke. These things just add another level of strategy to a game that already does rely quite a bit on strategy.
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You've Been Detected
While the majority of the game is strong there are some weak point. If you're more used to PS2 or PS3 style camera controls, Peace Walker will irritate you. Most of the other games in the franchise if you hit left or right with the camera controls and the camera moves in each respective direction. Left pans left and right pans right. Peace Walker has it so that left pans right and right pans left. It takes getting used to and half the time you're getting used to it, you're getting shot at. Oh, camera controls also controls aiming and since auto-aim does nothing you'll want to learn how to manually aim, which means getting used to the reversed right/left directions.
Some of the boss battles, specifically against the unmanned vehicles, will be maddening if you getting through them alone. Aside from the confused camera controls, each specific unmanned boss is more like going up against a Metal Gear in the final moments of the other games. It is irritating but, once you figure a way around it, especially if you're working alone, it feels pretty great.
Yes, the product placements have been brought up as a complaint by some people but some of them actually work. The only really confusing ones are those that promote things that weren't even around even a decade after when the game takes place (eg Axe). It really isn't a big deal and, either way, a lot of them are pretty easy to overlook simply because you'd be appreciating the beauty of the world that you're in rather than looking for the brand names that pop up.
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The game isn't perfect. Then again, no game is. The thing to remember is that it's still great.
Part of the reason that it is great is the fact that it is a Hideo Kojima game and he is this insane creative genius with the ability to make any of his games not only cinematic but also overall incredible. It takes some of the best parts of the previous PSP release (graphics, soundtrack, army building) and makes them better. It also starts setting things up perfectly to come around full circle with the start of the franchise. The game ends months, maybe a couple of years tops, before the events of Metal Gear for the NES. That alone makes it worth buying.
If you're a fan of either Kojima or just the franchise itself and have a PSP, this game is a must-have.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 09/07/10
Game Release: Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker (US, 06/08/10)
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