Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker review
An amazing MGS addition

The good:

Good mix between stealth and action
Personalising your Mother Base

The bad:

Controls could use some work


Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock (or in Snakes case, a cardboard box) for the past 13 years, you will be well aware of how big and utterly awesome the Metal Gear Solid series is. The genius behind this epic series is Hideo Kojima who has been the director for all the main Metal Gear Solid games. While still involved in the PSP titles (Acid 1 & 2, Portable Ops), he has not been in the director’s chair, and while these are still decent enough games, they lacked the magic of the main series. This all changed when MGS: Peace Walker, Hideo’s latest work, was released. While the game takes a different approach to the main games in the series, it is definitely in the same ballpark when it comes to quality, and smashes the rest of the series in terms of content.

Peace Walker takes place 10 years after Snake Eater and is set in Costa Rica. Here, Snake and his partner Miller, take it upon themselves to stop an unknown army who has taken over the defenseless country. The plot has everything you would expect from a Metal Gear Solid game; nukes, guns, giant machines, and just like before, tells a very entertaining story. Unlike the typical linear structure, Peace Walker is mission based. After you complete a short mission, you’ll be back at your mother base where you can take a breather from the plot and take on some side quests (which are just as fun). This game is SO big that there in fact over 120 side missions, that will keep you playing even after the main story has been completed, but more on this later.

The gameplay is superb, just as you would expect from a Metal Gear Solid game. All the sneaky stealth action is back, and there are tons of items and weapons at your disposal to help you get the job done, any way you want. The series has always been known for its stealthy action, but Peace Walker has another focus. This time mech combat plays a dominant role in the plot. On many occasions, you’ll be thrown into battle against machines, ranging from simple tanks, to huge AI weapons that are ten stories high. This shift to missiles and explosives is a nice change from all the sneaking around, and if you want to get the most out of the game, you’ll have to discover and exploit every weak point, as every battle will require a different strategy. As an added bonus, you’ll even be able to take on some of the monsters from the Monster Hunter series. Plenty of variety, plenty of fun.

The controls are good enough, but are slightly flawed. There are three main control sets that you can choose from but for me, one of them was far better than the others. Even so, there are problems with them all due to the PSPs lack of buttons. Let me give you an example. You’re fighting a huge machine that won’t stop firing missiles at you. You’re running for your life and have used all your rocket launchers ammo, so you need to change to grenades. The system has it that you need to actually stop running in order to change over these weapons. While doing so, expect a missile or two to gracefully greet you. More on the same issue, at times you need to sneak up on an enemy and the only way to do so is by moving the analogue stick half way. This makes finding a way to teleport a naked Megan Fox in front of you look easy. The controls weren’t terrible, but with everything else so amazing, it’s easily the weakest point of the game.

This game looks amazing, and at times I found myself forgetting that I was playing a PSP game. The environments are detailed, and there is a nice variation between jungle and industrial settings. The menus are clean and responsive, and just about every moment of the game is complimented nicely by the soundtrack. The bulk of the cut scenes are told in an animated comic book like style with magnificent voice action and smooth transitions. These are a treat and compliment the game nicely. Below is a scene from early in the game. Unfortunately, the video quality is poor, so don’t let that put you off.

Snake eventually takes is upon himself to build an army. After every mission, you’ll be taken back to your mother base (Outer Heaven) where you can manage just about every aspect your army such as your combat troops, weapon development, medical staff and your Intel unit. Later in the game, you’ll even be able to hand pick troops to send on missions around the world, and even create your own AI to aid you in these battles. This aspect of the game is incredibly fun, super detailed, and in my opinion, is what makes the game so amazing.

There is an insane amount of customization that can be done here. Let’s just take the troops for example. When you’re on missions, you’ll be recruiting soldiers and sending them back to base. Here you’ll be able to see their stats and it’s up to you to decide how to use them (they could be at the front lines of battle, or simply cook the meals for your army). Over 350 soldiers can be recruited at a time, and finding the strongest soldiers then utilizing them to their full potential is a must if you wish to get every item and weapon in the game. Here’s a screenshot of the statistic screen for one of the plot characters.

The fun doesn’t stop there. The extra missions are just as enjoyable as the main missions, and there are over 100 of them. Some of them require you to sneak through an enemy base and steal important documents (that will enable you to make new weapons) while others may need you to blow the crap out of cargo trucks. The scope is huge, and if simply beating them all isn’t enough for a perfectionist, then getting an S rank is every mission certainly will be. Doing so is not only good for bragging rights, but may also unlock additional missions or other secret equipment. This game is huge. There is so much to do and I promise you that the hours will pass without you even realizing.

Peace Walker is an amazing game and a must play for every PSP owner. I’ll even go as far as saying it’s the best game on the system. This is definitely the biggest Metal Gear Solid game yet in terms of extra content, which is strange considering it’s on the PSP, which tends to be the home of smaller spinoffs. Regardless, aside from a few control issues, Peace Walker is close to perfect and I assure you that you’ll be playing for hours on end even after you finish the main plot. Check it out now!

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