"To do the right thing, you sometimes have to leave the things you love behind"
Itís been ten years since the events of Snake Eater. Naked Snake, a broken soldier, now under the rank Big Boss, has abandoned his country and started his own mercenary organisation. After listening to a haunting recording he sets out to learn the truth about his fallen master, and his future in this world. Hideo Kojima presents the next chapter of the Metal Gear Solid Franchise.
Iíve always seen the Metal Gear franchise as one that pushes boundaries. The original Metal Gear Solid blew away viewers with something no one had seen before. It was a prime example of a game that was ahead of its time, the only game I thought that failed in this was Metal Gear Solid Portable Ops, which whilst a fun game, did not live up to the Metal Gear name, it didnít feel like a true portable Metal Gear.
It seems series creator Hideo Kojima agreed with me, as the next PSP Metal Gear is not only one of the best Metal Gears, but also the best PSP game ever made. Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker shines as another example of a game that pushes what a console can do.
Where do I start? Well how about what makes this Metal Gear stand out from the rest of the series, Mother base. Peace Walker is essentially Metal Gear XCOM, 50% of the game you spend in Mother base where you will manage your troops which includes assigning them to different jobs such as combat unit or the medical team, recruit new ones (kidnap poor guards unfortunate to get in your way), research new weapons and items, trade with other players online, send your troops to distant war zones to engage in non playable turn based battles, something I donít want to spoil, and finally engaging missions yourself, with main quests featuring the ever manly Naked Snake, and Side Quests featuring your band of soldiers who you hire and build up.
This feature means itís not just a stealth game but almost like a role playing stealth game. thereís always something to do and it features a fantastic sense of progression and customisation, not only does Snake improve but so does his entire army, its not as in-depth as XCOM but itís a fantastic addition and one I want to see in future Metal Gear games, I genuinely felt like Big Boss throughout the game, not just some soldier.
Howís the actual game play? Amazing as usual, the game doesnít punish you harshly if you want to gun your way through, and caters for both stealth and action fans alike, before each mission you select which weapons and items you want to take with you, and what outfit you would like to use, the outfits change how well you can sneak and how many items you can bring, they are also used as load outs, so if the next mission involves a lot of combat, just switch to the battle armour, and your items will change to the ones you use with this outfit, a small but brilliant feature that saves you a lot of time, and allows you to play how you want to play.
Basic controls are almost identical to MGS4 which greatly simplified the game play, one of my issues with past MGS games were controls, this time they use the basic trigger control scheme for shooting a vast improvement over the awkward controls of past Metal Gears, Melee combat has improved greatly with a button prompt appearing that allows you to instantly takedown an enemy, with you feeling especially badass when you use it to take down 6 guards in less than 10 seconds. Boss Fights are in the more giant flavour with you having to take down various mechs that the enemy throws at you, whilst these fights are enjoyable; I would have preferred more one on one fights against human combatants. One of the things this games sister Metal Gear Rising Revengaence does beautifully is the one on one fight against bosses.
There are a few issues however, for some reason they have decided to take your ability to move or shoot whilst prone or in cover, its strange because this feature has been there since the original Metal Gear Solid back in 1998, its confusing why they decided to do this, luckily there was never really a point in the game where I needed these, the way game has been built and laid out means I never missed them and you easily adapt to the changes. The game also felt too boxed in and compact at times, very rarely did the game open up and have large expansive environments, when it did it was because of the impressively large boss fights. Maybe the reason for this is due to the PSP limitations. One more thing that may bug a lot of players is the lack of a checkpoint during missions, dieing even during the last 2 minutes of a mission will kick you back to the start of the mission, luckily a lot of the missions are very short, only on few occasions was I annoyed by this, but it may frustrate a lot of people, especially new comers to the series.
So how is the ever important plot? Brilliant, it has everything that makes a Metal Gear plot good, as much as Iíd like to talk about the plot Iíd rather not spoil it, but Metal Gear Solid 3 fans will love it and it serves as a good link between MGS3 and the rest of the series, though I would have preferred it if the cut scenes werenít told through the comic style cut scenes, I donít think thereís anything wrong with the cut scenes, I just prefer in-engine cut scenes, yet again this is due to the PSPs processing power so its not really an issue with the game itself, one thing I really like about the cut scenes is the interactivity, keeping you in the story with QTEs and Mini Games, which helps with a lot of peoples complaints on the infamous cut scene lengths of past MGS games.
How are the graphics? This is the best looking PSP game without a doubt, Character models are nice and detailed though environment textures have a few issues, animations are smooth and thereís a surprisingly large draw distance, there was also never a point were the frame rate dropped, even when against the massive level sized bosses, the game is almost glitch free, only once did I notice an enemy AI freak out, but it wasnít enough to take me out of the game.
Overall Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker is a stunning game. The only thing that holds it back is the limitations of the PSP itself, the game is literally too good for its own console, good job you can download the full game for only £11.99 on PSN and XBLA. This game makes me very excited for the upcoming Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes, which will not be held back by the limitations of the console. Go buy this right now, Big Boss demands it.
Review by Ellis Atkinson & Jarrod Beauchamp
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