Friday, October 22, 2010

Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker May As Well be Metal Gear Solid 5

I've never liked shooters. It could be my lack of skill and accuracy or that a majority of them are just not that interesting to me. So as the years have passed I passed up on shooter after shooter, regardless of the reviews or the clamor of how great these games were. My freshmen year of college my room mate, Chris Mahaley, introduced me to Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (wiki link for those who need it: I have been an avid fan since. Metal Gear Solid 4 opened my eyes to the glory that is Kojima Productions number one franchise, and Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker carries the torch beautifully.

On numerous occasions, Hideo Kojima has been quoted saying that Peace Walker should be considered Metal Gear Solid 5, and he could not be more correct. For those who have been under a rock for the past year and a half, Peace Walker takes place after the events of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (wiki link for those who need it: and Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops (wiki link for those who need it: Snake is now Big Boss (though he himself won't accept the title) and is working on creating his Soldiers Without Borders (or MFS), the beginnings of Outer Haven.He and his partner Miller are approached by an old man known as the Professor and his student Paz and asked to figure out why a military force of an unknown source is making it's way through Costa Rica. For the price of one old oil rig in the Caribbean Sea, they agree and Snake is set on his mission.The story is told with a mix of CG cuts scenes and the hand drawn cut scenes made famous by the motion comics and Portable Ops. I was skeptical of this style when I first played through the demo, but having completed the game the mix of the two styles flow very well together without feeling as if a scene should be in one or the other style. Any storyline not told within these cut scenes is told in Metal Gear fashion using the codec. The voice acting is right on par, with every character having the correct emotions and timber in their respective voices without being annoying. The story is broken into four separate chapters with a fifth 'hidden' chapter for those who are willing to seek it.

Non-lethal takedowns are important to building Mother Base.
The story is always important in a MGS game, but the game play is just as equally, if not more, important and Peace Walker shines. Even though it is played on the PSP with its limited button layout the controls are easily accessible. There are three different styles, each one with a separate camera and fire button layout that work better depending on your skill with shooters. There is also an auto-aim (which I personally used) that allows players with less skill to play as well. The game is broken down in a mission style, allowing the player to pick between story and extra missions (known as extra ops). Each mission objective is clear and easy to understand and regardless of the mission the player is always rewarded for his or her efforts. Before each mission stars the player may customize Snake (and on some occasions other soldiers Snake has recruited) to fit the mission. The player can pick the outfit Snake wears, which affects his camouflage index, and what items and weapons he holds. Snake may hold two main weapons and four throwing weapons. These weapons can be leveled up with use, increasing damage and how adept Snake becomes with it. Depending on the suite the player picks depends on the amount of items Snake can hold. Being Metal Gear, a majority of the missions are sneaking missions, but a player could easily enter any mission guns blazing if he or she sees fit. The game does reward players who are more cautious and use non-lethal means to take out enemies with recruits that can be taken off the battle field to be used later, but we'll come back to that. The extra ops add an amazing amount of variety and length to the game. As you progress through the chapters, the amount of extra ops expands, especially after the finale of the fourth chapter. These extra ops range from simple fetch quests or sneaking missions to snapping photos of soldiers or shooting down soldiers flying on balloons.

Then of course there are the boss battles, and Peace Walker is full of them. Bosses are broken down into manned and unmanned vehicle battles. Any manned battle is fought against a vehicle such as a tank or a helicopter and a small brigade of heavily armed and armored soldiers. The ground manned vehicles have gas tanks on the back of them that are easy weak points and any soldiers can be knocked out with non-lethal force and recruited (more on that in a second). The helicopters may not have obvious weak points, but are less armored and easier to take down. After sustaining so much damage, the captain of the vehicle will show his head. Taking out the captain is the easiest way to take out these manned vehicle bosses because once he falls the vehicles is yours to use in Outer Ops. Though fairly straight forward, these battles are fun and will keep you on your toes. The unmanned battles are far more challenging, but far more rewarding. With a total of four unmanned battles, each one is it's own experience that is memorable (especially that creepy song they sing). The A.I. controlled vehicles are of different varieties, but each have the same defining characteristic: the A.I. pod. This pod is the 'head' of the vehicle and is important for building your own Metal Gear Zeke (yes, I said building your own Metal Gear. Thank you Kojima!). After depleting the health bar of each A.I. the vehicle falls and Snake must bust open the A.I. pod itself, climb inside and pull as many A.I. boards out of the slots as possible in the time given. These boards can be used to create the A.I. pod for Zeke. Each A.I. also has salvageable parts that can be picked up after battle if the right parts of the body are not damaged in battle (and with a little bit of luck). These parts can also be used to customize Zeke and add some more powerful abilities to it.
Destroy the whole convoy or take out the Driver. Decisions, Decisions.
Between missions there is little down time. As Snake, the player is the Boss and must take care of the going ons of Mother Base, the small oil rig that Snake took over for accepting his mission. Managing Mother Base is almost another game in itself. The base is broken down into five parts: the R&D Department, the Cafeteria, the Sick Bay, the Intel Department, and the Soldiers. As Snake goes through each mission he can recruits enemy soldiers to his cause. By taking enemies out with non-lethal means or by taking down enemies until they reach near death (a red skull appears over them) Snake may use Fulton Balloons to send the soldier back to Mother Base. This gets rid of the hassle of dragging recruits back to the van in Portable Ops. The player only gets so many rounds per mission, so use as necessary. Through out the missions there are also P.O.W's that can be recruited. These typically have higher stats and are more useful on Mother Base, so it's typically better to save your Fulton rounds for them. As new recruits come in Snake assigns them to the department each is better suited for. With each new recruit the department levels up. With higher levels, the R&D Department develops better weapons and levels up newer ones, the Cafeteria puts out more food (which increases your soldiers stats), the Medical staff heals faster, the Intel team gathers information better and the Soldiers become more powerful. As each department grows your base will also grow, reflecting your progress. Even as I reached the tail end of the game the base continues to grow, which is rewarding in itself.And when your base is full, you can always fire the older, less useful recruits so that you may hire the more efficient and powerful ones.

There are also Outer Ops. Outer Ops are side missions that recruited soldiers are send on while Snake is out on his own missions which is picked while managing Mother Base. Each mission is ranked by difficulty ( D being the lowest and S+ being the highest) and a total of eight soldiers or vehicles that Snake has captured on missions may be sent out per mission. The number of Outer Ops send out is limited to twelve, but I personally found myself only sending out two or three teams at a time. After each mission when the player returns to Mother Base a report tells you how the Outer Ops went, with the option to even see a play by play of the battle. Besides gaining experience for the MFS soldiers, Outer Ops may also yield items and weapons and on rare occasions volunteer soldiers to join the cause.

Then there is customizing Zeke. There are four types of A.I. boards that can be picked up from battles with the unmanned vehicle boss battles: Sense, Movement, Attack and C. As you gather more of these boards, Zeke becomes more powerful and stronger in Outer Ops (among other things...... Sorry, not going to spoil it). You may also customize Zeke with parts salvaged from the A.I.'s, including a rail gun and even their heads (if you're lucky). Even the paint job and voice actions can be determined by the player. Zeke can be used in Outer Ops and can make most missions a breeze, but it is mortal and taking enough damage will result in parts of your Metal Gear being destroyed.

Peace Walker is following the recent trend of PSP games that have an option to download. I did not play without downloading the full package (which took about 15 minutes) and the transitions from scenes to game play were seamless for the most part, with a few seconds of load time at most. The animations were amazing, really pushing the power of the PSP.

Over all I believe the only real complaint I have against the game is that the final act, which is somewhat hidden, drags on longer than it is actually necessary. Other than that, the game is amazing. Hands down, I give it a 10/10. Not many games really get me so enveloped that my grades stagger tremendously, but this was certainly one of them. I can't wait to see what Kojima Productions has in store for us next.

10 out of 10

Here's a link to, the best source for media anything, with pictures, videos and their own review:

And here's a link to Metacric's review:

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