Metal Gear Peacewalker may be on the PSP – but make no mistake, this is every bit a proper Metal Gear Solid game as MGS 1 to 4. Taking everything that’s worked well on the PSP, taking elements from the original MGS: Portable Ops to the Monster Hunter games, Peacewalker is a handheld masterpiece.
The story takes place between the Portable Ops – where we saw Big Boss become the leader of a mercenary army – and the Original Metal Gear (the old one, where Snake first kills Big Boss). The cutscenes use the comic book style of Portable Ops, but add a certain level of interativity to them that makes them far more intersting and certainly more Kojima-esque – With quick time button pushes, shooting at targets and being able to zoom in and x-raying broken bones.
The gameplay is perfect, none of the awkwardness of Portable Ops is present here. By streamlining a lot of snakes actions (snake can no longer crawl on his belly or move against a wall) the game keeps a better pace and never lets the controls become confusing. There’s a variety of control systems, including one for Monster Hunter players. But for me the Shooter preset has worked the best. Using the face buttons to aim, the analog to move, the Left trigger to go into aim mode and the Right trigger to fire.
The ingame action is pretty much what you may have come to expect from Metal Gear, but what really makes peacewalker stand out is the Co-Op modes, which are outstanding. Much like monster hunter the missions are chopped up into small areas and players can often be in different areas. There’s a plethora of voice commands you can issue to your partner if you’re unlucky enough not be sitting next to your co-op partner (or don’t have a headset and ad-hoc party on your PS3). Taking out enemies simultanously is great fun to see executed perfectly and Peacewalker also introduces Snake Formation. This option allows all players to fall in behind a single player. When the designated leader moves, everyone else automatically follows, making sneaking past particularly difficult enemies a tad more organised.
Theres a whole mico-management side to the game too, with Big Boss having to deal with the Mother Base that he and Master Miller set up. Captured enemy soldiers are brought over to your side and then divided around the base into various tasks. Combat soldiers can be used on missions and rank up as you play with them more. R&D soldiers allow you to research and develop new weapons and items – the better the soldiers’ skills, the more designs you have available. The Mess Hall keeps soldiers morale up and stops them defecting and the Infirmary allows you to heal cricially wounded soldiers, so they can fight another day. Much like Portable Ops, the management of the army is fantastic, and while it doesn’t have the unique wi-fi soldier search options of Portable Ops, it does provide the player with the ability to trade soldiers with other players in a rather Pokemon take on collecting great soldiers for you Militaire Sans Frontiers army.
The game is fantastic and I really can’t wait to get further into it – especially to take out the Monster Hunter monsters too. It’s about time someone gave the Rathalos a jolly good thrashing. It’s due out on the 18th of June, which isn’t too far away. Remember to charge your PSP’s the day before, so you can have a ruddy good session of it.