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Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker super review

AT A GLANCE
  • It's a proper, full-fat MGS squeezed onto your PSP
  • Stupidly sharp, gorgeous looks
  • More modes, bonus missions and Easter eggs than you could throw a nuke at
  • Boss fights are an exercise in pain played on your own
  • The story isn't as gripping or touching as MGS3
  • Aiming is as awkward as going on a blind date with your cousin

Despite what you might have heard elsewhere, this ain’t Metal Gear Solid 5. Realistically, how the hell could it ever follow PS3’s Guns of the Patriots? After all, Peace Walker runs on a bit of portable plastic that’s less powerful than a PS2.

Thankfully, though, it does beat seven shades of stealthy shit out of it’s two PSP predecessors, namely the turn-based car crash of Acid and mega fiddly Portable Ops. Put simply, this is a proper, hugely ambitious Metal Gear game… just one that can’t quite match its console cousins.

If you’ve never snuck into Snake’s skin tight sneaking suit before we should probably explain what you do in Peace Walker. Basically, you play hide-and-seek with baddies, you judo throw said baddies into walls if they spot you and you watch long-ass cutscenes.


Above: Peace Walker hospitalises Acid and Portable Ops

While the game has a traditional story-driven stealth adventure at its heart (which can be played with up to four players all controlling Snake clones via wi-fi), there’s also a pretty robust resource management sim (whoa, control yourself) in there, too. But we’ll get back to this a bit later.


Above: Two Snakes are better than... it's no good. We can't type it

Some like it plot

For those who think La-Li-Lu-Le-Lo is a designer Swedish sofa, we better give you a quick rundown on where the game’s plot fits into the series mythology. Set ten years after the events of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, Big Boss (that’s Solid Snake’s one-eyed old man, who confusingly also gets called Snake) is on a rescue mission in Costa Rica to save a smoking hot French girl who's been kidnapped. Along the way he discovers a sinister plot to build a walking nuclear tank (that’s Peace Walker), and hilarity ensues. Well, not so much hilarity as loads of shooting giant robots in their metal mugs.


Above: This guy's called the Chrysalis and he's a bitch to beat

So it’s not exactly the Grapes of Wrath, then. Hell, it’s not even as interesting as MGS4’s ridiculous globe-trotting yarn. Most of the characters Big Boss meets are introduced in lengthy cut-scenes, then are pretty much never heard of again. But while it doesn’t involve you emotionally <sniff> like Snake Eater, the plot is at least told in hellavu purdy style.

It mainly unfolds through animated 2D cut-scenes, with the occasional QTE to make sure you don’t slip into a coma amidst all the 10 minute plus conversations. Essentially, it’s like a graphic novel. And the striking visual style partially makes up for the curious lack of homicidally unhinged characters that usually populate every Metal Gear (there’s not a single baddy to touch Snake Eater’s electricity-spouting Colonel Volgin or undead Latin Lothario Vamp).


Above: Yes, Tex Avery Wolf. We love the cut-scenes, too

While the way Peace Walker tells its story differs from the console versions, the actual sneaking about works in almost exactly the same way. Alright, a few features are cut away here and there (most annoyingly the ability to crawl), but the basic gameplay is a smart combination of most of MGSIII and IV’s mechanics. More specifically, a simple take on Snake Eater’s camouflage system, coupled with Peace Walker’s streamlined controls and over-the-shoulder aiming.

Lost in translation

Kojima Productions has mostly done a bang up job translating Metal Gear’s complex controls onto a handheld with limited buttons. The analogue nub moves Big Boss, while the face buttons control the camera, as well as your aim when you fire any of his exhaustive array of guns that include tranquiliser pistols, missile launchers and… eh, a gun shaped like a banana. For basic movement and camera control, it does the job admirably. But when you’ve got to get your murder on, the lack of precision the face buttons offer makes aiming feel as arthritic and slow as a 93 year-old woman stuck in a tar pit.


Above: Aiming, especially with distant targets, is a bit of a pain

We don’t know if it was a conscious design decision to compensate for the stripped down controls and cumbersome guns, but enemies are now incredibly short sighted and thick like Porky Pig’s excrement. Seriously, they can’t spot you if you’re further than 20 feet from them. And even when they think they might have seen you, they rarely investigate. It means the series’ stealth has never been more straightforward, but it’s also less satisfying as a result.

More Info

Available Platforms: PSP, PS3, Xbox 360
Genre: Action
Published by: Konami
Developed by: Kojima Productions
ESRB Rating:
Rating Pending
PEGI Rating:
Rating Pending

25 comments

  • ColonelKc - June 10, 2010 2:17 p.m.

    Lol at the last negative.
  • Metroidhunter32 - June 10, 2010 2:46 p.m.

    Bosses suck? The entire game becomes pointless then, having played the first 3 MGSs I know that the boss battles are where the series shines.
  • avantguardian - June 10, 2010 2:51 p.m.

    you guys really don't like acid? that surprises me...
  • breener96 - June 10, 2010 3:03 p.m.

    I'm glad that you're the person doing this review, Dave. I know how big of a Metal Gear fan you are and I'm the same. Maybe not to the same extent, but it's still my favourite game series. I just want to know one thing, though. You see, I have no friends that I'll be able to play co-op with (for a while anyway, I'm after getting one of my friends to play MGS 1 and he loved it) and anyway, I don't want to play co-op in an MGS game. It should only be (or maybe be mostly focused on) single-player, not co-op. So what I'm asking is, as an MGS fan, will I be disappointed playing this game on my own? Thanks.
  • Afgefy - June 10, 2010 3:27 p.m.

    @breener96 I don't have anyone to play Peace Walker with, either. Right now I'm at the Chrysalis battle (and yes it is a bitch to beat) but the game is still fun and it's still my favorite game on the PSP. Given, this IS my first MGS game (well I did play through half of Portable Ops and hated it) but I really think you won't be disappointed.
  • Games_Radar_DaveMeikleham - June 10, 2010 3:30 p.m.

    @breener96 It depends on your expectations. If you go in looking for it to match Snake Eater or Guns of the Patriots, you'll be disappointed. But if you just want a slightly simpler, though still thoroughly decent Metal Gear for your handheld, then you absolutely won't be. Just take a couple of rocket launchers with you when you fight the bosses. That and loads of long, deep breathes. You can't listen to TalkRadar UK if you go and have yourself an aneurysm.
  • breener96 - June 10, 2010 5:07 p.m.

    @Afgefy: Thanks, and you're so lucky! I have to wait until the 17th of June to play it :( @Dave: No, I wouldn't expect it to be as good as previous 3 and 4. I'm glad about that, then. I may ragequit a few times, but I'll make it through the bosses eventually. After blood, sweat, tears and ammo. Lots and lots of ammo :P
  • Conman93 - June 10, 2010 5:45 p.m.

    I getting a psp for my birthday (hopefully). Having not played the other mgs games (forgive me) would this be a good place to start??
  • allthegoodnameswheretaken - June 10, 2010 6:06 p.m.

    I thought there were two control schemes I've played the demo and you get used to the controls
  • Guardian88 - June 10, 2010 6:43 p.m.

    whw...you guys jus love looking for the shit beneath the oil huh?
  • slimjim441 - June 10, 2010 7:04 p.m.

    I almost forgot about this game. Good thing you guys did a super review, I was so close to selling my PSP. Now I can wait for a friend to buy this game, borrow it, enjoy its awesomeness, then sell my PSP. It does seem kind of disappointing that the boss fights aren't cool unless you do them in co-op, because with MGS, half of the fun was in the boss fights, especially in Snake Eater. The End is by far the best boss in that game.
  • metalgatesolid - June 10, 2010 7:54 p.m.

    Ummmmmmmmmmmmm...It has Metal Gear Solid in the title. Like anything with Metal and Solid in it isnt awesome. Wish i had a PSP to play this on though.
  • skynetiscoming - June 10, 2010 8:11 p.m.

    A very fair review, although I did think the story was a great way to transition from MGS3 to MG/MGS1. I also like how they cut down the codec calls and put them into the audio tapes that you can listen to at your leisure. I also think the boss battles are still better than most out there, even if they are a little shy of MGS standards.
  • TheWebSwinger - June 10, 2010 9:03 p.m.

    I was reading somewhere that, if you're going up against bosses solo, you can take out enemy soldiers surrounding the area, then lure out/kick the shit out of the vehicle/tank/mech's commander. Are they still nigh-impossible to beat when done this way?
  • flyingtissues12 - June 10, 2010 9:28 p.m.

    You are the messiah. Meiks and Mild! OHHHHH! Only said that for the frankly abismal pun. Good review though except.... some like it plot?
  • Cyberninja - June 10, 2010 10:24 p.m.

    yes webswinger i just beat a tank that way and it was hard as a rock. but this game is still realy fun most of my week has gone to it so far
  • Arucard04 - June 10, 2010 10:37 p.m.

    After playing it, I'd have to say it's the second best in the entire series for me, only bested by the brilliance of MGS3. I've seen more than one reviewer make similar claims. This game is amazing. Also: Ac!d 1 (but mostly 2) were amazing games.
  • BlackElement17 - June 10, 2010 11:10 p.m.

    To bad I'm PSPless
  • philipshaw - June 11, 2010 9:57 a.m.

    Good review and I get this game on the day I get a operation on my nose, the pain will be worth it to get a new MGS
  • lovinmyps3 - June 12, 2010 5:37 p.m.

    I will definitely have to dust off my PSP. Portable Ops is one of the only two PSP games I bought (other was Monster Hunter, ironically), and I just love Metal Gear!!

Showing 1-20 of 25 comments

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