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Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker

As world-dominating franchises go, the Metal Gear series has had a strange relationship with PSP. First there was the non-canonical AC!D series, which replaced the series’ hallmark stealth action with turn-based card strategy. When fans cried foul, Metal Gear’s unrepentant, idiosyncratic creator Hideo Kojima‘rewarded’ them with a sequel. Then there was Portable Ops, which won praise for its plot and visuals, but with its awkward controls and laborious squad-based focus, it wasn’t the game many MGS fans were expecting, particularly those who found Big Boss’s previous outing in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater the highlight of the series.

But when Peace Walker was announced at Sony’s E3 press conference, fans started willing themselves to believe again. For you see, Peace Walker purports to be the PSP’s first proper Metal Gear game, with Kojima claiming it to be the “true sequel” to MGS4, rather than the multiplatform Metal Gear Solid: Rising.

Peace Walker represents yet another mad Kojima experiment: introducing co-op play into what is essentially a heavily single-player experience. Depending on the mission type, Snake can bring one to three fellow soldiers along to assist him. The question is, does it work? Luckily, we’ve been swimming through the soup of Japanese text in the demo released at the Tokyo Game Show and are pleased to report that Peace Walker’s co-op gamble is paying off.

Of course, it’s important to highlight that for all the noise being made over the game’s co-op features, Peace Walker still feels like a single-player title. That’s to say, what with its stylish cutscenes and typically labyrinthine plot, this is still firmly a Metal Gear game.

Naturally, Kojima Productions has kept details of Peace Walker’s plot under wraps. What we do know is that Snake set up the mercenary army Militaires Sans Frontieres after the events of Portable Ops, currently hidden away in Colombia. The game opens with Snake and partner Miller approached by Costa Rican professor Ramon Galvez and his student Paz. Apparently, a mysterious military force has invaded Costa Rica, a country without a military, and Galvez and Paz beg Snake and Militaires Sans Frontieres to stop them. Snake initially refuses, even at the sight of the injuries Paz received when under torture by the group. It’s only when Galvez lets slip he knows Snake’s super-secret codename – Big Boss – that the one-eyed mercenary’s interest is piqued.