Friday, 30 July 2010

Game Review: Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker

Over the entire two and a half years that I have been writing for CeX I don’t think I have ever reviewed a game for the Playstation Portable. This could have something to do with my undeniable hatred for Sony’s handheld machine, its lackluster presence on the market goes almost as far as to insult me as a video gamer. Thankfully this article is not primarily aimed at crucifying the PSP, rather we are here to acknowledge that certain games deserve recognition and in this case, unfortunately I feel, the next installment in one of video gaming’s most iconic franchises continues its story on the Playstation Portable, Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker.

Peace Walker is a masterpiece, a game that re-sets the bar for portable gaming. Packed full of content, features, cooperative game-play, beautiful technical prowess; this well-rounded experience will have you at the edge of your seat the whole way through.

Peace Walker follows on from the story of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, bringing you back into the Cold War conflict and throwing you into South America. As per usual, Kojima and his team have produced nothing less than excellence with regards to the story, which is a gripping tale that flows precisely and effectively as you dwell deeper into Costa Rica. The presentation of the story is also worth commending as it all unfolds in a beautiful graphic-novel that is helped along with some incredible voice acting from returning veterans such as David Hayter.

Of course at the heart of Peace Walker is the demanding and compelling stealth action that you will guide Snake through. Aside from scripted action scenes and intense boss battles, you are encouraged to take a patient and tactical approach to the game in order to receive heroism points that can later be used as upgrade points for weapons, gadgets and your own personal army. To complete your mission at hand Snake will require the help of many different gadgets stowed away in your inventory, it is nice to see that all gadgets have a use and are required at one point or another, allowing for a wide variety of non-lethal ways to tackle the games scenarios. Unfortunately the game is let down somewhat by the rather confusing control set up on the PSP. This is to be expected because of the various different things Snake can do and it has been made as user-friendly as possible, however at times you will find yourself fiddling around to navigate weapons and items.

Playing Peace Walker you will sometimes forget that this is in fact a portable game. With this in mind, the outstanding graphics and audio deserve a large amount of praise. The graphics are pretty to look at and technically are a delight to behold. Both character models and the vast jungles around you look great and interact naturally. The miniscule sounds of bugs and birds in the jungle and the softened footsteps of soldiers really aid to enhance the experience. I recommend playing the game with headphones to really engross you and remove all outside noise and interference.

You will notice immediately when playing Peace Walker that your home screen is an island known as Mother Base. This interesting additional game play element takes on board the idea of team development. Mother Base serves as a welcome reprieve from Peace Walker’s core game play and allows you to interact with prisoners and enemies that you encounter and transfer to the base throughout the campaign mode. These soldiers swiftly become your recruits for your own personal army, one that you can upgrade, enhance and send off to fight in exchange for the earning of points and upgrades to technology and weaponry. At first glance this mode can be quite overwhelming as it is hugely based on statistics and numbers, however with a pretty easy to use menu navigation system and understandable mechanics, you soon begin to love taking time out of the action to come and play admin in Mother Base to truly unlock all the potential Peace Walker has to offer. This certainly offers a different angle to what Metal Gear Solid is initially about, but it is implemented well and is a testament to the diversity the series is known for. If this however, really isn’t your thing, then you can set the game to automatically distribute skills and points to your army without you having to go near Mother Base in any great urgency.

Peace Walker continues to impress with a fantastic cooperative game mode. Two players can join together to tackle the campaign and up to four players can tackle boss battles together. This changes the whole espionage experience and offers diverse and fun ways to tackle the games different missions, some of which are specifically designed for cooperative action. Aside from cooperative play you can also get involved with the competitive multiplayer that offers death match modes and defense game-types. Like all Metal Gear games, the shining gem is espionage so perhaps frenzied gun combat between players is not the most fun thing you can do here, but it still proves as an enjoyable outlet from the campaign mode.

It is also a delight to see that the development staff has acknowledged that this is a portable game and some people would like to play it on the move for short periods of time. With regards to this, Extra Ops is a perfect game mode full of short, repeatable extra missions that can be accessed at any time. There is plenty of incentive to do these missions as they offer lots of goodies and rewards and as stated, are very time friendly.

Ultimately very little can be said to fault Peace Walker. This is what can only be described as a fantastic portable experience. It holds all the properties of a top end console game, but with the addition of such modes as Extra Ops, helps us to remember that its home is on the Playstation Portable. A fantastic story, excellent game-play, plenty of replay value and probably the best technical achievement to date on a portable machine, Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker is the only game to own if you have a PSP. I myself am praying for a Playstation Network release so those of you who do not own the handheld machine, will still be able to fully experience this masterpiece.

Technical presentation – 10.0
Graphics – 9.0
Game-play – 10.0
Replay value – 8.0

Final score – 9 / 10

Igor, CeX contributor

Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo
ma.gnolia squidoo newsvine live netscape tailrank mister-wong blogmarks slashdot spurl