Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker - game review

Author: Przemysław Zamęcki
Date: 2010-06-25 07:31:00
The review was based on the PSP version.

With each subsequent part of the Metal Gear Solid series, Hideo Kojima coaxes in numerous interviews that this is actually the end, that everything he had to convey to the crowds of players has already been passed on and in the future he will not return to the Snake adventures. Apparently, however, the Japanese designer still does not lose his sense of mission and stubbornly admits his pacifist message. The dream of a world without wars and an atomic bomb is so clear every time that it would not have been possible without falling into banality. By the way, Kojima writes great stories that - although they are undoubtedly sometimes too pathetic and sometimes rub against kitsch - addictive and, most importantly, reach hundreds of thousands of fans. This is also Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker .

PSP somehow has no luck with outstanding titles. In fact, there are maybe a dozen or so, which for such a long period of stay on the market certainly does not improve the well-being of Sony management. However, it is this small machine that is a real mecca for the MGS geeks, which in various varieties came out on PSP already exactly six. That's a lot, considering the fact that for over twenty years for large consoles and computers (including of course MSX, because it was on this platform in July 1987 that the Metal Gear brand debuted) little more appeared.

At an early stage of production, Peace Walker was called simply the fifth, full-fledged part of the saga, which further emphasizes how important it is for the whole cycle. And this is indeed the case, because the story begins in 1974, exactly ten years after Naked Snake was sent to stop the traitor of the United States, his mentor and the actual creator of special forces, The Boss. There is probably no person today who would not be remembered by the incredible duel of the two in Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater.

In the mid-seventies, Soldiers Without Borders (Militaires Sans Frontieres) under the leadership of Snake (aka Big Boss) still do not have a decent seat and the real turn of fate is for them a visit of a professor-agent KGB who offers Snake a permanent base on the shores of Costa Rica, in exchange for erasing the increasingly CIA from this country. Unfortunately, the state cannot deal with this problem alone because of the constitution which is restricting its movements and which prohibits it from having any armed forces. Naked Snake sets off for another adventure, this time to Latin America, where, which probably will not surprise anyone, comes face to face with the new Metal Gear model, establishes friendship with partisans and faces another portion of various weirdos, and above all heavy equipment in the form of armored infantry transporters, tanks or fancy futuristic killing machines.

The story, as usual, is the game's strength, although to fully appreciate it, you need to really love the ideas of Hideo Kojima, who in his own style addresses many important topics, with the nuclear threat at the forefront. The characteristic way of conducting dialogues, unfortunately, will not convince people who have long put a cross on the series. Here, nothing has changed compared to the previous parts, except that most conversations are conducted not directly during the mission, but before it begins. This is due to the fact that almost the entire campaign can be switched to two or four people in cooperative mode, and the number of players depends on whether we are dealing with a regular mission or a boss encounter. Anyway, trying Peace Walker as a cooperative game is not only allowed, but advisable. Especially in the case of battles with bosses, which are at least difficult and often require several approaches during lonely play. In addition, part of the location has been designed in such a way that it is simply easier to get to some places with the help of a companion.

At the same time, co-op does not in any way capture the game of honey when passing it from A to Z alone. It is simply an extremely nice addition that significantly extends its service life. And not only him, because absolutely every mission in Peace Walker can be repeated any number of times, trying to get a better score. In addition, there are numerous side quests, and even comic cutscenes, which masterfully develop the story. There is no wonder, because their author is Ashley Wood, an Australian cartoonist, whose work fans could admire, among others in Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops and Metal Gear Solid: Digital Graphic Novel. Mention should also be made of people playing different characters who really did a great job. The voices are well chosen, and of course David Hayter, who, as usual in an equilibristic manner, adds a hoarse personality to the main character.

A very important element of the game, equal to the missions themselves, is the expansion of your base. Actually, it's about looking after her staff, which can be assigned to several tasks. It's a bit of role-playing game, because each person has different statistics that predispose them to specific goals. In this way we create a unit dealing with combat. It works somewhere in the background and is the primary source of income. The most important is the team of engineers that develops new inventions. From porn magazines to guns, rocket launchers, radars etc. In addition, each of these items can be expanded by adding further properties. Not only that, during the mission, when we use a given gun, for example, its level also increases. This is a very tedious and lengthy process, but if someone after a few dozen hours of fun is not enough, you will certainly notice progress. In addition, we assign soldiers to a food supply team, which is also very important, because a hungry soldier is a bad soldier who does not feel like fighting. No less important is the staff of the hospital, where the wounded go, and the interview, thanks to which we can get to know the data about the opponents before the mission ... and so on.

As you can see, the level of complication of the game far exceeds all previous parts. If you have associations with Jagged Alliance or X-Com , they are the most appropriate. Of course, MGS does it all in its own way, but if someone is not interested in wasting time on operating the database at all, one "click" can order everything to the console, which will take care of people's assignments. We acquire staff while performing missions. After knocking out the opponent, Snake ties him to a special balloon, which, after rising, is picked up by a helicopter circling around. There will be no new recruits, this base will not develop. This effectively forces the player to choose a calmer technique of passing the mission and sneaking, which, incidentally, works best for Snake. In most locations, you'll also find one or more partisans captured by the CIA, who we also join.

The campaign was divided into not very long stages, consisting of drastically even tiny locations. This, of course, was forced to some extent by the technical parameters of the console and with the quality of the graphic design that occurs in the game, somehow explains the authors. Unfortunately, nothing explains the omission of landings at the entrance to a new area, which, with a specific, stealth game often ends with repetition of the mission from the beginning. The game is saved only before the boss encounter and after completing the entire task. I don't have to write how frustrating this can be.

Fortunately, the quality of the missions themselves and the challenges we face are in no way inferior to those in other parts of the series. The game is great, but for the sake of accuracy I have to write about two more minuses that cannot be ignored.

The first of them, a little forced, is control. In Peace Walker, several schemes have been prepared to choose from, unfortunately none of them is perfect. This is also more a disadvantage of the console itself than games, but even when we choose the shooter scheme, all turns or precise aiming and so last much too long. This is especially evident during the clashes with bosses, which in most cases rely on open combat, face to face. Sometimes without protection we try to aim or choose something from the inventory and we are completely defenseless and vulnerable to fire. And when frustration is at stake, the handy dictionary of ugly words becomes more and more extensive.

The second issue is backtracking. A word that came into widespread use a few years ago and means the need to explore locations in which we have already been. Just in MGS: Peace Walker it is not so bothersome, because usually we do not have to go through all previously visited places, new shortcuts are opening, but it should be noted.

And I don't think there really is anything to fault. Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker is a full-fledged part of the saga, in this matter Hideo Kojima did not compromise. Graphically, the production squeezes out seventh sweats from PSP, the sound setting is downright fantastic. It is also necessary to mention the music composed by Nabuko Toda, Kazuma Jinnouchi and Akihiro Honda, which is not even inferior to the compositions of Harry Gregson-Williams.

The single player campaign, cooperation and special missions for it, finally a simple multiplayer, in which up to six people can be measured in ad hoc mode, and all this combined with the progress made in the heart of the game, i.e. the base, it is many, many hours satisfying fun. In conclusion, I can confidently write that for me, as a MGS fan, Peace Walker is one of the best games on PlayStation Portable. If not the best. It's a pity a few weaker elements, but the ideal was really short.

Przemek "g40st" Zamęcki

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