Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker Hands-On Preview

While Hideo Kojima has said that Metal Gear Solid 4 was the last adventure for everyone’s favorite gruff and bad-ass super soldier Solid Snake, that isn’t stopping Kojima Productions from filling out the massive and complex Metal Gear Solid lore with more games. Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker is the newest addition to Kojima’s world, the fourth PSP entry in the series, and from my first impressions, is strikingly similar to MGS4.

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker places you in the familiar combat boots of Naked Snake, a.k.a Big Boss. Taking place after Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops, Naked Snake is now command of Militaires Sans Frontieres (Soldiers Without Borders) in Costa Rica. A mysterious military force equipped with cutting edge weapons is amassing in the country, and without an army of its own, is being quickly overrun. Snake is called in to protect the country, an event which leads to a bigger haven being formed.


Story sequences are told through the familiar comic book panel format from Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops, featuring the art style from the Metal Gear Solid graphic novel. Adding to the sequences though, is the ability to interact with the cutscenes, much like in previous MGS games. One such event has the character Paz on screen and pushing the analog stick in any direction brings you under her red dress, showing scars and wounds on her body.

After the story setup and gaining control of Snake, I could feel the MGS4 influence in the game’s controls and stealth. Movement is handled with the analog stick, while character actions are mapped to the D-pad. Pushing down puts Snake in a crouching position, in which you can then move around a la MGS4. Pressing the left and right directions switch your weapons and items respectively, while holding the directions allows you to open the inventory. The face buttons act like a second analog stick, controlling camera movement and aiming. You push the L trigger to enter your aim mode, which is done in the standard over-the-shoulder camera view, and use the R trigger to shoot, or perform advanced CQC actions when not in aim mode. If you aren’t a precise player when it comes to third-person aiming, you can switch on auto aim, which snaps your aim to the nearest enemy. The controls take a bit to get used to and some key MGS actions are missing, such as crawling, but once you get the hang of them, they prove to be fluid and feel just right.

The game’s missions are split up into multiple small areas, making them manageable and perfect for short bursts of gameplay, a smart choice for a handheld title. The first mission I got to play was a training mission to get used to the controls and gameplay. Snake starts on a beach, which showcased the amazing visuals right off the bat. The game is a graphical leap from Portable Ops, and is not confined to the small corridors and small building stages of the previous title. Lavishly detailed jungles, beaches, and military complexes take center stage here, showing off what the PSP can really do.


While the main campaign is set to offer fans of the MGS series something to devour, its not all that Kojima is offering. The game’s other big feature is the CO-OPS missions. Standing for Cooperative Operations, CO-OPS has you and another friend playing the regular missions and up to four friends playing boss missions. Here, four different Snakes are offered, each specializing in one field. Armored Snake carries heavy weaponry but is slow and noisy, while Naked Snake has small arms and no armor, allowing him to sneak more efficently and quietly. These roles can be filled by your friends as you undertake numerous CO-OPS missions together, performing co-op actions to gain the upper hand. You can push the Up directional button to hold on to your partner and let them lead the way, revive them, or even spot for them while they snipe.

The mission I got to play in CO-OPS mode had me and a partner trying to take over an enemy base. We stealthily crept through the jungle, taking out enemy guards or creating distractions for one another to get past heavily patrolled areas. There’s even the option to hide under a cardboard box together. These missions bring all the fun of co-op gaming, while providing an intense and exciting stealth experience to enjoy with friends. It’ll be interesting to see what other missions are added, or even what the boss missions will entail. A raid style encounter where you take on Metal Gear with three of your friends at your side sounds awesome.

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker is shaping up to be an amazing addition to the MGS series, and the best in the franchise’s PSP lineup. Instead of the card-based gameplay of the Ac!d series, or the neutered gameplay of Portable Ops, MGS: Peace Walker looks to bring the full MGS experience to the handheld format. This is the game that PSP owners will want to keep an eye on for their stealth action fix in 2010.


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Author: Matt Erazo View all posts by

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