Why did I play this?Why did I play this?

Posted on Aug 29th 2019 at 08:00:00 AM by (SirPsycho)
Posted under PSP, action, strategy, stealth

The Metal Gear series is one of the most legendary in the entire realm of gaming. Rising from the obscurity of its roots on the mostly Japanese centered MSX computer platform, the reboot of the series with 1998's Metal Gear Solid for the PlayStation cemented the series as one of Konami's flagships. Its unique stealth centered action design gave the gameplay a one of a kind feel that would barely be replicated despite the game and series' runaway success.

Konami would follow the first Metal Gear Solid's success with a mission based spin-off Metal Gear Solid: VR Missions before the main series would continue on PlayStation 2. Both Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3 were some of the most successful games for the PS2. Sony had released a portable console in Japan in 2004, which released in the rest of the world in 2005, the PlayStation Portable. The next Metal Gear game would be Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops for the PSP in 2006, followed by Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots on the PlayStation 3. Meanwhile, the team that developed Portable Ops was developing the PSP's flagship Metal Gear Solid game, Peace Walker. During the late PS3/XBox 360 generation, Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes would be released; followed by its second part, The Phantom Pain. For long time fans of the Metal Gear Solid series, Portable Ops and Peace Walker feels like the definitive dividing line between the older PS1 and PS2 era games, and the HD PS3/PS4 and Xbox 360/Xbox One games.

While Portable Ops was more of the classic style action pulp film Metal Gear style that fans had loved, it did begin to add some more strategic and simulation elements into the series. Namely the introduction of staff recruitment and a rudimentary management system. More would be done with this basic system in Peace Walker, as the developers gave players a much easier way to capture and recruit enemy solders. This system would be much more polished for the release of Metal Gear Solid V, but all the basics of these features are present in Peace Walker. Due to the game's portable nature, Peace Walker is also designed around smaller screens more present in the earlier games. This makes Peace Walker stand firmly in the middle between its more tactical and puzzle like screens of the first four Metal Gear Solid games, instead of the more open world map design of Metal Gear Solid V.

In Peace Walker, players can control Naked Snake, the main character of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater and Portable Ops. Early in the game Snake and Kaz Miller are gifted an abandoned oil rig in the middle of the ocean which they start to militarize as the base of operations for their mercenary group, the Militaires Sans Fronti่res, MSF for short, which translates as Army Without Borders. The main idea of Mother Base is to provide an extra sense of progression to tie in with the story. Snake must incapacitate and extract enemies, who will then join with the MSF and be assigned to one of a various number of teams. These teams need to be staffed to increase the team's level before many research options are unlocked.

A massive array of weapons and accessories is available to be researched through the Mother Base system. These weapons will help as the game gets harder, and spending some time replaying the shorter missions for more bodies in your staff is required. The player has to build large teams that allow Mother Base to function as an independent military entity. This means the player must build and fill out the rosters of many different teams, from a combat team that can undertake extra side missions, to R&D, to the mess hall, to an intelligence teams. Many of the R&D recipes are found automatically through the story, while some are hidden throughout the various story and side missions. Snake also needs money to pay for all this research, which is gathered through the combat team's skills. Each individual captured has their own array of stats and is usually more useful in one team over others. This system of staff management is the most tedious part of the game, but the player has the option to auto assign new staff members into the team they would be most useful in.

Peace Walker's portable nature lead to downgraded graphics and a focus on shorter gameplay loops. However, Metal Gear Solid has also long been known to have long and cinematic cutscenes. Peace Walker plays into the strengths and expectations of a Metal Gear story, but does present itself in a unique manner. Peace Walker uses comic book style cutscenes to tell its story, some parts of cutscenes are also interactive. This mixture of quick time events into the cutscenes helps to keep the player's attention, as some easy puzzles get mixed in such as finding a specific truck based on a license plate number that Snake has seen before. The game also has a fitting soundtrack in comparison to the Metal Gear games before it, and it has a nice audio quality to it thanks to the PSP's digital UMD disc.

Peace Walker is a good game to buy for a PSP collection but is better to play on the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection due to having two stick control on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 releases. The Vita release of the HD Collection does not include Peace Walker on it. The original PSP release is a much more slow paced experience. Without two sticks then camera movement is left to the four face buttons. Players have the option of switching between using either the D-pad or the face buttons to control the camera, making the game a bit more of a slow paced and tactical experience. However, the game is much faster to play on the HD Collection. Both of these main options are quite affordable. Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker's original PSP release can be easily found for around $15, with the console released Metal Gear Solid HD Collection being around the same price. The HD Collection is easily the better deal, as the total package includes many other games to play in the series, and has the best control scheme for Peace Walker to boot.

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This was the first game I ever played on the PSP (Peace Walker edition PSP 3000 in fact) and even though I put a ridiculous amount of time into it, I never got the 'true' ending. One of these days I'm going to try the HD edition but I'm still playing MGSV here and there, which is basically the same game just next-gen. Anyway, nice write-up!
Good, thorough review! I have Peace Walker, but haven't put any time into it yet. I've been debating which MGS game to start with on PSP, since there are several of them.

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