Not exactly the Metal Gear experience I was hoping for.
The year is now 2013 and "Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker" has been out for some time on both the PSP and the PS3 & 360 as part of the "Metal Gear Solid: HD Collection". I own the PSP and PS3 versions. For a PSP game, it is a technical marvel. It's amazing how they could pack this much stuff into a tiny UMD. The game is also surprisingly easy to control and Konami has learned a few things from "Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops". We also get full voice over for all of the characters, including David Hayter and Christopher Randolph, who return from previous entries in the series. Finally, Hideo Kojima is back, directing and producing this pocket sized adventure.
Beyond the technical aspects, I found "Peace Walker" to be mediocre at best. I've been a Metal Gear fan since receiving MGS2 for Christmas back in 2002. I consider myself a huge fan of the series and was really looking forward to "Peace Walker". Sadly, it did not live up to my expectations. To start, the story is really thin. I'm actually surprised Kojima had a part in this one because it felt more like the plot of one of the games he didn't direct, like "Metal Gear Solid" on the Gameboy Color or "Metal Gear Acid". Naked Snake (aka Big Boss) returns, 10 years after the events of MGS3. He has started a band of soldiers call the Militaires Sans Frontières (MSF for short) and they are called upon by some KGB guy to investigate some nukes in South America. Snake, along with his friend Kaz Miller (there relationship is never explained too much) go there, but soon discover an even bigger situation. Beyond that, I can't remember too much as all of the cutscenes are presented in a comic book fashion (just like MGPO). This really took me out of the story and I often found myself staring at the wall as these segments played. I really wished that had done cutscenes using the games engine. I know the PSP can only handle so much, but I don't think anyone would have complained if the game was on two UMD's.
Then we come to the gameplay. While for the most part it gets by, there are a few things that bring it down. First, aiming weapons is pretty frustrating. Gone is the ability to snap to 1st person and the reticle is huge, so getting head shots is very tough and not fun. Also gone is the ability to crawl and move along walls. The camo index is back, but there is no way to swap out camo during a mission, so it's basically useless.
Finally, we come to my biggest gripe with the game; the difficulty. This game is HARD and with no option to change the difficulty, many of the boss missions will leave you throwing your PSP across the room. There is an option to play these missions over CO-OP, but I don't know too many people with a PSP. The PS3 version gives you the option to play CO-OP online, but no one ever seems to play, as I just see "waiting for other players" in the player slots. Your only left with one other option to beat these levels: grinding. MGPW has a system of recruting soldiers to help you build better weapons and items, but in order to acquire some of the better weapons needed to beat the final bosses, your going to need to spends hours and hours replaying the same missions so you can get more soldiers and level up. For example, I needed a LAW rocket launcher Ver. 3 to beat one of the last bosses. Okay, I don't have it and I need to level up my R&D department to L.56. I'm only at L.30 though. Uggghhhhhh!!!! After hours upon hours, I got to L.46 and just gave up. It simply wasn't worth the grind to be able to see the rest of a story I really didn't care about.
Fortunately, I got a save game off the net that had maxed out the R&D so I could beat the final missions, and lo and behold, the ending was lame and the entire game added nothing to the "Metal Gear" canon. This game is toted as the next chapter in the saga, yet it added very little to the over arching story of the series. "Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker" is a frustrating game with a weak story that never pays off. I really have no idea why most of the video game review sites have given it such high praise.
The Bottom Line
Even as a huge Metal Gear fan, it's not worth playing. It adds literally nothing to the overall story, it's incredibly hard, and it doesn't even come close to the caliber of any of the other games in the main series.