Playing Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker For The First Time
Playing Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker For The First Time
After watching a full playthrough of Metal Gear Solid 4 it was time to return to the adventures of Big Boss and see what he did after the events of Metal Gear Solid 3. Before starting I thought the gap between Metal Gear Solid 3 and Peace Walker was noticeable. This of course was filled in prior to Peace Walker with the PSP title Portable Ops. It’s a shame this game seemingly never made it to other platforms because as far as the story is concerned, it seems pretty important detailing how Big Boss interacts with Zero and his former comrades. Perhaps I will go back and watch the scenes on Youtube at a later date.
For now though here are my thoughts on Peace Walker. As always, spoilers follow…
An Artistic Touch
One of the first things that you notice upon playing Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker is that traditional cut-scenes are removed in favour of comic book-like scenes. At first I was a little disappointed to see a lack of cut scenes but upon reflection, this game was originally a PSP game (I played on Xbox 360), a machine that didn’t have the same horsepower of future consoles. Nevertheless, over time these scenes grew on me. They are well put together, the style of them is cool, in particular their use of colour and gave the game somewhat of a dreamlike quality especially when Big Boss encounters The Boss’s voice. Overall, I think they were a cool addition to the game and suited its gameplay to a stylish art direction.
Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker is an interesting game for a number of reasons. It is both a sequel and somewhat of a spin-off in that it appeared first on PSP and saw a change to the classic Metal Gear formula. From a story standpoint though Peace Walker is very much a sequel, often referring back to the events of Metal Gear Solid 3 and therefore it certainly makes its inclusion in the HD collection valid. The plot once again revolves around Cold War paranoia and nuclear deterrents while in the background the SALT treaties are ongoing. Although the gameplay sees you build up an army, this is once again a personal journey for Big Boss as he confronts his past and his future. His haunted past is represented by Dr. Strangelove and her AI weapon Peace Walker, half of which is based on The Boss’s personality. Much of Metal Gear Solid is dedicated to The Boss’s legacy but the Peace Walker weapon is a very literal interpretation of that.
Despite the codec being in the game, it is mainly used for gameplay tips and the bulk of the story that it usually gives us is moved to tapes in the main menus. These are essential if you want to fully grasp the story of Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker especially when it comes to characters such as Paz and Dr. Strangelove. I also appreciated the surprise of EVA’s tapes which helped flesh out some of the convoluted events of the last game. However, the most interesting ones were Dr. Strangelove’s recollections of The Boss whom she very much idolized. While in Metal Gear Solid 3 you spend most of your time hunting down The Boss, it isn’t till near the end we truly learn about her past so it was nice to see another person’s perspective of what she was like.
Overall, I very much enjoyed the plot of the game including its poetic ending and its parallel stories of finding a new home for Big Boss with MSF and the dramatic stakes against Hot Coldman – whom I didn’t find a particularly interesting villain. The extra twist involving Paz was really interesting and set up future games neatly while giving us one last confrontation with Metal Gear ZEKE.
Practice Makes Perfect
Peace Walker is a repetitive game. It teaches you basics and new elements as the campaign progresses but many of the missions involve you traipsing through the same areas you have already been with a rotating list of objectives and tasks on each mission. This gameplay won’t be for everyone but after a few hours I enjoyed that cycle of accomplishing missions, developing new weapons and equipment and upgrading Mother Base. I found enough variety and challenge within the missions to keep me interested and I felt a sense of accomplishment when developing a new tool that I knew would come in handy in the jungle. Boss battles had a new dynamic too, depending on which part of the AI weapon you attack, different rewards will be offered which come into play later when you develop your own Metal Gear weapon. The boss battles could be tough, but were certainly achievable once you worked out the trick to beating them.
Peace Walker contains numerous mini games from managing Mother Base, bringing in recruits, gathering vehicles and sending your military out on missions. I dabbled in all of these and particularly enjoyed building up Mother Base to improve my equipment. The only feature I didn’t get involved in was multiplayer as I didn’t have Xbox Live at the time. These mini games were a pleasant distraction and I can imagine were particularly fun when played on the go as they were intended. It takes quite a while to build up Mother Base fully but the game rewards you with the best weapons, vehicles and soldiers for doing so.
The Future is Bright
Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker is shining example of excellent gameplay combined with a straightforward but compelling story that has more depth if you are a longtime fan of the series. Its influence on future titles such as The Phantom Pain are clear to see and the similar gameplay loop is improved upon and taken even further in that game. Peace Walker more than any other spin-off in the series made a major impact on the future of the franchise and it certainly delivers in terms of entertainment.
For my thoughts on the rest of the Metal Gear franchise click here.