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This was a game I almost missed. Having (very) briefly tangoed with Portable Ops on the PSP, I was disappointed with the rebirth of Snake. I had been a big fan on the consoles and probably didn't give Portable Ops enough time; a mistake I did not make with Peace Walker.
I have to say, Portable Ops is one of the best games I have played on the PSP and one of the most enjoyable games I have ever played. The mixture of stealth, capture, strategy, team building, resource management and all out shooting and explosions make for an exciting 100+ hours if you give it a chance.
Not wanting to spoil teh story, Snake finds himself heading Miltaires Sans Frontiers (MSF), an army of his own and heads out to recruit enemy soldiers to his cause whilst also averting all out nuclear conflict (what a man!). Building up your army and deciding when to kill or tranq makes for an interesting gameplay experience. Indeed, the best ranks can only be gained through stealth and non-lethal force. Throughout the game, you need t use skill and quick thinking to outwit the guards (and teh AI is often very silly) but becomes very interesting when the heavily armed guards start to come in.
The game is at its best when you hook up with friends for multiplayer action against heavily armed troops and mechs...great fun but can be very frustrating sometimes.
Overall, this game can be as simple or technical as you want it to be, with adult gamer getting the most out of the many facets of its gameplay.
Being a huge fan of the Metal Gear series, but not a huge fan of PSP games I considered not getting peace walker, and when I did it sat depressingly on my shelf for weeks but when I actually played the game I realised my stupidity. Peace Walker fits seamlessly into MGS chronology and if you're a fan also you'll be able to recongise the Metal Gear atmosphere before long.
-GRAPHICS- The graphics for this game are pretty impressive for PSP and are as good MGS3 or other mid-late PS2 games. Like most PSP games, objects in the distance become a bit jagged and blurry, but I guess that's why Lord Hideo gave us sniper rifles. The game is mainly set in the jungle and inside various military bases, both of which look realistic. The biggest visual feat are probably, as annoying as they can be, the boss battles. Every boss is a machine and huge, towering constructions of death look amazing even on the PSP. One battle has you fighting a huge 'battle AI robot' in a spiralling, multi-level dirt track and as you switch heights to fight the thing you can see the sheer complexity in the design of both the map and enemy.
-GAMEPLAY- Unlike main console MGS games, PW has its missions in bitesize chunks, not one continuous story and I see this as a major improvement. The controls can be easily adjusted to just how you like them and are a mix between MGS 3 and 4, same as gameplay. The shooting is very similar to the 4th game but unlike MGS4, going all out with firepower isn't really an option, and the Hush puppy makes a welcome return. However if tranqing enemies gets dull you can always use a silenced weapon like the 1911 or MAC 10, which can be upgraded.
Talking of upgrading, that plays a major role in PW; you manage your own private military, assigning captured enemies and other characters to one of five roles: Combat, Research & Development, Mess Hall, Medical or Intel. All of these work in conjunction with one another. Let's say you want a better assault rifle; Combat troops will earn you money to buy upgrades, but to get those upgrades you need a good R&D team to develop it. To get more powerful rations you need to work on your Mess Hall team and so on, but this really isn't a hassle, it's incredibly enjoyable and lets you fully customise your player/army.
Missions themselves are the staple sneaking missions in which you should avoid detection by a variety of guards, a few assault shoot-em-up missions in which you go all out with combat and the alert system is scrapped and a surprisingly large number of 'Mech' bosses and mini bosses. Apart from the AI robots, you have to go against tanks, armoured vehicles and helicopters whilst a stream of grunts attack you from all sides like a g**gbang. Also like a g**gbang, this can get fairly tedious after a while, with some of the later bosses taking half an hour to complete.
-STORY- I genuinely believe the stories in this series and superior to most Hollywood films. This game's theme is peace, and the lengths people will go to obtain that peace, whilst also looking at the theme of teleological determinism, i.e. do the ends justify the means? It also focuses heavily on the events of MGS3 and how Big Boss is dealing with his murder of The Boss. Another compelling story from the MGS team that you won't want to skip.
-SOUND- Eerily happy music is played throughout, often paradoxically emitted from the death machines but by the end it all becomes a little touching in the final cutscene. The first ever Sony walkman is included as an item to play music in game, and the game itself has its own music with the familiar orchestra of silenced gun fire, friendly beeps when using ration and of course the startling alarm that happens when you're detected.
In summary the best game I've played on PSP, great missions as well as a HUGE amount of bonus missions called extra ops mean this is an excellent buy, sort of a pick n mix of the best bits from the last 3 games aswell as tons of additions to the whole design. Infinitely repayable, to fans or newbies alike.
After playing Metal Gear Solid Portable Ops I was going to give Peace Walker a miss, because I felt the whole experience was confusing, but I'm so glad I didn't.
In Peace Walker you play as the same guy that has been in all of the MGS series, Solid Snake or as more loyal fans call him "Big Boss". He has definitely aged since the orignal Metal Gear Solid on the PS1, with a croakier voice and facial wrinkles, but he still gets around and is faster than ever.
You start the game in third person view on a beach for a tutorial. The PSP's ability is really shown here with rain gushing down while you learn the basic techniques that can save you later on in the game. The controls are very well designed, and after a 4-5 hour session your hands don't feel like they are going to drop off like in many PSP games due to the bad controls.
Even if you haven't played a Metal Gear Solid game in your entire life, the great gameplay, fantastic voiceovers and interactive cutscenes make it easier than ever to experience one of the greatest PSP games in history.