MGS Retrospective Review: Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker HD Edition

Sep 7, 2015

Kept you waiting, huh?

It’s time to revisit the greatest solider of the 2oth century. Originally released for the PlayStation Portable in 2010, Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker is the continuation of Big Boss’ journey to Outer Haven. To be frank, I had sold my PSP before this came out so I never played it until recently. Boy! I was missing out on perhaps the most engaging and in-depth MGS game ever! Not counting V of course!

Welcome to a tropical paradise fulled with intrigue and espionage - It’s Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker HD Edition for the PS3.

STORY

Big Boss (now going by his original code name, Snake) and his right hand man Kazuhira Miller have formed Militaires Sans Frontières (MSF). An armed force with no country. In a chance meeting in 1974 while setting up camp in Columbia, Snake and Miller encounter the mysterious Gálvez and his protege Paz. He seeks to drive the CIA out of Costa Rica and requests MSF’s assistance. Snake initially refused until he plays a recording that Paz and her friend make while captured by American Forces - a recording of The Boss’ voice! He accepts the mission despite deducing that Gálvez is actually KGB.

Ashley Wood. 'nough said!

Ashley Wood. ‘nough said!

During his inflation of Costa Rica and the CIA presence there, he encounters several important characters that play important roles in the story as well as within MSF. Most of the cut scenes in Metal Gear Solid appear as interactive comic book pages drawn by Metal Gear comic artist Ashley Wood. They are incredibly entertaining, superbly executed and surprising engaging with the great dialogue and voice acting for which the series is known. Also, there are numerous cassette tapes that reveal a great deal of backstory information as well as operational objectives that can be accessed before missions.

While it can take a while to get into the game and it’s story, it is well-worth the wait. The second half of Peace Walker features some of the best moments in the series. Part of it is the comic inspired cut scenes - the action moves super fast and adds to some very intense situations towards the very end of the game. If you haven’t experienced Peace Walker’s story, you are going to miss out of many important backstory elements that will no doubt play as important role in MGS 5 Ground Zeroes and The Phantom Pain.

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GAMEPLAY

Because Peace Walker was originally released for the PSP, the control scheme is a bit different. For example, there is an auto aim feature that can help during firefights. I never used it because the PS3 HD Edition maps the aiming function to the second analog stick and not the face buttons as was the case with the PSP release. Another one major difference is the inability to crawl. You can go prone, but no crawling. However, the game makes up for this by allowing you to acquire a sneaking suit that eliminates all noise. This make it extremely easy to sneak up and zap guards with Snake’s new stun rod!

Sleepy Time!

Sleepy Time!

It is important to note that Peace Walker is unique in that it plays like MGS4 sans the first person view mode and displays elements of an RPG. When you hit a target, the hit points (HP) lost is displayed in the area of the attack. You can level up weapons and items by collecting GMP. GMP is acquired by recruiting solders by extracting them via Fulton Recovery from the mission arena, assigning them to various roles at MSF, and completing mission objectives. It is a very good idea to level up your most important weapons and items as there is no difficulty setting and the game can get pretty tough.

It was really surprised by how well the game has been adapted to the PS3 control scheme and the sheer breath and depth of the content. There are Versus Ops where you can battle online opponents as well as online Co-Op where up to four people can join a mission. There is also Side-Ops were players can pick Snake or other members of MSF to accomplish missions ranging from marksmanship training exercises, Fulton recovery missions as well as extra boss battles - all of increasing difficulty.

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GRAPHICS

Wow! After playing this version of Peace Walker, it’s hard to imagine this was once a PSP game. It looks beautiful! Everything is crisp and highly detailed. Comparing how it looked on the PSP to the HD Edition, there’s no comparison! This IS the version to get! I LOVE Ashley Wood’s art and to have a complete Metal Gear game dedicated to them is awesome.

You're not the BOSS of ME!

You’re not the BOSS of ME!

It’s a unique take on presenting the story and an excellent technical choice given the abilities (or lack there of) of the PSP. There isn’t much more I can say, the graphics are literally ‘simply’ ‘great’. It may not be the most detailed graphics but the HD remaster does a superb job of making the game on par MGS 2 and MGS 3 in terms of similar graphical prowess. I am very impressed and regret not seeking out this version of Peace Walker sooner!

EXTRAS

Metal Gear ZEKE used RAILGUN! It's SUPER EFFECTIVE!

Metal Gear ZEKE used RAILGUN! It’s SUPER EFFECTIVE!

There are Side Ops, Versus Ops & Co-Ops. There is just a lot of extra content and online modes that should keep players busy for a good long while. You can send MSF units out on missions. Upgrade your Mother Base how you want. Even make your OWN Metal Gear! AND SEND IT OUT ON MISSIONS!!! Yes - you heard me correctly!

FINAL VERDICT

Overall: Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker is a secret gem that many people probably never played. If you want the complete Metal Gear Saga experience, Peace Walker is an awesome extension of that story that features an addictive leveling up system, numerous side missions and HD remastered graphics. Play. This. Game.

 

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