The Road to Outer Heaven Is Paved With Good Intentions
We've played Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker for days. You should probably pay for it in full now. No, seriously, go plunk the money down for it and hug your PSP. Here's why.
Published: May 3, 2010
Doing so would mean missing out on a couple of key differences between this Metal Gear Solid and previous entries into the series. For one, Snake can no longer move while laying prone. Instead, this becomes one of his most powerful tools for camouflage as he flattens himself against the ground to avoid detection. Likewise, the increased importance of using a Stun Rod (with infinite ammo but a recharge time) is illustrated, and the controls for swapping between weapons by pressing and holding left and right on the d-pad while using the face buttons to select a weapon (though quick-tapping can swap weapons or quickly equip or unequip things like restoratives and boxes).
Eventually, things lead into the first of many cutscenes presented in the now-familiar Digital Graphic Novel format again illustrated by Ashley Wood. A man, purporting to be from the Costa Rican government, proceeds to explain the apparent presence of a top-secret US outfit seeking to park their military might right in Cuba's back yard -- apparently a show of nuclear deterrence as the world is still cloaked in the shadow of the Cold War. Though the game offers a brief text-only recap of the events of Metal Gear Solid 3 leading up to the game's present-day timeline of 1974, plenty of exposition helps set the stage for things.
We were treated to the first of the game's many interactive elements during the cutscene -- a chance to zoom, though multiple layers of clothing, to "inspect" Paz, a mysterious girl apparently caught up in events that would eventually lead to Snake overhearing a voice (on the first Walkman, a nice nod to Sony) that clinched his decision to help the Costa Rican authorities combat the invading force -- or at the very least find out what they're up to. This interactivity would crop up again in various forms, including having to target and fire at things and even light QTE events using the shoulder buttons.
With the story firmly in place, we embarked on our first mission: an infiltration to discover the who and what of the encroaching threat. It's here that we realized that this was a Metal Gear Solid game -- far more than any Ac!d or Portable Ops was. Sneaking was key, stealth was everything, and unlike the previous PSP games in the series, this was very clearly a direct sequel to the gameplay and the pacing of MGS3. Excited yet? Good, you should be. But this isn't where the game gets good -- at least not as good as we soon discovered.
You see, Militaires Sans Frontieres, as anyone familiar with the Metal Gear legacy, was the germination for Outer Heaven, a place a soldier could call home without being tied to any government or ideology beyond being a gun for hire. Big Boss' legacy starts here, and it's by your hand that Outer Heaven will be built. What starts as an off-shore flotilla quickly expands into a Mother Base, and it's here that Peace Walker becomes one of the most sprawling, involved games we've ever seen. No qualifiers here, no "for a PSP" game or even "for a Metal Gear game," this is an experience that is absolutely massive and it was our first indicator that Kojima wasn't blowing smoke when he said this was a game that got his full attention.
Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker is a massive, console-level experience. It's also, again, taffy. Let's dig into the layers that make up this delicious little portable treat, shall we?