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Critical Reception: Konami's  Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker

Critical Reception: Konami's Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker

June 9, 2010 | By Danny Cowan

June 9, 2010 | By Danny Cowan
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More: Columns

This week's edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to Konami's PSP Metal Gear Solid sequel Peace Walker, which reviews describe as "one of the greatest games in the entire Metal Gear franchise." Peace Walker currently earns a score of 88 out of 100 at

IGN's Greg Miller scores Peace Walker at 9.5 out of 10, praising its length. "I'm 35 hours into Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, and the game only has more to show me," he explains. "I beat the story at the 17-hour mark or so, but with more than 100 Extra Ops serving as mini-games/challenges, my own Metal Gear to mold and customize, a platoon of 350 soldiers, dozens of hands-off Outer Ops missions to send troops out on and so much more, I don't know when I'll put this game down."

Miller continues: "Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker is probably the biggest game in the Metal Gear series, and it's only on Sony's smallest system."

The recruiting system, expanded from the PSP's Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops, is especially addictive. "Here, it's streamlined," Miller says. "You knock the guy out, hook him up to a Folsom balloon, and a helicopter snatches him out of the sky while you continue on the mission. This is beyond addictive. Even when my squad was teeming with people, I'd go out of my way to capture everyone I could, which includes hidden POWs in every level."

The franchise's stealth-based gameplay also sees its share of tweaks, and is presented in short segments suited to a portable platform. "Peace Walker puts an emphasis on shorter gameplay sessions, so each mission is its own task," Miller says. "You'll select the one you want to go out on, get a cutscene if it calls for it, go out on your mission, and get a stat screen grading you on the number of alerts before getting booted back to the menu. This is a nice change of pace for a number of reasons - first and foremost because it gives you control over your loadout for each scenario you're entering."

"The game is insanely deep," Miller notes in conclusion. "Not only is it in the running for the title of greatest game ever on the PSP, Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker is one of the greatest games in the entire Metal Gear franchise."

Jeremy Parish at gives Peace Walker an A-. "The essence of great design is making compromises without being compromised: Making pragmatic trade-offs without sacrificing creative vision or quality," he begins. "I'd love to be able to say that Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker achieves this lofty goal, but ultimately it falls just short."

Parish finds that Peace Walker's core gameplay adequately accounts for its new platform. "Certain Metal Gear standards have been streamlined or removed altogether in order to make the game play as smoothly as it can: Camouflage feels largely irrelevant, and it's no longer possible to crawl," Parish says. "For the most part, however, Peace Walker seems to have been designed with these limitations in mind -- in fact, the entire game feels very deliberate in its design. It was clearly intended to be a thoroughly portable experience above all else, and this is the source of its main appeal."

Peace Walker also features a new cooperative element not found in its console predecessors. "The entire game, be it the main story or the extra content, is divided into bite-sized missions that can be tackled solo or with up to three friends (with a handful of exceptions)," Parish explains. "Peace Walker can ostensibly be completed by a single person, though a sizable percentage of the extra missions (which greatly outnumber the story missions) are nearly impossible to complete alone."

"Herein lies one of its most significant failures," Parish warns. "Like so many other games designed around co-op play, Peace Walker doesn't scale its difficulty according to the number of players. This is fine for the extra content, but it also makes for a handful of poorly-balanced story missions that can become infuriating sticking points for one person to tackle alone."

"Peace Walker is a game that will satisfy Metal Gear fans, even lapsed ones who gave up on the series after MGS4 steamrolled its way to a graceless finale," Parish writes. "It's at once true to its heritage yet willing to spin the Metal Gear format in a new and entertaining direction. And while the fallout from these changes does occasionally undermine the action, those small moments of frustration and compromise are forgivable in the context of all that Peace Walker does well."

Eurogamer's Oli Welsh scores Peace Walker at 8 out of 10. "Kojima has channelled the MGS4 development team's energies from hi-def hyperbole on the PS3 to polyglot completism on Sony's handheld - a wise move, well-informed by the success of portable classics like Monster Hunter Freedom and Pokemon," he says. "Another masterpiece of production values from the house of Hideo, Peace Walker is a Rolls Royce of a videogame, something the PSP sorely needs."

Welsh finds that Peace Walker's compressed narrative is a departure for the series. "It's actually one of the more grounded and low-key Metal Gear plots (not saying much, I know), and it takes a while to get going," he notes. "It makes sense both in isolation and in the context of the series' timeline, and thankfully doesn't get too bogged down in the interminable exposition and hapless continuity entanglements that blighted Guns of the Patriots."

Peace Walker also offers its own spin on the franchise's stealth gameplay. "Peace Walker does improve on one of the Metal Gear series' long-standing weaknesses - positive reinforcement of stealth play," Welsh writes. "It's always been too hard to play Metal Gear well and too easy to play it badly.

"But Peace Walker shifts that balance in the right direction and also gives you meaningful rewards, beyond tension and enjoyment, for following the stealthy and non-lethal route. The more tidily you finish a stage - with fewer alerts and kills, in shorter time - the more Heroism points you're awarded at the end, and these increase the rate of unlocks across the game's huge spread of items, features and bonus missions."

"Mother Base, co-op and Extra Ops are great additions to the Metal Gear formula and luxuriously comfortable fits for handheld play," Welsh concludes. "The subdued campaign is not Kojima at his histrionic and surprising best, but it arguably offers the tightest stealth gameplay since Snake Eater or even the first Metal Gear Solid. It's still an acquired taste, but Peace Walker will satisfy fans, embarrass PSP owners with its riches, and ought to inspire curiosity at the very least in everyone else."

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