First Level: MGS: Peace Walker

Too.  Many.  Good.  Games. Seriously, console owners are absolutely spoiled this summer for AAA, blockbusting titles, and handheld-only owners aren’t suffering either.  But Peace Walker isn’t really a handheld game – sure, it’s on the PSP, but this is a console game through and through, squeezed (but not diluted) onto the PlayStation Portable.  And it’s brilliant.

– ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW –

But first: the notion that Peace Walker could very well have a been a console game stands out from the moment you put in the UMD: the game needs a mandatory install and then suggests you install more if you’ve got the space.  Doing so gives you quicker load times and audio for the codec conversations, which would be plain text otherwise.  Not essential, but nice if you’re not stuck for storage.

And then there’s the controls: there are three methods, the first (“Shooter”) style works the best for me, but the other two play more like MGS games of old.  Everything’s terribly slick: ranged combat is swift and precise and the close quarter action is intuitively mapped to the right trigger, enabling combos and throws without fuss.  The knife’s been replaced with a stun baton, but it doesn’t matter.

The visuals, too, are exemplary.  Animation’s top notch, real time cut-scenes abound and the in-game graphics are wonderful given the platform.  Given the sheer amount of enemies possible on screen, some great texture work and some detailed models, it’s a wonder all this is whizzing around at 30 frames a second.  The comic book style intervals are great, too, and really fit in nicely.

So, whilst Hideo Kojima might have pretended he was taking a break after Guns of the Patriots, his presence here is absolutely heartfelt.  From the off, this is a Kojima game and makes no attempt to be anything else – longtime diehards will lap this one up without question and hopefully given the impressive multiplayer options and the smooth learning curve Peace Walker will attract newbies, too.

This being a ‘first level’ means I’m only through the tutorial sections and out onto the game proper, which is showing potential to be the best game on the PSP.  Hyperbole?  Perhaps, but when you get a ‘proper’ MGS game in the palm of your hand, what else do you need?  We’ll be back with much more on this latest MGS very, very soon, so stay tuned to TheSixthAxis.

– PAGE CONTINUES BELOW –