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10 Reviews

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker

Raw, radical Koj-enius

Peace Walker is what happens when Hideo Kojima makes a game about everything. Freed
from PlayStation 3 mega-budgets and the kind of management pressure that comes with building the game everyone bought a PS3 for, Peace Walker is every idea in Kojima's brain indiscriminately emptied onto a UMD.

Of course Peace Walker is the stealth action game you came to the party to play, but within a mission or two the game opens up like no Metal Gear before it. On the battlefield it's a Pokémon mission to catch and recruit as many soldiers for your army as possible. Off the battlefield it becomes a Football Manager game of management and development, where you'll assign recruits to research new weapons, repair captured vehicles and heal their wounded team mates.

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Play more and you'll find a rock-solid multi-player shooter for up to eight people and a massive co-op stealth game for four. Keep playing and Peace Walker has you building your own Metal Gear and sending men and machines out on missions in dedicated squads for dedicated jobs. Your army becomes stronger with every mission but if you lose a man you can always recruit more, not just from Snake's campaign missions or the hundred Extra Ops bonus levels, but from any wi-fi hotspot. If you find yourself with too many soldiers you can even trade the surplus with your friends or exchange them for weapons and items sent via wi-fi .

They're familiar ideas. Peace Walker takes the best bits from every Metal Gear Solid game - the recruitment tricks and base building from Portable Ops, the camouflage and multi-player from MGS3: Snake Eater, the stripped-down controls from Metal Gear Solid 4, and the bonus missions and minigames from VR Missions - and brings them together for the fi rst time. Peace Walker unites ten games' worth of ideas in a cold war setting that Kojima wallows in as if this is what Metal Gear would always have been if only his bosses had let him get on with the business of being utterly mental.

OLD WAR
Following Big Boss in the years after the events of Snake Eater cost him an eye and a mentor, Peace Walker is all double-crosses and cold war espionage. It's a time when Mutually Assured Destruction guarantees a world without war, but where questions about whether human fallibility might jeopardise the 'mutual' part of the equation demand an answer. That answer is Peace Walker - a mobile nuke launcher that will retaliate without human intervention, and a mechanised monster that sinister types in both the US and the USSR would see activated whether it's fired upon or not.

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As in Snake Eater, Peace Walker's campaign is spent mostly in the jungle with occasional interludes in fortified enemy bases or on mountainsides, and as in Snake Eater it's a campaign you'll spend in hiding, using camouflage to blend in to the obscenely beautiful environments. It's a masterclass in pushing the PSP further than it ever wanted to go and sucking the battery dry at a frightening rate. And though the loading points are frequent and the levels kept short to make them handheld-friendly, there's no doubt that this is the world you know from Snake Eater or that Peace Walker is no side story or cash-in, but a real and complete Metal Gear game.

Once the campaign is over, Peace Walker keeps on giving. The boss battles and regular missions can be replayed alone or with friends to recruit new men, capture new hardware and secure parts for Metal Gear Zeke (Big Boss's own walking tank), which extends the campaign even further once it's up and walking around. There are a hundred Extra Ops too, some recycling campaign maps with new enemies and objectives, and others creating new challenges in unique locations including a Monster Hunter-themed fight against a dragon and a decidedly shady 'date' with not-nearly-legal-yet support character Paz Ortega.

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