Yet for the most part Peace Walker is curiously serious in a way other Metal Gears aren't. There are no cola-chugging monkeys or Sixaxis-controlled breasts; only CIA spooks, Spetznaz bastards, and state of the art military hardware to ﬁght in lieu of psychic soldiers or bosses made of bees. Those boss ﬁ ghts are Peace Walker's weakest moments. Alone, they're gruelling wars of attrition rather than tests of skill, climaxing with a ﬁght against the Peace Walker itself which will chew up a full half hour of a lone player's time thanks to the fact it boasts a health bar longer than Andre the Giant's trouser legs. They're ﬁghts clearly inspired by Capcom's PSP-saviour Monster Hunter, built for groups of friends more than individuals, but they can be trucked through alone with some brass balls and steely thumbs.
CLOSE QUARTERS CONTROL
All of Peace Walker's ideas would be for naught if those steely thumbs rested on controls borrowed from Portable Ops. Kojima's last shot at the PSP was a digit-wrenching misery with more actions than should ever be shoehorned onto the PSP's already ﬁddly controller. Peace Walker ﬁxes this by changing the buttons and by changing the game. First, those controls resemble MGS4's more western setup - aim on the left trigger, ﬁ re on the right, camera control on the face buttons, and movement on the nub. It leaves few buttons free for Metal Gear's more elaborate sneakage, so Peace Walker doesn't bother trying. You can crouch and run but not crawl; you can lock to cover but not move; and you can CQC a man but can only drag him once he's down.
It all makes for a game that works the way a Metal Gear game should. It's a setup you can learn to live with very quickly. Those right-hand face buttons will betray you during the game's most intense action sequences, but for the ﬁrst time this is a handheld Metal Gear that can have intense action sequences, even if they're not as manic as the ones Kojima would throw at you if he had two analogue nubs available.
Kojima's team did the best they could and it's more than good enough to call Peace Walker a genuine Metal Gear Solid 5. There's almost too much game here - there's no bigger game on PSP and no more varied game in the entire Metal Gear series. It's a technical showcase, sure, but Peace Walker is also a creative showcase that proves that nobody on Earth makes games like Hideo Kojima - because nobody else ever could.
The best of the Metal Gear Solid series, let down only by the hardware on which it runs.