Once again you find yourself on the precipice of doom. That, or you accidentally clicked on this blog thing. Either way, you've clearly made the right decision and should probably continue reading. This blog still isn't about the impact of torture in GTA V, the quality of the satire in GTA V, the disillusionment of “Games Journalism” in regards to GTA V, the general quality of Pokemon X/Y (that's next week's write up) my Top 10 Video Games that are also Video Games, or a lengthy dissertation on the relative merits of that Sonic RPG (one day). Instead, let's continue where we left off last week and I'll finish this Peace Walker blog so I can finally be rid of that game. All you need to know is that I've started playing Assassin's Creed Brotherhood, which as far as I can tell is like Assassin's Creed II and also why did it take me so long to play this game. Sold.
Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker
Is a Metal Gear Solid game, a series I happen to like. I still haven't played 4 because I don't own a PS3, but MGS 2 and 3 are some of my favorite PS2 games, even playing them years after the fact. While I am firmly on the MGS 2 side of the fence and will always love the part where it's sort of just a giant, upraised middle finger to people who liked the first game, I'm not going to say no to Snake Eater either. And Peace Walker is basically the sequel to Snake Eater, whatever the heck Portable Ops is be damned. There are jungles, camouflage indexes and serious suspension of disbelief when you realize it's supposed to be set during the Cold War but you're fighting unarmed drones, all of which sounds like MGS 3 to me...
But it's also sort of like Monster Hunter? Or rather, it's sort of like whatever Portable Ops was, but made into a legit full MGS game? Indeed, the parts where Peace Walker is a PSP game that I played on a console are fairly apparent. In addition to whatever solo sneaking Snake has going on, there's a base-management mechanic where you build up a private army of mercenaries (mostly by abducting them via balloon), research new weapons and technology (like better silenced tranquilizer pistols. Also Lime Soda) and engage in multiplayer connectivity that seems to only make sense if you lived in a country where people who owned PSPs and rode the train every day. The game doesn't do a great job of explaining why you'd want to do most of this stuff until you realize that every boss battle is against an armored vehicle and rocket launchers (specifically Stinger Missiles) are your friends. I found this base-building mechanic to be pretty cool, even if some aspects of it are also sort of grindy (namely the part where you build your own Metal Gear). The actual missions themselves are compartmentalized, both for the main story as well as for any side stuff (a lot of which nets you new blueprints for stuff). It's all decently fun.
I'll be blunt here: I've never actually thought the Metal Gear Solid school of stealth was very great. Most of it involves shooting guys in the head with a Tranquilizer and then hiding the bodies while struggling against the unwieldy controls. I actually played enough of Peace Walker on PSP to know that I could not live in a world where I had to use the face buttons to aim, and with this HD version I can confirm that having actual analog control makes shooting guys in the head quite easy, especially after playing some MGS 2 and remembering the way you had to aim in those games. You can even play most of the missions cooperatively with other people, which sounds both great and totally unmanageable (I imagine it becomes a shooter at that point). By the end of the game, when there are more enemies with helmets, I mixed up my tactics a bit, inasmuch as I CQC'd them to the ground and held them up before abducting via balloon. There are also terrible boss fights against vehicles! Do you like shooting waves of enemies with overly-generous auto-aim? How about aiming for the AI pod of whatever AI weapon you're fighting, running out of Stinger missiles, calling a supply beacon, rinse and repeat? Boss fights are sort of bad, and the part where you have to grind them for Metal Gear parts is secretly the bane of my existence... which is why I didn't do it.
Oh right. The story! It's a Metal Gear Solid game, which is to say that it's insane, there are long-winded conversations that don't really go anywhere, and at some point there are strawman arguments about how Nuclear Weapons are bad. I like Metal Gear's brand of crazy quite a bit, and Peace Walker has the crazy in spades. The main bad guy is legitimately and unironically named “Hot Coldman” and one of the main plot points revolves around an AI built to resemble The Boss. The main drive of the story is also one giant after-school special about the flaws of Nuclear Deterrence theory, and I sort of had to laugh when the credits rolled because Kojima still has all the subtlety of your neighbors who have illegal fireworks displays every year. In any case, the “true” ending (which I watched on youtube because I really didn't want to grind for Metal Gear parts) is the brand of stupid crazy that I wanted out of the game the entire time, and it seems to set up what I assume Ground Zeroes is going to revolve around quite nicely. Seriously though, I think the dynamic between Miller and Big Boss is a pretty good one and also Otacon's dad is in the game and voiced by the same voice actor as Otacon. So that's weird.
If you can't really get a read on my opinion of Peace Walker from the preceding paragraphs, it's because I'm still not entirely sure where my opinion of Peace Walker lies. It's safe to say that I like it less than the full numbered installments that I've played, but I'm not entirely sure to what extent I dislike it. Metal Gear isn't exactly known for its sterling gameplay, so I can't decide if I find the story compellingly crazy or cloyingly preachy. Eh. Maybe it's both. If you'll excuse me, I have some pocket monsters to capture or italians to stab. Or lunch to eat.