By Sarumarine 11 Comments
Back when I was talking about the Metal Gear series, someone mentioned I should play Peace Walker for a number of reasons. Most of those reasons involving the story lead in to the likes of Metal Gear Solid V with the characters and setting, and maybe that it was under appreciated or something. Well, I played Peace Walker.
The result is that I have a new low as far as this series is concerned. I thought Metal Gear Soild 4 was my least favorite, but boy does Peace Walker beat that game in spades. At least MGS4 doesn't require voodoo, blood sacrifices, and obscure logic shit just to see the final ending. People were complaining about the unclear nonsense it took to beat the P.T. Silent Hills demo thing, and Peace Walker has that same kind of flavor. Hopefully this isn't the start of a bad trend for Kojima-related projects.
I'm not saying its the worst game ever, even in relation to Metal Gear. But the lows outnumber the highs in staggering amounts.
Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker (Deterrence Deterrence Deterrence)
This is a game that never ends.
Peace Walker is the game that absolutely refuses to end. That may be good or bad depending on your tastes and experiences, but for me, this game felt like an eternity. I spent a good two days being completely done with it, but unable to leave it alone because I was stuck in Chapter 5 and desperately wanted to finish it out because I felt like I was so close. I found at least three different explanations on how to reach the final boss only to be completely stumped as the game nearly refused to let me finish the video game world's longest, most drawn out game of hide and seek I've ever seen. Man, is Steve Blum good at playing elusive instigators. I still don't know how I managed to unlock the final mission, but I'm so glad it's over.
But let's back up real quick. My main problem with Peace Walker is that it's not really a Metal Gear Solid game. It's more along the lines of Monster Hunter with a Metal Gear Solid coat of paint. It's a weird half-Metal Gear where you can't crawl around (you can only lay down in a stationary position), you can't sidle along walls edges, and in lieu of boss battles with quirky super soldiers, you fight tanks, helicopters, and AI controlled machines by the bucket load. It's also designed primarily to be a handheld with lightning fast stages designed to be beat minutes at a time. Unfortunately these short missions don't have nearly enough variety or things to justify it. It's got multiplayer, and that must be why all the bosses in this game take forever to beat. Forever. Like there aren't enough missiles and rockets in the world.
But I'm four paragraphs in and I feel like all I'm doing is dumping on it. It's not that bad, but if you're expecting another sneak-em-up Metal Gear style, you had best rearrange your expectations.
Codename: Batman (Advanced CQC is Awesome)
However, the greatest thing Peace Walker does is moving Naked Snake/Big Boss one step closer to having the ability to completely wreck squads of guys with nothing but two fists and some fast moves. CQC is really, really effective in this game. You could probably beat all the sneaking stages in this game with nothing but your bare hands. One of the reasons it's so good, its a new combo move that involves throwing an enemy to the ground, and then mashing out the attack button to take down any of his nearby friends. It's so damn good, and fun, and effective.
Peace Walker is the only game I know where you can turn Big Boss into Batman. My favorite tactic involved throwing a smoke grenade into a crowd of guys, running in, throwing one of them to the ground, and then taking out the other three with the CQC Combo Chain before the smoke clears. It's so awesome. So every cutscene from MGS3 where Naked Snake takes out like five guys at once is now totally possible. What's also improved is ambushing guys around corners. You can grab an enemy as they're rounding a corner and do what you please with them. I like tossing them on the ground and then holding them up. The only thing keeping you from beating the game without firing a shot is all the boss battles with tanks, AI drones, and helicopters.
Not So Much about the Mission
The main focus though doesn't have much to do with the actual playing of the game. Really it's about building your oil rig-style main base. You have to fill out your personnel roster by kidnapping the soldiers you usually avoid or murder throughout the story. The main draw involves using the resources of your crew to research gadgets and weapons. However, the way the game unlocks new stuff is something I never got a handle on. Sometimes it would be a bonanza as I have shotguns and radars to research and other times complete droughts. I got to a point toward the end of the game where I had nothing to research but was building up tons of funds. All that money, and nothing to spend it on. Which wasn't so bad because the main thing you really need to beat this game is a rocket launcher.
You'll also need tons of patience. Because those rocket launchers only have 5 or 6 shots and you'll need way, WAY more than that to beat the boss encounters in this game. Half of boss fights involve waiting to resupply. They take so long. I don't know if I've said that before, but they take forever. Even if you're shooting for weaknesses, the amount of damage it takes to beat a tank or an AI drone is stupid. It makes even The End fight from MGS3 look fun. Mostly, the problem is that they're poorly paced and feel built for multiple people hammering on a single target like Monster Hunter. But who the hell is going to play the PS3 version of Peace Walker online? No one I could find, that's for sure.
That final boss is total garbage too. The presentation, the difficulty, the weird J-Pop music they play when you're fighting a Metal Gear. And the pilot is wearing nothing but her underwear for some reason? What probably makes it feel worse than it actually is was all the effort (or luck) just to get there. I do really love the idea of building your worst enemy. Creating the final boss... but getting there is just too dumb to capitalize on that.
No Peace for the Story
The story is alright. Steve Blum's character wants to equalize capitalism from Central America, and then things get weird as Metal Gear stories tend to do. Most of this probably falls on my personal preference. It's got a few hitches involving The Boss from MGS3 (who I felt had a pretty complete story) and there's a pretty confusing plot beat with Big Boss where he's wondering about things that were explained to him at the end of Snake Eater. Like, didn't EVA already cover why The Boss defected to the Soviet Union and why you had to kill her, Big Boss? And then the namesake of this game bringing her back as a singing robot... well... I think I would rather play a game as The Boss instead of playing a game about The Boss if that's what it takes.
I did like the comic art style (not so much those QTEs) for a couple of characters. Villains look like real villains with devious smiles and twisted necks. Hot Coldman has some pretty fantastic grins. And Big Boss looks like an insane mountain man in some scenes.
And then there's Paz. Who doesn't do much in the story at first except add tons of creep factor later on. If you were uncomfortable with the Beauty and the Beast unit from MGS4, prepare to take on Paz. Beating Peace Walker completely involves crawling in a box with her while hearts rise up with all sorts of unfortunate implications. Again, I don't know what it adds to the experience other than to be a poorly executed non-sequitur. I can really do without scenes like this in these games. I just want to sneak around and fight quirky bosses, man. Maybe blow up nuclear walking death machines every now and then.
Finding that Ending
I'm also still burned about how obscure the ending to this game is. I still don't know what triggered it, and I'm not even talking about the parts you need to get there. Eventually you're just grinding it out playing missions that aren't good enough for repeated playthroughs. You could say that there is a lot here in Peace Walker, but the game feels bloated rather than stacked with content. The unique or funny missions are few and far in-between (like holding up soldiers with a banana) and there are too many that feel like busy work (disarming claymores, anyone?)
But it's over now. Peace Walker is done. And I really don't know what to think of Metal Gear Solid V now. I'm sure that game will be weird and crazy as Metal Gear games tend to do. I just hope they don't bury the plot progression behind unclear goals and mounds of uninteresting tasks.
And I would complain about Paz... but they pretty much already dealt with that problem in Ground Zeroes.