The Lost Link
Even the best of men can be corrupted. How did Naked Snake, hero of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, become the main antagonist of the series, taking on the moniker of Big Boss and opposing Solid Snake with his machinations to control the world? Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker HD goes a long way to explaining his fall. Originally released on the PSP in 2010, it takes place in 1974 in Costa Rica with a group called the Peace Sentinels who've deployed themselves on the island without explaining their motives. Big Boss must lead his Militaires Sans Frontieres (MSF) and vanquish the enemy battalions to preserve the volatile peace. While many gamers missed Peace Walker when it was first released on the PSP, the port to the PS3 and Xbox 360 means a visual upgrade and a chance for players to experience the game in full HD glory.
- Console gamers are finally getting Peace Walker on the big screen -
I got the opportunity to try out the demo on the E3 show floor. It plays well, starting in a jungle setting similar to MGS3. If you've controlled Snake in any of the console iterations, you'll feel right at home; left control stick to move, right control stick to adjust the camera. As usual, stealth takes precedence. Big Boss has the Mk22 at his disposal -- a tranquilizer gun to quietly knock out enemies. If you sneak up on any soldiers from behind and catch them offguard, they'll raise their hands in surrender. Dispatch them with CQC and players will have the option to utilize the Fulton Skyhook to send their unconscious bodies to Mother Base. This is part of the army building process unique to Peace Walker and the recruiting also shows players how Big Boss went about building the infamous 'Outer Heaven'.
In his equipment bag, Big Boss carries a love box (shown in the E3 trailer to hilarious effect with two Big Bosses hiding underneath), rations, binoculars, and a surround indicator which acts as an early version of the Soliton Radar, harnessing sound waves rather than electromagnetic signatures. Enemy AI is smart as always, though I did run and gun my way through most of the demo. Once I reached my marked destination, the Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker HD demo ended all too soon.
Visually, Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker HD looks on par with Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. The smooth geometry and the up-rez'd textures look great in HD and there's nothing that's overtly distracting. While it didn't compare visually with Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, I think it's unreasonable to expect it to do so as MGS4 was designed and constructed with the PS3 specifically in mind. It's also been announced that PSP players who want to import the Outer Heaven troops they assembled in the original can do so via 'Transfarring,' the new transfer process announced recently by Konami. It's a nice touch PSP players can be grateful for.
- The game looks nice, but don't expect MGS4 visuals -
Being one part of a triumvirate of games for the upcoming Metal Gear HD Collection, Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker HD alone makes it worth the price of entry as the 'lost link' in the Metal Gear saga. Realizing Big Boss' plight and his forthcoming tragic descent, the game reminds me of a line from the film, The Dark Knight: "You either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain."
He has been working in film and games for over a decade. On his off time, he likes to travel the world. His short story collection, Watering Heaven, was just published by Signal 8 Press.
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