Gaming’s Premier Stealth
Franchise Returns to the PSP
September 8, 2009 – The Metal Gear Solid series had quite the showing at this year’s E3 conference. Starting with Microsoft, Metal Gear series creator and venerable game designer Hideo Kojima announced a new entry into the series with Metal Gear Solid: Rising as a producer. Excited as MGS fans were, things were made much more interesting later at the Sony conference when Kojima announced Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker exclusively for the PlayStation Portable. As compared to MGS: Rising, Kojima is taking a much more active role with Peace Walker serving as designer, writer, producer, and director. As any MGS fanatic can tell you, more involvement from Kojima is better.
Peace Walker is set in the mid 1970s, some 10 years after Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. Big Boss returns as the protagonist, leading his Militaires Sans Frontieres or “Military Without Boarders”, the group that would give way to Outer Heaven. Big Boss is pulled into events within Costa Rica when they are invaded by a hostile military force and, lacking a military themselves, Costa Rica turns to Big Boss for assistance. The mid-70s Latin America setting is placed in the wake of the Cuban Missile Crisis, a turbulent time for that region as powers from around the globe had special interests in securing their influence. How this real world history will come in to play hasn’t been revealed, but knowing Kojima, it will be a significant backdrop.
Gameplay-wise Peace Walker isn’t a dramatic shift in its core. Before missions, players can customize Big Boss for their playing style. Not surprisingly, players can outfit Big Boss to focus on stealth for more crouching for cover and cardboard box goodness. But for gamers that prefer a bit more action-oriented experience, Big Boss can be equipped for a run-and-gun, not-so-subtle approach. Being that the number of people that tries to play the Metal Gear series in a less-than-discrete fashion is small anyway, this is sure to be welcome news.
Where things get really interesting is in multiplayer. Peace Walker is playable by up to four players in an all-new co-op mode. Trailers showcasing co-op play highlight several of the benefits of having another player (or three other players) around on your side. In one instance, Big Boss is hit by turret fire and seemingly dies… until another Big Boss runs up and performs CPR to revive him.
Another unique addition is the ability to chain together Big Bosses on to each other. When two players move close enough to each other they are given the ability to link up. The player in front can run around and control both players’ movements, while the player in back can focus on firing his weapon or just going along for the ride. Also shown was the lead player holding a shield, while the player in back used him as cover to lay down suppressing fire of his own. All four players can link up creating a rather comical conga line of follow the leader.
Other oddities and humor are thrown in, such as the ability for two Big Bosses to share one cardboard box. Getting all that machismo into one cramped space cannot be easy… it seemed they were somewhere between cuddling and spooning to fit. I’m frankly surprised there is enough room for all of that mullet action in one space as well. The cardboard boxes have always been fun and silly, so it’s great to see the joke taken to another level; at one point in the trailer all four Big Bosses were split off into pairs in little miniature army tank cardboard boxes charging some sort of menacing, definitely not cardboard, metal machine.
Still, Kojima’s heavy involvement may be the best news out of everything known regarding Peace Walker to date. Kojima sits atop the video game industry’s Mt. Olympus as one of the business’ few superstars. Known for his storytelling, unique gameplay mechanics, and penchant for providing the unexpected, Kojima’s heavy involvement provides Peace Walker with an air of respectability not always seen in handheld games. With MGS: Rising being developed for the PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 it would have been easy to write off Peace Walker as a little side project that could easily be forgotten. Fortunately for gamers, Kojima is hard at work to see that doesn’t happen. Expect Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker in 2010.