After finishing MGS4, I tried a little of every game in the collection. As my schedule got tightened, I continued only with Peace Walker, which is more appealing to me. I know I am on the wrong chronicle order again, but I believe I made the right choice.
It amuses me when I first heard that someone ports a action PSP game to PS3 (sorry Final Fantasy Type-0) but it works. It not only reminds me of the good times in Metal Gear Solid V: the Phantom Pain but beats it in many ways. The only reason it does not completely overshadow MGSV is because its ported from PSP.
There is an obvious gap between Peace Walker and previous installments. It is the first Metal Gear game that turns you from a soldier on the battlefield into a CEO of a big R&D company. MGSV just expand this system to perfection and (a little) redundancy. The fulton extraction and base building adds a sense of richness and safety that is absolutely unseen in previous games. I guess it is just a burden for hardcore action players but is really friendly for the remaining people. In Peace Walker, the research progress by missions instead of real life time, which avoids much time wasting though could still be made quicker. The only thing I do not like is the tedious management of outer operations.
However, both of the two “modern” Metal Gear Solid games share a conflict they cannot resolve: on one side they satisfy the desire to be powerful and have the best killing machines; on the other side they still absolutely encourage the peaceful approach in game mechanics and gives the protagonist a very high moral standard in narration. Admittedly, the previous titles’ more hardcore stealth approach fits into MGS’s theme better. While I really enjoy the new system, they would find a better home in a game with less moral concern, something like Just Cause and Homefront but less brainless than that.
As a compensation, Peace Walker cleverly offers more face to face battle with heavy armor and AI weapons which offer the opportunity to free weapons, while most of the time armors in MGSV has little difference from containers. They might be repetitive and have too crazy health bar in later game but offer surprisingly variety of tactics.
This game dies once you remember the details of every map which is not that difficult. But it is brilliant when they are fresh. A great element that MGSV lacks is enemy’s ambush, which really matters here as you do not have those overpowerful assistance. Ridiculous amount of creativity is spent in these small maps: defending locations and persons, using banana to freeze all enemies, taking photos for ghosts, puzzle solving, dating... Even missions like “fulton extracting someone” has interesting variations. Though some of them looks more like a joke than adding much gameplay content, they bring fresh air to the formidable list of missions.
Peace Walker tells a short but engaging story. If that is not a thing worth mentioning for Metal Gear series, this story is focused and not trying to overwhelm you with acronyms and complex relation of factions; it has the least number of cliches and very natural twists at most joints; it throws away juvenile fantasy and discuss a serious issue that is succinct, enlightening and works well with the plot. The only shortcoming is that it is at odds with the slow tempo of building and developing your base which is inserted abruptly between missions.
Using manga for narration may be a result of restriction in budget and technology, but it is a success. Do not hate me, I even wish Kojima was a manga fan instead of a movie one. Manga just outlines the main point and leaves the gap for reader’s imagination. Under a not very high budget, it has great advantage over CGI at showing character’s emotion and movements during intense moments which is of course crucial for MGS. Scenes like chasing the Peace Walker and the last few minutes before the world’s end would be much more difficult and expansive to deliver even in current AAA games.
I also like that Peace Walker has no supernatural villains. I know they are still there, just replaced by tanks, helicopters and Pupa, but it matters that they stay away from the story. There are no shortage of people thinking this MGS is a magic fantasy but I still prefer to view it in a more realistic way because of its atmosphere and frequent reference of real world politics. Therefore, I have to reprogram my brain when “people” like Vamp and Mantis show up to accept their existence in this world, and frankly, I think most of them have really awful tastes.
As Blood and Wine and No Man’s Sky is approaching, it is almost time I jump back to modern time. The next one and the probably the last one in recent time in this series will be Metal Gear Solid 2, which I am currently playing and losing a lot of psyche on. I do not play a lot of stealth/action game in childhood and it is really challenging my upper limit!