Announced at E3 2009 by Hideo Kojima himself, Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker is the next canon entry into the Metal Gear timeline. The game is set to take place 10 years after Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, further telling the tragic tale of Big Boss and the creation of his independent military organization, Outer Heaven. It's hardly been a year since the announcement, but Kojima Productions have obviously been hard at work, teasing the many watchful eyes with an abundance of trailers showing off bits of story and plenty of gameplay.
Set after the events of Operation Snake Eater and Portable Ops, a substantially large armed military has taken residence in the defenceless nation of Costa Rica, bringing nukes into the country. In order to repel the invading army, Naked Snake is approached to deploy his own group of soldiers dubbed Militaires Sans Frontieres, or Soldiers Without Borders, soldiers who have given up their countries and who will eventually become the founding force behind Outer Heaven. Peace Walker's story already looks incredibly promising and with Hideo Kojima at the helm, it's no doubt that the story is definitely canon. Kojima himself emphasized that Peace Walker is indeed the next Metal Gear, not to mention that it was even revealed earlier this year that the game was originally slated to be titled as Metal Gear Solid 5: Peace Walker.
In Peace Walker, Naked Snake is no longer assisted by Major Zero or Campbell, but instead by a rather familiar name that had briefly appeared in the original Metal Gear Solid, Kazuhira Miller. As mentioned previously, Snake and Miller are approached by a professor from Costa Rica, Ramon Galvez Mena, and his student, Paz Ortega Andrade, who beg them to drive the invading army out of their country. Subsequent trailers also revealed a whole slew of other characters that look to be pretty vital to Peace Walker's plot. Fans of the franchise will also be glad to know that David Hayter is returning as the voice of Naked Snake, as opposed to Richard Doyle who had previously lent his voice to Big Boss in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots.
There's been plenty of hype and controversy surrounding Peace Walker's gameplay tweaks since the TGS 2009 demo was released to the public. Fortunately, the game allows players to choose the controls that suits their preferences, be it the controls seen in Metal Gear Solid 4 or more traditional ones like that of Portable Ops, with the former most likely being the much easier and less frustrating choice for many. Another favourite addition looks to be the brand new CQC system which allows players to string together combos should enemies be close enough to Snake. With this new mechanic, CQC has never felt so good. Previous games had only allowed Snake to take down one enemy at a time, making it pretty difficult to get out of a tight spot when surrounded by a group. Kojima Productions doesn't stop there though, throwing in a dynamic camera that shifts angles to make the takedowns look and feel incredibly satisfying. The camera controls are also a lot tighter and much more responsive compared to the nightmare that was Portable Ops. Even so, one of the downsides, much to the dismay of some, Snake can no longer move while prone nor can he shift himself while against cover.
The addition of co-op brings a fresh new flavour as well, making infiltration far more dynamic and team-focused. "Snaking-up" let's players share more than just their health bar. Players that are linked together can even share their weapons and equipment. Don't have a ration? Simply Snake-up and increase your health bar as well as ammo count for added survivability. Not to mention that while in this formation, only the leader will have to worry about movement, allowing the other to cover the six and keep an eye out for trouble. This co-op extends to the arsenal of weapons as well since some require more than one person to operate, like the hilariously manually charged railgun and optic camouflage cannon.
Another big addition to Peace Walker may seem a bit familiar to those who have played Portable Ops, which only scratched the surface of building an army. As players make progress, they'll be given the choice of recruiting soldiers to form their own force. This is reflected through the Mother Base. Players can appoint soldiers with different roles that will aid in the growth of their army, eventually unlocking new items like weapons and equipment which can be used in missions. Mother Base is also said to grow in size as more soldiers are recruited. Of course, this is all up to the player and isn't necessary to move the story forward.
<img src="/newsimg/post/peace-walker-art.jpg" alt=Ashley Wood is back, by the way." style="width:250px; float:left; margin-right:7px;" />Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker is definitely looking to push the boundaries of portable gaming. The scope of the project is immense and the amount of things that Kojima Productions have added in since the TGS demo is mind-numbing. Both old and new mechanics look to make the game feel familiar and fresh at the same time, making it much more accessible to a wider audience and still appealing to the hardcore fans. Moreover, the game is fully voiced and makes one wonder how the heck they managed to fit it all into a single UMD disc. Will Peace Walker deliver the definitive Metal Gear experience? Well, it's certainly looking that way.
Big Boss will be Snaking-up June 8 in North America and June 17 for Europe. Look forward to it, we definitely are.