E3 2011: Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker HD Preview

By Colin Tan on June 21, 2011, 10:51PM EDT

The Metal Gear Solid HD Collection has been a long time coming, but Hideo Kojima finally announced its existence during Konami's pre-E3 event. Including Sons of Liberty, Snake Eater and the latest in the Metal Gear canon, Peace Walker, fans can expect to re-experience the rise of Outer Heaven and the Patriots all over again in high definition. Peace Walker HD in particular was playable at E3 and seeing as I'm a massive dork for the franchise, I didn't hesitate in getting some hands-on time with it at Konami's booth.

The demo had a few early missions available to try out, including a couple of sneaking missions and the boss battle against the LAV-25. No prizes for guessing which mission I tackled first and beat with relative ease. While the game is being rebuilt specifically for PS3 and Xbox 360, everything about it still feels relatively familiar, especially if you've already played the game on the PSP.

The controls are similar to that of MGS4, with aiming and shooting done with the trigger buttons while the item and weapon inventories can be accessed with the shoulder buttons. Since the Dualshock has a lot more buttons than the PSP, a lot of functions have been nicely spread across the pad as opposed to using odd button combinations or contextual input.

<img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3213/5858940632_d31c50fa9f_z.jpg" width="588 alt="Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker HD - Big Boss" style="border: solid 10px ccc;">

For those that aren't too familiar with the tragedy of Big Boss, Peace Walker is a continuation of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. It's been four years since Portable Ops and ten since Operation Snake Eater in Tselinoyarsk, Snake has since left FOX behind, starting up his own unit: Militaires Sans Frontieres. Set in Costa Rica, Snake is tasked with investigating an armed group that has occupied the country.

Players have a ton to play through with the game's Main Ops, Outer Ops, Extra Ops and even a competitive multiplayer mode, Versus Ops. In addition, players also get to build up Militaires Sans Frontieres' Mother Base, the very foundation that will eventually culminate in Outer Heaven. From R&D to unit management, maintenance and even the construction of a certain nuclear-capable bipedal tank, there's a lot to do in Peace Walker.

Unlike other announced PSP Remaster titles, Peace Walker HD also brings Trophy support to the game in addition to "Transfarring" save files between the PSP and PS3. The only real complaint is that while Peace Walker looks good in high definition, it still looks like a PSP game, which isn't really a bad thing, just a bit of nitpicking. Textures can sometimes look muddy and the lighting makes the overall visuals look a bit flat.

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker HD - Get to the chopper!

It's certainly not Metal Gear Solid 3D: Snake Eater where the 3D really adds an impressive level of depth to the game. The animated graphic novel cutscenes illustrated by Yoji Shinkawa and Ashley Wood suffer from a wee bit of pixelation, but nothing too noticeable, unless you have your face plastered to your TV "“ which, by the way, isn't very healthy. All 2D elements like character portraits and UI have been redrawn in HD as well. All things considered, Peace Walker HD isn't going to disappoint.

In addition, while it's still pending final confirmation according to Konami Europe's spokesperson Steve Merrett, Peace Walker HD may well ship with all released DLC on the same disc, including new camouflage patterns and songs for Snake to put on his Sony Walkman.

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker never really sold as well as previous games, hopefully the HD release will see some new life brought in. Peace Walker was, by far, one of the biggest games on any handheld device. Heck, I daresay it's larger and certainly better than Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, but that might just be me. In any case, it's heading to PS3s and Xbox 360s this coming November. Anti-handheld sentiments are moot at this point. The advent of Outer Heaven is coming and you darn well better be ready.

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