Konami’s Metal Gear series is one that continues to be held in high regard even after years of absence from the market, and a lot of that could be attributed to the amazing work that Hideo Kojima has done with the franchise. Right from the original game on the MSX to the philosophical themes of Sons of Liberty to the open-world shenanigans of Phantom Pain, the Metal Gear series has consistently provided memorable experiences that have managed to stay with us long after the credits roll.
But nostalgia can be deceptive in nature, and what we fondly remember from the glory days might not be all that impressive anymore – all thanks to the rapid advancements that happen in the gaming landscape with each passing generation. While a lot of retrospectives have been done on the mainline MGS series, we would like to shift our gazes toward other and arguably lesser-known games in the franchise; games such as 2010’s Peace Walker.
Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker is not only an important game in terms of the overarching narrative, it also served as a technical achievement for the power of the PlayStation Portable. It’s an interesting thought to revisit the game and try to understand how it would be received in the modern gaming landscape, which elements have stood the test of time – and which haven’t.
So starting things off with the story, Metal Gear Peace Walker takes place after the events of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, and sees our series protagonist Naked Snake building up a military unit all while uncovering the mystery behind a strange voice recording of the dead The Boss. It obviously goes much deeper than that, but Peace Walker is one of the more approachable games in terms of the narrative. The game was always envisioned to be played on a handheld console (probably in short bursts), so the story is built in a way that doesn’t require a ton of effort to keep track of all the conspiracies and revelations that come together to form this narrative.
It’s also a surprisingly emotional story that touches on the familiar themes and relationship between The Boss and Snake, which makes it all the more engaging. Kojima also makes smart use of the PSP’s comparatively less horsepower and presents the story through stylish comic book-style screens instead of the traditional in-engine cutscenes to save up on both resources and space. It also has the added advantage of holding up really well to this date, so we can safely say that Peace Walker has aged beautifully in terms of the narrative presentation which remains an entertaining thrill ride through and through.
Moving over to the gameplay, Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker excellently adapts the third-person shooting of the console games to the handheld console. Despite having only one analog stick on the PSP, Snake is surprisingly convenient to control – thanks to a bevy of smart design tricks that come together to make the movement and menu navigation a breeze. Snake can clamber up walls, crawl under cardboard boxes, and engage in CQC among a slew of other things – and all that works beautifully on such a compact console layout. Even jumping back to this date, Peace Walker is really easy to pick up, which is a testament to the excellent design chops of Kojima and Konami.
It’s also surprising that Peace Walker might just be the biggest and most complex Metal Gear game up until its release, and a lot of what made the Phantom Pain such a fun experience can be traced back to Peace Walker. You see, this game is all about raising a private military – so the gameplay meshes together action and management elements in a way that feels really unique and fresh.
Of course, the core gameplay revolves around slowly sneaking through labyrinthian levels and carefully plotting your path to the objectives while trying to thin out the enemy resistance one by one. It all works just as well as you would expect, but Peace Walker also adds additional layers into the mix to make things more interesting. In addition to completing your mission objectives, you also have to be on the lookout for soldiers to Fulton extract to your base and make them join your cause. In a similar vein, you also have to look out for resources and tools that will help you craft better and more useful tools that will make your survival on the battlefield a lot easier than before. The overload of systems and mechanics can be a lot to take in at first, but the gradual sense of progression that comes from getting more and more powerful is something that can keep you hooked for hours and hours upon end.
Apart from the main story which is chock full of well-designed missions and memorable boss fights, Peace Walker also features a plethora of extra content available for players to dive into. You can send your best soldiers out on operations where they might return with valuable resources along with completed objects, and there’s also a real chance that your soldiers might die trying to further your cause and leave you with a big loss. You could also embark on these additional and tougher challenges all by yourself, or you could pair up with a buddy for some co-op action. Or if you’d like to face friends, there’s a fair bit of options for duking it out in versus modes as well.
All in all, there’s a ton of content on offer – and players can spend dozens upon dozens of hours working their way through the many missions and building out a powerhouse army. It’s a beautifully designed game where every aspect of the progression feeds back into the gameplay and vice versa, making spending time much more worthwhile. One thing that might make the game a bit unapproachable for modern audiences is the visuals which haven’t aged as well as other aspects of the game. The game can look quite blurry on modern high-resolution screens, so fans accustomed to shiny graphics might not find the presentation all that interesting.
But discounting that fact, Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker is a game that has largely stood the test of time. Everything from the story to the gameplay and the progression strongly resonates with one another, resulting in an experience that feels like an absolute thrill ride through and through. Peace Walker is an excellent experience for having some Metal Gear Solid action on the go, as you consistently working towards creating the greatest private army of all time. So, in 2024, rating the game on a scale of 10, Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker would easily score an 8 out of 10 in my book, thanks to its addictive gameplay loop and its ability to punch far above its weight.
Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, GamingBolt as an organization.