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MGS: Peace Walker's multiplayer both helps and hurts it

11:02 AM on 05.03.2010 // Hamza CTZ Aziz

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker offers both co-op and multiplayer versus modes. In the main game, you’ll be able to play with a buddy through Ad-hoc and the game becomes somewhat of a breeze to get through.

This bigger focus on multiplayer is great, but at the same time, ends up hurting the overall experience. Every boss fight lets up to four-players work together to take the bosses down, which is great. The issue with bosses arises when you're by yourself. Basically, you’re f*cked when you try to fight a boss on your own.

Let me elaborate after the break. 

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker (PSP)
Developer: Kojima Productions
Publisher: Konami
To be released: June 8, 2010

Playing through the campaign with a buddy changes Peace Walker. By yourself, it feels like the standard stealth espionage game. With a buddy, Peace Walker unintentionally becomes more of an action game. So long as one person is alive, there is no worrying about game overs. If a player is killed, the teammate can resuscitate the other back to health and keep on going. Plus, when multiple players are within a radius, the health bars will combine and everyone shares a bigger health bar.

Another very useful co-op feature in Peace Walker, called "Snake-in," allows co-op players to hold on to each other. One player will steer while the other can shoot on the move. Co-op players can also share cardboard boxes including a tank cardboard box that shoots out flash bombs.

Because of this easy revival system, there’s no real reason to worry about stealth. I found myself being careless compared to when I would play on my own. I think I would have been more careful if I was playing without my partner being right next to me. In that same breath, Peace Walker doesn’t feature any sort of voice communication. There are set in game messages you can send, but it’s very inconvenient since it gets in the way of playing.

Back to the main issue that will plague Peace Walker players: the boss fights. While fully doable on your own, you’ll sooner want to smash your PSP to pieces before you get through the first major boss fight. Up to four players can work together to take on bosses that take place in arena based environments. You just need to shoot the key points on the boss until their health bar is completely gone, which is easier said than done.

The game doesn’t scale appropriately based on the amount of players. Even with four players, you’ll constantly be dying. The first major boss is a giant robotic tank that’s moving around the level like it’s Tony fucking Hawk. It has a wide assortment of weapons and you seriously are going to want to snap your PSP after so many retries.

The thing about Peace Walker, I feel, is that it was designed with the Japanese audience in mind. People are playing with their PSPs far more in Japan in social situations. That’s not so much the case here in America. The DS and especially cell phones dominate our on the go gaming needs and finding a partner will be very difficult I think.

Peace Walker also features six-player versus modes which you’ll most likely end up playing through just once to see what it’s about and then never touch it again. You’ll have your standard modes such as free-for-all, team deathmatch and capture the bird (flag). Mutliplayer for a game like this just doesn’t work on a PSP. The action is too fast paced for what the PSP can manage with the button layout and you really want a second stick to have fun with this.

At the end of the day, what would make Peace Walker’s online worth playing is voice communication, Wi-Fi and the ability to use the PlayStation 3 controller. The Konami PR reps at our demo session asked our thoughts about releasing Peace Walker as a downloadable PSN title. Everyone at the preview session agreed that Peace Walker would work better on the PS3 over the PSP. The PSP controls are not a good fit for the versus mode and it would be a lot easier finding people to play with through the PS3. However, I wouldn't write off Peace Walker completely for the PSP. Metal Gear fans will easily love the latest in the series, despite these flaws. 

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