Classroom facts appear regularly in Peace Walker. The game takes place in and is modeled after Costa Rica, and many of the events of the Cold War are discussed. One chapter has characters explaining the ideas behind the Cold War in detail. Snake can discuss the traits of the areas he explores with various characters, including details on local plants and wildlife. Math also plays a large role in the base management portion of the game.
Creativity & Imagination
By the Player:
During missions players can deal with threats in a number of ways. Many different weapons and items are at Snake's disposal, many of which can be used to trick or distract enemy soldiers and many used to attack directly. Most areas contain secret items or extra prisoners for more thorough players to discover.
Players can choose to use hand-to-hand combat or non-lethal weapons - a tranquilizer gun, for instance - to neutralize enemies without killing them, which allows them to be returned to Mother Base.
These captured soldiers are then arranged into groups by the player, and how these groups are filled determines the weapons players can research, the amount of money Mother Base collects and much more. As time goes on more and more options become available, and players will have room to experiment both in the action-filled missions and in their role as manager back at Snake's base.
By the Developer:
Peace Walker is a remarkable title, combining the tense stealth action and challenging boss fights of previous Metal Gear titles with a complex base management element. The game also plays extremely well on the PSP, notable since Metal Gear games usually have relatively complex control schemes. Cooperative play is new to the series, and works extremely well thanks to a few unique mechanics and ideas.
The game looks impressive both during play and during the lengthy graphic novel-inspired cutscenes. The soundtrack includes plenty of original music and pieces from previous entries.
Like all Metal Gear games, there are surprises and humor from beginning to end. An in-game Walkman lets players listen to a selection of series tunes; hidden characters will delight series fans; and a new, larger cardboard box allows two players to crawl around together. The sheer volume of content - the full campaign and 100+ side missions - ensure players will have dozens of hours of content to explore.
Business skills are extremely important in Peace Walker. Snake's Mother Base has five teams - combat, R&D, mess hall, medical and intel - and players can capture any of Snake's opponents from any mission and send them to one of the teams. As each team's level increases, the player is rewarded in various ways. Each team gives you different advantages. Having a high-level Intel team gives you more information on the soldiers found in a mission; having a high-level Medical team allows your wounded soldiers to recover faster. By adding soldiers the amount of money you get after every mission goes up. As the game goes on players are put in charge of more and more stuff, including the collection of parts for the base's own Metal Gear and the deployment of groups of soldiers to Outer Ops missions. As Mother Base gets bigger more money starts to come in, which is used to research new weapons that become available as various teams increase in level. This is only a handful of the many options players have in Mother Base. However, if the player is not diligent about recruiting new troops, they probably won't have a problem keeping up, but if they keep your team levels high throughout then they will have to pick and choose which upgrades to purchase.
Peace Walker can be played in its entirety by a single player, but it encourages cooperative play aggressively. The vast majority of missions can be played by a team of two, and doing so offers a pretty refreshing take on the Metal Gear formula. Having someone covering the player’s back in Metal Gear is a great help, and the added abilities to share health bars and items and "sync up" for more bonuses - a shared radar, for instance - are nice touches. The game is definitely most rewarding when played with a partner. Multiplayer stealth games are fairly rare, and because Metal Gear in particular is so well-known it’s really interesting to be able to cover a friend while they try to sneak up on a guard or use empty magazines to distract foes while your partner slips in. There are a couple other cool mechanics, the big one being that if the player gets close enough to their partner they will get to share a few bonuses, and they can tag their partner to follow behind them automatically. None of this really carries over to solo play, because here it's pretty much the player - Snake - versus everyone else.
Competitive multiplayer modes are also available, and they use Peace Walker's unique mechanics to put a twist on standard multiplayer game types.
During a mission players are most often trying to incapacitate enemy soldiers without being seen. Many of these soldiers are hidden, though Snake has several items at his disposal that can assist him. Each area of the game has its entrances and various terrain features that allow for hiding or taking cover. Boss battles typically pit Snake against his opponents in a more open area, putting the focus more on fast-paced combat than the methodic sneaking of other missions.
The Mother Base portion of the game has players navigating menus, placing and rearranging the hundreds of soldiers into different teams to reach various results, most of which give players advantages during the sneaking missions. This combination of disparate elements makes Peace Walker a particularly engrossing title.
Peace Walker is not a simulation game. However, enemies all have realistic ranges of vision that the player needs to stay out of, and Snake can be heard if he moves around too quickly. For most of the game the player doesn't have any advanced radar, but there are a couple items that can tell you where sounds are coming from, so you can locate enemy footsteps. The characters and environment are made to be realistic and use real local plants and animals from Costa Rica; and the player can learn about these in optional dialogues.
Peace Walker has had a great reception since its release. Reviewers praised the combination of classic Metal Gear action and the complex base-management portion of the game, as well as the innovative cooperative elements. The game's structure was also praised for making it easy to play in small chunks and replay sections to search for rare soldiers and supplies.
Though the game is certainly violent, it encourages players to use non-lethal means at every opportunity, going so far as to reward them with new soldiers for doing so.
Controls & Options
Players have a huge range of controls and options to toy with. The basic control scheme can be changed drastically, as can a few important details like the weapon selection system. Players can customize a set of messages used to communicate with teammates. Late into the game players unlock a really strange menu that lets them rearrange the lyrics to various songs in the game and play them back with the in-game Walkman. Difficulty levels are not available.
All multiplayer modes are normally limited to local players only, players with PlayStation 3 consoles can download the free Ad-Hoc Party software to play online.
Peace Walker received an T from the ESRB with descriptors for Blood, Drug Reference, Language, Suggestive Themes, Use of Tobacco and Violence.