Guest Author - James Shea
A console remake of a portable game, "Peace Walker HD" features improved animation and controls for a game that many people may have passed by.
"Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker HD" is a PS3 remake of a game originally made for the PSP. The game itself is entirely the same in terms of content and gameplay, but being on the PS3 has allowed for smoother textures, better/faster animation, and controls using an actual PS3 controller instead of the somewhat-awkward PSP controls.
A summary of the original game: Peace Walker is a game where you develop a base full of soldiers, periodically heading out to perform solo sneaking missions (MGS' specialty). During missions, you can capture enemies and persuade them to join your side. The game's controls are inspired by the over-the-shoulder shooting method of MGS4, and overall the game handles fairly well. While the mechanics may not be particularly well-thought-out, it's a relatively decent experience, and often addictive due to the nature of the base-improvement system.
One of the game's problems arises from the control switch. The PSP's controls are much harder to deal with than the PS3's, and as a result Peace Walker is much, MUCH easier than other Metal Gear games (and there's no selectable difficulty, either). Guards can barely see in front of their own faces, and they're incredibly easy to distract. You can stand ten feet in front of one and throw an object over his head and it's practically guaranteed he'll turn around to look at it instead of noticing you. The only real way to make the game harder is to purposefully disdain items like the thrown magazine or silenced weapons to force you to use actual tactics to get things done.
The game's visuals are not improved in a "texture" sense - they're still relatively low-res - but they are improved in the sense that they feel much smoother and more natural. This is partially achieved by increasing the framerate from 30 to 60 FPS. This helps not only in a visual sense but also makes gameplay feel more responsive. It's also possible to see what's going on more clearly, which further adds to difficulty complications based on a failure to adjust settings.
The final change is that going online seems to be a lot easier with the new system than with the old PSP one. The PS3 has better internet technology than the PSP does, and as such it's easier to maintain a stable connection for either versus mode or co-op play. The one online feature changed is the ability to recruit from wi-fi hotspots that the PSP had; in Peace Walker HD, you simply recruit soldiers without having to look for hotspots.
Overall, Peace Walker is a good game, and the HD remake is a relatively worthwhile - if not wholly thought-out - remake. If you missed out on the game because you didn't have a PSP, now's the perfect time to pick it up.
I purchased this game with my own funds in order to do this review. This is a download-only game from the PS3 online network.