It's not Snake's first visit on the PSP, but in many ways it feels like it is. Hideo Kojima's name might be seen as a stamp of quality, but it also puts a lot of pressure on the game itself. After many hours of infiltration, weapon handling and a ridiculous amount of cigars it must be said that Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker is one of the most content-filled PSP games in a long time.
The stage is Central America during the 70's, Snake (as in Big Boss/Naked Snake, Solid Snake's cloned old man) is surrounded by a warm climate and a cold war. He's bitter about his murdered girlfriend and, of course, angry at the guy who killed her. Snake meets up with Paz, KGB agent and Little Red Riding Hood-lookalike and together with her and the mercenaries in Soldiers without Borders he must face an unknown military power with nuclear weapons through a long line of missions.
The levels set in the jungle looks a lot like Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, which Peace Walker follows up on chronologically. According to the classic Metal Gear-formula you need to sneak, infiltrate and sneak your way through the game. Make too much noise and the enemy soldiers will come looking for you and if you really mess up you will be attacked by enemies in the dozens that will kill you faster than you can yell "Snaaaake". It's often quite exciting, even though the controls take a while to get used to - the three different control schemes are not completely logical and I often wish for a regular controller.
After every successfully mission you return to your headquarters where you can relax and recruit new talents to your team. Depending where you spend your resources you gain various perks (weapon research gives you more toys in the field, good doctors and chefs support your troops, etcetera), and in general this puzzling is pretty fun. It might even be said that it fits the format better, compared to action scenes in 3D.
The presentation looks great, despite a couple of low-resolution textures, and the cutscenes are brilliantly designed. The pretentious dialogue might be a bit too much at times, though. But a big part of Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker's charm can be found in the multiplayer, where you can play your way through the campaign together with a friend - or three, if it's time for a boss fight. Sadly, the boss fights can get incredibly hard if you play on your own and the difficulty level is not very balanced in singleplayer. There are also a couple of more competitive multiplayer modes, like deathmatch and capture and base defense. These feel more like an added bonus and if you're anything like me you'll probably stick to co-op and playing alone.
In general, Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker is a good mix between action, stealth, story and humor. I giggle at the co-op box Love Box, and how Snake sees the Sony Walkman as a wonder of modern technology. I prefer the stationary Metal Gear-games, but it is impressive how well the formula works in a portable format. The production value is huge, the amount of options refreshing. Snake is coming with me to the beach this summer, no doubt about it.