Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker
I'm a huge fan of the Metal Gear series, even though I recognize its occasional flaws. MGS2's setting, the Big Shell, was very boring to navigate; all the areas looked the same and the colors were often drab browns and grays. MGS4 was way too story-heavy to the point of muddling the mythos in unsatisfying ways. Portable Ops often became tedious with the need to drag soldiers across the map for recovery. Peace Walker is like a refined Portable Ops, and it makes building your army fun.
Peace Walker, like Portable Ops, tasks the player with recruiting an ever-growing army. Recruiting enemy soldiers is now performed by using an item, the Fulton Recovery Device, that extracts them immediately from the battlefield. The Wi-Fi recruitment has been improved as well. Whereas Portable Ops had you mash a button in the presence of a Wi-Fi hotspot, Peace Walker allows you to perform a quick scan before launching into a CQC battle. The best part is that you can start or retry the battle even after leaving the Wi-Fi area. These improvements over its immediate predecessor are only part of what makes Peace Walker so fun.
The game is broken down into short missions suitable for portable gaming sessions. Each mission can be completed in a few minutes. As in the console Metal Gear games, you earn ranks and rewards for beating these missions without being seen or killing any guards. Instead of having to play through the entire campaign in such a way, you can simply go back to each mission and perfect just that one section. I've earned S-rank on most of the missions I've been through, which was definitely a welcome challenge. Now I just need to earn those S-ranks in Co-ops mode.
Co-ops mode is a first for Metal Gear. Almost all of the missions can be played cooperatively with two to four players. Having co-op allows for some new (to MGS) strategies, like having one player distract a guard while the other sneaks up behind him. Also, the bosses are really not meant to be played in single-player. Co-op helps to even the odds against tanks, helicopters, and mechs the size of small cities.
Though the missions are classic Metal Gear stealth-action, these boss battles are all-out, running-and-rocket-launching action -- think Metal Gear Rex or Metal Gear Ray. There isn't just one such end-boss battle, though. The game is loaded with military vehicles and AI monstrosities to take out. Performing well enough will capture these enemy mechs to use in your own Outer Ops missions.
Outer ops is a mode that I initially overlooked when I began playing the game. This is a sort of basic strategy game that has you deploying your troops and captured mechs to take part in various skirmishes. It happens concurrently with your normal missions. You create teams and send them on missions against enemy teams. After your next main-game mission, you get the results of your Outer Ops. It's an interesting addition to the main gameplay, and it earns you all sorts of extra items and abilities.
All of the weapons and items you can develop ensure that you can keep playing the game for a very long time. Weapons R&D requires that you complete certain objectives, as well as hone the teams in your army to be able to research and to finance new developments. In order to earn all of the game's "achievements," you've got to complete development of all weapons, S-rank all missions, and then do the same in Co-Ops. I've been playing for a week now non-stop, and I've only just scratched the surface.
So, who wants to play Co-ops with me? As an incentive, I'm running out of room in my base, and I've got a few good men willing to fight for you.