When Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker was officially announced in June of 2009, it was touted as a full sequel in the Metal Gear franchise by Kojima himself. Many found this hard to believe; how could a portable version of the series live up to the scale of MGS4 or the perfection of MGS3? In short, despite the inherent shortcomings of the PSP, it lives up to the expectations and is one of the best games on the platform.
Set In between the events of Metal Gear Solid 3 and the original Metal Gear, Peace Walker continue Snakes' journey into his eventual re-birth as Big Boss. The game is framed in the 1970s in Cold War era Costa Rica. Snake is adjusting to being referred to as Big Boss and he is forming his Militaries Sans Frontières (Soldiers without Borders). This army has no home and fights where and when Snake tells them. He is approached by a professor at the Costa Rica University, Ramón Gálvez Mena, and his student, Paz Ortega Andrade, who want to have Snake and his men come in and help liberate Costa Rica.
Of course, being a Metal Gear Solid game, all is not what it seems and, despite some unsettling revelations, (or because of them) Snake agrees to help the two of them and travels to Costa Rica. The story is told both through in-game cutscenes and semi-animated graphic novel style panels. These cutscenes are unique in the fact that you can zoom and pan the camera as well as see through clothing occasionally (on women) generally to see how they are injured or been mistreated. The graphic panels also integrate some QTE elements such as zoom, move, and shoot. I found myself really engaged in these scenes because of the great art style and it was a fresh, new way to present the story.
The story itself is a great one, if not quite as elaborate and fantastical as the previous Metal Gear Solid games. This is partly because of the bosses in Peace Walker, instead of human(ish) characters like The Pain, Psycho Mantis, or Vamp, we have Mechs and vehicles to face. This makes sense in the context of the story, but I could not help missing these creative and unique bosses. It is fun and challenging to take out a super tank or Metal Gear, but Big Boss used to face people who could make weapons and shields out of Bees! This minor quibble aside, the story is really well presented with efficient and engaging cinematics to flesh out characters and scenarios. The evolution of Big Boss is as satisfying as you could hope.