Today saw the European release of the Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker Demo (dubbed Trial Ops) and I found myself with an hour on my hands, so I thought I’d give a little bit of a hands-on first impressions of it.
First of all, as someone who’s fresh off playing MGS1 on PSP, and someone who hasn’t played Portable Ops or MGS4 in a long time, the control system took a lot of adjusting to. Luckily the first 10-15 minutes are so give a full tutorial based on what control method you choose,, first going through the camera controls, then movement, then CQC, before finishing on weapon use. I’ve played through the tutorial on both settings and.. i don’t know, it just doesn’t seem right losing the camera controls to the 4 face buttons instead of a second analog stick. MGS1 was different, it came from a time when analog sticks were nearly non-existent so were forced to not have features that would hamper those that had controllers without them, but it just takes a good amount of time to get used to them. Which I haven’t done yet.
So now that my ability to actually play the game from the offset’s being severely hampered, let’s get down to the plot. What the basis of the game seems to be, is Naked Snake/Big Boss (remembering that this game carries on from 3 and Portable Ops) has started a private military company known as Militaires Sans Frontières (Soldiers without Borders, for those lacking in French). Another military faction has established base in Costa Rica sporting high-tech weaponry, and Snake and his wrecking crew are hired to oust them. That’s about all I got as far as, the first 2 missions which involves clearing out an enemy outpost at a dock, and sneaking towards a heavier fortified stronghold. I myself just got frustrated at the controls and left it at that. I don’t hate the game, it’s just that at this point in time, I don’t really want to open up and get familiar with the controls only to forget them in the Spring 2010 gaming blitz, then have to re-learn them in May when the full game comes out.
So on first play, I wasn’t really keen on it, it could have certainly been helped with a second analog stick (no shit Sherlock, it’s a shooter) but for what it’s worth, if you were a fan of Portable Ops it certainly shouldn’t disappoint.
[UPDATED] The demo is only 4 missions long, and culminates in a stand-off between Snake, a few heavily-armoured mercs, and a tank. Which I totally beat at 4AM this morning. I still think the controls are fiddly, but honestly? Stick with the Shooter-type controls unless Portable Ops was your favourite PSP game ever. They’re more akin to MGS4 with L being Aim and R being fire, left and right to change item and weapon, and down for crouch. It’s a bit more fiddly in Action Mode to move the camera with the D-Pad, especially in a game that relies on tension and not action. It may have worked for Monster Hunter but it just doesn’t click on Peace Walker for some reason.
Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker: Demo Ops is now available worldwide on the PlayStation Store via both PS3 and PSP. It is 103MB in size and there is a save feature included in the demo, as well as ad-hoc and online play, although I’ve not tested either of those yet.