Japanese magazine Famitsu has just dished out yet another of its coveted “perfect” scores, awarding a 40/40 to Hideo Kojima’s eagerly awaited Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker. Putting aside the recurring argument that Famistu has lately become a little too keen to hand out these kinds of scores, there’s no denying that Peace Walker is the PSP’s title of the year and could be the vital shot in the arm the format needs to keep it relevant here in the West.
However, something worries us a little. Pocket Gamer recently overheard a fellow games journalist bemoaning the fact that he would have to purchase a PSP in order to play Kojima’s next epic, and he even went as far as to suggest that the esteemed Japanese designer had made a massive miscalculation by choosing Sony’s portable format as the platform for Peace Walker.
In the eyes of many the PSP is a dead console, despite the recent upturn in form engendered by Capcom’s million-selling Monster Hunter Freedom Unite.
While PSP owners are naturally going to disagree with this viewpoint, it does carry some weight; surely if Peace Walker is as involving as Kojima says it is, wouldn’t a full-blown home console launch be a more sensible option?
While the PSP’s healthy standing in its native Japan should ensure bumper sales,Metal Gear has always been a big seller in the West and in this part of the world Sony’s handheld is struggling. Therefore, it’s unlikely to achieve the same kind of sales it would if it had been released on the 360 and PS3.
There’s also the question of suitability. While Peace Walker has been built to embrace the strengths of its host platform, the entire MGS franchise seems more at home on cutting-edge technology. Will Kojima’s vision be sullied slightly by the PSP’s relatively humble hardware specifications? Will the game be forced to slice up the experience into bite-sized chunks more palatable for a mobile audience, as was the case with its prequel, Portable Ops?
There’s little doubt that Peace Walker is going to be one of the handheld events of the year and should effortlessly live up to that dazzling 40/40 Famistu accolade, but we can’t help but feel that by sticking with Sony’s rapidly aging portable format, Kojima has not only limited the scope of his latest adventure but also frozen out many devoted fans who don’t own a PSP.
Whether or not they will be prepared to shell out for the machine purely to experience this new title remains to be seen.
Pocket Gamer is Europe’s leading source of news, opinion and reviews on mobile and handheld gaming.