Been spending some more time with Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker on the PlayStation Portable. Like I said in the last post, it got off to a slow start but it's really been picking up. After putting a few more hours into it and getting past the fifth boss, I think what I like most is that it's both stripped down (the tactical stealth action) and complex (the Outer Heaven sections) at the same time.
Sneaking through the various levels has kind of a "classic Metal Gear Solid" feeling to it, and reminds me of playing the earlier games on PS2. I really didn't care for MGS4 at all (you can see my Second Opinion, if you haven't already) so this comes off to me like a smart and very welcome return to form.
(…Oh, and before some of you try to call me on liking PS2-style MGS in Peace Walker and disliking it in MGS4, the difference is that I expect a hell of a lot more done with a game when it's running on a powerful piece of hardware like the PS3.)
Anyway, on top of the enjoyably stealthy action, what's really fascinating is that Peace Walker strikes me as a combination of MGS and Capcom's Monster Hunter. Totally apart from the crossover guest appearances (which are themselves extremely telling) the design of the peripheral content in both games have tons of similarities. Grinding for experience, harvesting resources, developing better equipment… very, very similar stuff.
It makes a brilliant kind of sense when you consider that the Monster Hunter franchise is one of the most popular in Japan, and in my view, trying to capitalize on it can be seen as a smart move, though I may be a bit biased since I already enjoy both Monster Hunter and MGS. Either way, Peace Walker is hitting all the right notes for me, and rekindling a love for the series that I felt sure MGS4 had killed forever.
A very interesting pair of demos hit Microsoft's Xbox Live Arcade service today: The UnderGarden and Faery: Legends of Avalon.
The UnderGarden seems as though it's definitely going for the esoteric art-house vibe, and that's not necessarily a bad thing.
The player controls a creature that looks a bit like a miniature TeleTubby and flies around through 2D levels solving environmental puzzles as flowers sprout and lights glow. To tell the truth, it's all a bit surreal and hallucinogenic... but in a good way.
Faery: Legends of Avalon is another game with heavy emphasis on visual style. After getting past the welcome screen, the player customizes a winged character that can be altered to a surprising degree for an Arcade title.
After creation, players are free to fly around an island environment complete with villagers to talk to and places to check out. Combat seems like fairly straightforward turn-based RPG fare, but the setting is certainly unique and I was very intrigued by options in the menu to further change up the player's appearance and abilities.
Slightly eccentric projects like these are right up my alley, so they've both been earmarked for further investigation. If you've got some feedback on either one, post a comment and let me know.