CQC is great - you can combo loads of throws into each other with well-timed presses of the R button.
Peace Walker's punctuated by horrendous difficulty spikes. Horrendous difficulty spikes. But they're only horrendous difficulty spikes if you're playing on your own. If you're playing with others, you know, the way the game is meant to be played, they're loads of fun. If you're playing with others, Peace Walker is one of the best games on the PSP, if not the best; a magical fusion of stealth, guns and teamwork.
For me, multiplayer gaming on my PSP isn't an option. I imagine it's the same for most Western owners of the console. In Japan, everyone has a PSP. In Japan, the odds are on that you'll bump into a like-minded gamer at a crowded train station, someone who'll be happy to help you complete one of the horrendous difficulty spikes you've just spent the last hour bashing your head against. Then, I imagine, two unattainably attractive girls cos-playing as characters from Final Fantasy VII sit next to you and your Otaku chum, wirelessly join in your game, then invite you back to their flat where you discover that the world is in fact a hentai Manga in which you hunt tentacle monsters. Probably.
There is the option of playing online, but you have to own a PS3 to access it, via what's called "ad hoc party". The system is incredibly fiddly to get going and not particularly user-friendly once you do. And in any case, being forced to own a PS3 to play Peace Walker the way it's meant to be played is offensive. I shouldn't have to own a PS3 to get the most out of a PSP game.
It's a crying shame, because horrendous difficulty spikes aside, Peace Walker is great. It has all the blisteringly beautiful visuals, impressive production values and rewarding stealth gameplay you expect from a Metal Gear game. The sneaky missions that lead up to the boss fights are, mostly, superb, and focus on what's great about the series: patrol memorisation, playing smart, and the immense satisfaction gained from getting through an area without triggering that iconic exclamation mark sound effect.
If you hate Metal Gear Solid and everything it stands for (I'm convinced no-one actually knows what it stands for at this stage), Peace Walker will reaffirm your hate like the Daily Mail reaffirms 50-year-old women's hate of messy houses. The story is often embarrassingly juvenile (at one point you can zoom in to see a 16-year-old girl's underwear), the dialogue is terribly written, and there are lots, and lots, and lots, of long, mind-numbing cutscenes packed with pointless exposition (listen to the countless briefing tapes if you're having trouble sleeping). But weirdly these are all Kojima trademarks fans are sure to lap up.
If I were reviewing Peace Walker for Japanese gamers, I would have given it a higher score. But I'm not. I'm reviewing it for Western gamers - more specifically British gamers. In Britain, we do not play our PSPs together on the bus, train or tram (unless we like stabs in the face). In Britain, we do not play our PSPs online (unless we're the hardest of the hardcore). The ugly truth is that in Britain, we hardly play our PSPs at all. With luck, Konami will release Peace Walker as a PSN game.