Once you fire up a mission in co-op, you have a few options with your buddy. Players can exchange items between one-another, including rations for health and ammo for - er, bullets. Then, you have something called Snake Formation. Say you are tired of splitting up, or have a hard time following your co-op buddy so you go on the same route, you can hit the action button next to your buddy to "link up" with them. This works with the cover of a box (yes, 2 Snakes in one box), or just sneaking around a base. Of course, splitting up is beneficial as well if you want to flank enemies or cover more ground while searching for mission items.
The game even gives you the option to take a separate path in some cases. If there's a fork in the road so to speak, you can each branch off and cover a different route - of course, most routes will reconnect before the climax, and both players need to be present to access key areas in the story. Flanking enemies also helped the co-op team in general, distracting and scoping out enemies from a different vantage point worked great. Some areas are just too well guarded to access without raising an alarm. Having a buddy scope out, neutralize, or even as a simple spotter really made these areas in the game a lot easier.
With co-op it's often expected that you receive whatever you personally collect i.e. equipment, and soldiers that you tag with Fulton extraction should belong to whoever tags them. With Peace Walker you get one better. Everyone tagged on the field is received by both co-op players. In other words, if I tag 4 guys, and my co-op buddy tags 6 guys, we both get 10 guys in our individual bases. It seemed like items like rations and ammo were divvied up as well, but that one was harder to confirm since we didn't count the boxes we picked up. This added a lot to collecting enemies, and made it beneficial for us to momentarily split up and collect soldiers in other areas of the map.
My favorite feature in the co-op is the ability to revive fallen comrades. Say I get a little careless, walk into a tank and lose that battle. My buddy can approach my fallen body, and perform CPR. Sure that doesn't work in the real world - CPR on tank wounds, but it works perfectly in the Metal Gear world as long as you press the action button. The faster you press it, the faster I stand up again. It also added a lot to our gameplay, since we didn't have to restart the whole level every time that happened. Co-op resurrecting has become a bit of a requirement to make co-op games less frustrating, especially when playing with an overzealous partner.
In Peace Walker, the co-op felt really nice. It worked well, though coordinating a place and time to play with buddies was a bit of a hassle. Online co-op also worked, though with a bit more of a communication challenge, through the Playstation 3's AdHoc Party capabilities. I was impressed with the different elements that contributed to co-op, especially the revive and Snake Formation to keep the team together. I wish the entire story had been 4 player co-op, though the maps seemed a bit small - splitting up a 4 player team, or even the two player team when the co-op was not allowed in certain missions was a bit disheartening.
I recommend this game based on the incredible surprise (after expecting a tacked-on co-op mode), and enjoyable shared experience through the co-op. The story in Peace Walker gives a bit of a hint as to where the Metal Gear saga is headed in the future, tying up loose ends around the origins of Solid Snake and his clone-twin Liquid Snake, as well as how other characters play into the later stories. As a prequel this game gets a thumbs-up in the story as well, but can also be played as a stand-alone game if you don't have backstory.
The Co-Op Experience: Not much is known about the cooperative mode yet, but we do know it currently will support at least four players.
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.