Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots

At the dawn of every new console, it is important to have a game that will sell consoles.  Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots is the main reason why I have a Playstation 3 over an Xbox 360.  Dubbed as the conclusion to the Metal Gear Solid franchise, this PS3 exclusive was my most anticipated game of all-time.   Many franchises of all mediums struggle to close their series in a satisfying manner (Mass Effect 3 is a perfect example), but MGS4 managed to answer nearly every question and resolved nearly every issue fans of the series had up until this point.  Anyone whom knows anything about Metal Gear Solid’s plot knows that was not an easy task.  Certainly the most visually stunning and polished game in the series, MGS4 is arguably the most impressive game the franchise has to offer.

Set 5 years after the events of MGS2, the world is now run on a “war economy” dooming the world in a state of permanent war.  Private Military Companies (PMCs), a type of mercenary army, have become the predominant military power; the five largest owned by one company, Outer Heaven.  It is known the head of Outer Heaven is Liquid Ocelot, the fusion of Liquid Snake’s mind in Revolver Ocelot’s body, and he is set on world domination.  Now suffering from advanced accelerated aging, Solid Snake is asked to partake in one final mission; assassinate Liquid Ocelot.

With the power of the PS3, MGS4 took a complete overhaul in gameplay.  As pathetic as it sounds you can actually move while aiming and firing your weapons, unlike every other game in the series aside from Peace Walker.  The “camo index” introduced in MGS3 has been streamlined so Snake’s sneaking suit has a chameleon-like function that automatically adjusts to your surroundings.  Taking place in the middle of a war zone, Snake has the option to fight for any one side on the battlefield.  Aiding one faction, through combat or healing wounded soldiers, will cause them to become friendly towards you, allowing you to sneak through the environment more easily.  This was one of my most favorite aspects of MGS4’s gameplay.  It did a good job of making you feel apart of the battlefield.  Unfortunately, all the bells and whistles that went along with that area of combat dwindled more and more as you progressed through the game.  It was not used enough, and left you wanting more, because it was a great concept to the game.

Metal Gear Solid is known for its lengthy cut-scenes, and MGS4 takes cut-scene length to a new level.  I’m making a rough estimate, but it’s not an exaggeration to saying they totaled around 8 hours, some of which can last about a half hour.  I actually really like cut-scenes in video game because they flesh out the story, so it didn’t bother me in MGS4 – and never has.  Many of the cinematic scenes (rendered in real time by the way) are spectacularly awesome.  Basically anytime Raiden appears on screen you know you’re in for a show.

Playing the other games in the series is a must when it comes to following MGS4’s story.  Without them, you will be completely lost; you might still be lost even if you have played them.  The story will get complicated and hard to follow, but if you’re able to understand it, the game answers pretty much all of the questions fans previously had in the series.  There are some really fantastic moments in the game with or without cut-scenes.  One of my favorite sections of the game is when you return to Shadow Moses Island, the setting of the original Metal Gear Solid.  Meant as a nostalgia trip for the fans, it certainly delivers to the tenth degree as you travel to various locations left exactly as is from Snake’s first arrival.

In my Metal Gear Solid 1 review, I mentioned that it had the best collection of bosses in any game I’ve played. Called the Beauty and the Beast Corps, they are a group of mentally scarred women fitted in fearsome cybernetic suits that resemble specific creatures.  The B&B Corps includes Laughing Octopus, Raging Raven, Crying Wolf, and Screaming Mantis.  Although they may not be as prominent to the story as the original bosses, their boss fights themselves are some of the best in the series.  Each plays very differently, forcing you to change your strategy with each encounter.  My favorite is the fight with Laughing Octopus turning into a deadly game of hide and seek when using her camouflage to blend in plain sight.  Apparently that fight was originally attended to be used in MGS1 against Decoy Octopus, but budget and time constraints forced it out of the game as made apparent in the fact that Decoy Octopus is technically never shown in the game.

mgs4snake

GRAPHICS

Beautiful graphics and still some of the best to come out of the PS3.  One of the few games to show what the PS3 can handle.

SOUND

Sound track is great, unfortunately due to legal reason, the series main theme song (featured prominently in MGS3) could not be used.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Metal Gear Solid 4 is one of the best games the PS3 has to offer, while also showcasing the PS3’s capabilities. The only real complaint I have with the game is the dwindling showcase of gameplay.  In the game’s earlier chapters, there was a heavy focus on your presence on the battlefield, and I really liked that because it made the environment feel dynamic.  For the majority of the game it completely disappears.  There were some amazing segments of gameplay later – and I don’t want to spoil those, but the game feels different after the first two chapters.  It’s rare to have a satisfying conclusion to any series, and MGS4 had the most satisfying end to any game I have ever played.

Pros

  • Beautiful Graphics
  • Satisfying ending
  • Fantastic action sequences

Cons

  • The best additions to gameplay are not utilized enough
  • Lengthy cutscenes can be a turnoff for some
  • Plot is not easy to follow

Style – Single-player, Stealth Action

Publisher – Konami

Developer – Kojima Productions

Release – June 2008

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