* Awarded Extreme Gamer's Best Graphics of '08
Solid Snake is starting to show his age as he finds himself fighting more than his former enemies. Battling against his failing body, Solid Snake pushes his skills to the limit in a futuristic battlefield. Thankfully, Snake has been outfitted with the latest tricks of the trade that helps him become more relentless as ever. Metal Gear Solid 4 is said to be the swan song from Hideo Kojima’s main man “Solid Snake”, and if that is true, Kojima is going out in bang. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots has arrived.
The Metal Gear Solid franchise has been a successful player across the different consoles over the years. The system might change, but Metal Gear has always showcased a mix of high grade tactical action and cinematic storytelling. From the origins on the NES to the spinning sounds of Blu-Ray, Metal Gear Solid will go down as one of the most successful and interesting game series of all time. Creator Hideo Kojima has stated that Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots will be the final adventure for the lead character Solid Snake. This brings a sigh to many long time Metal Gear fans, but even as disappointing to see Snake go, Kojima is sure to go out with a bang in the Metal Gear adventure to date.
In this final run with Solid Snake expectations are way above the bar on this one. Gamers have been patiently waiting for a next-generation version of Metal Gear and Konami and Kojima Productions haven’t let anyone down. From the opening moments of the war torn battleground you will see the technical excellence in Metal Gears presentation along with new and improved gaming mechanics. Metal Gear Solid 4 might be the most beautiful HD gaming experience we have seen that is packaged around a totally solid game. Sure, other games have a few nice tricks, but Metal Gear is top notch performance splits it impression over a large amount of cut-scenes and in-game action. Those two characteristics are truly blended together to make a monumental statement towards how to make games in the 20th century.
The storyline behind Guns of the Patriots takes place in 2014, five years after Metal Gear Solid 2. In “Guns” the world is in turmoil as private military companies turn war into a business. Intervention on foreign ground is no longer permitted which turns the profiteers to seek out high profit in blood money. Adding the prominent development of nanotechnology, people have to pay the price to survive in their war torn countries. The Sons of the Patriots are the nanomachine system that these private companies are earning their bread, however it goes deeper as the five main militant groups are jointly owned by one mega company run by non other than Liquid Ocelot. Thirsting for power Ocelot sets up the gears to rival the biggest countries in the world including the United States. It’s obviously up to Snake to terminate the threat and save the world one last time.
Writing a general overview of Guns of the Patriots doesn’t really do justice to the storyline in Metal Gear Solid 4. Sure, the Metal Gear series can get a little confusing and at time down right weird, but what it looks like Kojima is gunning for emotional response from all his long time fans, as he includes characters reaching across all the former Metal Gear games. Guns of Patriots is a much deeper experience that it seems from initial glances. This emotional attachment can develop throughout the game even if you haven’t tried a Metal Gear Solid game in the past. Snake is one charming old man that plays off like the wounded dog in Guns of the Patriots. But you know what they say about wounded dogs, and more wounded and warn down, the more vicious the bite.
Take Your Time, Old Man
Even though MGS4 is a great game I found a flaw in its general gameplay execution. The problem in Metal Gear Solid 4 is that the game didn’t feel impending. Sure, the storyline did, but when it comes to gameplay in a general sense, Metal Gear can be lacking. In Guns, you can easily play the way Kojima has designed the game, stealth, slow movements, to using force when necessary, or you can play like me... run past everyone without even looking. For the first few levels in Metal Gear I put on my running shoes and ran around as the giant mechanical Gekko’s shot at me and mercenaries hunted me. Even in a huge warzone, I had no concern for weapons, the enemies or my cool gadgets. Without a care in the world I couldn't get killed as I ran around like a dog off his leas, and this continued for about two hours into the game. Finial I decided to play Metal Gear properly and found the nice balance in Metal Gears reality.
Even as I started to find the balance as Snake I never felt in total control of the situation in the game. This isn’t necessary a bat thing when a lot of other games a too free giving gamers god like powers that are miles high above your enemies. In MGS4 every time I went around a corner I was getting ready for the next challenge. It’s great that MGS4 doesn’t force you to play a certain style, besides a few missions of sneaking around. One aspect you will be forced to pay attention to as old man Snake is his stress level and psyche. Snake isn’t the wild killing carefree gun blazing solider that he used to be, you now have to make sure Snake doesn’t get overwhelmed with situation or your psyche gauge will start to deplete which affects the rate that you regenerate your health. In gun battles you can watch Snake get stressed and start to breathe heavy, so all you need to do is slow the game down a bit find a hiding spot and cool off for a moment. Really, the psyche never affected my gameplay too much, but I think it’s still a brilliant new concept that cleverly fits the game plot perfectly.
When not acting like an idiot in the game space, Metal Gear solid becomes one serious beast of a game with an un-relentless supply of enemy soldiers willing to pit their life against yours. The enemy artificial intelligence seems to be ahead of the curve and more challenging then Gear games in the past. When spotted by the enemy they will try their hardest to track you down, good thing you have a few tricks up your sleeve. This all helps convey tension in the Middle Eastern setting of war. Each side of the conflict feels like they are fighting for their lives with Solid Snake in the middle.
Gadgets & Gear
Besides the rock solid framerate that gives Snake total freedom when moving at any speed, this old dog has learnt a few new tricks. The key in MGS4 isn’t run and gun... it's stealth, knock out and run. Helping Snake get the drop on his enemies he can become the chameleon with his newly fitted OctoCamo suit. The OctoCamo suit is made out a new material that can match the colour of any surface it touches. This means Snake can be hide in any spot in the game under any light conditions and become hidden under an unsuspecting eyes.The OctoCamo suit is a very impressive feature that is implemented perfectly in the game world. I hate to sound cliché, but this is next-gen gaming.
Snake also has a few other pieces of technology to help him the battlefield. Besides the OctoCamo suit, Snake also goes pirate with the Solid Eye. The Solid Eye is an electronically suited eye-patch that allows Snake to use multiple optical visions like night vision, a tactical first-person view and improving the radar. In moments of the occasional blizzard, or underground cavern, the Solid becomes a vital tool for survival. Snake is also given a scouting robot at the same time as the Solid Eye. The robot called the Metal Gear Mk. II is used if you plan on taking the super stealth approach. The little robot is actually one of the most charming robots I’ve seen in a game, but if you play like me, insane, then you won’t really need this little guy tagging along. All the new techniqual advances are nice to see in MGS4, figures just as Snake is becoming more in touch with the future, they are pulling the plug on this seasoned war veteran.
The combat mechanics have also been fine tuned in this instalment. Using weapons in close quarters have been streamlined making it easier to handle your enemies when you’re in tight spaces. Along with the refined melee combat the gun mechanics have the option to go with the standard over-the-shoulder perspective, or sink into the sights of your rifle for that first person touch. Snake is a like an acrobat with the weapons performing many moves with ease, Snake’s stress level might rise when he is in a gun fight, but he can sure handle himself. I love being beaten down in the game only to strike back while in laying position. The only complaint I have with the using the guns and run around and grabbing enemies from behind is that the control sensitivity is a little too loose at the start. The controls can be a little tricky in the beginning which need a little attention be for you get totally used to them.
What’s left for the gear, gadgets and functionality in Metal Gear Solid 4 is the new iPod function that lets you play songs you unlock or find during the game. You can also take pictures and store them in a photo gallery for viewing at a later time. Metal Gear Solid 4 also has a virtual range which allows you to fire off a few rounds with the weapons in the game giving you time to practice your firing skills. Lastly, Metal Gear Solid 4 has an online mode called Metal Gear Online. Online you can battle it out on five maps that supports 16 players. This only adds value to what is a lush and impressive single player campaign. What else would you need in your game? Metal Gear packs it in and every fan should love the ambition thrown into this project.
Melodrama or Masterpiece
Metal Gear Solid 4 is heavily mixed between stunning cinematic moments and paced gaming moments, Metal Gear Solid 4 feels a little more brilliant than a simple game. Konami has created a masterpiece that is filled full of content. Sure, the story might be a little convoluted for some gamers taste, or the extended dialog scenes might frustrate some adrenaline junkies, but this is Konami’s beast. MGS4 is really created to be a work of art merged with a game. If you are becoming overly frustrated waiting while Snake babbles on and one with many of his long winded adversaries or allies, you can simply skip the melodrama and move onto the action.
Let’s get back to the graphic quality which I mentioned briefly in the beginning of the review. MGS4 is simply stunning. If you wanted a game to impress all the Playstation naysayers, MGS4 is your ticket to console bragging rights. If the extended of power of the Blu-Ray disc has been questioned, Konami wants to put a sock in everyone’s mouth with the jaw dropping visuals they have delicately created.
Besides polish and shine, Metal Gear Solid 4 is heavily detailed and ultra realistic to watch. Some of the cut scenes in the game will truly have you questioning if they are digitally created or the real deal. Metal Gear Solid 4 looks that good, if not better.
The beauty of in game engine is that it powers every aspect of the game. You never have to feel taken out of the experience because the dramatic approach to camera angels and timed cinematic make the experience blend together. Metal Gear Solid 4 is smooth flowing like a river, the landscapes are lush and detail is present in ever aspect of the games development from the textures in the environments, to the little details in the enemies. MGS4 doesn’t miss a single beat as it pulses along with a furious rhythm.
The audio is equal in its presentation with superb quality of voice over work which has the cast returning to reprise their roles. David Hayter gravels into the old Snake character perfectly portrayed like an aged wine and everyone else follows suit. If any fault has to be placed in the voice overs it is the lines provided the script. It's not surprising that Guns has its fair share of “give me a break” lines added into the over dramatized storyline. Cheese aside, all is forgiven because this is a Metal Gear game after all. Along with the excellent voice cast the sound effects bright back memories from older games. MGS4 has a crisp sharpness that only gets better with an outstanding musical score from Nobuko Toda, Harry Gregson-Williams and others. It’s ranged approach helps flush out the emotions of the in game action turning pictures into magic. The entire production proves the medium of gaming can be dramatic and intense and still be a game.
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots is a fitting final chapter in Solid Snake’s run in the series. Unlike other long time gaming characters, Kojima shows Snake as an aged solider still battling it out, not only against his enemies, but the advancement of life. Aside from a few nitpicks in the gaming department, Metal Gear Solid 4 is as solid as ever.
Guns of the Patriots is one of the best gaming experiences the Playstation 3 can exclusively offer. If you are a Solid Snake fan, or just someone who wants to see what all the hype is about, Metal Gear Solid 4 is worth the investment of your time.
Gameplay:8.5, Graphics:10,Sound:10, Innovation:9.5, Mojo: 10 Final: 9.6 / 10