Games of the Generation: Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots

As the longest console generation in history comes to a close, the GamerNode staff reflects on the games that made this era so great. Games of the Generation is a new GamerNode original feature that allows us to share that passion and nostalgia for the most memorable and significant titles of the last eight years — since November 22, 2005, specifically — and explain why these games have defined a generation and will forever stand as touchstones in gaming history.

June 12, 2008 – Kojima Productions – Konami – PS3

Metal Gear Solid IV: Guns of the Patriots

Act Four begins in a snowy field, one towering Gekko separating me from my destination. It’s easy enough to just hide from the big lummox in this blizzard, crawling my way through the snow around it. After distancing myself from the behemoth, I make my way forward, when suddenly a familiar tune starts to play… and the beautiful Gaelic words swirl around me.

Cuimhne leat an t-am

Nuair a bhí tú sásta

An cuimhne leat an t-am

Nuair a bhí tú ag gáire

As I continue, the snowstorm clears, revealing my target location: a helipad, elevator on one side, large building with doors on the other. To the left of the helipad is a camera, disabled years ago, in a room with an item to pick up. As I walk through it, whispers of the past can be heard, reciting lines that I’ve basically memorized.

A Hind D?! Colonel, what’s a Russian gunship doing here?!”

It’s been a long time since I’ve been in this place, and I’ve never seen it with the detail I’m seeing it now. As I scan the area, I make note of every familiar setting and plan my infiltration. It’s time to once again conquer the trials of Shadow Moses Island.

This moment is a poignant merging of past and present, just one example of how Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots expertly tells its tale. MGS4 is the end of an era, the final journey of Solid Snake. His face has wrinkled over the years, his entire body showing the years of toil that come with being a secret agent. His last hurrah is filled with answers for the Metal Gear Solid faithful, answering just about every question we had. No stone was left unturned; no issue left unaddressed. MGS4 gives us everything we want, and then some. In a time where the advertised end of a tale isn’t always the true ending (I’m looking at you, Assassin’s Creed III), Metal Gear Solid 4 dared to say “no more” and send this gaming icon off into the sunset.

Many criticize the game’s abuse of the cinematic, calling it more of a movie than a true “video game.” I feel those cutscenes are essential to the tale; without them, we may not have gained the answers we sought at the beginning. No game dared to marry cinematic time with gameplay time like MGS4. The ending of the game, including all scenes and the credits, is almost an hour and a half long, but every second is perfect. Sure, some games incorporate their story scenes right into the gameplay, never breaking from the action and making the player watch, but the Metal Gear Solid series never worked like that. The Metal Gear formula is action, then cutscene, then more action, then more cutscene, repeating itself all the way to the ending. MGS4 keeps to that formula, continuing the MGS legacy right to its conclusion.

No matter your feelings on the cinematics, the gameplay carried the flag of the Metal Gear Solid experience into the current generation with aplomb. Stealth aficionados could sneak their way through the game and try to earn the epic Big Boss rank, while action fans could blast their way through no problem. Each chapter presents an interesting locale, plenty of challenges to overcome and plenty of ways to overcome them, and boss fights that rank among the best in Metal Gear history. Sitting precariously in a tower waiting for Raging Raven to show herself is still one of the most tense battles I’ve ever experienced. MGS4 literally has everything a gamer could ask for, especially those who followed the series from beginning to end.

The only scene that tops the one I mentioned above is the final scene before the credits, during the game’s hour-and-a-half long ending (not an exaggeration). Two icons of the series come face to face in old age, Snake and another I don’t care to spoil, and the visage from the past fills in the rest of the minor details before succumbing. It paints the character in an even broader light than previous games, making him perhaps the single greatest character in the entire series. Sorry, Snake.

Very few franchises have put an end to their storylines the way Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots accomplishes in under a day’s playtime. For a game with a story as convoluted as MGS, being able to tie all of those story points together, while even throwing in additional ones for the hell of it, is quite a feat. The joining of MGS past and MGS present is a love letter to the fans, written scene by scene in this fantastic game. I may boot it up again just to walk through Shadow Moses again and hear that fantastic song.

Tá áilleacht sa saol Má chuardaíonn tú e

Tá gliondar sa saol

Creideann sé…


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Author: Jason Fanelli View all posts by
Jason lives and breathes gaming. Legend tells that he taught himself to read using Wheel of Fortune Family Edition on the NES. He's been covering this industry for three years, all with the Node, and you can see his ugly mug once a week on Hot Off The Grill.

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