Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots Review

Metal Gear Solid 4 (MGS4) is a highly detailed game truly best viewed as a whole. While it’s necessary to nitpick the convoluted story and over-dramatic voice acting in order to progress the medium, doing so for too long may significantly and unnecessarily detract from the overall, and in this case, highly polished product.

On the “making of” disc included with the limited edition version only available at GameStop and with the Gun Metal PS3, series creator Hideo Kojima says, “There are certain things you need to pass on in life but the theme of this game is ‘sense,’ or that which you can’t pass on. A person’s will and way of life is symbolized by Snake continuing to fight despite his old age, and also myself retuning to direct the game.”

In MGS4, Snake appears old. The fact is he’s dying. As a clone and a military experiment, he was intentionally given a shorter lifespan. Before he dies he wants to tie up loose ends. The metaphor is more than obvious.

Also on the “making of” disc, there is a brief segment regarding Kojima’s eye for detail where he says, “I am essentially a perfectionist, but no matter how perfect you try to make a game, because it’s interactive, it’s ultimately each player who puts finishing touches on it. After all, there are different ways of playing it. When you look at it like that, there’s only a certain point we can go when making a product.

MGS4 isn’t perfect, as even he would probably admit, but that’s not the issue here. Like many games, the quality is most apparent when the user experiences the content in a way that is somewhat equivalent to the designers’ intentions. Make no mistake, this is, for the most part, a stealth game. Equivalent play has been expanded with a variety of new gadgets and is intended over the much more archaic run and gun, which, when compared with similar third-person shooters, leaves much to be desired, most notably in the form of the untouched cover system.

Controlling Snake has never been this fluid or easy, nor has he had so many guns and tools available; most of which aren’t necessarily needed to progress, but offer more ways of dealing with enemies and situations. Early in the first act, Old Snake, as he’s frequently referred to as, meets Drebin, an arms dealer who is “neither enemy nor friend.” By accessing his shop via the start menu, massive amounts of equipment and ammo can be procured on-site. Conservation is no longer the name of the game and both of the previously mentioned styles of play become more viable than ever.

Through the implementation of a greater number of meticulously detailed cut scenes, the number of conversations conducted via the Codec has dramatically been reduced. Yet, even before this entry, many criticized the series for its excessive use of movie-like sequences (MGS4 has over 8 hours worth), saying non-interactivity has no place in an interactive medium. One of the undeniable joys of creativity is utilizing every tool available to best deliver the product or convey the message. Without dancing into spoiler territory, the cut scenes are beautifully constructed, nailing both the epic and the intimate. As a testament to their quality, tying up even the most ridiculous and seemingly unexplainable loose ends in the MGS saga becomes enjoyable.

There is so much more to say but in order to do so would spoil some of the most emotionally driven scenes in the game. Like any series, they carry far much more weight for those who have played the previous installments and are deeply immersed in the lore. In that respect, it doesn’t disappoint. Not by a long shot.

Metal Gear Solid 4 will undoubtedly be the subject of debate for many years to come. The unconventional approach to delivering a triple-A game by centering the single-player game around more non-interactive elements than interactive is sure to ruffle a few feathers; the viability of different play styles might lead people to believe it’s a second-rate third-person shooter; and the emphasis on nanomachines and PMCs, without being preachy, might be too topical for some. Regardless, right now it’s one of the best-looking, engaging, and emotionally driven experiences, with the gameplay to match, on the PS3 or any console.


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Author: Kyle Stallock View all posts by

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