Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots Review
Metal Gear Solid 4 (MGS4) is the conclusion to a 20 year old saga. MGS4 is a major milestone for story telling in video games, or for any medium for that matter. Hideo Kojima is an extraordinary director bringing a true cinematic feel to the game, not only in the cut scenes, but during gameplay as well. The story can be a bit confusing for those who hasn’t played or looked up the story prior to playing this game. However this does not subtract from the genius of this story.
The basic plot is 5 years after the “Big Shell” incident in Metal Gear Solid 2 and 9 years after the “Shadow mosses” incident in Metal Gear Solid the world has changed drastically. It is now 2014 and the oil based economy has been replaced by a war economy. War is now the basis of the world and Private Military Companies known as PMCs are a big part of the fighting, with the 5 largest PMCs owned by a man named Liquid Ocelot. Nanomachines is a system known as the “Sons of the Patriots” are used to enhance and monitor soldiers in combat. Liquid Ocelot is planning something dangerous and an aging Solid Snake is sent into a war torn world to take Liquid, his brother, down.
The gameplay mixes stealth and action into a beautiful combination. For the majority of the game, except for a few parts you are free to choose how you play the game. You can play the game like a pure stealth game, play it as a pure action game, or like how I played, a combination of the two. The first gadget you obtain in the game is the octocamo. This suit allows Snake to blend in with his environments to avoid detection. Your are given a Camo rating throughout the game showing you how visible you are. The octocamo dramatically lowers your visibility but its not perfect. At the absolute most you can receive a rating of 99%. Shadows, light and other factors can increase or decrease your camo rating.
To survive there are two bars that need to be monitored. These are the health and psych gauges. There gauges appear in the upper left hand corner. The health gauge, obviously is the amount of health you have left and when it empties you lose the game. The health bar can regenerate slowly based on the condition of the psyche gauge. The psyche gauge monitors Snake’s mental health. Stress during battle can reduce the gauge and so can cut scenes. When it falls below a certain point your performance will suffer. Aiming will become much harder, especially when using a scope and its just not a good thing to have it get low.
Players have full control over the camera in this game which allows movement and aiming much simpler. Pressing and holding the L1 button will make Snake aim his weapon, pressing the R1 button will make him fire his weapon. By default you shoot have a third person over the shoulder view. This can be changed to a first person view while aiming by pressing Triangle. The third person and first person shoot mechanics work very well each with its own strength and weaknesses.
In the story you will encounter a character called Drebin. Drebin is a gun launderer who will unlock weapons that are “lock” and allow you to make add ons to weapons. Not all weapons can be modified but the ones that can will became drastically better. For example adding a grip and a scope to a M4 Custom(A main weapon in the game) can make third person shooting more accurate and turn your machine gun into a sniper rifle. You can create your own arsenal and customize it to suit your needs. One thing to note is that snake can only hold so much weight but at any point, even in the middle of battles you can unequip weapons, equip new ones, buy ammo and customize them. This allows for on the fly customization allowing you to only use what you need and modify if you don’t have it. Holding the R2 button will allow you to see the weapons you have equipped and tapping will switch between 3 of the ones you’ve used.
There are a number of items and gadgets to aid you during the game. Similar to weapons holding L2 button allows you to see all items equipped and tapping cycles through three. The most useful gadgets will be the Solid Eye and the Metal Gear Mk.II. The Solid eye gives you radar, binocular vision, and Night Vision. It also displays allegiances for characters on screen. For example enemies will display red names while allies will display blue. You make enemies or allows by attacking one side over another. The Metal Gear Mk.II is a scouting tool. It can stun enemies and pick up weapons. Other items include restoring items that restore health and psyche.
The Metal Gear series has always had memorable boss fights. This game is no exception. Many of the bosses go against how you would think they would fight. Some bosses take some very creative thinking to defeat while others are just epic.
Metal Gear Online is the online aspect of MGS4.(You can find the impressions of the beta in order Here, here and here) Some things have changed since the beta. The number of rounds in a match have been reduced from 4 to 2, some skill name changes and a shop have been included. More customization options for weapons when Drebin Points are enabled have also been included. This adds more customization and more variety for the weapons during online play. However for the most part this aspect of the game is widely unchanged. This is not a bad thing, far from it. The few changes that have been added since the beta improve the gameplay except for the shop. This is for 2 reasons.
The first being that there’s nothing in the shop except for more character slots and more quick voices. The the reason is that, its annoying. Rather than using a in game store, or even the Playstation Store in the ps3 Konami uses a website for the shop. This isn’t the problem though, its that you have to sign it to use it. So after you sign into MGO with your Game ID, you have to use your Konami ID to sign into the shop. Like i said this doesn’t matter much now but i hope when more maps/modes are added later, they go with a in game store.
Like most Playstation 3 games MGS4 uses game installs to make load times faster. The game has 5 installs, the initial one being the longest at 8 minutes. The last 4 takes anywhere from 1-3 minutes in length. These installs occur in between each “Act” in the game and are nice to give players a break.(I played for 4 hours straight before finishing Act 1 and didn’t know i had been playing 4 hours until during the install i looked at the clock). The installs are very quick and not much of a problem.
Metal Gear Solid 4 is the best looking game out now, period. The game uses its real time engine for everything from gameplay to Cut scenes. This allows for streamless switches from gameplay to Cut scenes and vice verse. There are even some gameplay areas where if it wasn’t for the health bar you would think your watching a cut scene. This is most evident in a chase where when not aiming, the game uses very cinematic angles to make it feel like a Hollywood chase scene. Some cutscenes have interactivity.
They are not interactive in the sense of God of War where button prompts are used for fights or dodge things, but to show flashbacks or a new angle. For example many cut scenes have you press X to view a image flash of something that occurred in a past game. Others have you holding down L1 to look through the eyes of a character.
The game has some of the best music and voice acting anywhere. The voice actors in the series return to reprise their role and there is not a bad voiced line in the game. Every voice is taken seriously and the quality is top notch. The music is also extremely well done. It ranges from the haunting melody of the theme, to heart racing action that gets you pumped for the action to come. The Ipod allows those who are nostalgic to listen to music from the previous games. There is music hidden throughout the game.
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots is one of the greatest games of all time. Sooner or later its graphical achievements will be surpassed, however it’s not the graphics that make this game a legend. Its achievements in story telling, cinematic approach, and gameplay will make this game a must have. I cannot express how great this game is enough. If anyone needed a reason to show why gaming is art, or anything of that nature, this would be the showcase game.