Metal Gear Solid 4 Review

June 18, 2008

Well, one of the biggest gaming releases of this year recently came out… no I’m not talking about Grand Theft Auto IV, it’s Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots! This game is of course made out of the master mind of Hideo Kojima, and is available right now for the Playstation 3.

I got the game on midnight launch and played it after a quick 4 hour nap, non-stop until I finished it. With rumors and spoilers roaring all over the ‘net, I just wanted to beat the game so I could actually browse websites without the fear of being spoiled of the game’s ending.

I want to start by saying that this game was made for the fans. From start to finish, you aren’t just playing some video game or watching a movie (long cut-scenes FTW), you are part of an entire experience. I throw the word “experience” around a lot while talking about good games, but Metal Gear Solid 4 seriously gets you involved into its universe. This game was going to end a story that started all the way back in the NES days. The amount of hype that it had to live up to was unbelievable, I would go as far as to saying more so than GTAIV. The Metal Gear Solid fan-base is incredible. People have beaten the games countless times, read the novels, played the spin-offs, everything just to get ready for this game. I actually watched the Metal Gear retrospective the day before I got the game twice on GameTrailers. I highly recommend watching it.

Back to the game, I don’t know where to start. There are many ways you can review it. It can be reviewed as a game, an interactive movie, a movie, you get the point. The story… well I won’t talk about that here, that is what you play the game for!

Graphically, Metal Gear Solid 4 is simply awesome. Each area the game takes place in is unique and feels like you are really in it. When you are in a battlefield, it feels like you are in a battlefield. You see bombs go off, people flying around everywhere, it’s just incredible. The characters are some of the best looking models in this current generation of videogames. I would say you could put this game up there with a high-end CGI movie release and it would be just as good, if not better. The Metal Gear Solid series is known for using the real-time (in-game) graphics for the cut-scenes, so you never feel that transition as you do in other games when they start. Pictures or videos don’t do this game justice.

Sound also deserves a 10, A+, 100, whatever the websites are giving it. Battlefields sound even better than they look. I played this game with some pretty good stereo speakers *sad face* and there was just so much going on. The guns sound like they should, explosions, the whole package. You can hear birds chirping, water (!), fart sounds (!!), a guy emptying his bowels (!!!) all in glorious Dolby Digital as well. And while I haven’t heard it myself, I can only imagine how good it is. The Soundtrack (as you should know) is totally rad and epic. You can listen to classic Metal Gear and Metal Gear Solid tracks throughout the game by using the iPod that Snake carries with him. You can find tracks hidden in different parts of the game, which keeps you on the look out. There is also a podcast that you can download that is only available through MGS4, which is pretty interesting. It mostly talks about the game, the people behind it, what you would expect from a video game podcast.

The Presentation of the game goes beyond most movies, and offers something that you really have to see to believe. From the moment the menu loads to the installation screens (lung cancer FTW), it told me “JC… you are about to witness a real next-generation game” to which I replied “why am I talking to myself?”. The cut-scenes have a real “movie feel” to them with amazing camera work and great choreography. Honestly, you could buy this game for the cut-scenes alone and it would still be worth it. I’ve yet to mention anything negative, but honestly, I don’t know what negative things to put here… the game ends? There you go. There is one complain that I can think of (not a bad thing for everyone, but it’s something to mention), the fact that the cut-scenes are pretty long. The whole 90-minute cut-scene deal wasn’t a joke. If this game was to be turned into a movie, it would need 3 sequels, a prequel, a spin-off somewhere in there and afterwards an extended edition of all of them. The game took me around 20 hours to complete the first time around on Solid Normal difficulty. Out of the 20 hours, 6-7 hours were of actual gameplay, which isn’t bad considering that is the standard length of an entire game (including cut-scenes) nowadays.

Like I stated in the beginning, this game was made for the fans. The reason most people like the Metal Gear Solid franchise IS because of the epic cut-scenes and the things around them. The cut-scenes (how many times have I said the word “cut-scenes” now?) are the backbone of Metal Gear Solid.

Now that’s all good and all, but what about the meat and potatoes?

When Kojima-san said that you could play the game in different ways, he wasn’t kidding. To put him to the test, I played each Act of MGS4 differently from the one before. The end result? He was right! I tried to match the way I played with what was going on. War zone? I took out a P90, a sniper, some grenades and took the whole place down. Quiet and dark area? time for some sneaking around. I don’t think a single player game has ever had this much replay value, and I know that’s saying a lot. The fact that you can play in all of these different ways will keep you coming back to the game for months to come, not to mention the different difficulty levels, easter eggs and unlockables. The addition of an over-the-shoulder camera view and much improved first-person view adds a lot of variety to the table.

One complaint that past Metal Gear Solid games have had is how the controls seem to have been taken from the NES games, rather than actually try to reinvent them. Guns of the Patriots seems to have finally fixed that issue by doing things like letting you hit the triangle button to hug the wall instead of having to run into it for a few seconds. Some new features include being able to move around while crouching, offering a good balance of stealth and speed. The Kojima Productions team did an amazing job of adding new features and blending them so well into the game, that they just feel like they’ve been there all along. The only real complaint I can bring up involving gameplay is that there simply isn’t enough of it. There IS a great portion of gameplay in MGS4, but when compared to the cut-scenes, some more gameplay or shorter cut-scenes would have been good to balance out the game.

In the end, Metal Gear Solid 4 is THE must-get game for the Playstation 3. If you are a fan of the franchise and own a PS3, odds are you already beat the game (isn’t the ending awesome!?) and are reading this just to see if you hate me or not. If you’re interested in the franchise or just want to see what all the fuzz is about, PLAY this game.

Did GTAIV deserve a 10? No. Does MGS4 deserve a 10? No. Does it deserve a 9.8/9.9? Yes it does. There really isn’t anything bad to say about it, but the fact that there are more cut-scenes than actual gameplay should prevent this from getting a perfect score, regardless of how good they are. The addition of Metal Gear Online: Starter Pack was a nice touch, but nothing that should help in making your decision to buy the game.

So the rundown:

Graphics: 10 – The game looks amazing and is truly a showcase for the PS3.

Sound: 10 – The audio in MGS4 almost surpasses any other aspect of the game.

Presentation: 9.5 – The cut-scenes are something to behold, but that doesn’t give it the right to have such a substantial amount of them, not to mention the length that might repel some of the casual crowd from playing the game.

Gameplay: 9.5 – What’s there is great, but there needs to be more of it.

Lasting Appeal: 10 – Easter eggs, unlockables, online and the different difficulty levels will keep you playing this game for months to come.

Overall Rating: 9.8/10

- “JC Magnus”

 


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