Review by no2morro
"Seriously Kojima? This is the best you could do?"
I want to start off by pointing out that I thought Metal Gear Solid 3 (from here on in MGS will be used) was awesome. Seriously, I loved that. I also enjoyed the first iteration on the Play-Station. I thought number two was sketchy...but that's life. In my book Kojima screwed up with two, but nailed the other two, so he was doing alright in my book overall, which brings us to MGS4. This game should have been brilliant. I thought after MGS3 Kojima had nailed the formula, even Peace-Walker was pretty good...but in this case my assumption was wrong.
The score given here might come as a shock to some, but once you hear why, you should be able to understand. It's not that this game is bad at all, its just that it does so many things wrong. If it just followed the MGS3's model, it would've been fine, but it didn't.
It's easy to see what was done wrong. Kojima tries to tie everything up in a neat little bow and tries to relate everybody to every event. The result of this is that characters end up doing things that are outside their archetypes. This is a big problem when one recognizes that this is a story driven game. We will get to that later though. On to the review.
8 - Controls
Kojima finally fixed up the mess that was the control system for the series. If you liked what it was before, you should love this. It's more intuitive. It keeps L2 and R2 for fast selecting weapons and items, but it also uses L1 for aiming, and R1 for shooting. It actually feels write. It's not standard shooter controls, but it's definitely better than what the controls used to be. The view is also a lot better. The game now uses standard shooter mechanics, making it less awkward to play.
6 - Game-play
As good as the game-play is, the game suffers from having many sections that are infinite re-spawn. You can shoot to your hearts content, but it doesn't make any difference. You soon learn, that much like Call of Duty, some sections are designed to by run through (or you can use stealth to get through). The good thing now is that that because of Dreben (the in game arms dealer), ammo is easy to come by, so unlike earlier versions of MGS, you don't have to worry about running out of it. That however brings another problem, the game doesn't necessarily play like a Metal Gear.
There is also the scarcity and futility of much of the game-play. With infinite re-spawns of enemies in many sections (all of chapter 1 and in chapter 5), there is no point shooting anything at times. While that is Kojima saying, "that's the futility of war...no matter what you do, there is more to come," it doesn't make for a good game-play mechanic.
There are also levels which are fruitless like the stalk level (Chapter 3). Again, nice idea, but poorly implemented. One can be an apologist and say that the level is convoluted for a reason to try and lose the follower, but if one plays it, it's clear it's poorly done.
There is also the issue of cut-scene after cut-scene interrupting semi-decent game-play, but we will get to that in the next section (story).
I should mention that weapon customization is excellent though (almost as good as Alpha Protocol). One can add laser sights, scopes and a lot more to many a weapon. The currency system also opens the game up, but it doesn't makeup for the lull in pacing by all of Kojima's game-play interruptions.
This should be the strength of the game, but its just poorly done. The game starts off very strongly, and the premise makes sense. Like some have pointed out though, it suffers from Star Wars syndrome, it tries to bring science into something that was abstract and mystical (mitochlorians for Star Wars). The same is true here...if anything ever doesn't make sense, Kojima puts 'Nanomachines', in to explain it. You'll get sick of it by the end, I know I was.
Kojima also uses Dreben (the arms dealer) as a narrator for much of the game. While some of his information is interesting, you have to question why he knows it and it's relevance to the story (Much of it could have been done as an outside game dossier on Characters if you really wanted to know). In regard to Dreben knowing the information, again, apologists can explain it if they really want (the answer is semi-revealed at the end, but its just poorly done). The other issue is that even though he is privy to such secret Intel, you don't necessarily care (like the back story and motivations behind characters like Laughing Octopus). Why do I need to hear a story about someone who I just beat-down to get out of the way on the path to my nemesis? Wouldn't listening to the story just slow me down?
All in all, most of what is done just comes across as filler or cheesy rather than serious (which is what I would have thought Kojima would have gone for - Alpha Protocol does story much better than this). The creation of characters like Big Mama is also annoying...they just add nothing and were unnecessary.
The amalgamation of characters like Liquid snake and Ocelot is also annoying. Then there is the introduction of things like GW, Zero, clones...I found myself shaking my head at the story. "Why, Kojima? Why?" He dropped the ball here, pure and simple. It's just fan service, only this fan didn't like it. He made the story over convoluted and it added nothing to the experience; it actually took away from it. The story was just pointless, especially when you realize that your protagonist, the one thing you actually played the game for, can see the writing on the wall in regard to his future. This seriously feels like the Spider-man clone saga around the mid 90s...that's the quality of the story here.
Then there is the issue of misuse of comedy in the game. For example, seeing a guy soil himself as well as fart jokes and urination while in the midst of combat. Surely a stealth game should be beyond that, no? It was humorous in the first Metal Gear, but it just didn't fit in with the story here.
9 - Graphics
The game can't really be criticized here. They look very impressive. That said, there is no depth to the color palette used (many models look flat). Everyone looks like they are wearing very heavy makeup and it looks like an Japanese animation rather than realistic. I'm not going to mark down the score for that...but it does get annoying. The graphics for the character models are also excellent...Kojima takes every opportunity to show them off, especially for the women. The amount of female crotch shots in this game is astounding.
2 - Replay-ability
I don't think anyone will be going back to this. There is no point. There are no achievements. Once the story is done, there is little more to do. It's also pretty easy to beat. I only died in a couple of points (largely due to not being sure of what to do and beating up an endless horde when there was no point to it. The game is a movie rather than a game. There isn't a lot here, that takes away a lot from replay-value.
6 - Overall
In considering that this is a stealth game, it didn't feel like it. Splinter Cell: Conviction and Alpha Protocol felt more stealthy than this. This was also supposed to be story centric. It didn't feel like that either. The story seems more intriguing in Demon's Souls than this (there is almost no story in that other than you need to cleanse the world of demon's that infested the world on the second day of god's creation - awesome game though).
There isn't much that Metal Gear actually does right aside from graphics and controls, but Kojima sabotaged the control aspect by taking away a players opportunity to actually play (there are so many cut scenes and so little game-play). There are actually scenes where you move a character from an elevator to a computer with nothing in between to trigger the next ten minute cut scene...its just poorly done and the game just feels hollow. I would like to say more, but I can't get into all the other problems with this without revealing spoilers. The game just isn't well done. Even Snake's voice grates on me.
Don't get me wrong, the scenes look great and there are elements of this which are fantastic but when you fit it all together, it just doesn't work. It's like mixing rum- raisin ice-cream, pickles, smoked sausage, pizza, Butter Chicken curry, salmon sashimi, and custard all in a blender. They are all amazing on their own, but they just don't mesh as a combo. That's what Kojima did here. He mixed too many things and it ended up being a mess.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.0 - Fair
Originally Posted: 08/13/10
Game Release: Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (AU, 06/12/08)
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