Review by EZ_Company

"The final explosive chapter in the Metal Gear Solid legend"

Metal Gear Solid 4 Review:

Hideo Kojima could very well be the Michelangelo of the video game industry. Ever since the debut of the original Metal Gear on the NES in 1988, Kojima has captivated audiences worldwide with the series' unique story, memorable characters and gripping game play. Now, with the closing chapter of the saga finally here, fans everywhere get to experience an explosive conclusion worthy of the legendary hero known as Solid Snake.

Graphics:
This. Game. Is. Gorgeous. Kojima and his team have spared no expense to ensure that every minute detail, from the wrinkles on Snake's face to the spray of droplets and the scatter of dust on the camera lens during game play are beautifully rendered. Metal Gear Solid 4 is divided into acts, each preceded by interactive mission briefings where the player gains to control the camera to zoom in, out and pan around to absorb the hard work that's gone into the visuals. Certain points in the game prompt the player to push either X or L1 to see flashbacks or see through Snake's eyes. These features only enhance the sugary eye candy that's stuffed into the game. Also, the cut scenes are all created with the in-game engine, so the transitions from cut scene to game play are completely seamless. Unlike previous titles, MGS4 spans different locations around the globe, from the arid deserts of the Middle East, to the dark streets of an Eastern European city, each possess a unique look and feel and all are exquisitely crafted. It's almost baffling to imagine how such a high level of detail and lifelike graphics were able to be squeezed onto a single Blu Ray disc, but somehow it's been done.

Sound:
If the crack of gunfire, the crumbling of buildings, the boom of explosions and the screech of metal are music to your ears, then MGS4 is the ultimate concert. The Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound sucks you in and truly brings the game to life. The sound of bullets smacking into walls, spraying chips of plaster will make you want to duck for cover, or hide in a cardboard box until it's over. The music of the Metal Gear Solid games has always been vital to the series and Harry Gregson-Williams returns to compose some unforgettable scores for the final chapter in this epic saga. A nice touch is that Kojima Productions provided Snake with an Ipod so players can enjoy tunes of the Metal Gear games old and new while averting global disaster. The voice acting is the encore to the performance as David Hayter and many other familiar and talented actors make a comeback and provide their best performances in the series yet.

Gameplay:
Tactical Espionage Action, this is what has defined Metal Gear Solid's game play and has propelled the series to the beast it is today. The core stealth and sneaking mechanics are present and as solid as ever with the addition of a few new features for gamers to play with. One of the most noticeable is the inclusion of the Octo-camo suit. This suit allows Snake to blend in with any surface he's pressed against. Unlike the camo system in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, having players go to a menu screen to manually change their camo pattern, the Octo-camo automatically changes, making game play flow smoothly. He blends in so well with the environment it's no surprise enemies will walk by, inches away from Snake, oblivious to his presence.

MGS4 allows players to approach each challenge how they see fit. Whether they meticulously plot out the safest course through an area, quietly sneaking past each enemy, run through with a machine gun Rambo-style, or sit back and pick every enemy off with a sniper rifle before proceeding, it's completely up to the player. The combat has also been revamped. When Snake finds himself in a firefight, players can switch the camera to an over-the-shoulder view, making aiming and camera movement during combat easier, although it feels a tiny bit stiff. Another problem with the controls is that the button functions have been remapped on the Playstation 3 controller, so veterans of previous MGS games may have some difficulty adjusting to the new controls. The button configuration also can't be changed, which may also frustrate some gamers. However, once learned the controls function well as intended.

Another new feature added to game play is the ability for Snake to customize a wide variety of weapons. Early in the game, Snake meets up with Drebin, a mysterious gun launderer, who exchanges weapon and ammo Snake picks up on the battlefield in exchange for “Drebin Points”, which in turn can be used to unlock and upgrade his weapons. Obtaining all the guns in the game adds a lot of replayability to the already solid game play. Snake also gains access to the Solid Eye, an eye patch like device that provides him with binoculars, night vision and a map showing the whereabouts of patrols. The Mk. II, a small metal gear device made by Snake's partner, Otacon, can be used for scouting and immobilizing enemies via an electric shock.

Snake is going to need all the weapons and ammo he can get. In the very first act, he finds himself in the middle of a war zone, with a battle raging on between the PMC and rebel forces. This adds a whole new level of strategy to the game play. Players can use the chaos of the battlefield to their advantage to reach the next area or even join in on the fighting if they choose. When the combat gets up close and personal, Snake can resort to his devastating CQC abilities to take down his enemies in a variety of ways. MGS4 also has some of the most epic and intense boss battles of any game in the series, requiring players to think on their feet.


Story:
One thing Kojima seems to have sought out to do is dispel the idea that interactive, cinematic storytelling does not belong in a video game, and with MGS4, he put a well-placed bullet between the eyes of that myth. Being the last game in the Metal Gear saga, any unanswered questions and loose ends get tied up. The series' storyline is incredibly rich and complex and MGS4 is no exception. Rookies to the series will probably be lost and not be able to appreciate the small references to previous titles strewn throughout the game. It would be like reading the last chapter of a novel and afterwards, wondering why you even bothered starting there. Regardless, the gripping plot twists, deep characters and settings meld together very well.

One issue some people had surrounding the story is the inclusion of lengthy cut scenes. True, there are some that go past the hour mark. Is this a problem? The answer is a resounding NO. Kojima does away with using the Codec as the main narrative device in MGS4. Instead, beautiful and vivid cut scenes provide the main delivery system for the story which is much easier and enjoyable to sit through. The game also features some high-octane fight scenes that rival blockbuster Hollywood action movies.

Not much can be said about the story without giving anything away. Its complexity may not convert every newcomer to the MGS universe. However, the humor, surprises and maybe a tear-jerking moment or two in MGS4 will definitely leave an impression on anyone who plays it and be talked about for years to come.

Replayability:
Kojima is known for having many surprises up his sleeves and MGS4 certainly does not disappoint. Tons of Easter eggs, secrets and various rankings, some with their own rewards, lie in wait throughout the game, ensuring that gamers will be enticed to play through multiple times. Put that together with five difficulty settings and you have a superb game that oozes multiple playthroughs. If these weren't enough, the additions of a virtual gun range and Metal Gear Online, where players can frag each other online just add more icing to the sweet MGS4 cake. This game is the final brush stroke of Kojima's masterpiece that Playstation 3 owners cannot and should not miss.

Rent or Buy?
This game is an absolute buy. If you have a Playstation 3 and do not yet own MGS4, why are you still reading this? Go out and buy it now.

Final Score: 9/10


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 06/30/08

Game Release: Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (US, 06/12/08)


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