Review by DavidFath

"This is a good game, but Metal Gear Solid 3 was the best one of them all."

Metal Gear Solid 4 was the game that got me to purchase the Playstation 3. Like many others, I had high expectations of it, and why shouldn't I? It has only been the most talked about game ever since the Playstation 3 launch and it was following on the heels of the spectacular Metal Gear Solid 3. I played MGS4 with an open mind and I completed it a couple of days ago. Putting away the controller and given some time to contemplate about MGS4, I can honestly say I don't love the game, but I don't hate it either. It is a very polished game by all means, yet there is something missing. You will hear me talk about MGS3 a lot in this review because that will be the game I will be comparing Metal Gear Solid 4 to.

Graphics - Very good

The best looking visuals in the game is in the character models. They look terrific. You can see individual strands of hair flowing on Snake's head. The bodies in the game are well proportioned, which helps add to the realism. The skin textures have a rather plastic look to them, but that is still more realistic than 99 percent of what is out there. The environments in the game are beautiful and detailed. On one stage you have to endure a blizzard that look so real that you can't help but feel cold. There is one negative thing I want to point about the graphics that I really didn't like. I am surprised to find some low res textures throughout the course of the game. Crawl under a vehicle and you can see the tire threads have blurry Nintendo-64-like textures. Low res textures also appear on chunks of walls and on some flooring.

While the graphics are very good overall in MGS4, I was in a sense more impressed by the graphics from MGS3 because of the hardware the developers had to work with. Who would have thought you can get a living, breathing open jungle environment and uneven terrain with HDR lighting on a Playstation 2? It will probably take a couple of more years to see games push the limits of the Playstation 3, and while I think MGS4 is a pretty game, I don't believe it shows the full potential of the system like what MGS3 did for the PS2.

Gameplay - Easier Learning Curve

As promised by the developers, the controls has been streamlined. But in doing so, they removed some gameplay elements and controls I liked in MGS3. In MSG3, the D-Pad is dedicated to walking or crawling slowly. This is very useful because you can't accidently overpress it like you can with the analog stick and make Naked Snake start running. I wish this was incorporated into Guns of the Patriots. Also something that didn't carry over to MGS4 is being able to extort information from a hostage when you get them in your CQC grip. I thought that was a useful move that should have made it into MGS4. The auto camo is pretty neat in MGS4, but I wasn't really that bothered having to switch camos manually in MGS3. In fact, I thought that was pretty fun having to figure out by myself which camo works best for each situation.

Storyline

All the MGS games are driven by a storyline and MGS3 arguably has the best one. The emotional payoff at the end of MGS3 is huge. While MGS4 tried to do the same, you don't really get that same feeling. All the loose ends are tied up, but it leaves the heart still longing for something. The storyline is extremely complex, and anyone who haven't played the previous ones or at least read up on the previous storylines will not get a whole lot out of the game. MGS4 is loaded with so much nostalgia that only fans who played the previous games can understand. This include jokes, flashback scenes and past locations. I can understand that MGS4 serves to tie up everything in the series, and you can't do it without making the story complex, so It is up to the player to know the whole MGS storyline before playing.

Bosses And Difficulty

As everyone has said, the Beauty & the Beast bosses in MGS4 does not match up well with the Cobra Unit Bosses in MGS3. I did not like the fact that for each B&B Boss battle, you also have to fight a unit of Frogs somewhat simultaneously. Epic boss battles are suppose to be one on one. The Frogs, while they are not hard, they become a nuisance and that distracts from the boss fights. And when you beat a B&B boss, they get back up again and you have to "finish" them off a second time. And you got to do that for all of them. I thought that was unnecessary. While the Beauty and the Beast Idea probably worked well on paper, it just didn't work in the actual game. Maybe if Drebin the Arms Dealer explains how each Beauty/Beast came to be before each battle instead of afterwards, I might have felt more compassion for them which was the whole point of what Kojima was trying to do. Speaking of Drebin, being able to buy almost any weapon and ammunition at will makes the game extremely easy. The points needed to buy weapons are very easy to acquire. On normal default difficulty, supplies are never scarce and problem solving is never too tough.

Music and Soundtrack

If you have a good surround sound system, you are in for a treat. Explosions can be heard from every direction especially on the first couple of Acts. The soundtrack though, is okay at best. It is more on the somber side which fits quite well with the somber story that MGS4 has, but MGS3 probably has the best overall soundtrack in terms of being an absolute joy to listen to.

Rants

I thought the IPOD in the game was pointless. It's really distracting to listen to music when you're playing, especially on your first playthrough when you want to concentrate.

The Johnny & Meryl scene near the end is totally ludicrous. I know we are suppose to check our disbelief at the door when we play games and watch movies but come on. A squad of top trained elite soldiers armed with P90s can't take out two people armed with handguns who are both out in the open for anyone to shoot. That is beyond fiction.

As most people said, there was not enough actual gameplay in the later half of the game.

It would've been more interesting to have more people on codec to talk to. This time you only get three. Otacon, Rosemary and Roy Campbell through Rosemary's codec number.

I am not a fan of the occasional split screens in the game. I wish I can watch Vamp and Raiden fight but I'm too busy shooting at geckos.

Conclusion

I know it might sound like I'm giving MGS4 a thumbs down, but it is a really good game you should get for the Playstation 3. It's just that my opinion for MGS3 is so high.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 09/25/08

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


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