Review by CrimsonStriderX
MGS4 and MGO... Does it live up?
Metal Gear Solid 4 is Kojima's latest masterpiece in the Metal Gear series. Fans have been waiting for this installment since as far back as Metal Gear Solid 2.
But the series has always been one subject to much criticism. The series has always been plague with complaints about a confusing story, awkward controls and camera angles, an AI either too easy or too hard for casual gamers, among many other things. But as any MGS Fan knows, the level of depth that each MGS game holds is much, much more than people give it credit for. Ask yourself, how can you judge the depth of a lake by merely standing on the shore gazing at the surface?
Before you play this game, if you're reading this review, I ask of you to do one thing if you're a veteran to the series. Look deep into this game, and to all the others of the series, and really look at how they tie each other in to one another. More than the simple, obvious ties such as characters reappearing and such. MGS3 specifically brought a very important theme that plays throughout the series which is worth a look, and worth the time to appreciate.
For players new to the series. Don't give up, and if it confuses you that's the point. The story is confusing because, as snake, you're kind of always kept in the dark and even when you think you know something as a truth, the reality of it can be shattered in an instance. It's worth the effort to understand the story, just as anything in life worth having takes some work.
Story - 9/10
The story is just that of any other MGS game. So many twist and turns, and when you think one thing is a truth a few hours later you find something to contradict itself. There are many surprises for you players, some that you may like and some that you may hate. Playing this game brings up a memory of a passage Stephen King wrote on a series of books called "The Dark Tower." Word for word, this is not exact, but basically he said he knew the ending would upset a lot of people, but it was the way things should be in that universe. And so, I feel the same way in this series. There are a lot of things that I don't like, things that are the way I wouldn't like them to be. But deep down I do feel that this is the path the series was meant to go down. Just like life, there are things that are hard to accept and things that we with weren't true, and in this game you will feel many of those moments. But that's one of the beauties of this game. As much as you hate progressing through the story with Snake, because you can't help but feel sorry for him, you can't deny the brilliance of it. It would be too easy to make Snake an invincible hero again, but it takes a lot of hard work turning into a human hero, one that can bleed and die just like everyone else, and still make it a good story.
Gameplay - 8/10
I won't lie, my favorite gameplay comes from MGS3. It was so smooth in a lot of ways, compared to this one. That's not to say this is bad, in fact I think it's more suited for people who aren't MGS vets (which can be a good thing and a bad thing.)
First off, the subsistence camera system is back and for the most part the same. Except R3 returns you sight behind your body which is much nicer than turning it into a 3rd person camera. But there are some new systems too. There's an Over the Shoulder mode of shooting, as well as a FP mode where you can move around. Two things that are totally new and bring a really, new style of playing. Does it make it better? That's more of a matter of opinion. To be as unbiases as possible, it better suits people who were playing games like Rainbow 6 and Socom more than MGS players. It's not horrible by any means, it's just simply not what we're use to. What I do thing is a bit broken though, is first person. It seems a bit jumpier than in the first version, and it seems harder to do precision shots in the same manner I'm use to. If I turn the settings down, it's more precise but way too slow. And if I turn it up, it because jumpy sometimes. MGS3 found the perfect balance and unfortunately it wasn't really carried over. Pumping and tactical reloading are also out, two things that I really enjoyed and made certain weapons much more enjoyable and usable.
You heal Stamina/Health the same way you do in MGS3. Crouching/Prone will fix you up in a jiffy, literally. You can probably heal your entire health bar in about a minute or two on the harder of the normal difficulties. You almost don't need to use a ration unless your in a boss battle, and it makes things a little too easy for the novice player if you ask me. I haven't tried hard mode yet (cause I'm playing this with a friend and he wanted normal) but unless there's a really big difference, I think even hard mode might be just a little too easy.
Another new addition is the stress bar. Basically, in combat zones and alert modes snake becomes stressed. As your stress rises your stamina starts to drop, ever increasingly until your stress bar maxes out. The only way to offset this is by using certain items, getting out of combat zones, and usually going prone in a shady spot. It's an interesting system but I think it could have been done with a little more depth.
Some new gadgets are the ability to customize your gun, buy weapons and ammo from a dealer, use the MK II, and your new camo. You might not use the MK II as much in easier modes, which seems like a waste. But the worst thing is how easy it is to buy ammo in bulk. I can't imagine ever running out of ammo which again, makes the game more tailored for novice players to the series (which is a let down.)
I wouldn't say the graphics are perfect, but I haven't really seen anything better on the PS3 to date. I'm sure in the future this may look like crap, but at the moment it's very beautifully tailored and it's as close to a 10 as I can imagine a game getting.
I personally don't like the controls. I understand why he changed the o and x button, because that's what "western" gamers are use to. But I bet you there are more returning fans to this game than there are newbies to the series, and so I think they did more harm than good by trying to do a good thing.
The firing method is a bit of a mess. I hate having to toggle between things to use them. I kept finding myself in auto aim when I wanted to be in OVT, and it was annoying to have to go into OVT then FP when I wanted to. It's also annoying how you have to press two buttons to attack basically, first L1 then R1. Makes it take a little longer to shoot and such and even though I'm use to it now, it's not as smooth as the old controls were. Before square shot a weapon, circle threw a person but now both are the same button so if you forget to press L1 or hit R1 first, you CQC instead of fire a weapon. Not a big problem, and certainly easy to get use to, but not as good as the old controls in my opinion.
I think Kojima did a good job with the story, and I'm looking forward to playing it on a harder mode. But I do feel he did too much to make it easy for new comers, when in fact I feel like those shouldn't have been his main target. I also think too many people complained about the previous games, which is what lead to a lot of things in this game that I don't like and I have a feeling a lot of people won't like. Like I said, people always manage to complain about something, especially when it's MGS related. But I think that through all of their complaining they managed to strip a wonderful series of some of the basic things it was well known for. The game is a little too easy, which is good for new players but not good for vets. The controls aren't as fluid, and are more like other shooting games, which is again good for drawing in new players but doesn't do as much for the older players. However this game is really not worth passing up, and will bring a lot of laughter and enjoyment.
To sum it up, it's plagued by some control issues, especially if you use to be good auto-aimers. Auto-aim range is extremely short, and FPS is not as useful as before. OTS brings a new style to it, but I'm not sure if I welcome it or not. It makes it much easier to run and gun than in before, since you have more gun movement while moving. Before you had to stand still to shoot, which made it so you had to hide a bit more under most circumstances, and even when you autoaimed you didn't have full control of the gun. CQC isn't as nice as it was before, but then again things might change as people find more ways to use it.
It's a fun game, worth playing, but I guess we'll just have to wait and see if it grows on us as much as the old one did.
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Product Release: Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (US, 06/12/08)
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