Review by daemonx3

"A Solid finale to a great series, but does it do it justice?"

Allow me the courtesy to write this review in the opposite pattern to the norm. It's a solid purchase, no pun intended. Unless you never played a previous MGS, or are not a fan of action games (in which case, why are you even reading this), you will walk away a happy customer. Admittedly, if this was not Metal Gear I may have even scored this higher, though I highly doubt I would have given it a 10/10.

Unfortunately, there are certain expectations that need to be met to tout the name 'Metal Gear'. I'm sure most people would hope to find a game that did not deviate from the genre it fathered in our generation. I'll follow up on that later.

Story: 8.0/10 - Fairly long, 5 paragraphs.

If you have never played a Metal Gear game before, you should do one of the following. Play at least Metal Gear Solid and Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. If not, the score above should be read as closer to 4.0/10, and you should seriously consider this a RENT. You WILL be lost; names and faces will be referenced at a highly alarming rate, and it is assumed that the player has the required knowledge to follow. Much of the storyline can be salvaged, but in the end, it will leave you with a bitter ‘so what?'.

Now that I've gotten that out of the way, it's time to address the fans!

This game has excelled at tying into the previous installments, and giving a form of closure to the loose ends that they failed to bring to light. Previous characters, groups, major events; almost all of these have been addressed and connected to an overall ‘Master' storyline, even the original Metal Gear titles on the NES. Some argue that it's a little convoluted; really though, think back… These games weren't originally intended to be connected aside from the Main characters and the idea of a walking battle-tank. MGS4 has impossibly put them together, while maintaining a fresh sense of progression in the final days of a shadow war that's been raged for half a century. Nostalgia may have its limits, but not here. I could only ask for more.

Many criticize the game's continued use of the idea of Nanomachines in everything or the supernatural powers the bosses possess, to a point where I would not be surprised that you as a potential player have heard these criticisms from other sources. While I agree to an extent, the fact remains that the major plot revolved around these, and that it's not particularly surprising to find them everywhere. If the super-natural and futuristic really bother you that much, maybe you should reconsider your choices before playing a virtual sci-fi set in the future.

So then why an 8.0 when all I've made are positive comments (aside from the non-fan expectations). In the end, the story IS convoluted, and while it doesn't technically have ‘consistency' errors, it belittles the achievements of the other games. Great, so my efforts in MGS2 were largely pointless and the plot devices are YET AGAIN not what they seem to be? Am I supposed to be able to go back and enjoy this/these games knowing this? I don't know if I can... Add to that some Foreseeable plot twists, and that typical 'Hollywood' ending where nothing bad ever happens, and you get an 8/10.

Gameplay: 8.0/10 - Also fairly long, 8 paragraphs.

I assume this is where I'll be criticized most but let me just say this: this is a stealth-action game, yet the second half almost plays out like an arcade shooter. This is a major gripe of mine, one that I would not expect to be met by any other game than Metal Gear, hence my earlier comment.

The first half is a blast. It takes Metal Gear back to its roots and then some. Suspense is at an all time high, intelligence and patience is key, with a hint of problem solving. Take my word for it, this first half is unbelievably fun. You will not find a gaming-experience like this anytime soon, I guarantee it.

The controls are tight and responsive. There are many things to digest when first learning how to control Snake, but soon after you'll find it quite intuitive and natural. A weapon upgrade system is included, though somewhat unnecessary, as well as a black market Wal-Mart for all your Tactical Espionage Action needs.

The boss fights are a mixed breed. On the one hand, some are painfully simplistic and straight forward, but these are few. Overall, they require a firm understanding of the current situation and the ability to make the right decisions in ‘what to do next'. It is a blast.

Now about the second half; I describe it as an arcade shooter. Stealth is not a major role; I can count the number of rooms that allow for stealth on one hand in the second half. A lot of the time you will find yourself in third or first person view killing what seems to be endless amounts of ‘frogs' ( the elite personal squad of the game's main villain). As I said before, the controls are done well. Shooting can be fun and these sections are mostly adrenaline-pumping goodness (but occasionally continue-based-annoyances). You may ask if I have any right to penalize it for not being stealthy.

You damn right I do.

This is the LAST time I'm going to be able to play Metal Gear, and half the time stealth isn't even an option? REALLY? Is this how I want to remember Metal Gear? Not really. Vehicular sections where you're mindlessly shooting at anything that moves has NEVER been considered the ‘memorable' parts for an action game unless it was for all the wrong reasons. My problem is that the choice in gameplay style was not appropriate nor requested. Please, turn back time and let me get through the game with only 20 kills like I could on the previous installments. I do not appreciate being forced to mow down hordes of enemies. On easier difficulties, this is not a problem, because you can simply choose to sit there and wait for the game to finish itself (which, as fun as it sounds, isn't enjoyable). On harder difficulties, it becomes progressively harder to avoid shooting anyone, to the point of nigh-impossible on big boss level when you can't heal or have limited rations.

I also don't appreciate the fact that most of the gameplay time is spent watching or reading storyline and movie sequences. I understand that the story is large and encompassing, I GET IT. But sometimes I'll only move a COUPLE FEET (quite literally) after finishing a 5-10 min movie sequence before starting the next. It affects the overall flow of the game, i.e. the pacing is all messed up.

Multiplayer: 9.0/10

I've separated this simply because it almost seems like it was intended to be a different game altogether, the “team fortress” to MGS4's “Orange Box”.

It scores higher simply because multiplayer is what it is: very rarely does this extend beyond “kill everything that's not on your team”. It is frantic and enjoyable. Single or team based point scoring at its best, using an engine that works. There is no co-op missions, and you may not find some of those ‘fantasy' game modes that you've dreamed of for a stealth game, but what it has is polished to a mirror shine. I am not you, so I will not try to convince you that a game of everyone versus snake is fun, even though it is. These are extras, you play them for fun. On the negative, sometimes it feels that there wasn't much thought put into the level designs, but overall it's a very positive experience.

Graphics: 10/10

Beautiful. Seamlessly transitioning from movie to gameplay, you really start to appreciate the choices made for textures and models. Add in an overall immersive environment that seems to live and breath, and you've got the makings of a truly fourth gen gaming experience.

Trying to be as general as I can to prevent spoilers, let me just say that nostalgic environments in this generation of gaming is more than I ever could have hoped for, as awe-inspiring and beautiful as I ever imagined.

Sound: 9.0/10

The soundtrack is very well done. Courtesy nods are given to the scores of previous games, and the new music is very nice. In fact, I'm listening to the soundtrack as I'm writing this. The songs convey the right ‘feeling' that you would expect from the scene they're used in. One of the vocal songs sound a little second-rate but all in all a job well done.

Sound effects are also well done. They are as realistic as I could ever discern, and I'm not going to try to critique how a charging rail-gun SHOULD sound, nor have I ever used a rocket launcher to justifiably say ‘that's not how it should sound'. You can hear footfalls, sometimes even the BREATHING of enemies. Nicely done here as well.

The voice acting actually leaves something to be desired. Mei Ling in particular is somewhat embarrassing, and other major voice actors are somewhat poor at expressing a wide range of emotions. If this sounds a little negative, don't worry. It's not THAT large a problem. It is a very large voice cast and many of them are highly skilled. It's just that you tend to remember the bad.

Replay: 9.0/10

Multiplayer is what it is; many will find solace just in that. For you single player fanatics…

Unlockables are few, and many are based on the acquisition of money instead of personal experience/performance. But, as in all previous metal gears, there are ‘new game +' modes that allow you to go through the game with the items you acquired in a previous run through. A small pitfall of this is that it somewhat ruins the mechanics of the game when I am playing through a game on a harder mode but all the upgrades that require vast amounts of money I already have or can afford.

Still, the difference in difficulties between normal and hard were as clear as night-and-day, if this is true from hard to very hard, then I might have a few long nights ahead of me. Kudos.

All in all, a great experience. My gameplay annoyances are my own; you may or may not agree with me, but it WAS enough to keep me on the lower end of the avg. In the end, I assure you that if you are a MGS fan you will be happy with this purchase.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 06/16/08

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

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