Review by lonewolf2877
CG "B" Movie with a short good game thrown in
I am usually not so forward, or even much on commenting, but in this case I could not keep my mouth closed. I have been playing the Metal Gear series since its origin, at least since the NES days in the US, and have enjoyed the series but what came into this game is what I feared the most, less game and more CG movies. Hideo Kojima was once quoted as saying that games are not an art form. This is very apparent in the way he is making his games now, this game is basically a "B" grade CG movie with a good game thrown in the middle. The voice acting was decent, but the animation and directing of the cutscenes were sub par and often repeated dialogue and used so many acronyms I had trouble understanding what was going on. After playing this game, I walked away feeling like Mr. Kojima is really trying to be a film director, rather than a game director/designer and it really shows.
There are moments, when I and a friend playing it kept saying, "When are we going to play this?" It is really hard to play a game that you have to watch to really know what is going on, and though I love the Metal Gear storyline, this installment's story was so long winded, repetitive and drawn out that it sounded like an old man had written it. Well, maybe Mr. Kojima has reached the end of his age then, or he is poking fun at himself with all the old jokes he himself has written into the game?
But let me not be so drawn out and repetitive as those cutscenes were, let's get to the game. The game itself was very fun to play, when it wasn't being interrupted by a necessary or unnecessary cutscene. The action was fairly fast paced, but you had to grind a little bit through a good part of the beginning to get there. After that, it was full of fun references to the older games, and at one point had you relive one of the old games by playing a piece of it. Also there are plenty of items to collect and secrets to find, and the environments, for the most part, were detailed beautiful and a joy to explore. The combat was really a modified improvement over the rest of the series, however, the camera had more often than not, been a boon of the game as it had as well in previous installments. I was hoping this time for an over the shoulder cam for shooting as in Resident Evil 4, but instead was stuck with a poorly controlled camera that often let critical moments be affected by its poorly implemented design. Why are so many 3rd person games designed with the player having to hassle with a camera rather than playing the game and having the camera automatically adjust to the player's movements?
The camera issues aside, the new OctoCamo was extremely neat to watch and use to fool enemies by blending into the luscious backgrounds. The variety of weaponry and items was the usual, but this time, again attributing to Resident Evil 4, was the customization of weapons. This was a nice feature as well as the feature of not having to go to a shop or person to modify weapons, you could easily do it at any time you pleased, making it more fun to just pack ammo and modify guns on the fly. The real gripe I had as with the other MGS games was that you had to go to the menu and stop combat to switch items and use them. I would have rather stayed in real time switching weapons and items on the fly, than continually stopping to go to a menu, or at least have the option of having both. It would often take away from some of the fast paced action of the games, having to go to the menu and get out of it again.
The game design itself for the actual game play was good for the most part, the boss battles were enjoyable outside of a few that seemed to drag out, and there are moments of the game (without spoiling anything) where if you have played the other games in the series made this game worth playing just to play them. Then again there were moments where the game play could have easily been implemented instead of the cutscenes that were thrown in, like playing as Raiden in his cool new ninja outfit, unfortunately didn't happen.
As for the games graphics, they were a mix of excellence, and mediocre. Some of the textures and lighting were simply amazing to look at, and others were just ok. Many of the shadows, especially on the characters even in 1080P were low resolution and pixelated, it was really disappointing to see that lack of optimization done for a game that has the PS3 as its exclusive platform, I was expecting a lot more from the graphics in all areas. The same goes for the animation as well, some of the in game and cutscene animation was incredible and then others were so mediocre or down right sloppy that it ruined some good moments of the game.
The sound however was superb, I really enjoyed all the effects, and the music to the point that that was almost perfect in this game. It really was the mood setter of the entire game.
OK, now on to more gripes again, load times and Apple ads. Having load times like the ones that are for this game are ridiculous, I mean in this day and age do we need honestly to wait several minutes to load every chapter of the game? Even in the older titles we only had to wait about 20-30 seconds at most. I feel like with MGS4 we have taken a step backward in the technology department this way, why couldn't the whole thing have been written onto the hard drive and then there are no load times? There is even a point where the game jokes about having to switch discs like in the first few games but says "this is a double sided Blueray disc so there is no need to switch. Amazing how technology moves huh?" My friend and I almost died laughing at this after having to wait so many times for it to install every Act for the game.
Then there is the Apple advertising in almost every major part of the game, acquiring iPod music and watching Otacon working on an Apple throughout the game made it scream that this game was obviously heavily financed by Apple and not Sony. It was interesting finding music, but distracting seeing Apple at every facet more than anything. Not that I am more preferable for either corporation, but with the cost of games growing to that of Blockbuster films, expect this type of advertising to be the norm and not the exception for the future.
OK, so here goes my conclusion on this game, if you are a Metal Gear fan get it, it is a good game even if you have to endure long hours (yes, I literally mean hours not minutes) of long winded and often dry dialogue ridden cutscenes. It is fun, nostalgic and has loads of great gameplay moments for you to replay, if you want to, after it is all over. If you are not a fan, then skip the cut scenes, you have about a 6-10 hour great game on your hands without all the extra confusion and (wanting to play them instead of watch them) movies.
I hope that somehow this review might actually get to Mr. Kojima somehow and remind him that he is a great game designer and inform him that game design is an art form, and when making a game, allowing your audience to actually play the game is really a lot more enjoyable than watching it. Hopefully, he'll stop trying to be a mediocre CG film director and more of a great game designer as he had previously been.
Rating: 3.5 - Good
Product Release: Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (US, 06/12/08)
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