Review by Kiron216
"Metal Gear Sermon (This is not a worthy succesor to Metal Gear Solid 3)"
Keep in mind that as I write this I've successfully obtained the big boss emblem acquiring not only the patriot but every weapon and special item in the game throughout my subsequent playthroughs. This is as detailed and as honest as any review out there and if you're looking for mindless praise look elsewhere. I'm going to pick the game apart, thoroughly analyze its individual components and then critique the game as a whole. I'm sorry if this contradicts some of your well established views and you're free to disagree with me but I'm not going to pull any punches to make myself more popular with the MGS fanbase.
Something has gone terribly terribly wrong between Metal Gear Solid 3 and metal gear solid 4. What happened to the intricate plot? The dynamic storyline and the seamless integration of music with the cinematic moment in question. Whatever happened to governments vying for money and power instead of a computer AI and two rapidly aging twins molding the globe like playdough (ridiculous. If you honestly think two or three men and a computer direct the course of history through their insignificant little actions and the politics has no hand in how the future plays out then you my friend need to significantly update your view on world events). Why has the entire game suddenly taken on the tone of a pg-13 Disney movie with archaic ideologies that should have been long ago abandoned with the arrival of the information age. Metal Gear Solid 3 was just about my favorite game of all time and I would rank it above and beyond some of my cardinal movies when considering its musical score plot and character development. Each scene might be slightly over the top but the rivalry triangle between Big Boss the Boss and Ocelot is just one of many threads woven into this comprehensive colorful tapestry. Metal Gear Solid Four is several steps fourward (intentional typo) in gameplay and several leaps back in story, music, and interpersonal character development. I suppose I'll start with the part of the game that keeps this highly polished but fundamentally flawed prototype afloat. This review is going to get progressively worse and I'm just warning you in advance.
Absolutely beautiful. I have no complaints here seeing as how every character and setting in the game has been polished and pixilated enough to be put under the a cinematic microscope (just press the top directional button during cutscenes) and still manage to contain the most photo realistic body parts I've ever laid eyes upon ( that mustache of snakes should hanging in the Louvre). Every environment has been meticulously animated, every bullet hole varies in size according to caliber of the gun, every blood spatter, helicopter crash, and chase scene looks like it might be taking place through a window instead of a television screen. The cream of this CG crop is in shadow moses where everything from the blizzard to the heliport is absolutely stunning to behold. The game quite obviously deserves its perfect score in this section and if I were to judge by visuals alone I would have to rate Metal Gear Solid 4 a perfect 10 along with everyone else. Unfortunately in my experience with video games the quality of the graphics and the quality of the story tend to be inversely correlated and Metal Gear Solid 4 is no exception.
Another perfect score and although many gamers believe the gameplay takes a backseat in this Fourth Installment I couldn't agree less. Not only has the combat significantly upgraded (70 different weapons ranging from solar guns to rifle's that can generate item spawning tornado's) but there are several distinct types of gameplay packed under one industrial sized umbrella. Not only can you choose between sneaking past an veritable army of guards but you can challenge them with tank vaporizing high caliber weaponry (javelins and anti air missiles only being a small part of this ratchet and clank size arsenal. Each boss battle has its own unique style of gameplay two in particular deviating far enough from the norm and packing in such a wealth of content into each of these ten minute battles that I honestly believe that the could be games in and of themselves. This gameplay far surpasses Gears of War in my humble opinion (I own both) so Cliff Blezinski needs put a leash on that wagging jealous little tongue of his because at least MGS4 had the guts to actually update their 15 seconds of fun (this can be disastrous for some developers) instead of adding a few timid alterations to their previous installments recipe.
Heres where we run into a few speed bumps. The entire soundtrack has had an extreme makeover and quite frankly its several poorly composed steps below the metal gear solid three musical score. Its not so much that the music has decreased in quality (which it noticeably has) but that it is implemented scarcely (you will have to sit through lengthy sermon sized monologues without a single piece playing) and when used used inappropriately so that instead of amplifying and adding emotional weight to the scene the music is suppose to be the driving force behind it contradicts the moment and therefore halts the emotional flow of the cinematic (like the barney song playing during a funeral). The way the highly prestigious and beautifully composed MGS theme is used is ghastly (during the final moments of the game) and I personally could not have thought of a worse place to put it. Triumphant music should be used during a triumphant moment, not while a certain someone is doing some meaningless wet work and offing a certain someone else who just so happens to be a senile vegetable. The quality of the music itself is above average but as any physicist will tell you its not the just the magnitude of the force that matters but how the force in question is applied as well. I'm giving the music itself and 8 and the application a 6 coming up with the magic number...
Forget the soundtrack speed bumps because this is where we run into an obstacle the size of the wall of china. The only reason I'm not pulping this cancerous pus filled bloated monstrosity entirely is because the script itself really isn't all that bad (credit to SamuraiX for posting it). I'm really trying to restrain myself on this one and to be as unbiased and emotionally detached as possible but honestly I think of a single adolescent gratuitously romantic moment where the characters actually act like both human beings and their previously established selves.
First of all the interpersonal development between characters itself is botched entirely. The romances that take place during the game will boggle your mind and you'll think "Does defecating in my pants in front of her and then proposing during a firefight like in Pirates of the Carribean 3 actually work on the opposite gender?!" Sunny delivers lines in a painfully shy stuttering type of way and her character is so obviously artificial and so monumentally annoying. She looks more like a mini me version of olga than a child barely out of diapers. I suppose once she's 11 she'll be forced to have her blouse open like every other character in the script and marrying off at the drop of a hat to anyone who proposes in front of a camera. The entirety of her character development is Otacon keeping her inside his aircraft like a house cat and Otacon letting her outside like an outdoor cat. Symbolically I think its suppose to represent exposing children to problems instead of sheltering them but the scenes were delivered in such a clumsy fashion that the symbolism is completely lost during translation.
The entire story plays like a Stan Lee comic book. Quite frankly MGS was over the top enough before you had every antagonist spouting catchphrases and doing signature poses. I lost count of how many times ocelot put his hand into a fist and made a motion similar to that of throwing something away, vamp licking his knives every three seconds, and Otacon crying every two and a half. Ocelot delivers lines like a one of those medieval actors who compensates for a genuine lack of talent with the volume of his voice and a strange slightly eloquent unusual accent while vamp acts like his namesake in the same odd way he always has.
I suppose another large disappointment was the ending. The protagonist is left hung out to dry while the happy ending belongs to the blow dried little grunts who make an untold amount of unnecessary cameo appearances (not to mention life threatening mistakes that snake ends up having to fix like some genetically enhanced maid). I'm not going to go into detail because this is a spoiler free review but you know that moment at the end of gladiator where Maximus gave everything he had and pimple sized goosebumps ran down your spine when he was declared a hero and the senator asks "who will help me carry him?" Well you get none of that here. Not a single thank you or a well deserved pat on the back for his herculean efforts in saving the globe MULTIPLE TIMES. Not a single positive mention but a lot of cold shoulders (except for good old Otacon of course but even he doesn't emit a single word of praise from that highly educated mouth of his). It isn't contrasted beautifully like it was in the third metal gear either. Jungles and slitting throats as well as the murder of loved ones doesn't give way to the artificial atmosphere of politicians hosting events for the sake of the media. The ending is a peach so ripe and sweet that you'll be wincing through every bite but the man who deserves a pinch of sugar the most is left with a copper taste in his mouth as well as a bleak and lonely future.
I suppose the largest bone I have to pick with the storyline is how the patriots were unmasked. It doesn't happen climatically with a surprising twist at the end of the story like it should have. They are unmasked in the first three acts and the story behind them is too disappointing for words. They aren't politicians far removed from the battlefield orchestrating world events and weaving a web of shadows I can tell you that much. Every shred of mystery behind them is spoiled with a fan pleasing but poorly constructed anticlimactic unmasking and it was truly one of the moments I was looking forward to the most in this fourth and final chapter in the series.
To summarize my problems with the story its unrealistic, highly romantic, and a colossal disappointment. Every story in the series has been better than the last and the final chapter in the saga is more disappointing than the episode No More Mr. Nice Guy on the show House MD. Its like shrinking during your final years of puberty and anyone who thinks that this is the only way the series could have ended is seriously lacking in the imagination department.
In closing this is not a worthy successor to metal gear solid three. The gameplay and the graphics are beautiful but the story is as painful and unrealistic as any Terry Goodkind book. A black and white plot where evil comes in the form of the man instead of many men doing only whats best for themselves and their families takes way too many cues from star wars and George Orwell and not enough from Aldous Huxley and Leo Tolstoy. One man does not shape the future of billions no matter how many resources he has at his disposal and Darth Vaders don't exist in real life nor do emperor Palpatines or Luke Skywalkers. Its fine to have a two dimensional plot when you merely want to entertain but trying to pass one off as artistic is like trying to pass off a hamburger as gourmet food. My advice is to buy this game anyway for the phenominal gameplay but don't mindlessly dish out praise like all of these kojima zombies on the review boards. The predominant theme of this story is freedom good and order by nanomachines bad which is something only simple minded Orwenians and brainwashed 5th graders still cling to. Well thats my in depth review. I hope you found it helpful and I hope I didn't offend anyone too much.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 06/27/08
Game Release: Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (US, 06/12/08)
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