Review by Exodist

"After beating Metal Gear Solid 4, I came to this conclusion: Needs more cut-scenes."

Although I know some people probably would have brought the PS3 just for Metal Gear Solid 4 (one if it's biggest exclusives, especially considering Final Fantasy XIII is coming out on 360 now), but I was sort of on the fence for this one. I brought the PS3 mainly for it's exclusives (Ill probably pick up most multi-platform games on 360), and of course this includes MGS4. I played and loved the original 2, and I even went out and brought MGS3 and beat it before I got MGS4. MGS4 is by no means a bad game, it's just an incredibly flawed game.

The story was brilliant, but also massively confusing. The problem is, Hideo (the director and writer of the MGS series) always tries to draw the story too long. Although Im not going to spoil it, the ending would have been fine without the whole added half an hour or extra nonsense that really wasn't necessary. The story is really good, but the games writing is lacking a little bit, and the story is just way too confusing. I found myself repeatedly confused with character names (The Boss and Big Boss for example) and just generally, what the hell was going on? MGS4 manages to pretty much include every major character from the previous MGS games, some with a warm welcome (Raiden is pretty cool this time) and some not so important appearances, and of course, characters from MGS3. I won't be giving any proper details on the story, but it got massively confusing for me (and I've played the previous three games and have a basic understanding of the two Metal Gear games), so if you haven't played the others, you will find it extremely confusing. The game does a good job of telling us what did happen though, although I wish these were skippable since they take up a lot of time. Overall though I enjoyed the crazy storyline a lot, despite it's confusing events, timeline and characters.

MGS4 takes the gameplay into two different possibly playstyles. The previous MGS games were all about stealth. You got guns but they were almost useless, in alert mode the enemies just kept on coming and your only chance was to hide. Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3 introduced a few shooter aspects such as first person aim, but they were incredibly hard to use, it just wasn't built for gun combat. First off, MGS4 introduces a proper third person camera similar to those found in third person shooters (apparently MGS3 Subsistence introduced this as a test). You can then play the game either the stealth and classic way, which is perfectly possible, or the shoot them up way. First we'll talk about the Stealth aspects. MGS3 introduced a few unique and well made gameplay aspects. For starters, you could equip camouflage to hide yourself in the scenery and avoid guards (since MGS3 was set in a Jungle, in case you didn't know). Old Snake wears a suit called the Octocamo, which basically automatically camouflages you depending on the scenery you're lying on. If you lie on grass, the suit basically mimics that so you blend in. Although you could probably see there is a person lying there, in game it works and it works well. MGS3 also required you to eat food so you don't starve to death, and it helped restore your stamina. A similar system is implemented into MGS4, but in this case, Snake get's stressed. We all know Snake loves to smoke, but unfortunately that's not the answer. Although I guess this doesn't have much to do with the stealth aspects of MGS4, the more actions or fighting you do, the more stressed Snake gets, and the more stamina he loses. I found stamina really hard to restore and usually relied on getting to a cut-scene (an easy task then) to have it restored after. Either way, stealth still works in Metal Gear Solid 4, however it seems to almost force the shooting option upon you, and at the end of the day, this can be good or bad.

The shooting parts are handled pretty well. You can aim, fire, modify your weapons, and access a whole shop in the menu where you can buy ammo, guns, playboy magazines, custom gun parts, whatever you need. You gain money for killing enemies etc and picking up any weapons you already have automatically sells them to the shop. Some weapons you find are ID locked thus require Drebbin, the store owner, to unlock them for you at a fee. The shooting parts handle really well although with no cover system is can be quite hard to avoid shots, and overall it just doesn't handle as well as other shooters. The control scheme is completely different and old habits of Press X to reload (or Square on the PS3 controller, I always refer to the buttons as to what they are on the 360) etc, it can be quite annoying. The game just doesn't feel like it can be both a stealth game and shooter at the same time, you definitely need to choose which gameplay style you're going for. I ended up killing most of my enemies, usually with a silencer though (to try and not attract much attention) but I got discovered a lot and ended up running through the level. The advantage of the shooting mechanics however are the fact that if you really want to, you can just kill every one and move on. In the older MGS games if you were ever faced with a combat situation, it was incredibly hard to fight your way out. However MGS is the stealth, and it's also a shame to see this change. Personally I would definitely keep the shooting mechanics, but it also changes the whole game in a sense.

Now we get onto the flaws. There's only really one major flaw and every one knows it: The cut-scenes. This game is so full of verbal diarrhea it's unbelievable. Cut-scenes can last up to 90 minutes (although it lets you save it in-between different scenes on occasion) and it's just ridiculous. MGS4 is a game, not an interactive movie. Personally I found the cut-scenes in the other 3 MGS not so bad as MGS4. MGS4 is split into 5 Acts, most of the game play is in Acts 1-3, with more cut-scenes than you can shake a stick at in Acts 4-5. I know, the story is well made for the most part, and it needs explaining, but they're just so unnecessarily long, and it's just not fun. It took me about 15 hours to beat the game and I can safely say around 7 of those hours were spent watching cut-scenes, no doubt. Fortunately if you're gonna do multiple playthroughs of the game you can skip the cut-scenes, and some people probably will, but it's definitely worth playing through the game and watching all the cut-scenes at least once, no matter how dull or boring they sometimes get. Most of the other flaws I have already pointed out previously. The gameplay whilst solid, has it's problems (no cover system etc) but apart from that the game is fine. Bosses are really imaginative (actually, you have to literally watch each boss die for about 10 minutes, then get told about their horrible pasts for another 10 minutes. Almost completely pointless) and good fun. It's just got way to many cut-scenes, and Im sure some people out there will just stop playing the game altogether because of it. MGS4 does feature an online mode called Metal Gear Online, however I only played a few matches. I didn't like it at all and since I haven't played enough of it, I won't be reviewing it.

The graphics in the game were superb and I don't really have any complaints. The installing screen looks amazing, as do the graphics for the rest of the game. The environments are great and so are the character models. I felt at some points the faces were perhaps lacking any emotion, but they did a good job with the tears at least. There are so many little features though, such as the keys on Otacon's keyboard/laptop actually pressing down when he hits them (I saw this happen to a few keys and the space bar, during the 5th act), and any sheets of paper or monitors etc are well detailed. The music was once again, really good. A nice feature is that Snake carries an iPod with him, and any music you find during levels can be listened to, which was a good feature. Until you want something else equipped and the music cuts out.

Despite the great and fun gameplay, the brilliant music and graphics, and the wonderfully flawed story, the cut-scenes still let MGS4 down. Im sure the fans of the game will appreciate them and won't mind, but any gamer looking for a great PS3 exclusive will definitely get annoyed. I was fairly tolerable with the game since I knew it was meant to be bad with the cut-scenes, but there were a few ridiculous parts. MGS4 would have gotten a 9, but due to the insane cut-scenes, Im giving it an 8.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 09/25/08

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

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