Review by Edge578

"The Long and Winding Road."

The Metal Gear series is one of the most critically acclaimed in all of gaming. The series is characterized by cinematic, complicated storylines and stealth-based gameplay. You could call Metal Gear Solid 4 the final chapter in the Metal Gear franchise, not counting the future spin-offs Peace Walker and Rising. This game takes place in 2014. The world is being controlled by “PMCs” or “Private Military Companies.” PMCs are pretty much companies that you can hire to do the battling for you. Each of the 5 acts of the game take place in an area where PMCs have taken over. Certain urban parts of the game remind me of George Orwell's “1984” where if you're out past a certain time then you are subject to execution. It really sets a great dystopian atmosphere for the game. Main character Old Snake's goal is to stop his cloned brother Liquid Ocelot from taking over the world through the PMCs. The plot is very complex and hard to follow.

The game features over 9 hours of cutscenes. Some of the cutscenes are over an hour in length. You know how in movies, you can stop the movie halfway through and watch it again from where you stopped it? You can't do that in MGS4. If you stop halfway through a cutscene in MGS4 then you have to start from the beginning. This is very irritating, as the game gives you no indication of how long the following cutscene will be. I remember watching a rather long cutscene in the game when my sister came in an asked me if we wanted to play some multiplayer game on the PS3. I told that we could after the cutscene was over. 40 minutes later, she got up and left. If you could save and quit in the middle of a cutscene then this game would be a lot better in my opinion. The good news is that most of these cutscenes contain intense action scenes that rival the likes of Indiana Jones and Star Wars. Some of the moves that certain characters pull of seriously blew my mind the first time saw them.

The game is divided into 5 acts, taking place at random spots around the globe. There's quite some variety. There is an urban, desert, jungle, and tundra environment throughout all five acts. I personally don't like the “Act” system. The game loses its sense of cohesiveness when the game is divided into 5 separate DLC-like episodes instead of one continuous game. However, I will say this: the first 2 acts are amazing. . Some of the finest in gaming. If every act was like the first two, then this game would be an easy 10 out of 10. Unfortunately, after the second act, the game goes downhill. The third act had an amazing environment and setting. Too bad the gameplay was rather mediocre. The fourth act would have been great, except that human guards are replaced with really annoying robots.

The core gameplay in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots is stealth. You're placed in the middle of a raging warfield, and you have to slip by without the enemy seeing. If done right, then the gameplay is extremely rewarding. This game introduces the OctoCamo, a suit that instantly blends in with Snake's environment upon leaning up against the wall or laying in prone position on the ground. If you remember the camo system from MGS3, then you'll surely be familiar with this. Consider MGS3's camo system a “manual” version of the OctoCamo which changes automatically. The OctoCamo certainly doesn't make yourself completely invisible to the enemy, but it makes the stealth elements of the game much smoother.

The Metal Gear series prides itself on having stealth based gameplay where you try to avoid combat at all cost. MGS4, however implements an extremely elaborate and complex weapons system that really doesn't suit well for a game where you try to avoid combat. You should really only need one weapon to use most of the game: the tranquilizer gun. I really think the game is contradicting itself when it gives you so many weapons to use when the gameplay's focus is espionage. You are not forced to buy any weapons, but I still think it gives players the wrong message.

The game makes several major changes to the series. The control system has been seriously revamped. Previous MGS games use the X, Square, Triangle, and Circle buttons for basic actions such as attacking, shooting, reloading, and rolling. MGS4, however completely revamps the system. You now use L1 to prepare your weapon and R1 to shoot. I personally prefer the old control system. MGS4's system, however, allows you to do several things that you couldn't do in the previous games, such as moving while having your weapon ready. MGS4 also uses a traditional saving system, opposed to MGS1-3 where you saved via codec radio. MGS4 also uses X as the “confirm” button and O as the “cancel” button. It was the exact opposite in previous Metal Gear Solid games. MGS4 also introduces an in-game iPod. You can listen to tunes from the previous MGS games while you're playing. New songs are available through free DLC or through overworld pickups. It is a clever little item that the developers put in. Unfortunately, it is unconventional because having your radar system equipped is a lot more effective.

Just like the Foxhound Unit in MGS1 and the Cobra Unit in MGS3, MGS4 introduces the Beauty and the Beast Unit as the game's main bosses. The Beauty and the Beast Unit is comprised of beastly robot animals operated by beautiful women. They are easily some of the most badass bosses in the Metal Gear Solid series. Each woman has their own unique backstory of how they became what they are. All four women suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, caused by the horrors of war. They were given the mechanized animal suits in order to vent their anger to the world. One of the game's bosses in particular is one of the most well-designed bosses I have seen in a while. I would tell you more but I don't want to spoil the game for you guys.

This game's presentation is both good and bad. The graphics are just fantastic. Certain models (like a man in a wheelchair's blanket, for instance) look like they were taken straight out of real life. I could not ask for a better atmosphere either. The game's director, Hideo Kojima, sent developers to the real life locations of Moroccco, Peru, and the Czech Republic to research what the environments in the game should look like. That just shows how seriously Kojima takes this game. I do have one gripe with the presentation. The text is extremely small and hard to read. I have had to lean forward and squint at the TV just to read the names of the weapons displayed on the screen. This game also has as some very memorable music that will be gladly stuck in my head for years to come. My first playthrough of the game took about 25 hours.

-First two acts are extremely well done
-Excellent graphics and music
-Great atmosphere
-Excellent bosses
-Can be found at about $30 USD as of April 2010.

-Cutscenes are extremely numerous and unpredictable.
-Last three acts are mediocre, but thankfully they are short.
-Text is too small.
-The game uses “nanomachines” to fill in the games many plotholes.
-Game uses an intricate weapon system on a game that's supposed to be about avoiding combat.

Conclusion: Metal Gear Solid 4, even though it has its flaws, is one hell of a game that shouldn't be passed up.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 04/07/10

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

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