Review by nwowwe723

"The best game a PS3 gamer will ever own"

The Metal Gear Solid series has a reputation for being a very theatrical franchise (some might even say to a fault), and Metal Gear Solid 4 takes it about as far as we're likely to see in any video game. That isn't to say that it lacks for gameplay, make no mistake. There is a lot of engrossing gameplay in-between the hours of cut-scenes. Certainly MGS4 goes a long way to solidify Hideo Kojima's place as the undisputed mad-scientist of the video game world and I mean that with only the most positive connotations.

On the subject of cut-scenes, ordinarily I would try to include a brief description of the story to give you a general idea of what the game is about and what you can expect, but boy oh boy, trying to summarize the general plot of the previous games and how they bring you to where you start off in this game in the space of an average college term paper (let alone the one overly long paragraph I usually reserve for this) would be an extreme exercise in foolishness. There are so many characters and plot twists that you pretty much just have to go through the other games to have any coherent idea of what's going on (of course maybe not even then, I'm looking at YOU Metal Gear Solid 2), and of course they are all very well made and fun games so you won't be sorry that did, as long as you like this style of games (but there will be more on that later). Suffice it to say that most gamers have probably at least heard of Solid Snake even if they've never played the games and they have a basic understanding of who his character is. We can very simply look at the general plot as Solid Snake trying to stop Liquid Ocelot from enacting the militaristic plans of a mysterious group known as the Patriots. The best part is that sentence is probably meaningless both before you play the games AND after you beat all of them but it does serve as an extremely simplistic breakdown. Confused yet? HA! Just wait until you actually go through the games if you haven't already. So yeah, just play through the games (or at least read through some detailed plot breakdowns) if you really want to have any clear picture of what's going on.

Yeah, so this was a positive, glowing review right? Well that mostly served to explain the “mad-scientist” comment made about Kojima. After playing the Metal Gear games (or reading plot descriptions and analysis, possibly both) it's hard not to think of him as anything short of functionally insane, and even some hardcore fans of the franchise can agree (and wouldn't want to have it any other way). Very few games can boast such a well developed cast of characters. Even seemingly minor characters can be surprisingly complex and typically become more important later on. In short this isn't your average “borrow it from a friend and play through it in a weekend” type of game. In this game we see that Snake's genetically modifications have caused him to age rapidly to the point where he now appears to be in his 60's, and so doesn't have long to live. Another Hideo Kojima punch to the fanbase's collective midsection (to go along with the rather massive one from MGS2). The brilliance is that it pretty much always works. After getting over the initial shock or disappointment you can appreciate it for the daring risk that most franchises never dare to take, and that helps make it such an exceptional franchise. Nothing is conventional or by the book.

Okay, now I'll actually start talking directly about Metal Gear Solid 4. The overall gameplay experience remains basically the same as previous installments where you rely mostly on stealth, camo, and, if you're exceptionally devoted to this kind of gameplay, exclusively nonlethal methods of dealing with enemies. If your less inclined to this much more methodically paced style the lower difficulties are more forgiving to a run-and-gun style. Purists will say you're missing the whole point, but to each their own right? Even if you're a Rambo-esque player like myself, you can still occasionally find yourself indulging in the various neat gameplay mechanics such as choosing the appropriate attire/camouflage for the situation, using the miniature Metal Gear built by Otacon to scout out potentially dangerous areas or the infrared Solid Eye. There is a decent selection of guns you can acquire during the course of the game though the longtime hardcore MGS'ers will be almost exclusively relying on the trusty tranq pistol (when they bother using a gun at all). In addition to the ever present health bar, you'll want to keep an eye on Snake's Psych meter. One major improvement is that there is decidedly less tedious backtracking than there was in previous installments. Another major highlight of the game continues to be the boss fights. They are almost never completely straightforward. Instead you have to figure out how to use the tools available to you to combat any special skills that they have. In short, it's not a simple as BANG! You're dead! You end up thinking outside the box very frequently. Along the way there is also a lot of references and self-parody that long-time fans will appreciate. Many questions raised during the series are answered (from a certain point of view) and we eventually arrive at an effective (if a bit long-winded and out of left field) conclusion that still leaves us wanting more, but in a good way.

Visually the game is absolutely stunning. It's easy to be awed by the visuals of the opening cut-scene, and then it seamlessly transitions to user-controlled gameplay and then you realize that the entire game looks that good. Even years later you'll be hard pressed to find games that look as good as this one does from top to bottom. The level of detail is simply amazing. In the sound department this game once again features some of the best all around voice acting you'll find in a video game (or any medium that features voice acting for that matter). The actors know their characters pretty well by this point and their effort really shines through. A lot of the classic themes from previous games return as well as a well done original score by composer Harry Gregson-Williams.

So while I've never considered myself much of Metal Gear Solid fan, and almost exclusively because my lack of skill at those kinds of games than anything to do with quality and story, this is one of the easiest 10/10 I can think to hand out. This game does so much right and is such an amazing experience to play through. While it's not my favorite game of all time, it is likely the best crafted game I've played. There aren't really any major glitches or flaws in gameplay. In fact one of the only real negatives that come to mind is that there are several long install periods during the game, but even that can be shoved off to the PS3 directly rather than the game itself. Any PS3 collection without this game cannot be considered anything but incomplete.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 05/17/12

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

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