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Jul 29, 2008

Review: Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots

Metal Gear Solid 4
Konami,Kojima Productions
Available now for Playstation 3

If you asked me a month ago if a game that makes you put down your controller more often than you pick it up was a good idea and I'd have to say no, but that was before I witnessed the Hideo Kojima's masterpiece that is Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. I don't think I've ever played a game where I didn't mind sitting back and watching the long cinematics that pop up a lot, but this game just has all the right things working for it so that you actual enjoy them.

So MGS4's strange everything-but-the-kitchen-sink science-fiction military soap-opera storyline finally comes to an end after a long run for the series. Solid Snake's body has begun to age rapidly as part of his final clone programming and with his last bit of strength, he is determined to carry out his final mission: assassin liquid Snake who is now in the body of Revolver Ocelot.

From there the story starts jumping into a plot filled with many old faces from the Metal Gear series, soldiers controlled by Nano technology, strange sounds that drive people to kill each other, even stranger cybernetic women maddened by the terrors of war, etc and honestly if I were to try to explain the whole plot, this review would be a lot longer than my column - actually, it might be longer than this publication, so to keep it short: MGS4: an epic science-fiction tale full of betrayal, emotional moments, military warfare, espionage, future technology and that weird Kojima sense of humour. If you want any more plot info or game history than that, then I suggest Wikipedia or playing through the Metal Gear Series.

FPS fans will be happy to know that MGS4 has finally changed its usual “Don‘t get caught” style of game play to allow a “guns-a-blazing” method of finishing the game. Players can now choose to tackle most levels as they see fit which opens the world of Metal Gear to all the players who can’t stand sneaking through a battlefield. Though sneaking through a war zone while bombs are exploding, soldiers are firing at each other and you are mere feet away from it all, does really add a whole new level to the Metal Gear franchise. It’s almost too boring to run through the levels while mowing everyone down, because you miss so much of what’s going on it the game.

But if you really want to spend the game shooting everyone you meet, players will be impressed by Snake’s vast arsenal of futuristic weaponry which he will either find and unlock or purchase through Drebin 893, the slick arms dealer.

For those wishing to play the game true to the franchise, Snake also has new tools to help him stay one step ahead of the enemy at all times: his octocamo suit automatically blends into the environment, Metal Gear MK II, a mini robot which allows Snake to survey a small area ahead of him, and steel drums which have replaced boxes as temporary cover for Snake.

Snake really needs these new tools too with the increase in enemy intelligence. Our boy can simple wander off into a dark spot and magically disappear; no, now he has to work to hide from the enemies. Enemies will spot you in the darkest of rooms and see in complete 360 degree views of the area, so nowhere can you hide unless you actually hide.

Auto aim is available for rookie shooters which helped me out a lot, but Snake’s movements did take a bit of time to get a handle on. I found trying to get Snake to perform one move would always end with him in some terrible position on the ground or running away like a crippled old man. 3 difficult levels are available for players who would like an easier game or more of a challenge, but know that the easy level is really easy. I barely used my health items at all and finally had to switch to the normal mode for some challenge.

My one pet peeve with the entire game was the continuous installations after each chapter. No game should have to be installed several times over the course of its game play. I mean I did enjoy watching Snake chain smoke during each installation process and the health and game tips were nice touches, but honestly skip the numerous installs next time, Konami.

The movie quality graphics and sound can easily make me forgive the small matter of the annoying installs though as they lead to fantastic game play and even better cut-scenes. I honestly could have watch MGS4 as a movie, complete with popcorn in hand with how incredible the game was structured. Though the dialog a little goofy at times, the story had you laughing and crying with real emotion behind each. You cared about the characters and more importantly you believed their story and that’s hard to pull off with such a crazy storyline. This is the kind of game you feel guilty about if you don’t finish it and all story driven games should be like that, if they want to be the best title on the market today.

Metal Gear fans and anyone who just enjoys a great gaming masterpiece, this is the PS3 title that is going to make you purchase a Playstation 3 if you don’t already have one and I can’t stress enough how much I mean that. This is probably one of the best B movie storylines I’ve ever watched that breaks through the cheese and manages to stand as a great and epic piece of art.

Rating: 10 out of 10
Buy it!

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