Platform(s): Playstation 3
Genre: Action, Stealth, Shooter
Release Date: June. 12, 2008
Number of Players: 1, 16 competitive
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots is the latest in the long running series of tactical espionage action games. In what is billed as Snake’s final mission we get to take on old foes and get answers to all the burning questions left unanswered in previous releases.
The story of Metal Gear Solid 4 is presented via in-game messages and cut-scenes using the game’s graphics to help keep you in the moment. Some of the cut-scenes can be pretty lengthy, up to 30 minutes and beyond, but they are entertaining and have some interactive elements. Most of the time I was so caught up in the story that I didn’t even notice how long they were. There’s also the option to pause or skip them if you choose. Unfortunately, MGS4's story can also be one of its failings. It is extremely dense and will be almost inaccessible to anyone new to the series and is sure to cause frustration and confusion.
Past Metal Gear games have been all about sneaking, but, in this installment you have the freedom to sneak or to run ‘n gun if you want. There are so many ways to accomplish goals that levels will feel different on repeat plays depending on your approach. One of the things that surprised me most about MGS4 was the variety of gameplay. As I said before, you can sneak, you can run ‘n gun, or you could even play the game in first person perspective. Later in the game, you’re treated to on-rails shooter action, quick time events, and even hand to hand combat. Speaking of variety, Snake has access to countless weapons ranging from hand guns, to rifles, to surface to air missiles. All of these are easily managed through an inventory system/store that can be a little silly at times as Snake can instantly pull any of those items basically out of the air so long as he has the money to buy them.
For me, MGS4 is the best looking game on the PS3. Other games come close but don't match the quality of the in-game graphics. Throughout the various acts you'll visit locations across the world, each one full of incredible detail not only in the environments but also the characters within. I remember in one scene early on, Snake meets Mk. II (a remote drone) and during the introduction you can see its camera iris focusing in and out. Attention to the little details like that really hooked me. Also, a nice bit of realism I liked was that Snake would check and chamber rounds in each weapon he picks up.
The music and sound easily rivals big budget Hollywood movies. The voice acting while sometimes cheesy, is top-notch and the score by Harry Gregson-Williams reminded me at times of his work on The Rock and Enemy of the State.
Once you complete the game, you unlock certain badges based on how you played providing some incentive to go back and try to earn more and gain access to different disguises, weapons, and abilities for Snake. While that may be worthwhile, I have to admit that trophies would really help the replay value of this title. Knowing I've obtained all badges is nice but having the trophy to prove it and gloat over would be infinitely better.
The Bottom Line
Metal Gear Solid 4 is one of the most engaging games I’ve played in recent years. It ties together any loose end across every Metal Gear game in the series over the last 20 years. The varied gameplay and freedom to choose how to accomplish goals makes this game a must have for any PS3 owner.