Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (PS3) Review
Posted by Mark Salmela on 06.16.2008
Enjoy your rest good soldier, I will never forget you.
There is a special feeling that happens when players truly connect to another character that canít be replicated. I donít want to speak for everyone, but I donít think anyone here can disagree that there is a special ďfeelingĒ that occurs when youíve played a masterpiece. There is a certain connection that players have with their favorite games, something that canít be put into words. There is a reason that Marioís face is still prominent all around the world and is still celebrated by gamers upon seeing it. There is a reason Sonic fans still follow the series and love it with a passion. Gamers have a connection to their favorite games, and look upon them as a role model. I was starting to think that this sort of connection only happens to younger kids, which would have explained why games like Half-Life and Halo are considered incredible, but yet most gamers wouldnít call Gordon Freeman or Master Chief their hero. Well with MGS4, I have proven myself wrong. Solid Snake has solidified *no pun intended* himself into my unconscious memory as a true hero, someone who I consider to be a role model. To everyone who was even considering buying MGS4, I cannot stress it enough, buy it now. I have not felt so strongly about a video game since the days of Sonic the Hedgehog on the Genesis.
Some people will say that 2007 was the greatest year ever in video games. BioShock, Call of Duty 4, Halo 3, God of War 2, the list goes on. But when I made my own personal decision for the best game of 2007, it came down to which game made me care the most. Which game did I play and never lose interest in. And in 2007, that game was Super Mario Galaxy. While I grew bored of BioShock and Halo 3, Super Mario Galaxy kept my interest all the way through. The same thing happened with GTA4. While I love Grand Theft Auto 4, by the second half of the game I had lost interest in the characters and the story, and simply wanted to get to the end. GTA4 had an awesome ending, but besides the ending I simply didnít care about the second half of the story. I didnít care about Packie or his family, and Iíve already forgotten the name of the girl Niko was ďsupposedĒ to fall in love with. I put ďsupposedĒ in quotations because I sure as hell didnít care about her.
But things were different with MGS4, my attention was grabbed from the moment I stepped off the army truck and I never for one moment felt bored with MGS4 *although I did feel annoyed with one particular part which Iíll explain later*. Thereís no other way I can say it, I truly had a connection with MGS4. Now I donít want to post any major spoilers, but there was a certain part of the game where I had to mash the Triangle button in order to help keep Snake alive and get him to the end of a hallway before he died. I honestly had thought Snake was going to die there. I mashed triangle with all of my heart, I mashed it and I mashed it and I mashed it until I had thought that I had broken my controller and couldnít mash it anymore. I was honestly scared that Snake was going to die because I couldnít keep him alive, and thatís something that Iíll never forget. The fact that you couldnít pause during this section or bring up any menus or anything created the perfect atmosphere. You couldnít simply stop the game and continue at your leisure. Solid Snake was going to die if you didnít mash triangle right then and there. This isnít the same as being tortured in MGS1, I thought I was going to be the reason why Snake died, and I hated that feeling.
That wasnít the only time I felt such a strong connection to the game either, but I donít want to spoil anything for you guys. Iím sure if youíve played and beaten MGS4 you know exactly what Iím talking about, and until youíve beaten MGS4 you may not understand why Iím saying right now this game is a 10, but Iíve yet to see people whoíve honestly played the entire game, soaked in the entire MGS4 experience, and not thought the game was a masterpiece. Youíve done it again Kojima, and I salute you.
The level of detail in MGS4 is unprecedented.
Iíve stated before that Gran Turismo 5 Prologue is probably the most graphically impressive video game ever. And it may still hold that title if you look at still images, but if youíve seen and played Metal Gear Solid 4, I think youíll agree with me that technologically this game is a masterpiece. From stunning visuals, to incredible character modeling and animations, to the amazing amount of detail put in MGS4 is truly a sight to behold. I thought at times that I was watching real actors in a movie instead of playing a video game, and thatís because of the insane level of detail, not the long cut scenes. I was so engraved into the world of MGS4 that I forgot I was playing a video game, something that I canít say Iíve ever done before. There is so much detail put into every character that I canít even begin to describe it. And while I canít confirm it, Iím pretty sure that even the charactersí eyes dilated appropriately according to the amount of light in the room. Metal Gear Solid 4 runs perfectly, and while I did have one or two rare occasions in the first act where the frame rate dropped slightly, the rest of the game ran flawlessly, and itís something that I honestly donít think could have happened on any other platform.
The one thing that I can say I wish would have been improved is the install times. Now while I certainly donít want to install the entire 50 GB disc onto my hard drive, I did find it annoying to have to go through a 2 minute install at the beginning of each of the 5 acts. This is quite the nit-pick, since the rest of the load times *especially during gameplay, which is where it counts the most* is never more than a few seconds. As Iíll state later in the review MGS4 is not perfect, since no game can be perfect *if it was perfect than there is no way to improve upon it*, but it is a masterpiece, and MGS4 definitely has set the standard for all future action and stealth games.
Donít mess with the Mk. II
There have been people who have frowned upon the stealth action genera, and I can now say they can put their opinions to rest. I donít care if you donít like ďTactical Espionage ActionĒ, because you donít have to play the game that way. MGS4 is so diverse in its options, you can play it any way you want to. Purists of MGS4 will stay away from the Drebin system and sneak their way through the game not killing anyone *which I believe you could go through the entire game not killing a single person during the gameplay, which is quite the achievement*, while first person shooter fans can run-n-gun their way through MGS4 in one of the most balanced, action packed games ever. This is one of the first games that I can honestly say one person can play the game one way, while a second person could play the game a different way entirely, and both could be considered an incredible experience.
One of the big new features to MGS4 is the Octocamo suit which Snake wears as both a muscle suit to hold up his aging body and a new version of the camouflage system set up by MGS3. If players get on the ground or lean up against a wall for a couple seconds, Snakeís suit will automatically adapt the pattern of whatever heís up against, blending him in with his surroundings. Itís such an easy system that purists of previous MGS games will love, since itís not bothersome at all *although players can go into the options and manually pick preset camouflages if they really want to*. The Octocamo suit is bad ass, and I would kill somebody to get my own Octocamo suit.
Another new feature to MGS4 is the over-the-shoulder view. While itís not exactly new for video games, it is something that works perfectly in MGS4. The camera is completely controlled by the player, and is always focused right on the action, something that is relatively new for the MGS series. Whereas the camera used to be something players would constantly combat in the older titles, the free-roaming camera is perfect in MGS4. Players can play MGS4 from either first person, 3rd person *like the older titles*, or the new over-the-shoulder view *which I prefer*.
To make the game more interesting, Snake also has two new bars besides his health bar that players should look out for. The first meter is his Psyche meter, which as it decreases Snake's accuracy and health begins to fail. Snake will grab his back in pain and be very unsteady while trying to aim at enemies. Players can either take supplements to increase the Psyche meter, or wait for it to naturally go back up. In addition to the Psyche meter is the Stress meter, which rises according to battle conditions. If Snake is spotted by the enemy or being chased, his Stress meter goes up, which halts the Psyche meter from going up and can even make it decrease faster. And with MGS4 having some incredible AI, players will need to be careful to avoid being spotted.
My favorite part of the Metal Gear Solid franchise has been the incredible boss battles. I fell in love with the original MGS after the Psycho Mantis fight, and MGS has consistently had some of the best boss fights in video game history. While I donít know if MGS4 has the best boss battles ever in a video game, they certainly do not disappoint. While I wonít go into spoilers, I practically enjoyed every boss fight in MGS4, with my favorite probably being against Screaming Mantis. The psychics in MGS have never disappointed, and Screaming Mantis more than lives up to her predecessors.
MGS4 concludes the entire storyline in a very fitting manner.
I donít think thereís anyone out there who dislikes the music from Metal Gear Solid. From the main theme of Metal Gear Solid to classics such as Snake Eater, MGS has never been one to disappoint. Music has always set the tone and atmosphere, and Kojima knows this well. From the opening theme to the music that plays during the end, the songs of Metal Gear Solid 4 are true works of art, and make me regret not getting the music soundtrack CD.
MGS4 also has phenomenal voice acting, something that is far from new in the MGS franchise. David Hayter was nominated for his terrific performance of Naked Snake in MGS3, and I feel he did an even better job in MGS4 as Old Snake. Kojima has created some of the best characters Iíve ever seen in a video game, and everyone in MGS4 gave a terrific performance. I had honestly thought that Brucie from GTA4 was going to be the best character in a video game in 2008, but with awesome characters such as Drebin and the new Raiden I have been proven wrong. In addition to the outstanding music and voice acting of MGS4, the sound effects are also extremely well done and went a long way into convincing me that MGS4 took place in a real war zone. Everything sounded perfect.
The final thing about the music of MGS4 that I want to stress is the iPod. While I had originally questioned its purpose and passed it off as a gimmick, once I actually tried it I instantly fell in love with it. Playing classics like ďCalling to the NightĒ from Portable Ops while mowing down PMC troopers in MGS4 is one of the most unintentionally awesome moments I had while playing the game, and is something I recommend everyone try out. The iPod is a welcome addition to MGS4.
God this brings back memories to previous MGS titles. And donít worry, itís only an Octocamo face, heís still Old Snake.
I donít think itís any spoiler to list how long it took me to beat MGS4. Without skipping any cut scenes, MGS4 took me 16 hours and 5 minutes to reach its completion. To me that is the perfect time for a video game, because while I honestly could have played MGS4 for 30 hours and not gotten bored, there is a problem with games that stretch on too long. But MGS4 is the perfect length, and I enjoyed every minute of it. Hell, I loved MGS4 so much that within 5 minutes of beating the single player I immediately had restarted the game on the extreme difficulty. MGS4 is definitely a game that you will replay many times.
One thing that I will sympathize however is the length of the cut scenes. While the vast majority of the cut scenes are amazing and never get old, there are a few that drag on too long. While none of them approached 90 minutes, I will say that if you donít skip any cut scenes there is a part of the game where you can wait almost 1 hour between gameplay sequences. But as Iíve stated before the storyline of MGS4 is amazing, and is not only one of the best stories ever told in a video game, but is in my opinion one of the best stories ever. While I think watching all the cut scenes is a must for players to understand the storyline, you can skip any cut scene in the game as well as any codec conversation, so donít be afraid of the cut scenes.
Man, with the single player to MGS4 being so flawless I didnít even get to bring up the online multiplayer. While Metal Gear Online isnít everyoneís cup of tea, itís something that only adds to one of the best single player campaigns Iíve ever played. Up to 16 players can hop into Metal Gear Online, and play various game modes such as the traditional deathmatch and capture the flag *or should I say capture the frog*. I have had no lag issues with Metal Gear Online, and so far itís a constantly growing community as people finish up the single player storyline and hop into the awesome online mode. Kojima has not only managed to make one of the best single player games ever, but heís also included one of the best multiplayer modes yet on the PS3. MGO offers tons of customization options for characters, and despite a stupid restriction on only making one character *unless you pay an additional fee to create multiple characters* is incredibly awesome. While itís not for everyone due to its slow, strategic gameplay, for those who give it a chance and work their way up the experience system will find one of the deepest multiplayer modes on the current generation consoles.
Very little of the game actually takes place in the Middle East.
While there are a lot of cut scenes in MGS4, there still is a lot of gameplay, almost all of which is perfect. Kojima has managed to do things in Metal Gear that I had previously thought would never work in a stealth game before. I donít want to post any spoilers, but players, especially fans of the series, will be surprised as the variety of the gameplay, and how everything in MGS4 has been pulled off so beautifully. The one single problem I had with the game occurred at the beginning of act 3, where I thought it dragged on too long, but besides this one single complaint the game was near perfect. Kojima set the perfect atmosphere, and as I stated in the beginning to get someone like me on the edge of my seat mashing the hell out of my controller trying desperately to keep Solid Snake alive is something that cannot be put into words. MGS4 isnít just a fun video game, itís an experience.
The one thing that I havenít gotten to talk about yet is the Drebin points system. Drebin is kind of like the merchant from RE4, except that Drebin can be used at any time in the game after you first meet him *other than a few select parts* to purchase ammo and equipment from him. This is where the depth of MGS4 comes in, as nearly all of the weapons in the game can be upgraded and customized to fit every players needs, as long as you have the points. Points can be earned by killing bad guys and picking up their weapons, which as long as you already have one of that weapon to carry in your inventory it sells the extras to Drebin for points. While I donít want to spoil the game *I know Iíve said it a million times now*, but due to the storyline you will need to use Drebin a lot in MGS4, and heís quickly become my favorite addition to the MGS franchise *although Sunny is a pretty awesome character herself*. MGS4 is a ton of fun, and thereís honestly something here for fans of practically any genera of video game. If youíve ever played a video game before, you owe it to yourself to buy MGS4.
Enjoy your rest, youíve earned it.
Iíve always grown up with the notion that a 10/10 means a game is perfect and that no improvements can be made upon the genera. But MGS4 has changed my perception of this, and anything less than a 10 seems like a travesty in my opinion. While MGS4 is not perfect, I canít honestly say Iíve ever been more emotionally connected to a video game before. While GTA4 was highly overrated and didnít deserve the 10ís it did get, MGS4 is an experience that lives up to its incredible high expectations and shatters the glass ceiling that hung over the stealth action genera. MGS4 is a once in a generation experience, and has completely won me over as a true classic. Iím not afraid to admit it either, I shed a few tears at the end of the game, and I donít care what amount of crap I get for it, because itís a masterpiece. I went into MGS4 thinking there was no way Iíd end up giving this game a perfect score *I used to be attest to ever giving a game a perfect score*, but MGS4 has won me over as a modern masterpiece. If you think Iím crazy thatís fine, but until youíve finished the single player you havenít experienced the ending that I have. I will say right now that MGS4 has the best ending ever in a video game. While the debriefing is admittedly kind of weird, the ending of act 5 and the epilogue is the best ending ever in a video game, period. Thank you Solid Snake, Iíll never forget you.
This game is a technological marvel. The level of detail is unprecedented.
There are so many different ways to enjoy MGS4, and all of them are incredible. MGS4 has truly mastered both the action and stealth genera.
MGS4 has some of the best voice acting ever in a video game. Not to mention the musical scores of Metal Gear are always flawless.
You will play the single player many times, and love it every time. Not to mention Metal Gear Online, which is an incredibly fun multiplayer.
Metal Gear Solid 4 is a must have experience. I do not think I have ever been so emotionally connected to a video game before.